A successful entrepreneur in the field of e-commerce, Lee Hnetinka founded the on-demand delivery service WunWun. After selling the company, Lee Hnetinka went on to collaborate with Wilson Lee to form Darkstore, which also provides on-demand delivery services.
Since its introduction through companies, such as Uber, on-demand delivery services have become a revolutionary player in the e-commerce marketplace. The technology allows customers to receive what they want in a much shorter time frame than what is available via traditional shipping options.
For example, customers can walk into the mattress store Tuft & Needle in San Francisco, California, and decide to buy a mattress. As long as they make their purchase before 4pm, they will receive their mattress at their home the very same day because Tuft & Needle employs on-demand delivery services. Previously it would have taken as long as three days to receive the product.
Smaller businesses across the nation have begun to take advantage of the efficiency of on-demand delivery services in their local area. These businesses offer a diverse range of products from package delivery to childcare services.
Founded in 2016 by Lee Hnetinka, Darkstore provides on-demand fulfillment for companies that ship products to customers. Lee Hnetinka’s company enables brands without local inventory to store their products in fulfillment centers nationwide and facilitates product shipment via its own API and intelligent routing service. Recently, Darkstore partnered with T-Force Final Mile, a last-mile delivery service, to expand its market reach.
The partnership with T-Force Final Mile allows Darkstore to expand to 33 additional locations across the United States, bringing its total number of fulfillment centers to 40. Brands are not charged to store their inventory in a Darkstore fulfillment center, but Darkstore collects a 3 percent fee for each item that leaves one of its storage locations. Products are shipped to consumers from Darkstore facilities through independent service operators such as local courier companies.
Darkstore offers a hosted shopping cart, making it straightforward for e-commerce brands to provide on-demand delivery service to customers by using only one line of code. Darkstore’s e-commerce software and partnership with T-Force Final Mile supports Darkstore’s goal of becoming an invisible retailer.
Lee Hnetinka is cofounder and CEO of Darkstore, a company that enables online retailers to offer their customers same-day delivery. In his free time, Lee Hnetinka enjoys traveling, particularly to such undiscovered vacation destinations as Sayulita, Mexico.
Located north of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita welcomes visitors interested in experiencing the many charms of a sleepy beachfront town along Mexico’s Riviera Maya. A few reasons to consider planning a trip to this hidden coastal gem include:
1. Food. With over 100 restaurants, Sayulita offers seemingly unlimited dining choices. Local delicacies include fish tacos and ceviche prepared with fresh catches straight from the ocean. Travelers can also beat the heat with a paleta, a traditional Mexican popsicle, while adults can enjoy a spicy cocktail known as the Michelada.
2. Lodging. Lodging options abound, as tourists can stay in the charming and uniquely designed Petit Hotel Hafa or the luxury beachfront Villa Amor. Alternatively, they can camp along the beach or rent one of the town’s hundreds of villas.
3. Surfing. A surfing hotspot since the 1960s, Sayulita attracts a number of advanced surfers looking to ride the challenging Pacific waves. However, the presence of surfing schools and ample board-renting options also make the town ideal for those new to the sport.
Based in New York, Darkstore CEO Lee Hnetinka focuses on the same-day delivery needs of e-commerce brand retailers. An April, 2017, article in TechCrunch brought focus to Lee Hnetinka’s success in completing a $1.4 million PivotNorth-led seed round designed to enable the firm to expand from three markets to a total of seven, with new markets including Seattle, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
The seed funding round was noteworthy in being led by PivotNorth CEO Tim Connors, who also guided delivery startup Deliv’s successful seed round. Mr. Connors is now integrally involved in the operations of Darkstore as a board member. In tandem with the funding round, Darkstore expanded its brand partners beyond mattress startup Tuft & Needle and the clothing maker Wildfang, and added Master & Dynamic, a high-end headphone manufacturer, to its lineup.
The seed round capped a period of significant growth, with the startup generating 120 percent month-on-month order growth in its first year of operations. The firm shipped goods valued at nearly $1 million in November and December of 2016. The company has an innovative business model of not charging for inventory storage and instead charging three percent (with an upper limit of $20) on every item shipped out.