Humble keeps excess inventory out of the Philippines' landfills

Excess stock, including returned items, from e-commerce, logistics and retail companies often ends up being thrown away. Based in Manila Modest resistance is a circular economy startup that wants to keep it out of the Philippines’ landfills. Since its launch, it has processed more than 150,000 items such as clothing, consumer electronics and home appliances, which are either resold through Thrift, its Shopee storefront, or passed on to B2B recyclers and resellers.

The company announced today that it has raised $750,000 in an oversubscribed seed round led by Seedstars International Ventures, with participation from iSeed Ventures and angel investors including Ula co-founder Alan Wong, Sagar Achanta (who has held product leadership roles at Amazon), Booking . com and Disney+, and investors Paco Sandejas and Richard Eldridge.

Humble will use the funding to expand its network of partners and buyers and expand its team, including hiring department heads. The company also plans to bring its technology development entirely in-house and begin work on long-term initiatives such as carbon footprint tracking.

Humble Sustainability founders Nina Opida and Josef Werker

Humble Sustainability founders Nina Opida and Josef Werker. Image Credits: Modest resistance

Humble was founded in 2021 by CEO Josef Werker and COO Nina Opida. Werker told TechCrunch that the two met five years ago after holding leadership positions at various startups and wanting to see how technological innovation could be applied to the planet. The first version of Humble was a circular commerce solution for children’s clothing before expanding into other items.

“None of us are environmental scientists or sustainability experts at all,” Werker said. “We just had a love for the land and saw an opportunity to apply our little experience building a business to it.”

So far, Humble has worked with 20 companies. The process of receiving items begins with receiving inventory for evaluation, so Humble can see what condition they are in and understand their value (as the company grows, it will automate parts of the quality control process). It then decides whether to list the items on Thrift or wholesale them to its B2B network. Once their plans are approved, they sign an agreement with customers who can track the status of their items and receive money from their sales. Humble plans to launch a live dashboard on its B2B platform so customers can track revenue, inventory and environmental impact in real time.

Werker says that without Humble, unwanted inventory would either go to a traditional liquidator (for higher-value items) or end up in a landfill. There are other solutions such as inside sales to employees, but they only represent a small percentage.

“With Humble, it’s completely consolidated,” he said. “We’ll take everything, making sure nothing ends up in the landfill. Good quality items are Thrifted and high value is extracted, everything else is properly recycled through our B2B network and we will extract value that can be passed back to the customer.’

All investors in Humble’s seed round are actively involved in the business. For example, Seedstars introduced people to its international Humble network, which the company has done deals with, Werker said. Humble also participates in Seedstars’ quarterly growth tracking program. Wong and Achanta have worked together at various companies, including Amazon, and Ula, and lead Humble with advice on its technology development and long-term roadmap.

In a statement, Seedstars partner Patricia Sosrojojo said: “We are delighted to support Humble in its journey to reduce waste and promote circular living. Humble is a great fit for Seedstars’ thesis of supporting early-stage companies that can create meaningful impact with an attractive business model.”

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