MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative
Adam Siegel is revolutionizing resale, one brand at a time
Adam Siegel could have been an aerospace engineer. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in the subject, but his love of the outdoors—camping, hiking, biking, swimming—pulled him to do something to protect the planet. When he discovered MIT Sloan’s strength in engineering and sustainability, Adam found a place to put his twin passions to work.
“MIT Sloan was a no-brainer,” he says. “I generally knew I wanted to work in sustainability when I enrolled, but back then, in 2007, sustainability as a field was just starting to develop. So in order to pinpoint my interest, I took advantage of every possible sustainability opportunity at MIT.”
As a student, Adam took the Initiative’s S-Lab course as soon as he could. He went on to help form the MIT Sustainability Club and found the annual student-run Sustainability Summit. After much research and consideration, he decided to put his sustainability skillset to work in the consumer sector.
For the next eight years, Adam worked for a retail trade association, building their sustainability program, but witnessing the massive waste and inefficiency in that industry got him thinking. “There’s just so much stuff and most of it’s unused,” he says. “I wondered, ‘how can we put that stuff back into circulation and keep it from gathering dust under someone’s bed?’’”
In 2020, Adam came up with an answer: Recurate.
In the long term, from a systems thinking perspective, we can demonstrate to brands that they can profit from producing higher quality, longer lasting products, which are better for our planet all around.
Making resale easy and profitable.
Recurate, the company Adam co-founded, is a tech-enabled resale service that empowers brands and retailers to establish their own integrated resale markets directly on their e-commerce sites. The firm is a full-service resale partner, offering brands not only the technology to start and grow their resale platforms, but also the data insights and operations support their resale programs’ success.
“Our goal is to get more products otherwise unused back into circulation, which has many sustainability benefits. If perfectly good pre-owned items replace brand new items, then we aren’t using virgin resources, energy, packaging, transportation, etc. In the long term, from a systems thinking perspective, we can demonstrate to brands that they can profit from producing higher quality, longer lasting products, which are better for our planet all around.”
In its third round of funding, Recurate is partnering with Jump Capital, which led a $14-million investment round in the company. Before that, Recurate received seed funding from Gradient Venture, Google’s AI Fund. “At the end of the day, we’re a tech company,” Adam says. “We’re going to use the new funding to make the platform easier for customers, and provide more data for brands. And since we’re still so new, we also plan to invest in building out our teams.”
Adam is revolutionizing the retail industry, but given the climate crisis, he believes the shift is long overdue. “As someone with an engineering mind, I look around the world and see so many inefficiencies. So for me, sustainability is about doing things better. At Recurate, we believe that anywhere you can shop for new items, you should be able to get pre-loved items as well. Anywhere you can buy first-hand, you will be able to buy second-hand. It’s inevitable.”