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Route Claims Unicorn Status with $1.25 Billion Valuation

Jan 24, 2022

Unicorn Startup.

Coined in 2013 by US-based angel investor and founder of Cowboy Ventures, Aileen Lee, it’s since become the next-level status for startups. It’s a term used to identify private companies valued at or more than $1 billion—an echelon as rare as, say, a unicorn.

With its latest round of fundraising, Route solidified its place among the ranks of mythical creatures. To celebrate the milestone, Route cofounder and CEO, Evan Walker, spilled the news to Forbes and gave us a taste of his journey to this landmark event. 

One Small Tech Idea Turned Amazon Competitor

Ever since he started slingin’ video games from his first bedroom-headquartered ecommerce business at age 14, Evan Walker’s inventive mind has been itching for more. (He sold his first business for $10 MM just five years later, by the way.) While that was just the beginning of Walker’s entrepreneurial roller coaster, the idea for Route wouldn’t strike for another couple decades. 

It wasn’t until Walker found himself haggling with a small-shop owner in Florence, Italy that he’d realize a deep need for a technology that simply didn’t exist yet. The inspiration came from an antique trunk Walker just purchased but the shop owner refused to ship, citing no way to mitigate risks like getting lost or damaged on its way to the US.

After sitting with the restlessness of that event and watching the unending upward trajectory of ecommerce, Evan took action. He teamed with cofounder Mike Moreno to help small shops compete in the global marketplace and empower them with the shipping, tracking, and protection tools savored by online behemoths like Amazon. 

“Amazon wins because everything is centralized, but no one wants to sell on Amazon anymore,” Walker says. “Small merchants don’t have those same tools, and even big merchants don’t have the tools.”

Route was born to help any merchant or maker compete without worrying about a lack of tech to ensure purchases are delivered and protected. It was a mission to beef up the mom-and-pops of ecommerce. It was giving the once out-of-range tools to every online shop, no matter the size. Most of all, it was just the beginning. 

Latest $200,000,000 Fundraise Seals the Status

Just three months ago, Route landed on Forbes Next Billion-Dollar Startups list alongside 24 other companies predicted to cross the momentous threshold. By the end of 2021, revenue doubled to $80 million, up from $34 million in 2020. Those numbers, coupled with Route’s evolving suite of ecommerce tools for sellers and shoppers, could only mean one thing: a bouncing baby unicorn was on the way.

Route has a deep portfolio of more than 11,000 merchants taking advantage of next-level package tracking, protection, and product discovery. The app has tracked more than 175 million packages for shoppers. This latest $200 million round from investors Eldridge, Madrona Venture Group, Riot Ventures, FJ Labs, Jaws Capital, and an undisclosed London-based firm nudges the company to a $1.25 billion valuation. 

In a nutshell, Route is hot. 🔥

Consumers are receiving the comprehensive online shopping experience they’ve craved since the days of dial-up. Merchants are able to compete with attainable tools that set them apart. And even a small shop in Florence, Italy can soundly ship, track, and protect an antique trunk.

The future of ecommerce is looking bright, and Route is leading the way. 

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