Zulily co-founders Darrell Cavens and Mark Vadon invest in ID verification tech startup


Vouched investor Darrell Cavens (left) and Vouched CEO John Baird. (Vouched Photo)

Vouched, a Seattle startup that helps companies verify identity, has landed $4.5 million from investors including Darrell Cavens and Mark Vadon, co-founders of e-commerce giant Zulily.

It’s a vote of confidence in the 3-year-old company, which spun out of Madrona Venture Labs, the accelerator based at Madrona Venture Group in Seattle.

Cavens was CEO of Zulily, which sold to QVC parent Liberty Interactive for $2.4 billion in 2015. He previously invested in Vouched and led the recent round.

“The world is becoming more digital everyday, and security is a topic every business and consumer is focused on,” Cavens told GeekWire. “Solutions that expand beyond simple verifications and passwords are the future — and Vouched can play a key role in that.”

Vouched uses artificial intelligence to help more than 150 companies across a bevy of industries verify the identity of their customers, clients and contractors. Its software analyzes images of photo identity documents including passports and driver’s licenses. The technology compares a user’s selfie to confirm identity. It also examines text such as addresses.

The idea is to provide fraud detection of a person in real-time. Use cases include KYC (know your customer) in banking; employment screening; gig economy hiring; contactless hotel check-in; and more. Vouched aims to do for ID verification what services like Stripe have done for online payments.

There are a flurry of competitors also developing related ID verification technology, including Vancouver-based Trulioo, which raised $394 million in June, Seattle-based AuthenticID, which raised $100 million last month, and OCR Labs, which just raised $15 million. These companies are seeing increased demand amid the pandemic as businesses shift their processes online.

Vouched differentiates with its patent-pending computer vision software that examines various risk factors. “Vouched is fully self-serve and developer-first,” added CEO John Baird, a former exec at Blue Nile and WE Communications. He founded the company with John Cao, who was chief technology officer but announced his departure earlier this month.

Other backers include Bankers Healthcare Group, Professional Bank, Flying Fish Partners, Ascend.vc, and angel investors such as Jove CEO Dave Atchison, former Blue Nile and Zulily board member Mike Potter, Callisto Media VP Brian Watkins, Revolve CFO Jesse Timmermans, and Vijay Talwar, CEO of EMEA at Foot Locker. Total funding in the 20-person company is $12 million.

“Darrell and Mark are legendary industry disruptors and builders,” Baird said in a press release. “Our strategic partners in banking and law will likewise be crucial partners in our effort to accelerate Vouched’s worldwide identity platform: banking, because it powers all economic activity and relies upon identity for every transaction, and legal, because it defines identity.”

Vadon was previously chairman at Zulily, as well online pet retailer Chewy. He founded online jewelry company Blue Nile in 1999; Cavens joined shortly thereafter and was CTO.

Cavens and Vadon both recently invested another Seattle startup, Rad Power Bikes, in March.

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