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How ReturnLogic’s founder built a $100M tech company — in Central Pennsylvania

How ReturnLogic’s founder built a $100M tech company — in Central Pennsylvania

  • Beyond building a successful software company, founder and CEO Peter Sobotta hopes he's improving the tech ecosystem in the region.
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Everyone told Peter Sobotta he couldn’t do it. He’d never be able to build a $100 million subscription-based Software as a Service (SaaS) company in Central Pennsylvania.

Peter set out to prove everyone wrong.

A Navy veteran and classical pianist, Peter had the grit and the creativity to launch and grow ReturnLogic, a successful software company focused on helping businesses navigate the world of retail returns.

Creating a tech-focused ecosystem

Peter’s journey to founding ReturnLogic was not a straightforward one.

He attended college to study classical piano, but his career took a turn when he joined the Navy. Along the way, he earned an MBA while refining his logistics skills and experience.

His final duty station before leaving the Navy was in Mechanicsburg, where he was put on the Permanent Disability Retired List in connection with a service-related injury. Peter’s final rank was lieutenant, completing 11 years of active-duty service.

Central Pennsylvania had grown on Peter, and nearly 20 years later he still calls the area home.

One thing Peter believed the area lacked was a technical ecosystem. He had been an Intelligence Specialist and a Navy Supply Corps Officer and knew the importance of well-oiled supply chains.

His first foray into founding a reverse logistics business was with the company recoupIT, where he sourced retiring information technology assets and refurbished them for resale into secondary markets.

Over the course of a decade, Peter grew the company into a $12 million enterprise, completely bootstrapped.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the growth and the success of recoupIT from such a humble idea,” he says.

Finding his niche

Peter observed that businesses were beginning to operate on subscription-based software, and he saw a niche where he could hone the merchandise returns process for retailers.

The idea for ReturnLogic began to take shape in 2015.

Peter doesn’t have a warehouse full of unwanted T-shirts and swimsuits because ReturnLogic never touches the returned items. Instead, he and his team help retailers become more profitable by providing software that makes returns easier for retailers to manage and optimize.

“Our mission is to make retailers the most profitable versions of themselves,” Peter says. 

Beyond building a successful company, Peter hopes he is improving the tech ecosystem in Central Pennsylvania.

“Startups have the potential to change local economies with high paying technical jobs and rapid growth,” he says. “With the support of Ben Franklin Technology Partners from day 1, ReturnLogic is delivering on that promise.”

Reaching his goal and expanding

Since going fully remote because of the COVID-19 pandemic, ReturnLogic has expanded into 11 states with 36 employees. Although ReturnLogic closed its local office and is full remote, Central PA remains the company headquarters.

In the next year, ReturnLogic, born of an innovative idea to optimize ecommerce reverse logistics, is on a path to support hundreds of retailers worldwide and process over one million return requests through its intelligent returns services platform.

In 2022, Peter raised $8.5 million in venture capital from investors, including Mercury Fund, Rise of the Rest, Ben Franklin Technology Partners and White Rose Ventures. He plans to accelerate product development and grow the team.

With his unique background and passion for building a Central Pennsylvania better suited to tech companies, Peter is leading the charge to revolutionize the way retailers approach customer returns.

“I believe the resources are there,” Peter says of growing his SaaS company. “Central Pennsylvania has all the resources to build great software businesses.”