Financing Industrial Startups
Future of Supply Chain, Episode 15
February 16, 2019
On Episode 15 of The Future of Supply Chain, we met up with Robin Dechant of Point Nine Capital. Based in Berlin, Point Nine has a strong focus on SaaS and marketplaces. Robin has been in an around the software business for the majority of his career. He has spent more time looking at opportunities in industrial sectors like manufacturing and supply chain.
“The Factory Stack” is hinged on better telemetry and data. Manufacturing is creating twice as much data than any other sector of the supply chain. Robin notes that there is a lack of data capture around manufacturing operations — it is just hidden behind some potently solvable barriers. For example, asset tracking and worker tele-metrics could help manufacturers better understand their operations and leverage workers better. Improved operational visibility helps set the foundation for a future where robots and people can work together. The software will not just tell the humans what to do, it will be a collaborative effort. Yet again, this is another reason why there is such a strong need for transparency and visibility around operations and asset movement.
Thick vs thin stacks. The integration of new systems can be one of the biggest time sinks a company may face. It could take several months or even years to get a new system in production after purchase. Furthermore, new technology may not be fully compatible with existing machinery. Finding more uniform solutions to the integration process is an untapped market potentially worth trillions of dollars. Efficiency is being bottlenecked by the simple fact that systems are not able to interface with each other. Robin has also seen evidence that shows old systems can stick around for twenty or thirty years, making it hard for newer solutions to break through.
Finance industrial software companies with an expectation of a long ramp. We use the world “industrial” to discuss manufacturing as well as supply chain. Robin has observed that such systems might need a longer runway to get to product/market fit — driven by a need for education, slower decision cycles, and longer integration periods. While that might be against the norm for VC’s, in such industrial sectors, it ultimately results in a sticky solution and large account values due to impact modern software has over manual process or monolith systems.