Knowde: Reinventing How the $4.7T Chemical Industry Does Business
Accelerating innovation and efficiency in the chemicals marketplace is at the core of this company’s mission
Alumni Ventures portfolio company Knowde has launched a digital marketplace that is dramatically improving how marketing and sales are done in one of the world’s largest industries.
Nearly all of the goods we use every day — from toothpaste to automobiles — are manufactured using chemical sector products. To meet this growing demand, there are thousands of chemical companies worldwide selling hundreds of different specialty chemicals. In 2022, the total revenue of the global chemical industry amounted to over $4.7 trillion.
And yet the chemical sector has long been stymied by inefficiencies, with siloed information stored across ~15,000 websites and product catalogs presented as PDFs. Similarly, sales are dependent on “old school” meetings, phone calls, emails — even fax machines.
Knowde is modernizing the way chemical sellers and buyers do business by building the premier B2B digital marketplace for the chemical sales industry. Using Knowde, R&D teams and buyers can search, learn, engage, sample, quote, and purchase from every major chemical producer — all in one place.
“Knowde is the first company to build software tools that transform how companies across every industry discover, engage, and transact with ingredient, polymer, and chemical suppliers online,” said Dan Haas, the company’s Chief Commercial Officer. ”For suppliers, our platform is unlocking new revenue streams and creating sustainable paths to growth. For customers, we’re helping fast-track innovation and improve efficiency.”
A Cost-Effective Link Between Suppliers and Customers
Knowde covers every major vertical across the entire industry, including agriculture, building and construction, electronics, food and nutrition, healthcare and pharma, personal care, and printing and packaging. The company’s top customers and suppliers include several multinational manufacturers.
On the Knowde platform, users can browse, search, and access over 8,000 suppliers and 185,000 chemical products. Buyers also use Knowde to request documents, order samples, receive quotes, and access experts who can answer technical questions.
For suppliers, Knowde makes it easier to reach and engage buyers, nurture leads, and capitalize on new business opportunities — all while lowering their cost of sales. Knowde also offers sellers the technology sellers need to move online quickly to get in front of their target buyers, plus advanced analytics to inform data-driven decision-making.
What We Liked About Knowde
Purple Arch Ventures (for the Northwestern community) sponsored our investment in Knowde. Among the company’s strengths identified by Purple Arch in its due diligence:
Market SizeBy 2027, the global chemicals market is expected to reach $6.9 trillion. Capturing even a small percentage of that could translate into 10s of millions of dollars in revenues.*
Sticky Product & Network EffectsCustomer satisfaction with the step change between the status quo marketplace experience and Knowdes’ platform is reflected in results: no churn and impressive net revenue retention. And given the growing number of buyers, sellers are unlikely to leave the platform, producing attractive flywheel benefits.
Competitive Moats & TractionKnowde invested multiple years in digitizing a highly fragmented and complex industry, building a proprietary, first-of-its-kind database and surrounding product suite. This advantage is coupled with the company’s traction-building relationships with global suppliers.
*According to the Business Research Company, “Chemical Global Market Report 2023,” January 2023
How We Are Involved
Alumni Ventures joined Knowde’s $72 million Series B led by Coatue, which also took a Board Director position. Coatue is among the world’s largest technology investment platforms, with over $60 billion in assets under management. The firm has 44 exits, including AV portfolio company Deliverr (acquired by Shopify in 2022 for $2.1 billion in cash and stock).
Also joining in this Series B were Sequoia, Sound, Refactor, Cantons, Bee Partners, Mantis VC, and K5. AV funds participating in the round alongside Purple Arch Ventures were Nassau Street Ventures (for the Princeton community) and Total Access Fund.
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