The global commodities market is worth nearly $17 trillion, but the supply chains that power it are largely archaic with stakeholders working in a siloed environment that lacks visibility into trade flows. And in a scenario where trade is politicized through tariff exchanges and trade wars, having visibility over commodities as they move across supply chains is critical.
Intelage, a Seattle-based startup working on simplifying global commodities trade, has raised $2.3 million in seed round financing from Ignition Partners and GoAhead Ventures with the funding channeled towards easing bottlenecks that exist in the commodities market.
“We are a company that creates software to make international and domestic trade easy for anyone who trades physical commodities,” said John Han, the CEO of Intelage. “We are unlocking access to global markets – for producers, traders, and vendors while ultimately bringing transparency, collaboration, and opportunities to a single platform.”
Before Intelage, Han had been trading in the global commodities market for 15 years. “I had founded the Hans Company, and we provided international marketing and trading solutions to enterprise companies and SMEs, where we helped sell their products across different countries,” he said. It was at this point when he realized that the industry’s inner workings were manual to a great extent and had an air of uncertainty around them.
“The industry of global trade is pretty much managed chaos,” said Han. “You have a lot of moving parts that you are trying to tie down together all in one aspect, and you don’t have the ability to access the knowledge that you’ve utilized, as all that knowledge exists within people’s minds and is not brought onto a single platform.”
While in the industry, Han recognized similar bottlenecks surfaced across different verticals and worked on providing a solution to it through technology, and in a way where traders could adopt without needing to deviate from normal operations. “We are providing a solution that has been adapted to the work style, and given that approach, we’ve provided them with different modules that they can utilize – rather than providing them a heavy-handed all-approach solution,” said Han.
At the moment, Intelage works with invite-only customers, strictly controlling their client volumes before venturing out publicly. Han explained that this was essential for them as it helps test initial versions of the solution, and thus the final version that goes out could be better geared to provide a seamless customer experience.
Han contended that to create traction it is essential to create a solution that does not ask traders and producers to revamp their daily operations, but rather provide incremental changes to their existing workflows. “We are also hoping to provide a very automated process for trading which we believe would put everyone on a level-playing field, helping them access global markets without hassles,” he said.
Intelage plans to use the $2.3 million towards building further intelligence into the platform, while accommodating and automating more features to the solution. “In addition to this, we would be scaling up the organization into different areas of the company as well,” said Han. “We are a team of five at present but are planning to hire more engineers into the team now.”