Supply Chain Startup Fluent Raises $1.65 Million in Seed Funding

Stan Higgins
May 10, 2016 at 13:44 UTC
Updated May 11, 2016 at 03:23 UTC
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A blockchain startup dedicated to supply chain applications has raised $1.65m in new seed funding.

Fluent, which last year raised roughly $850k from a group of investors that included mass media corporation Thomson Reuters and Silicon Valley VC fund Draper Associates, is one of several startups in the blockchain space today working on supply chain applications.

The round was led by ff Venture Capital, a New York-based venture firm with a portfolio that also includes Indiegogo. Crosscut Ventures, Digital Currency Group, Draper Associates, Fenbushi Capital, Lindbergh Tech Fund and the St. Louis Arch Angels also participated in the round.

In interview, CEO Lamar Wilson told CoinDesk that the startup plans to use the new funding in part to attract new participants to its platform, as well as expand its existing team over the course of the year.

The startup is also unveiling its first partner, Kansas City-based Commerce Bancshares, which in the months ahead will use the platform to experiment with the technology from several different angles, including its use for business-to-business (B2B) payments as well as a test of peer-to-peer capital generation and deployment.

The concept of using a blockchain as part of the commerce supply chain is one of several to have gathered traction, particularly as it relates to using a distributed ledger to timestamp steps in the production process.

The idea is that supply chains can be improved by ensuring the validity of products, thereby reducing the risk that counterfeit or low-quality ones enter the market at all. A distributed record of those steps, the thinking goes, would keep supply chain members more honest.

According to Wilson, Fluent is aiming to capitalize on interest among major financials in the use of blockchains for supply chain management. Its partnership with Commerce Bancshares is just the first step in a plan to develop a working group dedicated to these applications.

“We are dead-set focused on the financial supply chain, and we completely focus all of our efforts toward that,” he said.

The bank said in a statement that it sees the new investment through the lens of its existing customer services.

“Commerce is keenly focused on innovation in the payment space and has for some time now provided customers with a comprehensive suite of highly competitive and often industry-tailored products and technologies,” said Chris Wiedenmann, vice president of commercial systems and product innovation for Commerce Bancshares.

It’s this area of interest, the company’s new backers say as well, that ultimately drew their support. John Frankel, a partner at ff Venture Capital, told CoinDesk:

“This is a space we have been interested in for some time and are excited to see such a talented team take a novel approach to reducing friction in global supply chain commerce.”

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