Transforming the Supply Chain: Menlo’s Series A Investment in Enable
- Steve Sloane, Menlo Ventures
We are excited to announce our $13m Series A lead investment in Enable, a modern software solution for B2B rebate management. Enable builds upon multiple thesis areas for Menlo Ventures, and provides the rare opportunity to back a fast-growing bootstrapped business.
With a modern software solution for B2B rebate management, Enable is driving efficiency in the supply chain, where rebate incentives are a standard industry practice. While manufacturers can win distributors with rebates, they create complexity in the back office, where setting terms, validating compliance, and tracking a broad range of incentive tiers that may be adjusted for volume or region, is a highly manual process managed in spreadsheets. Enable’s SaaS solution brings order to the chaos, providing an upfront deal collaboration portal between distributors and suppliers, as well as a backend engine to correctly calculate and manage these payments, while surfacing opportunities to optimize. The opportunity is staggering: Manufacturers issue more than $1 trillion in rebates each year.
Enable aligns nicely with a few different investment themes at Menlo, continuing to build upon our thesis in supply chain technologies, solving a “busted” workflow in finance/procurement, and creating a smarter collaborative solution between parties. Specifically, we see parallels between Enable and the following investment themes:
- Supply Chain - Menlo sees huge opportunity in supply chain technologies, driven by trends that challenge the status quo: Walmart and Amazon have applied pressure to suppliers. There are enhanced visibility requirements for trucking. And, the crippling labor shortages affecting logistics are accelerating the adoption automation technology. Menlo has invested across several areas in the supply chain, from warehouse automation (6 River Systems (acquired last year by Shopify for $450m)), Right Hand Robotics, and Shipbob) to downstream visibility throughout the supply chain (Alloy.ai). While the B2C supply chain has undergone a massive overhaul as a result of these and similar technologies, the B2B supply chain has lagged behind. Enable’s solution dramatically streamlines the end-to-end rebate management process between distributors and manufacturers.
- “Busted” Workflows in Finance/Procurement: Software has the power to transform how we work. Think about a process at work where you find yourself cobbling together information siloed in spreadsheets, emails, or using pen and paper. Here at Menlo, we define these frustrating processes as “busted” workflows. We are committed to backing great software businesses that systematically eliminate these pain points. Across industries, we’ve found that financial processes — in particular — are dragged down by busted workflows. This observation drove our investments in solutions like Carta (smarter cap-table management), Qualia (streamlining real-estate closings), and Scout RFP (strategic sourcing solution, acquired last year by Workday for $540m). Like these category-leaders, Enable eliminates the static distribution agreements, painful excel calculations, and tedious reconciliation process that have long been accepted as part of rebate management.
- Smarter Collaborative Solutions: Menlo sees huge value in removing the friction from collaboration. We’ve backed software businesses that make it easier for employees to share data and processes, allowing them to realize significant efficiencies, and leverage smart recommendations from previously neglected data. Menlo’s portfolio of smarter collaborative software includes businesses like Everlaw (e-Discovery software), Benchling (a modern lab-notebook for life sciences), and Fieldwire (project management software for construction). Distributors and manufacturers collaborating on Enable, reduce the endless “back and forth” of negotiation and approval processes. And, because Enable ingests and processes this data, Enable can deliver smart recommendations for profit maximization that were previously inaccessible.
The decision to invest in Enable, was easy. It’s a fit thematically (as outlined above) but also from a financial standpoint. It’s quite rare to find a bootstrapped business growing as quickly as Enable.
In addition, the breadth of the platform impressed us, Enable understands the supply chain opportunity and knows first-hand the value they create by driving efficient rebate management, serving the needs of deal teams, finance teams and executives. Enable’s platform features both a slick, front-end user interface for deal collaboration, as well as a powerful backend rebate calculation end, a difficult combination to pull off.
More importantly, however, it’s not every day that we meet a CEO willing to uproot a successful, bootstrapped business based in the UK, because he’s on a mission to transform a category. However, when we first met Andrew Butt, Enable’s CEO, we knew that we had struck upon a founder with a rare blend of vision, proven execution, and domain expertise. We are very excited to partner with Andrew, his team, and Sierra Ventures to re-define rebate management — — a historically neglected, but massively important component of international commerce.
Follow Steve on Twitter @Bad2TheSloane