Icix, a startup that makes it easier to track and test consumer products, has raised $25 million in a third round of funding.
The San Francisco company helps companies form business networks that share information with trading partners.
Over the past four years, the company has been working on Direct Test, which ties together data from 300,000 product safety testing laboratory sources around the world. Icix wants to be able to verify test records for millions of products.
“The network tests, inspects, and certifies different aspects of the supply chain,” Matt Smith, cofounder and chief strategy officer of Icix, told VentureBeat in an interview. “We spent time integrating with the big lab systems so we can gather the data directly from the sources through these lab networks. If I am buying a product from a particular trading partner, we can trace it back to where it was tested and when it was tested.”
The investors include Wesfarmers, one of Australia’s leading diversified companies, and original investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Starfish Ventures. Rivals include companies like IBM, which is using its own big data technology to prevent food poisoning and other problems in the food chain. But that’s not really direct competition for Icix.
“With more than 38 million products recalled in 2013, product safety is clearly an issue for both consumers and businesses,” said Smith. “The globalization of supply chains and increased regulation have made it much more difficult to manage extended supply chain risk. We developed Direct Test in collaboration with leading brands, retailers, and testing labs to help them proactively and efficiently meet the challenge of validating product safety.”
Traditional paper-based data collection — via hard copies, fax, email, or spreadsheets — makes it extremely difficult to implement a systematic, consistent testing program involving multiple third-party testing partners. Automating that data collection and turning it into accessible information is what Direct Test is all about. More than 20,000 businesses are members of the Icix network.
The application matches purchase orders to existing documents and notifies trading partners and testing labs when documentation or certificates are missing, Smith said. To date, the company has raised $50 million.