You wake up, drink a cup of Colombian coffee, check a phone made of rare earth metals, and drive a car with parts from a dozen countries. Everything’s going great until you hear about child labor in cobalt mines, underpaid farmers in Latin America and a massive airbag recall.
Welcome to the world of supply chain risk.
Seattle-based data firm Koverse has launched a new service with audit giant PwC that gathers data from a company’s supply chain and uses it to identify problems before they become scandals. The product, called Know Your Vendor, lets companies monitor suppliers to ensure compliance and spot potential problems.
“A lot of companies know who they do business with, but they don’t know who their suppliers do business with,” Koverse CEO Jon Matsuo told GeekWire. “A lot of the risk is happening way further down the chain.”
Koverse was started by former National Security Administration (NSA) data pros Paul Brown and Aaron Cordova. While working for the government, Brown and Cordova developed Apache Accumulo, the database engine that underlies Koverse’s core product.
Prior to pairing with Koverse, PwC’s approach to risk management was highly manual — and expensive. Jeff Hunter, a principal with PwC’s risk assurance group, wanted to use data to create a better, more scalable service.
Hunter’s vision was straightforward: Data should be able to tell a company what that supplier is doing all the time, not just during an annual audit, Matsuo said.
PwC knew how to do supply chain risk assessment, but it needed a tech partner. Koverse sold PwC on the idea that its intelligent solutions platform would be scalable and secure, and that they could bring a product to market quickly. Scale and security were a given: Koverse had already created similar products for large entities in health care, government and finance.
Koverse’s platform is based on Accumulo and designed to reduce the need to clean data from structured and unstructured data sources. As an added bonus, data can be secured down to the cell level.
After six months, the companies had a product that could take in that messy data and turn it into supply chain insights for high-level executives.
Matsuo said the speed was possible because Koverse had turned its services into a defined product. “We’re oftentimes referred to as a significantly more affordable, more flexible, and customer-friendly version of Palantir,” Matsuo said, referring to the big data firm started by Peter Thiel, Alex Karp and others.
Koverse employs 20 people in offices in Seattle and Denver, as well as a small office out of New York. The company said that it’s profitable and has taken only one round of $4 million in funding three years ago.