The clothing industry is often accused of not being socially responsible, and Ram Radhakrishnan, CEO of Silqexplains that brands struggle to find a factory that meets quality and capacity requirements while being transparent in communication.
“The problem is not a lack of technology, but a lack of structured data,” he told TechCrunch. “None of the solutions has yet solved the problem, and the global pandemic has exacerbated it.”
Radhakrishnan, who started the company with Kate Alexander and Vishnu Nair, spent years in India watching his family members run factories, which ultimately inspired the idea for Silq. He came to the United States and worked in transportation, including at CH Robinson and Flexport.
He noted that $2.8 trillion worth of goods entered the United States last year and some $500 billion was spent fixing supply chain inefficiencies, which he attributes to the inflation that we are currently seeing. Additionally, companies are trying to get supply chain data but have been unsuccessful.
This is where his company comes in with its approach to bringing brands real-time visibility and data from the manufacturing floor. Its technology helps users find, manufacture and ship brands of clothing, footwear, home goods and accessories.
In fact, Silq places its own field workers in facilities to provide updates during the production process, resulting in improved product quality and faster time to market. The company provides brands with a production schedule designed and maintained by Silq.
“We show them what’s happening on the supply chain floors and provide validated data from people on the ground in five countries,” Radhakrishnan said. “Using the data, customers can make freight bookings because we can predict what will happen up to 45 days in advance.”
The company was in beta mode for half of 2021, but managed to bring in $10 million in gross merchandise value from the five countries in which it operates.
Silq is currently focused on soft goods, but will move into broader consumer goods categories in 2022.
It is also benefiting from growth in markets it does not operate in, including Asia and Latin America, but Radhakrishnan expects to be present in those regions by the end of the year.
This growth is supported by new Series A funding of $17.6 million, co-led by F-Prime Capital and Flexport Ventures. Eight Roads Ventures, existing investors RTP Seed and Forum Ventures and a group of angel investors have joined the round. It gives the company approximately $19.6 million in total funding to date. As part of the round, F-Prime Capital’s Ben Gorman joins the board.
Radhakrishnan plans to use the new funding to expand its footprint of factory partners worldwide, grow its team of on-site merchandisers and quality inspectors across Asia, and invest in technology development.
Speaking on the current bottleneck in the supply chain, Radhakrishnan said he doesn’t expect it to be clear until summer 2024.
“We don’t have the infrastructure to handle throughput, so either we build some or it has to go down,” he added. “Building infrastructure doesn’t happen overnight, so we can hope to improve the efficiency of existing infrastructure, and that’s what Silq is doing. This is going to have to happen in the next five years because the infrastructure will take half a decade to build. Until then, all efficiency will come from solutions like us and others to leverage existing assets. »