Software isn’t just eating the world, it’s also eating other software. We are in the earliest innings of SaaS becoming the dominant enterprise application paradigm, and there are still a massive amount of legacy applications slowing down the productivity of business. So when I see a pattern of brittle, bespoke applications all doing essentially the same thing across thousands of businesses, I see opportunity.
Electronic data interchange (EDI) is one of those opportunities. Supply chains require communication between enterprises to send and receive orders. How many widgets did you ship me? How much do I owe you for the widgets? When will the widgets arrive? What are the tracking numbers for the widgets? At its core, EDI is the system for companies to digitally send this type of transaction information – purchase orders, shipping notices, invoices – to another business.
Any business buying/selling goods or moving physical goods uses EDI data to move inventory around the supply chain. Retailers buying products from multiple vendors trade information via EDI. Shipping companies loading containers onto trucks or storing pallets in warehouses use EDI to share container and shipping information. Medical device companies assembling products use EDI to track part shipments. Healthcare companies working with insurers use EDI to share patient information.
As the world becomes more digital and supply chains more global, EDI has become more critical, more complex, and more inefficient. Today, there are over 400 EDI transaction types and numerous standards. Each company has different data requirements, and exchanging data via EDI requires translating data from one company’s format to another’s. A manufacturer trading EDI with 10 partners may need to set up 10 separate EDI connections that need to be maintained and managed by someone with technical expertise. A technical anchor starts to weigh down the business and create drag. The more trading partners and transaction types a business has, the worse it gets. Small manufacturers and vendors without in-house EDI experts often rely on consultants and legacy software companies to help them manage their EDI trading connections. If ever there was an opportunity for a SaaS platform to improve a legacy system, EDI is it.
Enter Orderful and founder/CEO Erik Kiser. Erik started his career building custom EDI integrations for vendors and then became a consultant managing EDI connections. He saw in EDI a set of brittle connections multiplying in volume and complexity, and too often leaving customers frustrated by broken connections and delays. Erik invested his own money and started Orderful, a SaaS platform for trading EDI data.
Orderful provides a network-based solution for a one-to-many connection for EDI. Customers can connect once to Orderful and immediately trade EDI data with any trading partner in their supply chain. Customers don’t need to keep expanding their EDI surface area exponentially with the expansion and growth of their business. Instead, they connect once to the Orderful network, and it takes care of the rest – automating data translation so each business gets the data they need in the format that they want. Connections are compliant, stable, and turned up quickly. Orderful already manages millions of transactions every month, and that’s just the beginning.
We’re thrilled to announce we’ve led the Series A in Orderful, and I have joined their Board of Directors. They are hiring!