Knowde brings online marketplace for plastics

An increasingly digital world creates opportunities for the online platform Knowde and providers such as Braskem America and DuPont Co.

Knowde, based in San Jose, California, officially launched its plastics, elastomers, and polymer additives platform in early May. Officials said the online platform enables plastics and elastomer specifiers, converters, compounders and buyers to search, filter, collaborate, request samples and quotes, and shop from hundreds of manufacturers in one place.

With Knowde, processors can find what they need quickly and get to market faster, they said.

“Customers spend more time online,” said co-founder and CEO Ali Amin-Javaheri in an interview with Plastics News. “It’s a question of what you do with your time. We can bring you a new experience.”

E-commerce for plastics suppliers was first attempted in the 1990s, but Amin-Javaheri said this approach was “not the right approach”. On Knowde, every supplier has a storefront that allows customers to browse an entire line of products, he added.

Knowde was launched in 2016 and now offers showcases for more than 2,000 suppliers. In addition to Braskem and DuPont, Solvay SA and DSM NV are among the plastics companies.

Currently, buyers conduct nearly 300,000 searches, 6,000 sample inquiries, and 1,200 price offers every month. In March 2020, the company announced that it had raised $ 14 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital, with the participation of Refactor Capital, Bee Partners, Cantos Ventures and Knollwood Investment Advisory.

Braskem America, based in Philadelphia, a unit of the polyethylene and polypropylene manufacturer Braskem SA from São Paulo, recently expanded its storefront to Knowde. Brands offered by Braskem include the company’s recently launched 3D printing polymers and the expanded I’m Green portfolio of recycled plastics.

In an interview with Plastics News, Braskem CEO Mark Nikolich said that his company has been “on a digitization journey for five years” and that Knowde “has a competence that we don’t have”.

“An outside company has new eyes and we think that will give us access to new markets,” he added. “Physical distribution is important, but with Knowde we can reach more buyers who are interested in our products.”

For DuPont, based in Wilmington, Del., Knowde enables the company to better serve existing customers or find potential new customers, said Randy Stone, president of mobility and materials.

“Buyers can walk in, search, scan and access digital content online,” said Stone. “DuPont is great with new applications, but not with digital storefronts. Knowde is the best partner for that.”

Knowde officials describe DuPont as a “flagship producer” on the platform. DuPont offers nylon, acetal and copolyester resins and compounds as well as other specialty materials on Knowde. These offerings include Delrin, Zytel, Hytrel, Crastin, and Rynite.

Knowde’s search capabilities allow users to search products by chemistry, application, function and technical properties, officials said. The company also promotes ingredients from manufacturers with targeted digital marketing and social media campaigns, and offers self-service tools for marketing automation and customer relationship management.

Knowde also provides analytics to track key performance indicators, including the number of Marketing Qualified Leads and Sales Qualified Leads generated by manufacturers’ storefronts. Officials said the number of sales leads generated on Knowde increased 500 percent in 2020.

Changes in customer behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic have also opened up opportunities for Knowde.

“We operated virtually during the pandemic,” said Nikolich in Braskem. “That changes the relationship, so a digital interface is very important.

“The digital marketplace has evolved and that opens up various access and communication options,” he added.

Knowde’s Amin-Javaheri admitted the pandemic was “a massive tailwind” for his company.

“Our traffic has grown rapidly,” he said. “The number of buyers has increased.”

The other members of the Knowde founding team are Wojciech Krupa, Chief Technical Officer; Janakiraman Swamy, Chief Knowledge Officer; and Jeffery Reid, Chief Product Officer. The company has approximately 90 employees, most of whom work remotely.

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