Millennials don’t want to get drunk. What do they want? Apéritifs.

Gen Z doesn’t want to get drunk. Millennials are tired of the obligatory after-work drinks.

Haus, a new startup selling apéritifs online, has a solution for them. The company’s beverages have a lower alcohol content than standard hard liquors on the market, which means you can drink one, even a few, without getting wasted. Made from distilled grapes, fresh herbs and botanicals, its natural ingredients and A-plus branding are sure to appeal to the younger demographic.

Launching today with pre-seed backing from venture capital funds Combine, Haystack and Partners Resolute, customers can begin ordering Haus’ citrus & flower-flavored debut apéritif (15% ABV), priced at $70 apiece. The goal, co-founder Helena Price Hambrecht explains, is to be the first fully direct-to-consumer player in an industry dominated by digitally-novice incumbent alcohol brands and distributors.

Haus enters the market at an opportune time. VCs — more than ever — are funneling cash to innovative beverage projects. This year, Bev, a canned wine business, raised $7 million in seed funding from Founders Fund. Liquid Death, which sells canned water for the punk rock crowd, attracted nearly $2 million in funding from angel investors like Away co-founder Jen Rubio and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. And More Labs, the company readying the launch of Liquid Focus, is backed with $8 million in VC funding, among others.

Haus is run by husband-and-wife duo Helena Price Hambrecht and Woody Hambrecht. The former has established herself in Silicon Valley, developing the brands of consumer-facing companies including the likes of Airbnb, Dropbox, Facebook, Fitbit and Instagram. Woody Hambrecht, for his part, has been a bona fide “booze guy” since a young age, making wine and managing 67 acres of wine grapes at the pair’s Sonoma County, Calif. ranch, where Haus is also headquartered.

Haus co-founders, husband-and-wife duo Helena Price Hambrecht (right) and Woody Hambrecht.

“We joke that it must have taken a Silicon Valley type to marry a wine & spirits guy because no one has done this before; it’s crazy,” Price Hambrecht tells TechCrunch. “I can make something that gets a shit load of users and press in my sleep and I married this wine & spirits guy who understands the compliance, fulfillment, legal and finance elements. The amount we can do together is insane.”

By “this,” she means launch a direct-to-consumer apéritif brand. It’s generally illegal to sell spirits online D2C aside from a small subset of liquors with lesser alcohol contents. Knowing this loophole, many restaurants across the U.S. have begun making cocktails using only this subset of liquors (thus avoiding the steep fees required to obtain a liquor license) but Price Hambrecht says no one has thought to create an online store for apéritifs for fear of going up against the old guard of the alcoholic beverage market.

Because Haus handles every part of the process, including a patent-pending production model, the old guard isn’t an issue, nor is scaling. Currently, Haus is making and bottling its beverages in a 3,000 square foot warehouse just North of the couple’s farm, with plans to purchase another 2,800 square foot warehouse as orders increase. Unlike wine or whiskey, which must age years before going to market, it only takes hours to make apéritifs, simplifying one of the more complex features of the wine & spirits business.

Later this year, Haus plans to raise additional seed capital to launch a subscription product in 2020, begin constructing brick-and-mortar apéritif shops for the millennial and Gen Z cohort and release a second and third product line. Ultimately, Haus wants not only to disrupt the liquor business but provide alternative beverages to young people looking for better options.

“I was going through my own dilemma of drinking,” Price Hambrecht said. “If you’re a person that is career-focused, you’re possibly drinking 4-plus nights per week. I love how it brings people together; it’s a foundation of society, but you’ve got all these downsides. I never want to be drunk, I never want to be hungover.”

“It’s a cultural problem that we are solving.”

How to Find Better Podcasts

There are more podcasts out there than you could ever try, but most of them are crap, or just aren’t your thing. How do you find the good stuff? I talked to Caroline Crampton, editor of the email newsletter the Listener, where she recommends three to five great podcast episodes every day. To find them, she listens to 2–6 hours of podcasts a day, and she’s constantly searching for shows to try out. Here’s how she finds so many good podcasts, and how you can too.

Read newsletters

You can, of course, find shows through Crampton’s newsletter. The daily edition is $30/year, with occasional free editions every week or two. But you don’t have to spend money to find new shows. Crampton recommends the Bello Collective, a group blog and email newsletter for podcast listeners and creators. Start with their list of 100 outstanding podcasts from 2018.

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And you can pile up the recs with these free podcast recommendation newsletters:

You’ll also find podcast recommendations inside many general “stuff we like” newsletters, such as Rex Sorgatz’s Recs newsletter.

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Follow podcast recommenders

There are many blogs covering and recommending podcasts, like the 30+ shows listed here (with an emphasis on audio drama), and the blogs associated with the newsletters above. Whenever you get a good rec, look for the author on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see if they’re also recommending shows there.

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The r/podcasts subreddit has over half a million subscribers, and there are always several recommendation threads on the front page. For example, “I’m looking for podcasts to get my mom off of watching evil cable television. Cooking, romance, news, anything a 45yo mom may like!” The subreddit even has a daily free-for-all recommendation thread, and a weekly thread where podcasters can describe their own shows.

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Search for “best of” lists

A simple google search for a type of podcast will turn up lists from blogs and news sites. Crampton is always searching for blog posts that collect great podcast episodes, especially ones from years ago that are still worth resurfacing. You can search for roundups from each year, and/or search for a specific topic: “best knitting podcasts 2018,” or “musical theater podcasts,” or “best chemistry podcasts,” or “best podcast episodes 2017.” 

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Try the most specific version of your search first; you’ll be surprised what topics someone has cataloged, saving you the trouble of finding and listening to everything in the genre.

Wait for good episodes

Crampton often sees a promising podcast whose best episodes are yet to come. Instead of subscribing to it on her podcast player, she’ll subscribe with an RSS reader. Crampton uses NewsBlur, but you can use whatever reader you want. You can look at all the new podcast episodes available every day, or check in every few weeks and gather up all the good episodes.

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This is also what you can do when one of your favorite shows starts to get less interesting: put it on RSS reader probation, like Crampton does, and watch for a particularly noteworthy episode. It’s a way to track many shows without watching them pile up in your player, taking up space and mental energy.

Build a custom podcast out of different shows

Instead of hunting down each podcast in your app, then downloading the episodes you want, use the podcast search engine Listen Notes to combine episodes from multiple shows into one podcast feed. Lifehacker has instructions here. 

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This makes it easier to try out a ton of different shows, especially if you’re more interested in specific episodes than committing to every show. Searching within podcast apps can be a pain in the ass, as many won’t let you search for specific episodes without first searching for the show title.

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Use it as small talk

Crampton likes to bring up podcasts in conversation: “Whenever I meet people, I just ask them what do you listen to?” She especially loves when someone pulls out their phone and shows her, so she learns not just what they subscribe to, but what their “listening system” is: what app, how they order episodes, whether they keep shows downloaded after they finish.

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Change your country

Apple and Google, of course, regularly feature “New and Noteworthy” podcasts on their official apps, and they list the most popular shows and episodes in multiple genres. But if you want to branch out further, try changing your country of residence. This will show you what’s popular in different countries. Crampton uses this to find local shows, including regional sports podcasts, and other genres that are especially popular in certain areas. (Europe, she says, loves interview shows.)

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Here’s how to change your country on the mobile Google Play Store and on the mobile iTunes store. But it’s much easier in iTunes on Mac:

  • Go to the podcasts front page (select Podcasts as your media type in the top left, and go to the Store tab).
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page, and under Manage, select Country or Region.
  • Pick a country.

Choose short podcasts

Most podcasts should be shorter, Crampton says. “Everything can always be tighter. [Podcasters] are asking for however long out of somebody’s day.” Her favorite shows include Seven-Minute Opinions from news magazine The Week (ended in 2017), and Rob Long’s 4-minute Hollywood podcast Martini Shot.

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My own favorite podcasts under 30 minutes include:

  • Song Exploder (10-15 min): Musicians break down their own songs, lyrically and instrumentally
  • A Piece of Work (15-25 min): Broad City star Abbi Jacobson demystifies major works of modern and contemporary art in a limited series with guest stars and experts
  • Uncanny Japan (10-20 min): Japanese folklore and mythology explored
  • Desert Oracle Radio (28 min): Journalist Ken Layne delivers Art Bell-inspired rants about UFOs, cryptids, and the tourists ruining the Southwest’s fragile desert ecosystem
  • Earth Break (24 min): Jenny Slate gives a shiveringly good performance in an audio drama about the last survivor of an alien invasion
  • 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy (9 min): Brief histories of major technologies and their economic impact

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Listen all the time

You don’t have to listen for multiple hours a day like Crampton does, or resort to speeding up shows. Instead, find the show that fits your time frame or your mood: a 20-minute episode when you have 20 free minutes; a loose chat show like Comedy Bang! Bang! when you’ll be distracted and a tight, attention-demanding show when you can focus. With most podcast apps, you can arrange episodes in your queue like a playlist.

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And don’t struggle to get into a show that’s not catching your attention. Crampton likes to give podcasts a lot of time to prove themselves, but that’s up to you. Personally, I like to switch away the first moment I’m bored, and start a different show. It’s not like you’ll ever run out of podcasts to try.

AI services startup Hypergiant brings on Bill Nye as an advisor

Hypergiant, a startup launched last year to address the execution gap in bringing applied AI and machine learning technologies to bear for large companies, has signed on a high-profile new advisor to help out with the new ‘Galactic Systems’ division of its services lineup.

Hypergiant founder CEO Ben Lamm also serves as an Advisory Council Member for The Planetary Society, the nonprofit dedicated to space science and exploration advocacy that’s led by Nye who acts as the Society’s CEO. Nye did some voiceover work for the video at the bottom of this post for Hypergiant through the connection, and then decided to come on in a more formal capacity as an official advisor working with the company. He’ll act as a member of Hypergiant’s Advisory Board.

Nye was specifically interested in helping Hypergiant to work on AI tech that touch on a couple of areas he’s most passionate about.

“Hypergiant has an ambitious mission to address some big problems using artificial intelligence systems,” Nye explained via email. “I’m looking forward to working with Hypergiant to develop artificially intelligent systems in two areas I care about a great deal: climate change and space exploration. We need to think big, and I’m very optimistic about what AI can do to make the world quite a bit better.”

Through its work, Hypergiant has an impact on projects in flight from high-profile customers including Apple, GE, Starbucks and the Department of Homeland Security to name just a few. Earlier this year, Austin-based Hypergiant announced it was launching a dedicated space division through the acquisition of Satellite & Extraterrestrial Operations & Procedures (SEOPS), a Texas company that offered deployment services for small satellites.

Ben Lamm NASA 2

Hypergiant founder and CEO Ben Lamm along with members of the Hypergiant team at NASA. Credit: Hypergiant.

Nye’s role will focus on this division, advising on space, but also equally on advising clients as to climate change in order to ensure that Hypergiant can “make the most of AI systems to hep provide a high quality of life for people everywhere,” Nye wrote.

“Climate change is the biggest issue we face, and we need to get serious about new ways to fight it,” he explained in an email, noting that the potential impact his work with Hypergiant will have in this area specifically is a key reason he’s excited to undertake the new role.

A Better World from HYPERGIANT on Vimeo.

Why Your Daily Assignments Aren’t Tracking in ‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’

Screenshot: David Murphy

Even though it’s a bit of a time-sink, I’ve been using the new Harry Potter: Wizards Unite mobile game (iOS, Android) as a great excuse to get outside and walk around more. I kind of have to, since there’s a daily achievement that you can only unlock if you’ve wizard-walked your way through your neighborhood an easy 0.25 kilometres.

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I did that the other day—and used potions, and collected foundables, and stopped at inns, all the other stuff you have to do to finish the day’s accomplishments and collect that sweet, eight-gold reward. Imagine my surprise when I pulled up the game’s “Daily Assignments” tracker to find that all of my hard work was for nothing; it didn’t record a thing.

I’m not sure if this is a bug or just some stupid implementation of daily achievements, but I’ve read quite a few reports from other wizards complaining about this same thing. As it turns out, the game doesn’t track what you’re doing until you’ve opened up “Daily Assignments” each day. That’s a lot different than most games with a daily quest/unlocking system, which simply make note of your progress whenever you, you know, play the game.

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Screenshot: David Murphy

Though the daily login rewards for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite are more valuable than the daily assignments, I know I’d be irritated if I wasted my precious rare ingredients (and hours) brewing a potion, only to have it not count. Here’s hoping Niantic fixes this quirky implementation in a future update.

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The Best Apps for Reading Books, Audiobooks, and Comics in 2019

It’s never been easier to read, thanks to our phones—we’re all carrying entire bookstores around in our pockets. In the video above, I share our favorite apps for reading books, listening to audiobooks, and purchasing comics.

Purchase books and audiobooks

Borrow books and audiobooks from the library

  • Libby (iOS, Android)
  • Overdrive (iOS, Android) is an old version of Libby that might work better for you if you have an older device

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Purchase and subscribe to comic books

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Wave Goodbye to Dry Skin With This Discounted Jar of Aquaphor

Aquaphor Healing Ointment 14 Ounce | $9 | Amazon | Clip 25% off coupon

Aquaphor has been around forever, and for good reason. This stuff works like magic on dry skin, especially in the wintertime. There’s a reason is has a 4.6 star average from over 3,000 reviews, all of which were typed out by soft and supple fingers. Clip the coupon and save 25% on a 14oz tub of Aquaphor, and never worry about dry hands again.


Oh My God YES You Need To Clean Your Gym Bag

SqualorJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? [Email her.](mailto:joliekerr@gmail.com)  

Ask a Clean Person and Style Girlfriend are teaming up to bring you the latest on what to wear for spring and summer… this week, they’re talking gym bags.

I regularly work out with a friend of mine, and he uses a nylon Puma backpack as his gym bag. This thing … is horrible. The stench that comes out of it could honestly be considered some form of biochemical warfare. Nothing survives once it’s in there — the smell gets into his clothes, which is exacerbated once he works out in them, and then he puts the clothes back in the backpack and the whole monstrous cycle continues. Short of burning the backpack, I’m not sure what can be done; is it hopeless? Can the smell ever be eradicated in any meaningful way? I’ve become obsessed with figuring out how to clean this thing. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you!!


I think we can nuke that smell, yes, but even though I know better than to ask questions there just aren’t any answers to, I’m going to anyway: WHY is he still using this bag instead of addressing the problem or getting a new one?! Like…he smells himself, right? I mean … okay actually I’m going to stop with the unanswerable questions and get back to the answerable one, which is can this gym bag be saved.

Yes, I think it can. And I think it will be pretty easy!

First of all, LW gave me one very clutch piece of information, which is that the bag is made of nylon. Here’s some great news about nylon: It is machine washable! In fact, most gym bags will be machine washable, provided they’re not overly structured — many gym bags have a bottom panel inside the bag that’s removable, making the bag more flexible and less likely to get damaged in the washing machine. That bottom panel should also be cleaned, by wiping it with a damp sudsy rag. Because this bag in particular has a DEEP FUNK to it, I would suggest using Dr. Bronner’s for this operation, since we know it to be highly effective at eliminating odors.

I realize I should also say this: You can use any of the Dr. Bronner’s scents you like, including the unscented kind — they all work equally well at odor removal. (I’m a rose gal, myself, but I would be, wouldn’t I?) If you have commitment issues, Dr. Bronner’s makes a 4 oz. sample set so you can try almond, eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, and the infamous peppermint to decide which you like best.

But back to that machine washing operation: You can certainly use Dr. Bronner’s for laundry, and that will be a good choice here (¼- ⅓ cup will do it for this since you’ll only be washing one item; use half that if your washing machine is a HE model). You could also use a sports detergent like Hex or Sport Suds. You can also use your regular detergent combined with a half a cup of white vinegar, which has odor eliminating properties. Wash the bag in its own load, using cold water and the delicate cycle, then allow it to air dry. That’s all! It is, perhaps, entirely possible that even after washing the bag will retain a bit of a smell; not to worry, just wash it again. Sometimes a second go is all that’s needed when it comes to stubborn cleaning jobs.

Now, let’s say you have a bag that you feel shouldn’t go in the washing machine — no problem, I got you covered. You can use the Dr. Bronner’s to clean it by wiping the interior and exterior using a damp rag dipped in a bowl of the diluted soap. It may require several passes, and after swabbing the bag, you’ll want to go over it with clean water to remove soap residue, but that’s really all that’s needed. If a bag that isn’t machine washable is still retaining a funk post-cleaning, try hitting it with a spray designed to eliminate odors in athletic shoes, like Dr. Scholl’s Odor X or Kiwi Fresh Force. Even good old Lysol will also work wonders.

One last thing to suggest is this: Consider investing in a wet sack to toss into your gym bag. That way, instead of fouling up the entire interior of the gym bag, your smelly, dirty clothes will only befoul the easily washable wet sack.


Lightyear One debuts as the first long-range solar-powered electric car

Electric cars are better for the environment than fossil fuel-burning vehicles, but they still rely on the grid, which can be variously dirty or clean depending on what sources it uses for its energy. The new Lightyear One is a prototype vehicle that would improve that by collecting the power it needs to run from the sun.

Lightyear, a startup from the Netherlands born as Stella, has come a long way since it won a Crunchie award in 2015, with a vehicle that now looks ready for the road. The Lightyear One prototype vehicle unveiled today has a sleek, driver-friendly design and also boasts a range of 450 miles on a single charge – definitely a first for a car powered by solar and intended for the actual consumer market.

© Twycer / www.twycer.nl

The startup says that it has already sold “over a hundred vehicles” even though this isn’t yet ready to hit the road, but Lightyear is aiming to begin production by 2021, with reservations available for 500 additional units for the initial release. You do have to pay €119,000 up front (around $136,000 USD) to secure a reservation, however.

Lightyear One isn’t just a plug-in electric with some solar sells on the roof: Instead it’s designed from the ground up to maximize performance from a smaller-than-typical battery that can directly grab sun from a roof and hood covered with 16 square feet of solar cells, embedded in safety glass designed with passenger wellbeing in mind. The car can also take power directly from regular outlets and existing charging stations for a quick top-up, and again because it’s optimized to be lightweight and power efficient, you can actually get around 250 miles on just one night of charging from a standard (European) 230V outlet.

The car should supplement existing electric cars for buyers who are more conscious of range anxiety and nervous about having enough charge, the company says. It still have to actually enter production, however, and even when it does it’ll be a fairly expensive and small batch product, at least at first. But it’s an impressive feat nonetheless, and a potential new direction for EVs of the future.

How to Find All Flight Departures From an Airport

When you book a flight through travel booking sites like Vayama or Google Flights, you hope you’re getting the best deal, but here’s the catch: Many low-cost carriers airlines prevent their flights from showing up on some of these third-party travel websites.

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Jetblue flights, for instance, won’t show up on booking sites like Vayama or SmartFare.com. Meanwhile, Southwest flights generally won’t show up on any third-party travel site, meaning you could be losing out on a cheaper option—or just a destination you’d prefer to go if it were an available option.

If you want a chance to view all local departures, try using FlightsFrom.com—a website that compiles direct flights departing from all over the world. By selecting an airport, you can check every departure flight leaving there on a given day (and up to nine months from now); it’s especially useful when booking from obscure destinations that rely on regional airlines, as recommended in this week’s Recomendo newsletter.

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Using FlightsFrom.com to find tickets from Hagfors, Sweden, for example, two results appear by a regional airline departing on July 1; meanwhile a search via Google Flights for the same date comes up empty.

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Part of its appeal is that it just makes trips easier to plan; you see the departure times of every non-stop flight in a list and without sponsored ads. If you want to leave at a particular time of day and don’t have a destination in mind, FlightsFrom.com is also a useful tool as it organizes its entire list based on departure times.

On the other hand, for as helpful as it is, FlightsFrom.com doesn’t account for fare pricing. So be sure to compare your results to those you find on other sites. (Skyscanner is another good resource, though they have ads.)

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Orderful nabs $10M from A16Z to modernise the B2B supply chain network

The march of globalization continues unabated, and with it comes a growing demand for companies of all sizes to communicate with and sell to each other, regardless of the distance or any other barrier. Now, a startup that has built a platform to help them do that better and more cheaply is announcing a round of funding to capitalize on the opportunity. Orderful, which aims to modernize supply chain management through an API-based cloud service, has raised $10 million in a Series A from Andreessen Horowitz.

The new funding comes on the back of a previous seed round from Initialized Capital and a period of time mostly bootstrapping the business. It will be used to continue building out more functionality on the platform and to continue to expand the network of partners using it. Today there are 1,000 retailers, 10,000 vendors and 5,000 carriers on Orderful’s platform, but even that still only represents a small part of the wider industry of businesses that buy, sell and transport components and full products from A to B.

To understand the problem that Orderful is trying to fix, a little rundown on how supply chain management works today is helpful. In the old, pre-computer days, all information exchange happened by way of phone, fax, post, and documents that often were delivered along with goods, which all required manual assessment and recording.

The rise of computers and the internet did push that system into the digital world, but only just: electronic data interchange (EDI), as this general area is known, is a loosely organised set of technical standards to use computers to communicate this data between businesses to enable purchases, make accounting reconciliations, and transfer shipping details. It’s a business that has boomed with the growth of globalization and companies trading with each other at an increasing pace. Supply chain management software is a market that boomed to $14 billion in value in 2018, according to Gartner. Incumbent leaders include the likes of SAP, Oracle and JDA.

The problem is that EDI is actually not as easy as it ought to be. It’s a hodge-podge of standards, you usually need a team of specialists to integrate the services at each end point, and it doesn’t allow for a wider network effect that you might get from being “online” with one supplier already. All of that translates to it being actually quite slow and expensive.

Erik Kiser, the founder and CEO of Orderful, found and identified this inefficiency while he was working as one of those specialists, realizing that with the rise of APIs, large database technology and cloud-based software-as-a-service, there was an opportunity to build a new kind of platform that could do everything that EDI did, but on a supercharged basis.

Marc Andreessen (co-founder of A16Z) coined the phrase ‘software will eat the world,’ Kiser noted to me, “But actually software eats software sometimes, too.”

The idea behind Orderful is that it has created a series of APIs that can adapt to whatever systems a business is already using, in turn “translating” that business’s product and other data into information that can be imported into the Orderful platform to in turn be picked up by buyers, sellers, and shippers. (In other words, there is no expectation of ripping out legacy systems, but simply creating bridges to migrate what is already there to newer and better platforms.) This also brings down the operational costs of hiring teams to build and potentially run EDI integrations.

“EDI predates the internet, and there are not many digital protocols that we use today that are pre-internet,” David Ulevitch, the partner at Andreessen Horowitz who led the investment and joined the board, said in an interview. “Orderful, and Erik, recognised that as more commerce was becoming digital, there needed to be a better way to do all this. There is currently no SaaS company out there addressing this and removing the friction. It provides velocity between distributors and producers because when you connect once you can then trade with a number of partners. Time is up for EDI.”

While there may be no direct competitor to Orderful at the moment, there are a lot of potential players that I can see posing a challenge down the line (or potentially working with or even buying Orderful if not). They include the incumbents in supply-chain management like Oracle, SAP and the rest. But also companies like Amazon, which has built its own EDI alternative (or version, you might say) that is used for its own management of suppliers. The company is very well known for building for itself, and then productizing, but for now Kizer says that it’s a partner, and customers can interface and sell to Amazon on Orderful using its APIs.

One thing that Amazon is instructive about, though, is when considering how Orderful’s data trove could be used for more analytics and business intelligence down the line.

“I don’t think companies not doing business with Amazon will be inclined to use its platform for trading,” Kiser said. “But they do have a lot of information about their network.”

Indeed, he pointed out that it’s been said there are some 30 economists at the company looking at its B2B supply chain data, and considering how it can be parsed for example to predict inflation. “They are already using the data. With Orderful we have the opportunity to be the most influential software company if we can be the plumbing that connects companies. There are a ton of services that we can add on the platform and that’s where we are going even if right now we are focused on the plumbing and simply making it easy to trade data.”