Novi Connect raises $10.3M to help brands build transparent and sustainable products
Novi Connect (Novi), the first B2B marketplace to help brands build and manufacture transparent products, announced $10.3M in new funding from Greylock, with participation from Defy Partners, Thomas Layton (Executive Chairman of Upwork and former OpenTable CEO) and Yannis Skoufalos (former Global Product Supply Officer at P&G). Currently focused on personal care, beauty, and home goods, Novi plans to use the funds to expand to additional categories and continue to build out its marketplace.
Consumer demand for sustainable, transparent ingredients and packaging has been a significant trend in beauty, personal care, home goods and food over the last 5+ years, driving change across the CPG industry globally. As brands shift to owning product development and focusing on transparency in the materials they use, it’s been a challenge for them to understand what exactly is in their products, source responsibly, and manage the vast amount of complex and proprietary data.
Founded by Kimberly Shenk, a retired Air Force Captain, MIT trained data scientist, and former Head of Data Science at Eventbrite, Novi is the first data-driven platform for building transparent products.
“After I left Eventbrite I co-founded a data-driven beauty brand and gained first-hand visibility into a well-known truth in manufacturing: information about ingredients in our products is almost impossible to obtain and digest. It’s tremendously difficult to build a “clean” product without knowing source-level ingredient details” said Kimberly Shenk, CEO and founder of Novi. “This is a data problem at its core. I started Novi to offer detailed, proprietary ingredient data to brands and manufacturers during the R&D and procurement process. Everyone deserves to know what goes into products. The Novi solution was long overdue.”
Novi offers a data rich marketplace for transparent ingredient, fragrance and packaging sourcing, and procurement. The raw materials industry – a $5T global market – is a data starved, highly opaque and fragmented industry that operates entirely offline, forcing brands to use cumbersome tactics for R&D and procurement.
With Novi, brands of all sizes can formulate new products with materials that meet any standard they require: the most popular selections on Novi are Clean at Sephora, Target Clean, Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil (RSPO) and Vegan. Novi reduces the cost of regulatory work and eliminates back-and-forth between brands and manufacturers and suppliers. Even Novi’s free version for startup brands makes ingredient vetting and sourcing a completely different experience.
“At Type:A, we deeply care about building sustainable products, yet finding packaging that meets our standards has been challenging,” said Allison Moss, Founder and CEO at Type: A Brands. “Novi has been a game changer for us — using Novi, Type:A has been able to quickly and easily order sustainable packaging samples, and get a clear understanding of pricing and lead times.”
Brands also bring their R&D teams and contract manufacturers on the platform to collaborate and find innovative ingredients and packaging that are pre-vetted to meet ever-changing requirements and sustainability standards. And for retailers, Novi helps vendors seamlessly adhere to corporate policies.
“Sustainability is central to our merchandising roadmap at Sephora, and many of our brands are working hard to meet our new Clean + Planet Positive standards” said Carley Klekas, Product Sustainability Principal at Sephora. “Novi is a tremendous asset to our brands and has been instrumental in helping our brand partners build products that meet our ambitious goals.”
For suppliers, Novi increases discoverability of the ingredients they offer, highlights innovation, and drives new business. Novi also eliminates the manual burden of RFQs, streamlining the procurement process.
“There is no other platform or tool that allows brands to create in such a groundbreaking way,” said Cheryl Morano, President of Agilex, a major fragrance supplier within Firmenich. “People, the world really, are demanding higher transparency, sustainability and trust from their products. This is the future, and Novi is on the forefront of meeting this demand.”
Novi has seen incredible demand for its solution, with the network of its customers growing 300% in the first half of 2021. Today, Novi works with hundreds of brands, suppliers and retailers including Shiseido, Target, Sephora, Credo, and Dow.
“Brands have come to expect the same research, discovery, and purchasing capabilities that they experience in their lives as consumers,” said Mike Duboe, partner at Greylock and Board member at Novi. “Demand for clean, transparent, sustainable products has forced modernization across the entire CPG supply chain, and Novi’s software (and purchasing experience) is central to that. Kimberly has a unique combination of first-hand empathy for this problem and the data science DNA to build the network that will push this industry forward.”