An increasingly digital world is creating opportunities for online platform Knowde and suppliers such as Braskem America and DuPont Co.
San Jose, Calif.-based Knowde officially launched its plastics, elastomers and polymer additives platform in early May. Officials said the online platform allows plastics and elastomers specifiers, converters, compounders and buyers to search, filter, collaborate, request samples and quotes, and purchase from hundreds of producers all in one place.
Using Knowde, processors can find what they need fast and get to market faster, they said.
"Customers are spending more time online," co-founder and CEO Ali Amin-Javaheri said in an interview with Plastics News. "It's a question of what they do with their time. We can bring them a new experience."
E-commerce for plastics suppliers was first attempted in the 1990s, but Amin-Javaheri said that approach "wasn't the right unlock." On Knowde, each supplier has a storefront, allowing customers to search an entire product line, he added.
Knowde launched in 2016 and now features storefronts for more than 2,000 suppliers. In addition to Braskem and DuPont, plastics firms include Solvay SA and DSM NV.
Buyers currently are conducting almost 300,000 searches, 6,000 sample requests and 1,200 price quotes each month. In March 2020, the firm announced that it had raised $14 million in Series A financing led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Refactor Capital, Bee Partners, Cantos Ventures and Knollwood Investment Advisory.
Philadelphia-based Braskem America, a unit of polyethylene and polypropylene maker Braskem SA of São Paulo, recently expanded its storefront on Knowde. Among Braskem brands offered are the company's recently launched 3D printing polymers and expanded I'm green portfolio of recycled plastics.
In an interview with Plastics News, Braskem CEO Mark Nikolich said his firm "has been on a digitization journey for the last five years" and that Knowde "brings a competency that we don't have."
"An outside company has a new set of eyes, and we think that will allow us to access new markets," he added. "Physical distribution is important, but with Knowde, we can reach more buyers that are interested in our products."
For Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont, Knowde allows the firm to better serve existing customers or find potential new customers, according to Randy Stone, mobility and materials president.
"Buyers can go in, search, scan and get online digital content," Stone said. "DuPont is great at new applications, but not at 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.
Search capabilities on Knowde allow users to explore products by chemistry, application, function and technical properties, officials said. The firm 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 producer storefronts. Officials said the number of sales leads generated on Knowde increased 500 percent during 2020.
Changes to customer behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic also created opportunities for Knowde.
"We've operated in a virtual way during the pandemic," said Nikolich at Braskem. "That changes the relationship, so a digital interface is very important.
"The digital marketplace has evolved and that opens up different modes of access and communication," he added.
Knowde's Amin-Javaheri acknowledged that the pandemic "has been a massive tailwind" for his firm.
"Our traffic has grown quickly," he said. "The number of buyers has escalated."
The other members of Knowde's founding team are Wojciech Krupa, chief technical officer; Janakiraman Swamy, chief knowledge officer; and Jeffery Reid, chief product officer. The firm has a staff of about 90, most of whom work from remote locations.