Assent Compliance, an Ottawa-based startup, isn’t in a sexy space. The company focuses on helping enterprises collect the necessary data to keep their global supply chains in compliance with local and international regulations. But while that may not sound like the most exciting space to be in, the company today announced that it has raised a $40 million CAD Series B round (that’s about $31.4 million U.S.) led by Greenspring Associates.
Other participants include existing investors Volition Capital, Open Text Enterprise Application Fund, Business Development Bank of Canada, National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program, Royal Bank of Canada and a number of private investors. With this round, the company has now raised $60 million CAD, making it one of the better-funded Canadian startups at the Series B stage.
It’s worth noting that the company has been around since 2005, but as its current CEO Andrew Waitman told me, the focus on compliance only really came in 2010. For the next five years, the team iterated on this idea. When Waitman came to the company in 2014 (after having met the company’s VP of marketing Matt Whitteker in the boxing ring), the company had about 20 employees. Today it has 225 employees and, according to its own numbers, works with 40 percent of the S&P 500 product companies, which gather data from more than 300,000 companies around the globe.
For most international companies, compliance is a major pain point, especially with regard to how they keep the various players in their supplier ecosystem in compliance. For some companies this is about avoiding conflict minerals or staying in compliance with Europe’s REACH regulations for chemicals or California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Currently, even major Fortune 500 companies still tend to use Excel spreadsheets to audit and track their vendors, which isn’t exactly the most efficient way of doing this.
The company focuses on helping businesses request information from their suppliers and validate it. It also helps businesses report their findings to the respective authorities. While the company does some basic work on validating this information automatically, the plan is to use machine learning to better understand this data, which is often in standardized formats, but also often comes in as unstructured data.
It’s worth noting that Assent also offers its customers training and a number of educational materials to help companies understand the regulatory environment they work in.
As Waitman told me, the company’s $20 million CAD Series A round was mostly about expanding its product. With this Series B round, the team plans to focus on expanding its sales and marketing efforts. “It’s about air cover — making companies aware we exist,” he said. Because there aren’t really all that many companies that play in Assent’s space, Waitman doesn’t expect that the company will use the funding for acquisitions, though he left the door open for potential data acquisitions that will help it in its efforts to improve its data validation services.