SoftBank-backed Tridge, a Korean platform that matches food agriculture buyers and sellers, raises $37.2 million in Series D at a $2.7 billion valuation TechCrunch

Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine are driving up the cost of goods and services, affecting not only the industrial sector (e.g. semiconductors) but also the agricultural industry. Global food prices have fallen for three consecutive months, but are still relatively high compared to last year, according to the 2022 report from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

South Korean startup Tridge wants to address the issue via its online trading platform that matches global buyers and sellers of food agriculture. The platform helps from research to ordering and enables buyers to source food and agricultural goods at affordable prices in more than 150 countries. Suppliers can also diversify their sales channels and find buyers (at the right time) for perishable foods.

Tridge said on Thursday it has secured $37.2 million (50 billion won) in a Series D funding round at a valuation of $2.7 billion. The latest funding, led by South Korean private equity firm DSAsset, brings Tridge’s total funding to $111.7 million since its inception in 2015.

The new valuation represents roughly a 440%, or 5.4x, increase over Tridge’s $500 million valuation in July 2021 when it raised $60 million in Series C funding from Korean venture capital firm Forest Partners.

Tridge says the valuation has risen in about a year because it has been generating revenue in Tridge’s fulfillment services business since September 2021 after raising the Series C round. Tridge, which posted less than $7.4 million (10 billion won) in sales last year, now generates between $15 million and $23 million in sales per month, according to the company.

The fulfillment solution acts as an intermediary for more than 15,000 agricultural products, enabling buyers to pick up and get delivered on time. In addition, more than 100,000 suppliers in 150 countries can sell food and agricultural products on Tridge’s platform. The company’s market intelligence service, launched in 2020, offers food supply chain analysis and market reports of agricultural products and commodities such as apples, strawberries, tomatoes, avocados, black pepper, coconut, garlic, seafood and coffee beans. Tridge owns data covering approximately 15,000 agricultural products with 50,000 price updates. (The company claims it has collected more than 1 trillion data points cumulatively.) That means users can check current and past wholesale prices, volume and market share for every agricultural product that Tridge covers.

“Now there are a lot of actual transactions [on Tridge’s platform] occurring in many countries, including the US, Brazil, Turkey, India, Vietnam, Australia, Tanzania, the Netherlands and Canada,” Hoshik Shin, founder and CEO of Tridge, told TechCrunch. “Sales have been on the rise since last September .”

Shin noticed information asymmetry between buyers and sellers of agri-food in the commodity market back in 2012 when he was struggling to supply 60,000 tonnes of coal to Korean and Japanese steel companies as a commodity investor in an investment bank. After paying a higher price for coal due to a lack of transparency and information, Shin founded Tridge to solve this problem.

“Tridge is trying to solve problems like global supply chain collapse and agflation,” Shin said. “With this investment, we will accelerate overseas expansion plans.”

Tridge claims it has 447,786 users today, up from 343,401 users in June 2021. The startup’s customers range from farmers to global retailers, including Costco, Kellogg’s, Walmart, Nestle, Dole, Sysco, Lotte Mart, Mitsui & Co., Carrefour and Indofood.

The number of customers naturally increased as demand for platforms like Tridge in the agricultural industry increased during the coronavirus pandemic that limited travel and face-to-face meetings, according to the company.

Tridge plans to use the newly secured capital to launch new services, invest in technology and further expand its overseas operations, focusing on the US, Europe and other countries such as Turkey, Brazil, India, Vietnam and Tanzania, Shin said. Its previous backers include SoftBank Ventures Asia and Activant Capital.

Headquartered in Seoul, the company, which today employs around 600 people, has established offices in 45 countries worldwide, including the USA and Europe.

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