Efoodmanager aims to build up strategic partners for roll-out

Efoodmanager has completed a E15m second funding round led by 3i, Gerling and Atlas Venture. According to CEO Joel Oberman, the funds are to 'continue to build on our technology' and to 'increase our commercial capabilities' with more marketing spend.

Oberman said the investors were chosen because 3i was a firm with 'investments throughout the food industry', and Gerling, a German insurance broker, would be a useful strategic investor.

Gerling can offer 'specific services to help people trading on our platform', said Oberman, such as insurance on goods traded over the system. He added that Efoodmanager was looking for three to four partnerships with 'people who can add value'. However, he said that it doesn't have to be an equity relationship and that technical deals could involve joint venturing.

Efoodmanager operates an open marketplace for the European food industry, as well as white-label technology for integration into legacy systems to create closed marketplaces. The software is based on Intershop Enfinity for external compatibility, and is then customised for the Efoodmanager standards.

By the end of December last year, 1,000 companies were registered on the open marketplace. Although the firm launched with the open offering, it has found most growth with its closed systems.

Oberman said this was 'driven by responding to customers', highlighting a closed marketplace deal with German retail chain Markant, which represents 18,000 outlets. He added that the firm is now 'close to closing a number of large deals' for the closed marketplace technology.

It was 'hard to tell' whether Efoodmanager would need further funding in the coming year, said Oberman, adding it was 'dependent on our sales line'. Alexander Bruehl, a principal at Atlas Venture, said the main attraction for them was a 'good team'.

He described the deal with Markant as an 'extension to the initial business model' and felt the management had adapted well to market conditions. He added that the closed marketplaces could transition customers to the open platform eventually for a wider range of goods.

Bruehl revealed that Atlas's stake was diluted in this round but it had encouraged strategic funds.


Published 8 February, 2001 by NMA Staff

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