Katana, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform for the manufacturing industry, has raised $11 million in a series A round of funding led by Atomico.
The global ERP market was pegged as a $43 billion industry in 2020, according to some estimates, a figure that could rise to $60 billion within five years. ERP software incorporates a suite of integrated applications that organizations use to manage processes across a business, spanning accounting, HR, inventory and order management, customer relationship management (CRM), and more. For manufacturers specifically, ERP software can bridge all these various components, help them identify bottlenecks, and ultimately improve their efficiency.
Founded out of Tallinn, Estonia, in 2017, Katana touts itself as the “manufacturing entrepreneur’s secret weapon,” one that is seeking to power local production for smaller businesses. Indeed, there has been a growing micro-manufacturing trend over the past decade, where smaller local manufacturers are selling direct-to-consumer (D2C) thanks in part to the proliferation of ecommerce tools and cloud computing. And this is the market that Katana is seeking to serve with a plug-and-play ERP platform that integrates with tools and marketplaces such as Shopify, Amazon, eBay, Magento, WooCommerce, Xero, and QuickBooks to improve productivity and material inventory control.
“We are seeing a global renaissance of small manufacturing driven by the rise of ecommerce tools and consumer demand for bespoke products produced locally,” Katana CEO and cofounder Kristjan Vilosius told VentureBeat. “Just walk around any big city from London to San Francisco, and you’ll see workshops all around you. This is a massive boom of makers wanting to create products and sell them globally, and it is not a trend that will disappear tomorrow.”
For example, if a company sells products through an Amazon store, the company can plug Katana directly into Amazon and track all the orders that come through and immediately surface whether the product is available or, if not, whether the raw materials are in stock and thus estimate how long the product might take to finish.
Indeed, Katana’s automated booking engine tracks inventory, make automatic inventory adjustments, and allocates materials to orders as soon as they’re generated. If the order priority changes, Katana will redistribute the inventory to match the new production schedule.
“We handle the entire process, from getting the raw materials in the warehouse to planning manufacturing activities and execution when the product is done,” Vilosius explained.
While there are plenty of tools to help manufacturers manage their workflows, things quickly get complex as you add more third-party tools to the mix, particularly when existing tools may involve countless spreadsheets or legacy applications with questionable user friendliness or tricky setup processes. Katana is designed to work on any device, which is particularly useful for shop floors where mobile phones make more sense than laptops, and is entirely self-serve. Moreover, while it ships with myriad integrations out of the box, Katana also offers an open API for manufacturers to develop their own integrations on top of the Katana platform.
“Implementation is so simple that more than half of Katana’s users self-onboard,” Vilosius said. “It takes less than a week on average to get Katana up and running, compared to months for competitors.”
Among Katana’s features are production planning tools, including drag-and-drop prioritization for manufacturing tasks; materials availability tracking; delay risk identification; real-time inventory control and optimization; sales order fulfillment; and shop floor control for workshop users.
Elsewhere, Katana also offers manufacturers real-time data on the entire manufacturing workflow, spanning sales orders, completed products, inventory, material purchasing requirements, and more — all presented in a single view.
Prior to now, Katana had raised around $5.5 million, and with another $11 million in the bank, the company is well-financed to grow its team double down on product development.
A typical Katana customer will have anywhere from $100,000 to $100 million in revenue, and spans anything from organic cosmetics and electronics to surfboards and food & drink.
“These businesses are led by manufacturing entrepreneurs committed to sustainability and supporting local production,” Vilosius said. “These individuals embrace technology. Many of them have turned a gap in the market, or a pain point they have personally experienced, into a brand new product and a growing business.”
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