PROFILEPRINT has secured an undisclosed Series A round with strategic investors in the food ingredients space, such as Olam Food Ingredients, Louis Dreyfus Company and Sucafina.
Other investors in the artificial intelligence (AI) food ingredient fingerprint platform include venture capital funds, Greenwillow Capital and Real Tech Global Fund, the company said on Tuesday (Feb 15).
The startup aims to solve the pain point of subjective taste impacting the grading and pricing of raw ingredients. Buyers and sellers of coffee beans for instance have to agree to their own taste models for grading beans to determine the price. That's not taking into account that people's taste can change depending on their mood, health and a variety of other factors.
Compounding the problem, there is no prevailing industry standard as well, making things even more complicated. ProfilePrint aims to fix this by building a model based on the buyer's taste to be the neutral party in determining the grading of the coffee beans that would determine the price.
"ProfilePrint's innovative approach to grading commodities has the potential to enhance operational efficiency, while removing an element of subjectivity in the supply chain," said Max Clegg, head of Louis Dreyfus Company's corporate venture capital fund.
The traditional method of grading coffee beans is a long and tedious process, where buyers have to take the sample from a supplier and send it on a journey from the collection point in a rural area back to the city. From there, tasters will have to roast then grind the beans before brewing a cup of coffee to taste and decide the grade of the beans, all of which can take between hours to days depending on the locale.
Should suppliers rather not wait for the process, they would get a lower price for their beans if buyers take it wholesale without checking the grading.
"We are encouraged by the results from trials we've carried out in both green and soluble coffee using ProfilePrint. The technology could significantly expedite the quality assessment process to benefit the entire value chain - from farmers to roasters," said Vivek Verma, managing director coffee at Olam Food Ingredients.
In the recent Singapore Coffee Association auction, ProfilePrint was the neutral technology partner to predict the Q-grading score, a 100 point scale that determines if the coffee beans are specialty at above 80 or commodity.
ProfilePrint has since secured 4 times more clients in the past year, which also include the strategic investors in its Series A round. The startup has managed to deploy its solutions globally even with an ongoing pandemic.
Run on a software-as-a-service model, ProfilePrint has a recurring revenue stream from subscriptions to its service. WIth its algorithm initially trained on Teapasar, a specialty tea marketplace also owned by ProfilePrint, the startup is building a search engine for ingredients.
"We believe that the future of search engines will go beyond keywords and photos into molecular fingerprint, especially for ingredients where words would not justify the product quality," said Alan Lai, founder and chief executive officer, ProfilePrint.
The funding will be used to expand the team, as well as into research and development and international expansion.
"With some of the world's largest food ingredient conglomerates as strategic investors holding equal shares, we are now able to leverage their extensive networks to widen and deepen our product offering, while ensuring that we maintain our neutrality with the common vision to establish ProfilePrint as the industry's digital standard for food ingredients globally," said Lai.