The founder of the online supermarket Getnow, in which the Roßmann family now holds a stake, is shaking up the food industry: Marc Funk (35), together with Munich-based entrepreneur Bernhard Lihotzky (35), who recently sold his nutritional supplements startup to a private equity firm, has launched the new B2B platform FrontNow and closed a first pre-seed financing round. "With the Patentpool Group, we have gained a financially strong investor that also offers us real added value and a USP strategically in terms of AI," the three founders announced today in Berlin. The seed round is planned for summer 2021, the Series A for the end of 2021.
The basic idea of seamlessly connecting retailers and suppliers via a platform came to Bernhard Lihotzky when he wanted to bring his products into stationary retail at the time: "I had completely underestimated how time-consuming and energy-sapping the path into stationary retail is. It can take twelve or even 18 months from the first contact to a listing. This is half an eternity, especially for young companies, and is associated with high transaction costs on the supplier and retailer side." Lihotzky further explains, "The retailer urgently and constantly needs innovation to inspire its customers, the right supplier could offer this, but despite this it often takes too long in this country until these are found on the shelf. This barrier must be broken."
With his idea Bernhard Lihotzky teamed up with Marc Funk, the two have been best friends since school days, and together they developed FrontNow from this. The special feature of FrontNow is a purely data-based recommendation of which products should be listed at which retailers.
Lihotzky: "We have made it our mission to support manufacturers of consumer goods in selling their products. At the same time, we want to help retailers find the right products for their customers. But how do we do that? Through digitization and a deep understanding of both sides, retailers and suppliers."
Marc Funk explains, "Based on millions of data points, our AI creates an accurate statistical picture of a consumer goods retailer's customer base. We do this not only at the national level, but above all at the local level, i.e. at the store level. So we know who the retailer's customers are and what their most likely consumption patterns are. In other words: We know what the customers of the specific market want. Based on this knowledge, we help retailers to adapt their product offering on the shelf to the wishes of their clientele and thus differentiate themselves from their competitors. In addition, we prepare all the product information retailers need in the way they need it."
Lihotzky adds, "The purely data-based product suggestions ensure objectivity in the listing decision. In the end, it's not us or the retailer who decides which product sells well, but the end customer alone."
The first customers such as juice producer I-DO, brewery Brlo and many others are already on board.
"Why should only online giants like Amazon benefit from Big Data and AI to offer ideally suited products to their customers? We want to protect brick-and-mortar retail and spare consumer goods retailers what other areas of brick-and-mortar retail have already had to go through: successive displacement by Amazon," says Funk, who is the retailer expert in the founding team, while Lihotzky has the producer expertise.
Retailers can use FrontNow to adapt their product portfolio on the shelf to the needs of their customers at an early stage. This increases the store's attractiveness to its customers and thus boosts sales, he says. This approach also gives consumer goods manufacturers a massive advantage, "because we take them to the exact stores where their product is bought."
FrontNow is supported by a portfolio company of the Patentpool Group, which has long been active in the field of AI and Big Data, has built one of the largest databases in the world and is already used by some of the most successful companies in the financial industry.