Moncton company Fiddlehead, which helps food and beverage companies use predictive forecasting to improve performance, has received $1.8 million in seed funding, led by Build Ventures and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation.
Fiddlehead’s flagship product, called Forecast Guardian, integrates with companies’ existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and can be set up in as little as two weeks.
Founded in 2013, Fiddlehead’s cloud software promises to help improve the food and beverage industry’s supply chain, essential in a business with very low profit margins in which helping retailers avoid wasting unsold product or not being penalized by retailers for being unable to provide sufficient stock is vital.
Even with razor-thin margins, though, food and beverage industry inventory has historically been ruled by gut instinct.
“Forecasting has often been more art than science. But with our prescriptive analytics we can go beyond simply measuring forecast accuracy to offer data-driven recommendations to improve performance,” said David Baxter, president and co-founder of Fiddlehead. “That leads directly to more accurate demand forecasts, allowing companies to lower inventory, improve service levels and boost margins.“
Baxter has 17 years of industry experience including a stint as vice-president of Innovation at T4G and Senior Director of Product Planning at Alcatel. He was also the President and Chair of technology accelerator Propel ICT for three years.
Fiddlehead has been testing its platform through a collaboration with McCain Foods Limited, one of the world’s largest frozen food producers.
“Working closely with McCain Foods has allowed us to identify the kind of forecasting recommendations that will have the most significant business impact. Forecast Guardian™ is the culmination of these learnings. It delivers real value to food and beverage manufacturers, because they compete in an industry where efficiency really matters,” said Fiddlehead cofounder and vice president of product Shawn Carver.
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Carver has a long resumé as advisor specializing in market analysis, creating product roadmaps, and establishing business models for over 80 companies. He is a mentor at Launch36 and served for two years on Propel ICT’s board.
Aside from integrating with a companies ERP software and flagging previously unnoticed inefficiencies in budgeting and operations, the platform also takes into accounts like weather patterns, regional economic conditions and closures due to holidays to help optimize food and beverage shipping and inventory.
Fiddlehead is Build Ventures’ 10th investment.
“Fiddlehead has created something very special that will help major food and beverage producers improve their forecasts and add millions to their bottom lines,” said Build partner Rob Barbara. “The company and its team have tremendous potential.”
The Institute of Business Forecasting and Planning Survey estimates that an average consumer packaged goods company, with approximately $3 billion in annual sales, can save between $1.5 million and $3.5 million per year with a 1% improvement in forecasting accuracy.
Fiddlehead says it will use the funding to bring on more data science and development staff, and to expand its sales and marketing efforts throughout North America.