Manufacturing platform Keychain this morning announced an $18 million seed round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners.
Keychain seeks to use artificial intelligence to help brands find manufacturing partners. It was founded by Jordan Weitz, along with Umang Dua and Oisin Hanrahan, who previously co-founded and ran home software company Handy together, which Angi later told about. The duo then moved up the career ladder at Angi, becoming CRO and CEO, respectively.
The group decided it was time to take on a new challenge and set out to start a new company: Keychain. Hanrahan said finding the right manufacturing partner is a big problem for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies. They want to create great products, like health foods and high-quality cosmetics, “but the process of finding the best manufacturing partner often gets in the way,” he told TechCrunch.
“If we can take that process from months to days, we believe we can unlock innovation in product development for this entire industry. “That, in turn, will result in healthier, more affordable products on our store shelves.” Right now, the CPG industry operates largely offline and is dominated by trade shows and research through brokers. Keychain aims to have a marketplace at its core to unite “over 10,000 manufacturers on one side with brands and retailers on the other,” Hanrahan said.
The product is invitation-only, but plans to open to select retailers and brands next year.
Hanrahan said he and his co-founders were “really fortunate” to raise such a seed round in today’s more conservative funding environment. He said they sold Handy in 2018 and that being founders with a prior exit helped generate investor interest. “The round was oversubscribed.”
David Tisch, a partner at BoxGroup, was an early investor in Handy and also invested in Keychain. “I’ve seen few entrepreneurs who are so strategic and tenacious,” he told TechCrunch. “I’m excited to work with them again.” Afore Capital and SV Ángel also participated in the round.
Next, the company wants to expand to help companies with the entire manufacturing process, including sourcing, onboarding and fulfillment. But first they must surpass its launch in the first quarter of 2024. “We are very focused on working with our first partners and manufacturers to bring this product to life.”
This story has been updated to clarify that Dua and Hanrahan founded Handy together.