Startup Of The Week

Startup Of The Week: Provenance

Provenance is developing a service designed to make supply chains more transparent in order to build greater trust between companies and customers. The London-based startup’s platform blends blockchain, mobile, and social to allow companies to show consumers the entire journey a product takes while also allowing the customers to contribute and verify information as well. It has signed up more than 200 retailers and producers to its platform in industries as food, beverages and fashion.

“We take it for granted that when we buy a product at any point in the supply chain that we’re putting a lot of trust in a brand,” says Provenance CEO and founder Jessi Baker. “We try to educate companies about blockchain, but they reason they are coming to us is because they want to be trusted by their customers.”

Provenance founder and CEO Jessi Baker

London-based Provenance grew out of research on blockchain founder Jessi Baker started doing several years ago for her PhD in computer science. As part of her PhD, she become one of the first people to use blockchain for the supply chain. Since then, Baker has worked with non-profits, and developed pilot projects such as a program to verify that tuna being caught by fishermen were meeting social sustainability goals.

In shifting to building a company, Baker decided to focus on trust between brands and consumers. To reinvent the notion of trust, Baker felt that transparency was key and that blockchain could help. It allows company to create a verifiable trail that follows their product from start to finish. On the Provenance blockchain platform, companies can provide details of every partner and producer in the supply chain.

Are the ingredients organic? Are they cruelty free? Are they free of harmful chemicals that are bad for the environment? Using blockchain certificates, the platform verifies where a product comes from so that brands can confidently market themselves in ways that align with customers’ values.

“I’ve always been a strong believer that aspects of the product like ‘who made it?’ and ‘where does it come from?’ should be part of the buying experience,” Baker says.

The platform allows consumers to contribute comments, reviews, or personal stories via a mobile app that get verified and attached to the product. This further builds data as well as the stories around a product.

The startup has raised more than $1.1 million in venture capital from such notable sources as singer Peter Gabriel.

About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.