Startup Elementum wants to take supply chains into the 21st century. Incubated at Flextronics, the second largest contract manufacturer in the world, and launching today with $44 million in Series B funding from that company and Lightspeed Ventures, its approach is to get supply chain participants – the OEMs that generate product ideas and designs, the contract manufacturers who build to those specs, the component makers who supply the ingredients to make the product, the various logistics hubs to move finished product to market, and the retail customer – to drop the one-off relational database integrations and instead see the supply chain fundamentally as a complex graph or web of connections.
“It’s no different thematically from how Facebook thinks of its social network or how LinkedIn thinks of what it calls the economic graph,” says Tyler Ziemann, head of growth at Elementum. Built on Amazon Web Services, Elementum’s “mobile-first” apps for real-time visibility, shipment tracking and carrier management, risk monitoring and mitigation, and order collaboration have a back-end built to consume and make sense of both structured and unstructured data on-the-fly, based on a real-time Java, MongoDB NoSQL document database to scale in a simple and less expensive way across a global supply chain that fundamentally involves many trillions of records, and flexible schema graph database to store and map the nodes and edges of the supply chain graph.
“Relational database systems can’t scale to support the types of data volumes we need and the flexibility that is required for modeling the supply chain as a graph,” Ziemann says.