Keychain eases supply chain constraints with ‘search and discovery’ platform that matches manufacturers with production capacity with brands, retailers in need

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Supply chain Supply chain management Unmetered Unmetered

Finding a reliable manufacturer that can meet product specifications and has production capacity that aligns with supply needs is one of the biggest challenges brands face, but a new matching platform launching today could simplify and dramatically shorten the search process.

Created by the founder of the popular home service website Angi, the new platform Keychain offers a similar service to the food and beverage industry – helping brands and manufacturers with capacity find each other in days and weeks rather than the more typical months or year.

“Trying to figure out what brand and retailer can work with what manufacturer is a problem that is based on criteria and matching and location and volumes” and hundreds of manufacturing processes and other factors with dozens of permutations, Keychain founder and CEO Oisin Hanrahan told FoodNavigator-USA.

“It is not about saying, ‘Can you make a cookie?’ or ‘Can you make a sparkling water?’ It is actually about hundreds and hundreds of manufacturing processes. So what we have done is we have broken each product down into dozens and dozens of processes. We have over 500 manufacturing processes that we have labelled and we trained an AI tool to actually tag products with those processes.”

So far, Keychain has 750,000 products and indexed more than 100,000 manufacturers in its database, based largely on publicly available data, that can easily be searched, favorited and used as a point of introduction.

“The advantage of Keychain, we think, is it brings incredible search and discovery to people in a very powerful way” that can then be paired with tradeshows or more traditional networking events to deepen relationships, Hanrahan said.

The database also offers retailers, brands and manufacturers “independent validation” of proposals brought forward by brokers, who could have a conflict of interest, added Hanrahan.

An intuitive design allows for easy navigation, drill down

As Hanrahan demonstrates in the accompanying video, retailers and brands can use Keychain to clearly see the types of manufacturing processes and requirements needed to produce each of their products, along with a master list of manufacturers that can meet those base requirements. From there they can filter the types of manufacturers they most want to work with – such as FDA certified or able to produce a certain amount of product per run.

Retailers can also explore the platform by product type or category to facilitate new product development or to better understand the competitive landscape.

As they navigate the site, if they find manufacturers that they would like to work with they can either add them to a favorites list, reach out to them directly with the click of a button and keep track of bids and responses.

Manufacturers can use the site in a similar way, but can reach out to brands with production bids, or they can sell their “free” capacity even if they are not a traditional co-manufacturer.

A tiered model with free basic service, subscription fees for more features

While Keychain has amassed most of its data from publicly available information, it does offer opportunities for manufacturers to subscribe and create premium profiles, which are clearly labelled.

For now, those opportunities are by invitation only, but the company plans to eventually open subscriptions to all. And like other platforms offering matching services, such as LinkedIn, there are different tiers with the most basic available for free and then a fee to access more features.

Those interested in learning more or joining the waitlist can do so at Hanrahan also will share more details about Keychain and the role of AI in reshaping retail at Natural Products Expo West as a speaker on the panel “Natural Products in the Age of AI: Practical Tools for Innovation & Impact," on March 14 from 2:15-3:15.

Keychain eyes expansion in adjacent industries and countries

The platform is focused on food and beverage manufacturing for now, but Hanrahan said he sees potential to expand into adjacent categories with similar production challenges, including the supplement and cosmetics industries.

In addition, he said he expects the platform to expand beyond the US into Canada and Mexico and ultimately “anywhere there is a gap between brands and retailers.”

Ultimately, he said, the company’s goal is to help bring products to market faster and at lower prices and to help short up supply chains so that out-of-stocks and backlogs are less of a concern.

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