Engineer brothers found Forge to modernize hardware procurement

Try to imagine the number of parts that go into making a rocket engine. Now imagine requesting and comparing quotes for each of those parts, getting approvals to purchase the part you eventually do select, and tracking those parts until they arrive at your HQ. It’s exactly as complex as it sounds – but it doesn’t have to be, or so say two brothers who just scored funding to update the procurement process for hardware companies.

Like so many startups, Forge was born out of frustration with outdated tools in an otherwise cutting-edge industry. CEO Emir Sahmanovic was a mechanical engineer at defense and space companies L3Harris, Blue Origin, and Stoke Space. And at each one, he ran into the same infuriating problem: actually getting the parts they needed.

“I just kept getting more and more frustrated throughout my career,” he said in a recent interview. “It really came down to the point where I felt the thing that was holding back hardware was the software tooling that everybody was using. It was making everyone way more inefficient.” 

He teamed up with his brother, former Meta software engineer Haris Sahmanovic, to found Forge in May 2023. The pair joined Y Combinator’s winter 2024 cohort, and this $2.1 million seed round led by Google’s Gradient Ventures includes participation from YC and other angel investors.

Emir characterized today’s hardware procurement process as confusing, overly complicated, and wasteful. At larger firms, engineers are typically kept out of the process — the procurement request gets put in a “black box,” he said — but they’re also generally unaware of other team members’ procurement orders, too.

This quickly leads to problems: imagine that Engineer A needs to order a part, and they need it to arrive on time to match Engineer B’s schedule, so they pay $20,000 in expedite feeds. But it turns out that Engineer B’s part is going to be late. Had they known that, they could’ve saved the money and the headache.

Delays can happen for other reasons, too. Engineers not having a clear picture of their team’s purchase histories or supplier capabilities can lead to a lack of understanding of what needs ordered, when, and from whom. 

“It’s a waste of an engineer’s time, it’s a waste of the supply chain team’s time, and it’s a waste of company money,” Emir said.

Many existing procurement tools are just used as a place to store data, but it’s not where any of the work happens: that takes place in email chains, spreadsheets, and PDFs. It’s not standardized. Forge’s system uses an AI model to analyze the supplier’s response — whether that quote comes in a spreadsheet, text email, or PDF — and integrate that information onto its platform. 

For that reason, supplier adoption isn’t needed for companies to make Forge work, an obstacle that has stymied other standardization attempts. That’s a “huge core value prop,” Emir said. “You can never get [suppliers] to adopt it because they have 20 different customers. They’re not going to learn 20 different tools for all 20 customers.”

Engineers can also make custom workflows based on the company’s needs, which is critical, especially for larger versus smaller firms. More than just order tracking, Forge’s software also includes intake request management, purchasing workflows, quote comparison, and automated onboarding and performance tracking of suppliers. 

Forge already has paying customers, and the two brothers plan to use the seed funding to attract more by improving the product and growing their (two person) team.

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