This Software Startup Is Battling Slavery

Opening Of $419 million, 550,000 Square-Foot Shopping Complex The Broadway
Shoppers pass in front of the Debenhams Plc department store at The Broadway shopping complex in Bradford, U.K. on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015. The $419 million, 550,000 square-foot complex is managed by Westfield Corp. and owned by a group of investors led by property fund manager Meyer Bergman Ltd. Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Matthew Lloyd — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tech entrepreneurs are constantly talking about how they want to change the world, but critics regularly respond that such change is too narrowly-focused on speed, connectivity, and profit. So when we come across a software startup whose product can help curtail modern-day slavery, it’s worth highlighting.

The company is Segura Systems, a London-based startup maker of supply chain verification and visibility solutions for retailers that hire manufacturers who may, in turn, outsource some of their work-orders to unsavory sub-contractors.

For example, British department store operator Debenhams uses Segura’s platform to track the sourcing of its branded garments. When Debenhams contracts out for something like a new T-shirt line, its selected manufacturer is required to detail every step of its supply chain via Segura–with Debenhams being able to make sure that every sub-contractor is on its “approved” list.

Segura has been bootstrapped since its 2011 founding–launching its first SaaS product two years later–but on Monday said that it has raised £2 million in equity funding from Octopus Ventures.

“Typically what would happen is that the retailer would go to one of its approved suppliers, which would then go to a friend down the road in order to drive their own profitability,” explains Malcolm Ferguson, a director with Octopus Ventures. “Now, the supplier must place all of its orders through this platform, so the retailer will know if something leaks out.”

Ferguson adds that since Debenhams began using the Segura platform, certain suppliers stopped bidding on new contracts, saying that it cut too deep into their profitability. On the other hand, he says that orders from one of its approved suppliers — which chose to participate — saw its orders go up 1000%.

Segura currently is focused on the retail sector, but soon plans to expand into the automotive and construction markets.

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