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Assent hits unicorn status, puts focus on SaaS ESG capabilities

Ottawa-based Assent Compliance Inc., a leader in supply chain sustainability management, has seen...

IMAGE: James Calder, vice president of compliance & regulatory programs at Assent Compliance

James Calder, the vice president of compliance & regulatory programs at Assent Compliance. (Courtesy Assent Compliance)

Ottawa-based Assent Compliance Inc., a leader in supply chain sustainability management, has seen tremendous growth since its inception 11 years ago.

Assent provides cloud-based SaaS solutions that help companies manage supply-chain data, facilitate stakeholder and supply-chain education on regulatory and program requirements, and increase transparency between businesses.

James Calder, the vice president of compliance & regulatory programs at Assent, told SustainableBiz the company has just over 800 employees, and is growing on an almost daily basis.

“We recognize the need for good, talented individuals to drive our business forward. We’re very fortunate with our board (being) very supportive of our growth. Obviously we’ve had a number of rounds of investment which allow us to really think about the future and not the quarter,” he said.

The company has a large footprint in Europe, Kenya, East Asia and the United States.

Assent achieves unicorn status

Recently, Assent announced it had raised $447,417,250 in funding led by Vista Equity Partners, the leading global investment firm focused exclusively on enterprise software, data and technology-enabled businesses. This is one of the largest raises in Canadian software company history and establishes Assent in unicorn status, valued at more than $1 billion, it said.

The company added the funding will enable it to advance its SaaS platform, particularly supporting sustainability/ESG capabilities, grow its global footprint through expansion plans in Europe and expand its team by 40 per cent.

“The increasing complexity and scale of regulations and varying requirements globally, combined with a heightened focus on ESG, presents challenges for companies across industries, particularly for manufacturers,” said Andrew Waitman, CEO of Assent, in a statement. “Assent enables deep insight and rapid transparency to help ensure products are made with environmental and human rights standards necessary to compete — and win — in markets of the future.”

The fundraise follows a year of tremendous growth for Assent, which has expanded its global workforce by 35 per cent and annual recurring revenue (ARR) by more than 50 per cent over the past 12 months.

Assent’s supply-chain solutions

Calder said Assent delivers enterprise-wide supply chain sustainability solutions across product compliance, trade compliance and ESG.

“For our customers, these supply chains can be 10 layers deep and as we’ve seen the need to outsource a lot of the production for a variety of reasons . . . now with some of that outsourcing activity you do run into the issues of visibility of what’s happening. You have visibility into what parts and materials are received but you actually don’t know what’s going on outside of that,” said Calder.

“So a lot of our focus is to raise the transparency in that supply chain, especially around the behaviours in which a part and material is produced. Our customers, because of their objectives, but also because of regulatory pressures, almost have to instill the same level of expectation on their suppliers as if they are the ones making it themselves in their own production facilities.

“So that is a lot of focus of our systems and to be able to do that you need a technology solution, because there are thousands of suppliers in our customer supply chains, millions of parts that can go into these complex pieces of equipment.”

Assent gives businesses a complete, centralized view of their supply-chain data which can be essential for most critical business decisions.

“We’ve committed to growing 50 per cent year over year in revenue which is, when you’re a small company, not as dramatic because the numbers are small. But with the size we’re getting, we cleared another 50-per-cent revenue growth last year again,” said Calder.

“The story of being able to grow at scale is really such an important factor of Assent.”

Increasing importance of ESG

The sustainability and ESG journey is now less of a “tactical” activity; it is becoming a corporate and large, market-driven necessity.

“The fantastic thing about our company is every dollar of revenue actually does translate into potentially reducing harmful chemicals in the world,” Calder added. “It can reduce existing or potential child labour in supply chains, reduce emissions.”

When it comes to sustainability today, regulatory compliance includes ensuring a company doesn’t have nefarious activity in its supply chain. ESG reporting is no longer secondary to financial. It’s just as important.

“It’s come to a point where our customers see it, and anywhere you are in the supply chain it’s now become a corporate issue because it’s also a revenue risk. It’s a brand risk of course, but this is now part of doing business and if you can’t provide a story about your business and your products that meets the expectation (of sustainability and social responsibility) you’re going to miss out on revenue,” Calder said.

Digital product passports are on the horizon – they will come with a QR code which, when scanned, will tell you the entire story of that product.

Which Assent says makes it even more important to help companies around the world meet their corporate social responsibility (CSR) targets.

“We take our own CSR commitments just as seriously, and we strive to lead by example,” Assent states on its corporate website. “With that goal in mind, we signed on to the UN Global Compact (UNGC) in 2017 and created an internal CSR initiative to promote UNGC principles throughout our company.

“Since then, we’ve taken steps to support human rights, labor rights, environmental protection and anti-corruption efforts within our organization and across our supply chain.”



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