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The engineering brothers found Forge to modernize hardware procurement

Try to imagine the number of parts used to make a rocket engine. Now imagine searching and comparing quotes for each of those parts, getting approvals to buy the part you end up choosing, and tracking those parts until they arrive at your headquarters. It’s exactly as complex as it sounds—but it doesn’t have to be, or so say two brothers who just received funding to modernize the procurement process for hardware companies.

Like many startups, Forge was born out of frustration with outdated tools in an otherwise cutting-edge industry.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

«I just got more and more frustrated throughout my career,» he said in a recent interview. “It really got to the point where I felt the thing holding the hardware back was the software tool that everyone was using. It made everything much more inefficient.»

He partnered with his brother, former Meta software engineer Haris Šahmanović, to found Forge in May 2023. The two 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, overcomplicated and wasteful. At larger companies, engineers tend to stay out of the process — the purchase request is put in a «black box,» he said — but they’re also generally unaware of other team members’ purchase orders.

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This quickly leads to a problem: imagine Engineer A needs to order a part, and it needs to arrive in time to fit Engineer B’s schedule, so they pay $20,000 in expedited shipping. But it turns out that engineer B’s part will be late. If they had known that, they could have saved money and headaches.

Delays can also occur for other reasons. Engineers who don’t have a clear picture of their team’s purchasing history or vendor capabilities can lead to a lack of understanding about what to order, when, and from whom.

«It’s a waste of engineers’ time, it’s a waste of the supply chain team’s time, and it’s a waste of the company’s money,» Emir said.

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

For this reason, companies don’t need vendor buy-in for Forge to work, a hurdle that has prevented other attempts at standardization. That’s «a huge core value,» 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 create custom workflows based on the company’s needs, which is critical, especially for larger versus smaller companies. More than just order tracking, Forge’s software also includes intake request management, procurement workflow, quote comparison, and automated supplier onboarding and performance tracking.

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

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