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Proton.ai, the leading AI-powered growth platform for wholesale distributors, has announced it has closed $20M in Series A funding led by Felicis Ventures. Proton.ai helps distributors compete in the increasingly digital world with an AI-powered sales enablement solution created for the unique dynamics of B2B distributors.
“We are excited to partner with a company that’s poised to transform the massive and critical distribution industry,” said Niki Pezeshki, general partner and managing director at Felicis Ventures. “There are approximately 700,000 wholesale distributors in the US, with 32,000 of them doing more than $10 million a year in sales. Digital tools are desperately needed to modernize the sales stack for these distributors, so we believe there is a tremendous market opportunity for Proton’s solution.” Pezeshki will be joining Proton’s board.
Also participating in the round were leaders in enterprise SaaS and distribution, including Battery Ventures, Abstract Ventures, MSC Direct, and J Ventures. Technology angels include Godard Abel, CEO of G2; Ray Grady, CEO of Conexiom; and Rob May, General Partner at PJC. Distribution angel investors include Mike Page, CTO/CMO of R.S. Hughes; Jonathan Bein, partner at Distribution Strategy Group; and Michael Marks and Michael Emerson, partners at Indian River Consulting Group.
Proton’s platform connects and centralizes distributors’ customer, product, and transactional data that is dispersed across many systems. It then analyzes that data in real-time with deep learning models and produces AI-powered product recommendations that help distributors grow their sales.
“Proton customers average a 17x improvement to gross margin and 5%-10% bump to top line sales,” said Benj Cohen, founder and CEO of Proton.ai. “Because we’re focused on an industry that’s responsible for 28% of the U.S. GDP – or more than $6 trillion annually – we believe our technology can be a disruptive force for the B2B market.”
Cohen learned first-hand the challenges of distribution through his family’s business, Benco Dental, the largest private dental distributor in the United States. He believes distributors have been chronically underserved by technology. Cohen founded Proton.ai to rectify that.
“Distributors face tremendous pressure to deliver an exceptional omnichannel experience for their customers – a need that's heightened by competition from online-only players like Amazon,” Cohen said. “Delivering this experience is extremely challenging due to the complexity of managing tens of thousands of SKUs across fragmented systems, resulting in distributors missing hundreds of billions in sales annually. Proton cuts through this complexity by identifying which customers need which products, and empowering salespeople to act on this information.”
According to Cohen, Proton intends to leverage the infusion of capital to further invest in three areas: aggressive product development and enhancement, building out a world-class customer success team, and expanded sales and marketing capacity.
Proton’s SaaS platform saw its monthly recurring revenue increase by 241% over the past year. The company currently has a net revenue retention of 199%.