Handshake wants to be the Square for the B2B set

In a world where extracting maximum value is key, Handshake wants to help B2B companies maximize every opportunity.

road map travel salesman
Kate Ter Haar (CC BY 2.0)

I always bristle a bit when companies suggest that they're going to be "the Uber for sushi," or when the pitch goes, "like Netflix, but for backyard chickens." It's so tempting, and so easy, to take a high-profile tech success story and purloin it for your own gain. Oftentimes, however, the example doesn't work and the company just looks silly.

So Handshake was always running a risk when it decided to call itself the Square for the B2B set. Handshake offers a business-to-business commerce platform that allows manufacturers and distributors to run their ordering processes either in person or online. A mobile application fits in with the needs of sales reps while the Handshake Web portal allows for customer self-service.

Handshake was founded back in 2010 but only introduced the e-commerce portal last year. Customers seem positive, with reports of increased conversion and self-service by customers. The company reports that its app transacts over 1.2 million orders valued at $2.5 billion, annually.

"Handshake is one of our more valuable partners and an increasingly integral part of our sales process. Sales reps work more efficiently and with real-time information at their fingertips; they are building deeper partnerships with our dealers that expand our business," said Paul McCabe, CEO of Roland Canada. "Deploying Handshake Direct will keep Roland top-of-mind with all of our dealers year-round, and we can provide even better service to our smaller and midsize B2B customers through the self-service portal."

Handshake is today announcing a $14 million Series B funding round led by Sozo Ventures and with participation from previous investors -- Emergence Capital, SoftTech VC, BOLDstart Ventures, MHS Capital, Point Nine and Primary Venture Partners. The round takes Handshake's total funding to just shy of $25 million to date.

Clearly, traditional B2B systems are too complex to provide the speed needed for modern processes. That said, Handshake isn't exactly the first company to enable a mobile worker to interact with an enterprise system. Yes, its self-service portal looks like a useful tool for customers, and its mobile apps will help to sharpen sales performance. But when it comes to positioning itself as the Square for B2B, I think Handshake might be gilding the lily just a bit.

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