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A Network of Procuretech Startups – Andreas Zimmermann from Supplytechs

  • 5 min read

We look at something a little bit different on this week’s show and examine how one startup Founder decided to start his own community of procurement software startups to help to promote his own. 

To be able to learn from other procurement tech companies and jointly market each other’s solutions at the same time is a great, innovative way to increase attention to your own business. Andreas Zimmermann, CEO of MySupply and Supplytechs joins me to tell his story.

How one Founder created a community of startups to grow his Procuretech company

Andreas began his career as a Consultant and this led him to start his entrepreneur’s journey, at the time also in the consulting space.

MySupply evolved from this as he saw the need for an affordable e-Sourcing tool for non-enterprise businesses that can leverage AI to automate parts of the sourcing process, to point the buyer towards the right e-sourcing strategy for a specific project. 

Recognising the typical challenges that Startups have

Speeding up the process from minimum viable product (MVP) to having a reliable stream of revenue is the biggest challenge for every startup. 

Usually in the early stage, a startup will not have a big marketing team or a huge budget to spend on ads. So, finding ways to organically (or relatively affordably) get attention onto the product is going to be key. Even more so if a startup in the early stages is self-funded and not backed by VC money.

Enter Supplytechs as a potential solution

So, without a huge Sales & Marketing team or budget, being able to effectively and affordably start to bring in revenue is key.

Andreas explains how the usual route of doing a roadshow at conferences and at industry events was kind of dependent on the other parties being interested (and of course, it’s also not free). Meaning that ultimately, the ability to start generating sales was really outside of their control to a large extent.

They noticed that other startups in the space may be targeting the same customers but are not necessarily in direct competition with MySupply, and so the seed was planted that there was perhaps a smarter way to combine resources and to help one another in some way.

Why not just sponsor an event instead?

Startups just don’t have the budget to compete with the bigger boys when it comes to event sponsorship. Attending events is fantastic from a marketing perspective but the costs to be a sponsor are just too prohibitively expensive. This is also reflected when you see the types of companies that sponsor these conferences and events. Even well funded, later stage startups are rarely seen in the list of sponsors.

How to go about getting others on board with the idea?

Andreas explained that he used COVID as a catalyst to get some buzz around the idea to do a digital event. With all events and conferences being cancelled, this gave him the impetus to reach out to other startups and potential speakers and there was a lot of interest, for obvious reasons.

They recently in September just did their third Supplytechs Digital Conference which was a pitch event featuring some of the startups who are a part of Supplytechs.

Leveraging collaboration

While there may be some companies in the Supplytechs network who are theoretically competing with one another, it is rare that two startups are both going after and competing against one another for a sale with the exact same customer. 

And while it could happen at some point, the power of the network and the knowledge contained within each of the different startups is really a force of momentum that can help all of them grow and develop in the right direction. Especially when considering the real competition is either legacy software in organisations, or processes which use Excel and Sharepoint that could be digitised.

Discovering the full potential

Andreas acknowledges that Supplytechs is still in its early stages and there are numerous directions that the network could go in terms of servicing the needs of its participants.

Having mentors, consultants, pooled resources for things like advertising, sales and marketing can be a very powerful platform to serve the pain points of the network.

Leveraging i-Pass to handle customer objections around connecting Best-of-Breed solutions 

A common reluctance to go best-of-breed is often the perception or the concern that it will be technically difficult and problematic to integrate a number of different, independent software solutions and get them to talk to each other. Supplytechs is tackling this through offering support through the i-Pass solution. This is a smart way to easily connect numerous APIs and solutions together and get them to play nicely with one another, without the need for large consulting projects or IT resources.

Going international

Supplytechs has been a predominantly German network through its early stages, but they are keen to grow and have more global representation. They are already international with Scandinavian and British startups as part of the network, but are keen to expand this and gain a foothold in North America with some startups from the US and Canada.

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