focal point founder Anders Lilliwijk has spent over 25 years in the procurement industry, where he noticed that the vast majority of business is still done using spreadsheets and email. He saw an opportunity to modernize an industry desperately in need of digitization by leveraging the power of open APIs to access data often locked in various enterprise systems.
He says the idea for his startup really came to mind while he was working as a consultant helping a client choose procurement software. They spent $1.5 million but still did most of the work in Excel and email. In fact, nothing has changed, despite significant investment.
He saw another way and set about creating a company to implement it. Today, his startup announced a $3 million initial investment to help build the platform he envisioned that would provide a high level of process automation with a high degree of manual labor.
“So basically we’re taking all the data that’s in the underlying systems and we’re merging it. This in itself is not necessarily unique, but we make this data available as part of our workflows. So we have this data integration layer, and then we have the process layer, which allows users to set up their own workflows and processes with the data available to them,” Lilywijk told TechCrunch.
He said this approach eliminates the need to log into multiple systems to find information and write it down in a dreadful spreadsheet. “All reports are delivered out of the box, so it becomes much more convenient for users to work with all the information available, rather than moving it from one system to another and then copying and pasting it into Excel and sending it by email.”
The system can help you find suppliers that meet a specific set of requirements, be it technical, environmental, diversity or any other. The client can create a workflow and the coordinator can then present a set of vendors to the user and then help submit RFPs, process them, and ultimately reward the business.
Purchasing professionals can track all of this activity across their organization with analytics that help them understand where different elements are in the procurement process and what they are being spent on.
Lilliweik launched the company in 2020 and raised $679,000 in upfront investment from Surface VC, Techstars and various angel investors in 2021, which he leveraged to build the first version of the software last year. He has several large clients using the software and reports a healthy pipeline.
He started building software with a small group of Ukrainian developer contractors in 2021 and today has 21 employees, 4 of whom he recently hired. He is suspending hiring until the end of the year while he watches how external economic conditions develop.
He says diversity is something close and dear to his heart. He points out that the company is owned by disabled people. “So the desire for diversity is something we always have. Our development team is actually still based in Ukraine. It’s just that they are now our developers, and the equipment there is quite diverse. And I would say that at least half of our shore team here in Atlanta is also diverse. Therefore, we are looking for the best specialists, the best available [employees]and, of course, we also need to keep an eye on diversity. But they are not mutually exclusive,” he said.
He reports that his team in Ukraine is currently safe, but some members have had dangerous experiences evacuating from shelling, and he has helped his staff get to safety, a job he takes very seriously.
As for attracting at a time when venture capital dollars are tightening, he sees his solution as helping purchasing teams find better deals in a more efficient way, which should remain attractive regardless of economic conditions.
Today’s $3 million comes from a group of investors including Susa Ventures, Amplo, GoPoint Ventures, Bungalow Capital and Operator Partners.
Credit: techcrunch.com /