“I think it’s a perfect storm.”
by Safon Floyd Posted: June 3, 2016
The supplier diversity terrain comes with its own set of problems; from deciding which suppliers are acknowledged as diverse, to tracking the use of diverse suppliers, to successfully fulfilling corporate and government mandates—and the list could really go on.
The problems are apparent and looming, hence the perfectly timed, well-rounded, and recently funded solution: ConnXus.
Founded by CEO, Rod Robinson, ConnXus introduces a cloud-based supplier relationship management platform that streamlines the administration of corporate supplier diversity initiatives. This streamlining allows for small women, minority, and veteran-owned businesses to ease into connecting with Fortune 2000 corporate buyers.
The necessity of ConnXus does not go unnoticed, which is why the company just received $5M in series A funding to accelerate the company’s long-term impact on generating sustainable and diverse supply chains.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Robinson along with COO of ConnXus, Daryl Hammet, to talk next steps.
BlackEnterprise:com: You recently received $5M series A funding for ConnXus led by Techstars Ventures, Serious Change L.P., Impact America Fund, and The Social Entrepreneurs Fund. Why do you think you received such an unprecedented investment?
Robinson: I think it’s a perfect storm. I’ve been around the supplier diversity space for 20 years, and I’ve seen solutions dab in this space, but no one ever made a significant investment in it.
There was no single, full-cycle solution that was of significant quality. I think getting out in the market and demonstrating that there is demand for this, then attracting the global customers that we attracted—it just helped build momentum.
How will this funding be used to push your company’s agenda?
We’re going to be adding to our sales and marketing efforts. We’ve had limited resources, so we weren’t able to grow at the pace that we set out to. Now, with the funding, we’ll be able to also add to our software engineering team, and we’re going to be able to pursue the global strategic partnerships that we’ve had on the agenda for the last couple years. We really look at this funding as adding fuel to the rocket ship.
What advice would you have for a novice entrepreneur looking to do what you successfully pulled off—starting a business, gaining capital, and watching that business flourish?
- Surround yourself with a great team of advisors to help you that compliment your skill-set, because you can’t do it alone.
- Use those advisors to help you find potential investors.
- Once you’ve proven to be product-market fit, it’s all about building a team and the core of what will be your culture.
Hammet: Know thyself. Understand what your strengths and opportunities are before you even open your mouth to an advisor, because an advisor is going to ask,“What do you need?”
Know your strengths financially, know your strengths as a leader, and know your strengths as a manager/administrator. So, as you build your team of advisors, you can be very transparent: “I’m not good at this, so I need to leverage your skill-set.” All advisors are not good advisors, based on your needs and what stage you’re in. There are people that you don’t need at the early start up that are good advisors after you build an infrastructure. Hire people that are completely opposite of what your strengths are.
Read Part One: Rod Robinson Solves Supplier Diversity Disconnect