MASON, Ohio, April 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — ConnXus, a supplier diversity software company based in Mason, Ohio, now streamlines products into a smart dashboard—opening the gateway for procurement, supplier diversity and supply chain professionals to access a wealth of supply chain analytics in two clicks or less.
The ConnXus supplier diversity sustainability dashboard is complementary with all product purchases and includes two brand-new product offerings:
“That’s right,” said ConnXus chief operations officer Daryl Hammett. “We are giving away state-of-the-art dashboards with every product. We believe everyone should experience the visibility that supplier diversity brings to an organization’s supply chain.”
“Our unique, smart dashboard is a game-changer—disrupting more traditional approaches to supplier diversity management,” announced Anthony Mitchell, senior manager of product management. “ConnXus equips clients with visual representations of their supply chain data that can be easily exported for boardroom presentations and many other purposes.”
Hammett elaborated, “As ConnXus continues to make strategic global partnerships, our dashboard’s recently expanded international supplier registration portal offerings now reach eight different countries—providing corporations and suppliers more opportunities to connect.”
The software company will debut its upgraded suite of dashboard-based applications as a first-time corporate exhibitor at the 2016 Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference in Orlando, Fla. June 21-23. During the conference, ConnXus will again leverage its unique supplier matchmaking tool—ConnXSmart—to facilitate meetings between Procter and Gamble’s (P&G) community of partners.
ConnXus continues to innovate the supplier diversity industry space. Upcoming software releases include business intelligence, networking, blogging and category management capabilities.
To learn more about ConnXus supplier diversity software solutions, feel free to schedule a demo prior to the WBENC National Conference. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
ConnXus (www.connxus.com) is a supplier diversity software-as-a-service (SaaS) certified minority-owned business (MBE) headquartered in Mason, Ohio. The SaaS-based company helps small and diverse businesses, including woman-, and minority-owned companies, grow by connecting them to Fortune 2000 corporations.
What’s New in Business: ConnXus gains traction at linking clients with diverse suppliers
Revenues double in 2015, more hiring planned
By: Kevin Eigelbach, WCPO contributor
Posted: 6:01 AM, Feb 5, 2016
MASON, Ohio — ConnXus, which helps companies find qualified, diverse suppliers and keep track of their spending with those suppliers, is ready to scale up.
“We have companies that are demanding our product,” said founder, president and chief executive Rod Robinson. “We want to get in front of them and help them.”
After five years in business, the Mason-based company has started to gain traction, doubling its revenue last year to well more than $1 million but less than $10 million (Robinson would not reveal the exact amount). It now has 21 employees, including Robinson, and plans to add more sales and development staff this year.
What does it do?
The most basic service involves taking a customer’s accounts payable or spending records and matching them against the company’s database of 1.7 million diverse suppliers to validate the customer’s spending on diverse suppliers. Different companies have different goals for diversity spending, Robinson said, but it generally means money spent with women-, minority- or veteran-owned businesses, or with small businesses generally.
More advanced services include enabling customers to track their secondary diversity spending — money spent on contractors who then hire diverse subcontractors — and enabling them to search the ConnXus database to find diverse suppliers.
How did it get started?
Florida native Robinson, now 48, moved to Cincinnati in 2002 when he became chief procurement officer for Cincinnati Bell. In that role, he learned firsthand how hard it is for large companies to find diverse suppliers and keep track of money that goes to them.
In 2005, he started his own consulting firm and spent many hours going over accounts-payable data line by line to find diverse suppliers. That reinforced his conviction that a software solution was needed, and he started ConnXus in 2010 to provide it.
Who are the investors?
They include local startup investor CincyTech; Boulder, Colorado-based TechStars, which invests in tech startups; and New York-based Serious Change LP, which invests in high-growth, high-potential minority-owned companies. Management hopes to raise $3 million to $5 million more this year from venture-capital firms, Robinson said.
He added that he and the other employees have also invested a significant amount of their own money with the company through an employee stock option plan. Altogether, the company has raised about $4.7 million, and, while it’s not yet turning a profit, Robinson said, it’s getting close.
Who are the customers?
They include large organizations such as Louisville-based distilled spirits maker Brown-Forman Inc., the National Basketball Association, American Express, Harley-Davidson USA and local clients that include Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Who else is on the team?
Daryl Hammett was consulting as a business coach when he met Robinson and became the chief operating officer of ConnXus two years ago. He’s a former vice president and general manager of Sears Optical and an executive for 15 years with Luxottica Group in Mason, a maker of eyewear. He replaced 90 percent of the existing team, he said, and took the company from a scrappy startup to more of a global business.
“We have built the most user-friendly platform in the marketplace,” he said. “At the end of the day, we are taking supplier diversity to the next level, which is supplier inclusion.”
That means not just hiring diverse suppliers, he said, but also listening to their ideas and seeing how they can add value to the hiring company’s strategic plan.
What has the journey been like?
The highs are really high and the lows are really low, Robinson said, but he wouldn’t trade owning this business for anything else. “I wake up every morning excited about what lies ahead,” he said.
In the early days, the challenge was attracting capital and getting clients to take a chance on a startup, he said. Now, the company has both capital and good talent.
“For a long time the wind was in our face,” he said. “Now, the wind is at our back.”
A former ConnXus intern, DJ Hammett, shares his insightful experiences on internships and how his time as a ConnXus operations services specialist intern boosted his ability to launch his own company. Hammett, from Mason, OH, is currently an engineering student at Washington University in St. Louis. Co-founders Michael Ashley, DJ Hammett and Tsavo Knott began LingoHop, a foreign-language acquisition application, in November of 2015.
Here’s what Hammett has to share on his journey from a ConnXus intern to a young entrepreneur:
ConnXus: What was the inspiration for LingoHop’s mission?
DH: After spending years teaching foreign languages, Ashley and I realized there was an overwhelming problem in the language-learning space: a lack of personalization. A recent study found that the leading language software sees only 0.6% of their users complete their program, yet over 70% of Americans want to learn a new language. We realized that each person has their own language goals and learning style, and there was no solution that addressed this need. After speaking with Tsavo Knott, an expert in computer programming and development, the Lingohop concept was born. Co-founders Michael Ashley, DJ Hammett, and Tsavo Knott teamed up with the goal of creating a personalized environment for learning a new language and culture, regardless of your current skill level.
ConnXus: What were the main takeaways from your internship as a ConnXus operations services specialist?
DH: Having an interest in business, I believe my favorite aspect of my internship was being in the “startup” environment. Sitting in the back of meetings in which the ConnXus team effectively strategized to build a successful startup helped fuel my confidence in working to build one myself.
Having no experience with business before my internship, ConnXus helped nourish my interest in entrepreneurship, especially in the startup field. I learned that with a startup, there are many moving parts at once and one wrong move can lead to its demise. ConnXus understood the value in recognizing the needs and interests of the customers early on in order to produce the most effective product.
One of the most valuable things ConnXus taught me was the importance of being flexible and open to change. What appears to be a great idea to some may not be the most viable or efficient option. Through council and feedback and despite challenges, ConnXus has overcome obstacles and continues to grow every day. The team’s endurance to exceed expectations helps reminds me that not only are my team and I working to build a company from scratch, but we are also creating a product that will help people in many ways.
ConnXus: How many employees does LingoHop currently employ?
Tsavo Knott is the vice president and is spearheading the technical development of Lingohop, such as program design, programming, and SEO/SEM marketing planning.
Ramón Padilla-Reyes, a PhD candidate for Hispanic linguistics, is our director of Hispanic linguistics. Ramón’s research background is utilized to develop the methodology behind Lingohop and the content to make it happen. With his help, we’ve been able to create a user experience that is backed by years of scientific research, unlike many of our competitors. Our dynamic team is coming together to create the language-learning experience that will connect people across the world.
As Chief Product Officer, I work mainly on content development. We are slowly pacing out content inside of a beta version of LingoHop, and we are hoping to complete this phase within the first quarter of 2016.
ConnXus: Starting a business is very time-consuming. What are your main priorities during these early, critical stages of LingoHop?
DH: Most of our time is split between two main projects. First, we’re dedicating a lot of time to preparing for our crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. We plan to utilize the amazing community behind Kickstarter this April to help bring Lingohop to life. Second, we’re seeing a majority of our time spent towards beta development. We’re working hard to put the proper design, code and content behind Lingohop to get it in the hands of eager users before the next holiday season.
ConnXus: What distinguishes Lingohop from other language apps?
DH: Most language-learning programs offer an age-old approach to learning. Lingohop will transcend this norm by providing a platform in which the user is placed at the center of the experience. People will not only be able to learn at their own pace, but also in a completely personalized environment. The needs of a traveling business person, for example, are completely different those than a group of students backpacking abroad. We’ve designed Lingohop to not only recognize those differences, but to make them the foundation of your experience. At the end of the day, however, we’re simply trying to do our part to connect the world by creating an experience that is more than just a language.
ConnXus: What advice can you offer other millennial, prospective entrepreneurs?
DH: My best advice would be to not rush the process. It’s definitely important to keep goals and do your best to reach them but plans will almost never work out as you expect. It’s important to remember that you are trying to build a business so there are a multitude of moving parts at play from the company name to legal actions. Try and find a great mentor that will help with the process and to verify that all bases are covered to create a solid foundation for a successful start-up.
Lingohop was recently mentioned in a Huffington Post article. Select to read the full article
As ConnXus continues to expand international software product offerings, ITC Translations recently partnered with us to provide high-quality Spanish and Portuguese language translation services.
The global translations company’s headquarters in Lyon, France was founded in 1999, with additional office locations in Canada and Jupiter, Fla.—a suburb of Palm Beach. ITC Translations is a certified woman-owned business enterprise (WBE) and today they employ 35 staff members.
Companies in need of translation services range from technical manual writing to translating niche marketing communication rhetoric. ITC touts their ability to tailor to their clients’ specialized requests in technical, medical, marketing, software, tourism, agricultural, food and legal realms.
“What makes ITC unique are our Linguistics Resources Managers—these linguistic experts thoroughly test each translations team by performing monthly evaluations of each translator to make sure the quality of work meets our high standards,” explains Callie Holt, Business development representative.
Project management technologies paired with an expert team of dedicated multi-linguists all contribute to ITC client satisfaction.
On Partnering with Small and Diverse Suppliers
Holt concurs, “We love the opportunity to collaborate with other diverse businesses. We are able to tailor our services better as we have ample occasions to get to know our clients better than in a corporate structure. We currently partner with minority-owned voice-over and dubbing companies, as well as a woman-owned publishing and design firm.”
Considerable benefits to working with small and diverse service providers include quick, more flexible and innovative results.
As a small, supplier diversity company and certified minority-owned business, ConnXus strives to bolster diverse business partnerships. ITC Translations equips ConnXus with undoubted confidence as our software flourishes in new languages and international markets.
SHARE YOUR STORY 2nd PLACE WINNER: Evolution creative solutions
Cincinnati-based creative and printing company, Evolution creative solutions, is a certified woman-owned business (WBE) that has reaped myriad benefits from supplier diversity opportunities while giving back to local WBE communities.
Cathy Lindemann, president of Evolution creative solutions, attests to the innumerable growth and opportunity that supplier diversity has offered to her business, her personal growth, employees and extended community.
The impact that supplier diversity has afforded my company is insurmountable—not only in the way of gaining contracts, but the knowledge, experiences and increased opportunities that otherwise would have been left in the dark.
Being a part of a supplier diversity program has provided opportunities for me from networking to growth, to giving back and everything in between. The benefits have benn vast and continue to expand.
On My Growth as a Woman Entrepreneur
Since becoming part of a supplier diversity program, I have grown tremendously as a leader while expanding my knowledge base not only about successful business leadership but also on managing more efficient business operations. The increase in my confidence and leadership skills has helped me recognize my company’s strengths and weaknesses, and equipped me with the tools to improve the weaknesses and leverage the strengths. The ample networking opportunities have allowed me to interact with and learn from a variety of new businesses and diverse business leaders, whom I otherwise might not have met.
On Growing my Business
Supplier diversity has significantly impacted the financial success, operations efficiencies, and unique niche of Evolution creative solutions. Not only has supplier diversity streamlined our business procedures, but it has revolutionized the ways in which we market our product offerings to new markets. Because of the increase in audience reach, our small business has experience an outstanding growth in revenue.
On Creating a Positive Work Culture
Additionally, supplier diversity has positively impacted my employees. Through supplier diversity, they’ve been offered better benefits, and more opportunities for personal and professional growth. As a result, our team has grown closer and increased our growing culture of positivity, giving employees a newfound sense of pride, equality and empowerment through leading.
On Giving Back to the WBE Community
I have become a mentor to other women-owned businesses, specifically during the WBE-certification process. Once they are certified, I help them narrow down which events and networking opportunities are best suited for their specific needs. Furthermore, Evolution creative solutions has made financial donations to other WBE’s and small businesses to help them succeed. Recently I have bolstered partnerships with small businesses in the Roselawn community in Cincinnati, OH, to create pro bono marketing materials which will directly benefit the surrounding communities.
The possibilities are endless with a supplier diversity program and the benefits exceed far beyond financial success. The knowledge, growth and culture enhancement is too great to put into words!
Nine diverse suppliers submitted their supplier diversity stories in the first-ever ConnXus Share Your Story blog campaign. Three judges determined three winners based off the suppliers’ history with supplier diversity, community impact and relationship with other diverse suppliers in their own business. This year’s judges included Tamara Lang, Program Manager for Women Excel Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber; Sheila Mixon, Senior VP of Business Development for Greater Cincinnati Urban League and Executive Director of ORV-WBE; Debra Quade, Kellogg’s Manager of Supplier Diversity.
netlogx, an information risk management service provider based in Indianapolis, IN, is the first place winner of the ConnXus Share Your Story blog campaign.
Once upon a time, a determined young lady traveled across the pond from England to America seeking employment and a grand adventure. As this story unfolds, months slip into years and her new-found city, friends and work feel like home. She stays, and the story of netlogx begins.
Through the nearly 18 years since netlogx first opened its doors, CEO, Audrey Taylor has remained constant in her commitment to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion. As a direct reflection, she and the team embrace the spirit of diversity in the workplace and through our supplier diversity program, Diverse by Design, which is reflected in our core values and position of our leadership. Our goal is to provide a culture of excellence and inclusion that is demonstrated with our commitment to all employees. We believe that an inclusive culture is one that recognizes and respects differences and actively seeks participation with diverse suppliers which delivers value and drives innovation for our clients.
As diversity is woven into the very fabric of the organization, leadership serves as strong advocates at every level. netlogx has created a Diverse by Design committee that is fully committed and supportive of initiatives which include increased participation in all facets of the company’s goals and planning, ongoing education and strategic community involvement. This is reflected in our senior management which is 88% diverse and includes minorities and women. Additionally, over 50 % of our team members are women.
Diverse suppliers are integral to our 360 degree approach to participation. netlogx purchases over 60% of our goods and services from minority and women-owned firms. We have also developed processes to identify and partner with diverse companies such as our self on potential business opportunities in an effort to fuel economic growth and build long-lasting partnerships.
As a direct result of our supplier diversity registration efforts we secured a contract with a public utility company. We have engaged and continue to seek utilization of MWVBEs on contracts as well as having served as a WBE on several contracts. Not only is it the right thing to do but we have also seen the economic benefit.
Strengthening relationships with Minority, Women and Veteran-owned businesses (XBEs) in the community through promotion and active participation with organizations and companies that strive to maximize opportunities for XBEs has resulted in countless and unimaginable gifts. Our involvement with organizations such as NAWBO, WBENC, MNSDC, city and state programs and company supplier diversity programs has increased awareness and served to elevate our partners, diverse companies and all of those squarely committed to supplier diversity.
In May 2015, netlogx was selected as a Top 5 finalist in the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) National’s “No Small Thing” video contest highlighting the one thing that’s contributed most to their business success. The video conveys our story and how diversity has helped build netlogx into a successful and caring firm that is Diverse by Design. Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NszoenzRWqM
For many busy supply-chain and procurement leaders, supplier diversity falls near the bottom of the list when budget time rolls around. That’s partly because supplier diversity programs may seem more like a regulatory requirement or a corporate social responsibility than a genuine business opportunity.
This misguided perception is rooted in three facts about supplier diversity in the United States:
Given all the many government requirements and regulations every company must follow, there’s more to the story than simple compliance. Want to know the real reason why are more and more top corporations investing so heavily in supplier diversity? The answer is simple – a more diverse and inclusive supply chain is helping them to grow and expand.
Not Easy, But Worth the Effort
For public- and private-sector procurement managers, many of whom are also coping with budget cuts, meeting all these layers of diversity requirements can be challenging. To fulfill their fiscal and diversity obligations, managers need not only organizational buy-in, but also strong procurement processes that help support a more diverse supply chain.
But does a business case exist for establishing programs that actively recruit qualified minority- and women-owned suppliers? An increasing number of supply-chain thought leaders say yes. Manufacturers and other organizations with robust supplier diversity programs are benefitting from:
Consider this statistic: The combined “buying power” of African American, Hispanic, and Asian American-owned businesses is now about $3 trillion dollars. With the multicultural population experiencing such amazing growth, it’s no wonder more and more businesses are embracing supplier diversity to stay competitive.
Good Times, Bad Times
Any procurement manager who has experienced a few business cycles understands that it can be tough to keep diversity in mind during periods of economic downturn or uncertainty. But it can be done. For example, a few years back Cargill had to cull back its select suppliers from 17 to 12 to improve efficiency. Because the giant manufacturer made it a strategic priority not to eliminate suppliers from traditionally underrepresented groups, no Black-, Latino- or women-owned businesses were cut in the process.
In fact, “Having diverse and inclusive perspectives and practices in our organization will be even more crucial in the face of unprecedented economic challenges,” says Pat Hemingway Hall, president and CEO of HCSC. “To be as innovative as possible, we must capitalize on the talents and skills of all of our employees. At the same time, we need to continue to anticipate and respond effectively to the needs of our increasingly diverse customer base who will be facing their own unique challenges during this difficult time.”
Diversity as a New Business Generator
Executives at Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc. say they can directly trace more than $6 billion worth of business to its commitment to supplier diversity. A Tier 1 supplier to General Motors and other automakers for years, the company’s notable focus on diversity helped the company gain business from GM in the late 1990s.
To differentiate itself, Johnson Controls approached GM and offered to form a joint venture with a minority-owned firm to help GM meet its minority-produced content targets. Now known as Bridgewater Interiors LLC, this joint venture has expanded over the years to supply components to several other major carmakers.
Smaller Can Be Better
Like many other defense contractors to the federal government, Lockheed Martin must search for certified minority-owned or small businesses to provide a percentage of its content. The federal government’s definition of a minority-owned business includes small businesses and companies owned by veterans or service-disabled veteran.
This has proven to be a competitive advantage rather than a handicap, because smaller companies are often more agile and flexible than their larger competitors. “What these small businesses do is really bring innovation to our corporation in a much faster method to market than a real large corporation like Lockheed Martin,” said Nancy Deskins, Lockheed Martin’s director of corporate agreements and supplier diversity.
There is also huge untapped potential in reaching out to women-owned suppliers. While women control a tremendous amount of purchasing power worldwide, women-owned vendors typically represent less than 1% of sales to large multinationals.
Corporations interested in partnering with women-owned businesses can find potential leads through WEConnect International, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with various international agencies, including The World Bank Group and the U.S. State Department, to identify and certify women-owned businesses globally.
Still think you can’t afford to build a world-class supplier diversity program into your annual budget? It’s high time to rethink your priorities – and calculate the potential benefits of greater inclusion.
STAY TUNED! Next time, we’ll show you how supplier diversity can help your company navigate today’s competitive landscape.