​Suppliers: Have you signed into the new ConnXus?

We would like to share some exciting news with you! To better serve your needs, we have launched a new and improved web portal. Effective 10/1/15, you must begin using the new website, as the current portal will no longer be available.

As a registered user within our current site, please visit our new site as soon as possible to review/update your company and user information. Please follow the steps below to review/update your profile:

If you are ConnXus+

  1. Go to ConnXus.com and click on “My Account” or go to https://mysuppliernetwork.com
  2. Log into the Portal using your existing login ID and password
  3. The first time you log in, the system will send you an email requiring you to reset your password. (If you don’t receive the password reset email check your spam, and make sure support@connxus.com is on your safe sender list.)
  4. Review and/or update your company profile
  5. Click ‘Update Profile’ once finished

If you are not ConnXus+

If you are not ConnXus+, you will have to create a new user account. Due to technical challenges, some user accounts were unable to be transferred into the new system.


If you have any questions about the new portal, please contact us atsupport@connxus.com. We will be live demoing the new site for suppliers, tomorrow Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. EST. You can sign up for the webinar below.


A recording of the webinar will available for anyone who cannot attend.


The Team at ConnXus

ConnXus feels the #startupcincy love on Social Media

After the Cincinnati Business Courier wrote about TechStars leading our $2.5 million funding round, the kudos came from all corners of over social media. Take a look at some of our favorites!

Staff Member Spotlight: Carrie Hawkins

Carrie Hawkins brings a strong background of leadership and team-building to the ConnXus team. As the newest Account Manager, starting in March 2015, Hawkins secures new business, maintains day-to-day client affairs, and sustains long-term customer relations. Carrie has proved to be an ongoing learner who actively seeks challenges to improve her professional development.

“Since I have joined the ConnXus team, I have been engaged and empowered not only by ConnXus executives, but by the entire staff. Both Rod Robinson, CEO and Founder, and Daryl Hammett, COO, have enabled my full potential allowing me to leverage my strengths and unique perspectives. Overall I really enjoy the feeling of being simultaneously valued and challenged to step outside of my comfort zone,” says Hawkins.

In five short months she has plunged into the supplier diversity space, turning heads at major Fortune 500 companies and forming collaborative relationships and partnerships at both the NBA and Procter and Gamble. 

Carrie Hawkins will be attending the 2015 National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC) Conference in San Diego, CA, Oct. 18-21. 

Connect with Carrie on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Supplier Spotlight: GFG Asset Management


Duane Garth, Chief Investment Officer of GFG Asset Management, a Michigan Minority Supplier Diversity Council (MMSDC) certified minority-owned business, recently spoke with ConnXus.



Founded in 2008, GFG Asset Management is a ConnXus+ member of two years. The company is based in Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of the reviving city of Detroit. With over 20 years of experience in the investment industry, including 12 years as a Merrill Lynch executive and six years as the founder of wealth management group, Garth Financial Group, Duane Garth brings a longstanding history of financial trust to GFG clients.

The asset management firm specializes in strategically selecting publicly traded small- and medium-sized companies for investor portfolios. These companies typically have a market cap of less than $20 billion in assets.

To ensure enterprise clients that their portfolios are being closely monitored, GFG holds the stocks until one or more of the following events occur, Garth tells ConnXus:

1. The price of the stock reaches the target price, set by the investor and GFG.

2. The price of the stock is overvalued versus what the industry indicates.

3. An extraordinary occurrence that causes the performance of the stock to drop.

Garth also has several recommendations for corporate entities or high net-worth individuals looking to work with an investment advisor. Most importantly, be sure to research the firm’s performance track record, as well the individual that will manage your portfolio. Look for a good fit between the firm’s management style and your own. For example, if you’re looking to invest internationally, find a firm that specializes and has a trusted track record in that specific cap space in order to maximize long-term capital growth.

On a similar note, Garth highly suggests, “Be sure to know the individual portfolio manager’s strength in order to have confidence in what added values they’ll bring to the table when managing your pension plans, bonds and/or real estate.”

Select for May’s Supplier Spotlight: The Deciding Factor

Staff Member Spotlight: ConnXus West Coast


As Tim Scruta approaches his 2nd year anniversary with ConnXus, we’d like to shine the spotlight on our Product Services Manager as he settles into the new ConnXus Portland office. Before working with ConnXus, he was a student at Bowling Green State University where he achieved a Bachelor of Science and Business Administration degree with a specialization in Supply Chain Management.

TimHere’s what he had to say:

What are your main responsibilities as Product Services Manager?

Scruta: For anyone who has ever worked for a start-up, you’ll understand when you walk in the office door each morning, your duties can change significantly from day today. We joke that we, the team members, wear many hats. Whether this means performing account manager duties for the afternoon, changing the water cooler or performing sales calls in order to help support one another. Aside from my many “hats”, my main responsibilities are being the product expert and providing our customers the support they need in order for them to be successful. This includes demonstrating our products, answering any product-related questions, and providing analysis on their current supplier diversity initiatives. Additionally, I am heavily involved throughout the sales and contraction process, providing the education and material our client needs.

How have your responsibilities progressed since you first started with ConnXus?

Scruta: Initially, I was hired in July 2013 to split my time between ConnXus and Rod Robinson’s other company Accel Advisors. On the ConnXus side, I was involved with the day to day customer service tasks and researching vendors as a part of the manual data validation process. For Accel Advisors, I was working as a sourcing analysis and consultant for a prominent real estate management client. On January 1st, 2014, I transitioned into a project management role with ConnXus where I was responsible for managing the scrub process from start to finish. Additionally, I was responsible for revolutionizing the scrub product from a basic flat spreadsheet to a dynamic interactive scrub Xperience for our clients. With this transition, I helped support and manage the supplier diversity program for a client within the medical industry. My main responsibilities included training the prime suppliers on how to report their tier II spend and developing strategies on how to increase our client’s supplier diversity spend. Most recently, I relocated to Portland, Oregon where I transitioned into my current role today. I am continuing my previous responsibilities along with creating brand awareness and selling the ConnXus Xperience.

What should existing and potential West Coast clients anticipate the most from ConnXus’ Portland expansion?

Scruta: Our existing and potential West Coast clients can anticipate industry-leading supplier diversity solutions and experience the customer-centric philosophy we pride ourselves on. Additionally, small and minority West Coast suppliers can anticipate great opportunities to work with our existing clients on the east coast, along with new clients in their backyard. Creating this bi-coastal connection within the supplier diversity space will be an exhilarating Xperience both our clients and suppliers will not want to miss.

CEO’s Desk: Driving Corporate Supplier Diversity: One Spend Category at a Time


Author: ConnXus Founder and CEO Rod Robinson


When we launched ConnXus 5 years ago this month, we had no products, no customers, no supplier database to speak of, and two employees, including yours truly.

Today, we have more than a dozen employees, and our growing list of enterprise customers include some of the most recognized corporate brands on the planet. ConnXus provides a suite of technology-enabled solutions that help them better manage their supplier relationships as well as collect & manage data, track, monitor and report diversity spend activity at multiple levels of the supply chain.

The growth of our enterprise SaaS (software-as-a-service) business model has led to us building a database of nearly 2 million of the approximately 15 million diverse businesses in the United States.

But, how useful is it to have information on 2 million diverse suppliers when most major corporations only have 5,000 – 10,000 total active suppliers at any time?

This is when a new a way thinking can create change. Through our work, we’ve learned more about the many great diverse suppliers that serve our enterprise customers. Those suppliers are capable of real growth by serving even more of our customers.

Growing a Diverse Supplier Base: Pick a Category

One of our enterprise customers recently launched an initiative to increase diversity spend across numerous professional services categories including Information Technology (IT), a category worth tens of millions in annual spend. They realized that of the nearly 100 IT firms they were doing business with, only 5 were diverse.

With a database of nearly 2 million diverse suppliers across hundreds of spend categories, our IT category consists of 12 subcategories, including staff augmentation, consulting, software, information management and data services.

A quick search of the ConnXus database revealed a total 1,035 diverse IT providers nationally. After applying search filters based on our customer’s requirements, we ultimately identified nearly 300 firms qualified to do business with this specific customer, as well as for several others with similar requirements.

Our customer is now positioned to more competitively bid out IT projects to a broader set suppliers. That will ultimately lead to increased diversity spend, higher quality and lower cost.

It was truly gratifying to later learn that our enterprise customer has already started to engage with a handful of these firms regarding future opportunities. We look forward to replicating this across other high value categories. As I reflect back to the beginning of ConnXus, such value creating “ConnXions” was always the ultimate goal.

8 Questions Your Small Business Clients Should Ask When Seeking Capital: Question 1: What kind of lender are you?


Publishing Note: This is part one of an 8-part small business financing blog series in partnership with The Business Backer.This blog series will clear the financial fog, providing you with the tools necessary to make the best financing decision for your diverse or woman-owned small business.

Each blog will address a key question you should ask potential funders before accepting a deal. Making an informed financing decision can help you avoid the traps and find the right partner for your business.



Question 1: What kind of lender are you?

Like many businesses in the world, there are lenders who work hard to deliver good solutions for their clients’ best interests, but there are others who don’t. Let’s first define these groups:


A broker is a third party sales office whose primary job is to bring together lenders and borrowers. Brokers find business owners in need of funding, collect their information and shop the deal to multiple funders. Seems like a good idea in theory; the business owner saves time by hiring someone else to do their research and comes out with the best deal in the market. The problem is finding a trustworthy broker who will do just that. While there are reputable brokers out there who put the business owner’s interest first, some will push deals that are much larger than the business owner originally wanted or can afford, simply to collect a larger commission. Others will conveniently leave out that they are, in fact, brokers and not direct lenders. Added commissions charged to the business owner can be as much as 20% and these are often hidden in blended invoices.


Direct funding companies remove the middleman and work with the business owners directly for their funding needs. Direct funding companies typically offer a specific financing product built for businesses within their ideal credit box. Credit models, approved industries, deal amounts, terms and fees vary from funder to funder, which can make the search for the right product very time consuming. Compared to the lengthy paperwork and approval process required by traditional lenders, direct funding companies can typically provide approvals and funding within a matter of days with little to no paperwork.


Facilitators are direct funding companies with the capabilities to not only provide direct funding themselves, but can also facilitate funding from partner funding companies, credit unions, banks and SBA lenders. Unlike brokers, facilitators not only have a network of partners representing the full spectrum of lending options available for their small business customers, but they also are a direct lender themselves. Facilitators evaluate the credit profile and borrowing circumstances of the small business to determine the best options. For instance, your clients may be “bankable,” just not with the bank where they currently hold their business deposits. There could be banks in other areas of the country that will welcome these clients, even if their current bank does not. By managing these partner relationships and staying up-to-date on new options and policy changes, facilitators can offer a variety of options to business owners so they can make an educated decision on their financing.

Whether your clients choose to work with a broker, direct funding company or financing facilitator, understanding who they are working with and what to expect are the first steps to finding the right financing option. Understanding their lender’s process and asking these questions before any agreement is sent can save a lot of time, headaches and money.

Stay tuned for next month’s question – What fees are involved?

4 Trends in Supplier Diversity Reporting & Risk Management


Author: CEO and Founder Rod Robinson


You’d be hard pressed to find a major corporation today that doesn’t have some form of supplier diversity initiative. And a key component of supplier diversity programs is the periodic reporting of progress against established goals and objectives. As more organizations move from compliance-driven to market-driven programs, they’re raising the bar in program investment, management, marketing and reporting of performance metrics.

These corporate trendsetters provide their investors, board members, government agencies and other stakeholders real value: a baseline from which to evaluate and benchmark supplier diversity program performance and impact.

In my nearly 20 years in supply chain & procurement as both a management consultant and former CPO, I have had the unique opportunity to witness an evolution in supplier diversity reporting among the best companies. This evolution has resulted in a shift from unsophisticated, manual processes that limited scale and data accuracy to more scalable, technology enabled processes that greatly improve data accuracy and reliability. Based on what I am seeing in the market, I strongly believe this trend will continue.

Here are four key trends driving increased sophistication in supplier diversity reporting:

1. Comprehensive quantitative disclosure requirements will become the norm for domestic publically traded companies.

In April 2014, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, on behalf of the New York City Pension Funds, wrote the Funds’ largest holdings, including Apple, Pfizer, Oracle and American Express, asking them to disclose performance figures on their supplier diversity programs. The announcement further stated that 90% of S&P 100 companies have supplier diversity programs, but less than half of that group discloses data on program performance (NYC Comptroller Calls For Greater Supplier Diversity at 20 of NYC Pension Funds’ Largest Holdings).

The letter requested that companies disclose – annually — qualitative and quantitative performance data that sheds light on program effectiveness. Specifically:

  • To disclose their annual spend with diverse suppliers in both real terms and as a percentage of their total supplier spend, preferably by category;
  • To establish and disclose quantitative performance goals for their supplier diversity program and annual progress toward achieving these goals; and
  • To describe ways in which supplier diversity goals are reinforced throughout the organization, including for example, through (a) oversight by senior management and the board of directors and (b) specific compensation incentives for employees, managers and senior executives

My initial reaction to this news was, Wow! That’s strong. But considering the significant diverse representation of pension fund participants, these requests are quite reasonable. Connecticut followed a similar path, but went a step further by recently filing a shareholder resolution demanding that Monster Beverage appoint a female or minority board member.

This isn’t an anomaly. The diversity disclosure demands of large public investors, investment advisors and custodians will continue to increase. Meanwhile, corporate supplier diversity program metrics will be evaluated and benchmarked just like any other key performance indicator. As it should be.

2. Increased focus on supplier diversity spend data integrity.

Increased disclosure requirements come with increased data scrutiny. The Dodd-Frank Act requires six federal regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, to assess the diversity practices of regulated entities, including publically traded companies. As such, the accuracy and reliability of supplier diversity status and spend data will be critical.

3. Diverse supplier relationship management as a model for broader supplier relationship & risk management.

Many best practices supplier diversity companies require diverse suppliers to register on a dedicated portal that is the entry point into a database. This portal captures relevant supplier qualification data including valid diversity certification documents. While this provides companies with great visibility into their diverse supplier base, non-diverse suppliers are typically not required to register on a portal that provides such transparency.

There is no better example of why this level of transparency will be required for all suppliers in the future than the financial services industry. According to an MQ article, the increase in regulatory scrutiny stemming from the global financial crisis has now reached beyond banks, to the companies that supply them. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and other regulators are holding financial institutions responsible for the actions of their suppliers. In 2012, several big name banks paid a total of more than $500 million to settle complaints resulting from the actions of third-party suppliers (“Managing when vendor and supplier risk becomes your own,” July 2013).

4. Heightened focus on Tier2 spend tracking & reporting.

Many best practices companies leverage technology applications to collect, track and analyze the relevant diversity spend of several of their prime suppliers. This benefits the company in a couple of key ways. First, the company gets credit for the direct diversity spend associated with its contract with the prime and an allocation of indirect spend. Second, the company gains visibility to new diverse suppliers that may become primes in the future.

In light of expected increased regulatory scrutiny and more focus around supplier risk management, some companies are starting to use their Tier 2 program as a basis for increasing broader supply chain transparency beyond supplier diversity. Some are even looking to track down to the Tier 3 level and beyond.

Why not? The more information that a company can have about its key suppliers (and their suppliers) the better. Technology removes the limitations that may have existed in years past.

8 Questions Your Small Business Clients Should Ask When Seeking Capital: Question 2: What fees are involved?


This is part two of an 8-part small business financing blog series in partnership with The Business Backer. This blog series will clear the financial fog, providing you with the tools necessary to make the best financing decision for your diverse or woman-owned small business.

Last month we introduced you to the state of small business lending and the first question your clients should ask when seeking financing: What kind of lender are you?



Let’s dive into the next question:

Question 2: What fees are involved?

Hidden fees are commonplace in the consumer world, tacked on to a wide variety of purchases including airline tickets, cell phone plans, and medical treatments. Another frequent example is cable and internet service; we’ve all heard something about the Comcast debacle. It’s no surprise these fees are also common in the unregulated small business lending space. The truth is that some fees are necessary, such as those that intend to cover risk or services needed to process the loan. Other fees are completely frivolous and do not supplement anything except the broker’s or lender’s pockets.


With new lenders and brokers opening their doors every day and more capital available in the market for small businesses than ever before, the fight for the lowest rate is a cut-throat battle. The desperation to gain market share while continuing to make a profit has led some lenders and brokers to add unnecessary “fees,” which allows them to post a lower rate than the competition to earn business despite charging more. Fees may be disclosed and defined or they could be included within a blended, lump sum cost in the agreement, which is extremely confusing to the client.

Read More Here.

8 Questions Small Business Owners Should Ask When Seeking Capital: Question 3: What Items are Needed to Get Funding?

This is part two of an 8-part small business financing blog series in partnership with The Business Backer.

Last month, we introduced the second question: What fees are involved?

Let’s discuss another much questioned topic:

Question 3: What items are needed to get funding?

First things first: Have you approached your bank? At The Business Backer, we always recommend that our clients check with their banks first before seeking outside sources of capital. A short conversation with your bank about their requirements and expectations can give you an idea of whether or not you should apply for a loan, and will save you a lot of time and prevent headaches if you aren’t qualified. If your bank can’t help, they may be able to point you in a different direction or at least give you feedback on what to do next.

It is also important to keep in mind that if you do not qualify with your bank, you could still qualify with a smaller community bank or credit union. In addition to doing your own research on these institutions, seek the help of your trusted advisors, the SBA, SCORE or local small business resource centers for guidance and referrals.

With all of this in mind, ask yourself a few key questions before you begin your search for non-bank alternatives:


Having a clear understanding of your goals can help narrow down the types of lenders you should target. For instance, if you have an opportunity to get inventory at half the cost if you buy X amount by X date, and it will generate significant revenue, then speed may be more important to you than term or cost. Or maybe you are preparing for a remodeling project you are hoping to tackle in the next few months. If you have more time to work with, cost may be your most important factor.

There is a wide spectrum of products available in the alternative funding market. You will have a number of options from near-prime to high risk with a variety of terms, costs and speed to funding. Be straightforward about your goals and get multiple offers in order to compare.


Collect your business and personal credit reports from major credit rating agencies and resolve any discrepancies before you go through the application process. Knowing your credit score will also help you set expectations. If you have a lower score, you still have options, but they may be limited and expensive.


When you are ready to finally start applying, having a few key items ready can significantly expedite the process. Every lender and funding company will request different information and documentation, but the following items are generally required across the board:

Complete application – In addition to basic personal and business information, also be prepared with:

  • Company federal tax ID
  • Company start date
  • Company gross annual sales
  • Business type (sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.)
  • Business owner(s) Social Security number(s)
  • Landlord contact information (if applicable)
  • Ownership percentage
    • If you own less than 50% of the company, most lenders will require complete information from all other owners

Personal and business credit history – Prepare for a soft or hard pull of your credit

Personal and business financial statements – Usually 3 months to 3 years depending on the lender and the type of loan

Business tax returns – Usually 3 months to 3 years depending on the lender and the type of loan

Financial statements – Often includes P&L, balance sheet, cash flow (if available), A/R and A/P aging

Bank statements – Personal and business

References – Could include one or all of the following: trade, landlord, franchise, bank

Legal documents – Business licenses and registrations, commercial leases, articles of incorporation, third party contracts, franchise agreements

Other legal information – Tax liens, judgments, bankruptcies (if applicable)

Other possible documentation

  • Business plan with details of where your business is today and your future plans and projections
  • Cash flow projections for at least one year
  • Collateral – May not be necessary if loan is unsecured
  • Resumes of owners
  • Copy of owner(s) driver’s license
  • Voided check for the business account
  • Personal guaranties from all principals (more than 20% owners) from previous 3 years

Next month’s question: Are there limitations on how I use the money?

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