ConnXus Awarded VentureOhio 2016 Early Stage Company of the Year

 

Cincinnati.com

Author: Kate Murphy

2 SW Ohio startups win Venture Ohio awards

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Two Cincinnati-based startups took home top awards at the third annual VentureOhio gala Thursday night.

The 2016 awards honor the top entrepreneurs and investors from across Ohio who have contributed substantially to the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Assurex Health won Exit of the Year after its $225 million acquisition by Salt Lake City-based genetic test developer Myriad Genetics earlier this month. Assurex Health is an informatics-based medicine company that created a genetic test for people suffering from mental health disorders.

“In just eight years the team has successfully led the company to an exit worth up to $410 million dollars,” VentureOhio CEO Falon Donohue said. “This team knows how to make things happen.”

Last year, Assurex Health won the VentureOhio Growth Stage Financing of the Year award and 11 months later successfully exited their company.

The company’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, Don Wright, took home a second piece of hardware for the company, winning Entrepreneur of the Year.

Donohue said Wright is a “tireless leader” who has spent nearly a decade growing Assurex Health from a much-needed technology invented at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Mayo Clinic to a company of over 480 employees serving almost 400,000 people with mental health conditions.

ConnXus, a supplier diversity software company headquartered in Mason, was named the Early Stage Company of the Year.

The company uses a cloud-based technology platform helps grow small and diverse businesses, including minority and women-owned suppliers, by connecting them with large corporations.

“ConnXus was selected as our Early Stage Company of the Year for the progress they are making in an important sector of our economy,” Donohue said. “The company’s ultimate goal is to disrupt the $10 billion-a-year supply chain and procurement software market.”

Twenty finalists were selected out of a total of 88 nominations, with the final seven winners chosen by a panel of expert judges. Six of the finalists were Cincinnati companies.

The panel was led by Mark Brandt, Director of Business Development for RSM. John McIlwraith of Allos Ventures, Jonathon Vinocur of Thompson Hine, Calvin Cooper of NCT Ventures, Jeff Toewe of Athenian, Ryan Helon of Rev1 Ventures, Ray Leach of Jumpstart and Falon Donohue, CEO of VentureOhio, were also on the panel.

On top of the wins, all three finalists in the “Exit of the Year” category were Cincinnati startups. That’s indicative of the “massive startup growth happening in the city,” according to a release from VentureOhio.

Cincinnati recently jumped seven spots on the latest Kauffman Index of Startup Activity to 24th metro area in the nation. It was one of five metros that saw the biggest positive shifts in rank this year. The Queen City ranked third for fastest startup growth, according to the study, which is the first and largest index tracking entrepreneurship across cities, states and nationally.

VentureOhio is trade group that acts as a resource for Ohio’s entrepreneurial community by promoting and facilitating collaboration between economic resources, universities, state resources, and entrepreneurs. Its goal is to ensure there is adequate capital available to support high-potential companies in Ohio, particularly early-stage companies.

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Cincinnati Business Courier 

Greater Cincinnati startups take home state awards

Two Greater Cincinnati startups won top awards in a state competition.

Assurex Health and Connxus were named Exit of the Year and Early Stage Company of the Year, respectively, at the third annual VentureOhio gala that honors the top entrepreneurs and investors in the state.

Assurex received its honor after its $225 million acquisition that could be worth up to $410 million by Salt Lake City-based genetic test maker Myriad Genetics.Assurex won the VentureOhio Growth State Financing of the Year award in 2015.

Assurex executive vice president and chief operating officer Don Wright also won the Entrepreneur of the Year category.

All three finalists in the Exit of the Year category hailed from Cincinnati.

Software company Connxus was selected as Early Stage Company of the Year for its progress in growing a key sector of the state’s economy with its plan to disrupt the $10 billion supply chain and procurement software market. Six of the 20 finalists nominated in that category were from Cincinnati.

The prominence of Cincinnati startups in the awards shows the power of its growing startup ecosystem, which was recently ranked 24th among all metro areas in the U.S.

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VentureOhio Founders 5: Rod Robinson

 

By: Falon Donahue

Rod is the founder and CEO of ConnXus, a Cincinnati-based supplier diversity software company that helps grow small, woman-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses by connecting them to Fortune 2000 corporate buyers. Rod received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the West Virginia University Institute of Technology and earned his MBA at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2012, Rod was recognized by Ernst & Young as an Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.

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How many times did you fail before finding success with your current company?

I have been successfully failing and learning as an entrepreneur since pursuing my first entrepreneurial venture at age 11. I still fail today, but I take the learnings and convert those failings into successes. Any great salesperson knows that each failed customer conversion (“NO”) puts you one step closer to a “YES.” The same goes for entrepreneurship. “Those who are not willing to fail need not apply.”

What is the most important lesson you learned from failure and success?

Failure is where I achieved the most personal growth. It’s during the most difficult times that you learn the true character of an individual, and it is where my patience and perseverance was tried and tested. I believe these are two most essential elements to any successful entrepreneur. When it comes to success, it’s all about your team! Surround yourself with people smarter than you and create an environment where they can do their best work.

Why did you choose to scale your business in Ohio?

I had lived in Ohio for eight years prior to starting ConnXus. When I relocated here 14 years ago as an executive with Cincinnati Bell, I thought we would be in and out within five years. However, we quickly realized that Ohio was a great place to live and raise my family. During that time, I was able to observe how the Cincinnati entrepreneurial ecosystem was growing. I was fortunate to develop relationships with many of the key players (VCs, attorneys, entrepreneurs, etc.) who were making it happen. That definitely inspired me.

What is the most difficult part about doing business in Ohio?

Starting a software company in Ohio and trying to raise money from VC’s on the coasts proved to be a bit challenging in the early days. However, that is rapidly changing as we continue to witness the success of companies like Assurex, ConnXus, Dotloop, EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE, Lisnr and many more in the pipeline. Catalyst organizations like CincyTech, Cintrifuse and The Brandery are certainly smoothing the path.

What is one thing that someone reading this blog could do to help your company?

We would love to being doing more business with Ohio companies. The bulk of our Fortune 1000 customers are based outside of Ohio. Our rapidly growing customer list includes Allstate Insurance, American Express, Cummins, Caesars Entertainment, Coca Cola, Facebook, Harley-Davidson and The National Basketball Association. If you are an Ohio-based company interested in supporting an innovative, Ohio-born technology start-up while building a more diverse and sustainable supply chain, call us to schedule a product demo or email sales@ConnXus.com.

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ConnXus Intern Amongst Highest-Ranking U.S. Senator Interns

DJ-Hammett

ConnXus Cares deeply about intern development, integrating each intern’s individual career goals and achievements into the work that they perform daily. Our team ensures that every intern has access to the most robust internal and external resources in order to make the most out of their time with ConnXus.

DJ Hammett, ConnXus operations service intern, is no stranger to making great strides in his career and personal development. Also a campaign intern for U.S. Senator Rob Portman, Hammett was one of the three highest performing political campaign interns from the state of Ohio. The three highest-ranking interns from each state were then selected to attend an appreciation gathering with Senator Rob Portman, and other high-profile politicians including Senator Joni- Ernst and Newt Gingrich at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 18.

“It was an eye-opening experience to see the larger impact of me and my fellow interns’ daily work that contributes to Portman’s overall unprecedented campaign,” reflects Hammett. “As an intern, it was very interesting to learn insider information about the campaign and Portman’s unparalleled voter reach in the state of Ohio.”

As he entering his sophomore year at WashU in St. Louis in the renowned systems engineering program, Hammett has also been nationally recognized for his groundbreaking language-learning app, LingoHop. Catching the eyes of several investors after raising $25,000 from their Kickstarter campaign, LingoHop is giving Rosetta Stone a run for their money.

#ConnXusCares about intern development… How does your company give back to your employees?

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ConnXus Cares about Sustainability: Minimizing E-Waste

Topping off at 9.4 million tons, the United States generates more electronic waste, or e-waste, than any other country.1

downloadE-waste in Manesar, India in 2009; image provided by usnews.com

The toxic effects of e-waste impact not only the the air we breathe and the water we drink, but it produces long-lasting health effects on our overall well-being. While most e-waste is dumped into landfills, only 12% is currently being recycled, according to Trayak, a sustainable technology solutions company.

Those who do recycle their electronics, however, may not be doing the earth all that much good. Most of recycled e-waste is shipped to underdeveloped countries, where major organizations can hire cheap labor to rid of dangerous metals and chemicals. In Ghana, Jim Puckett, executive director of the nonprofit Basel Action Network, said he has seen mostly orphans – anywhere from 12 to 20 years old – working in a slum, burning discarded electronics and releasing toxic fumes into the air, according to U.S. News.2

Team ConnXus is participating in Trayak’s MyGizmo e-waste collection drive during the month of July. #ConnXusCares

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Trayak, a neighboring office of ConnXus in Mason, OH, is offering a viable alternative to dumping e-waste by enabling individuals to properly dispose of old, unused electronics—and the tool is called MyGizmo. “MyGizmo is an application and mobile platform that will promote reuse, recycling, recovery, and electronic waste awareness. The app leverages a user’s social network to reduce the uncertainty of buying and selling to strangers on the internet,” states Trayak.

ConnXus Cares® about building a sustainable future for current and new generations to come. In the spirit of environmental conservation, this month the ConnXus team is indulging in some healthy competition by participating in Trayak’s E-Waste drive. Team members are bringing in old laptops, monitors, keyboards, cellphones, tablets, digital cameras, GPS devices and the list goes on.

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How is your office, community and/or household working to build a more sustainable e-future? #ConnXusCares


http://earth911.com/eco-tech/20-e-waste-facts/

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/08/01/e-waste-in-developing-countries-endangers-environment-locals

THE NEWS FROM ORLANDO: WBENC 2016

 

From June 21 to 23, nearly 40,000 business owners, corporate executives, and government officials converged in Orlando, Florida’s Orange County Convention Center from across the U.S. and around the world. They were there to generate business opportunities and promote economic growth at the 2016 Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference & Business Fair (NCBF). 

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Tuesday began a moment of silence, as a show of solidarity with the City of Orlando and the LGBT community in the wake of the tragic Pulse nightclub shootings. (Photo credit: WBENC)

“Women-owned business now comprise 38% of the business population,” said WBENC president and CEO Pamela Prince-Eason. “WBENC is proud to bring together our powerful women’s business enterprises with major corporations and government entities to continue to grow their companies and fuel the economy.”

Founded in 1997, WBENC is the leading third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women, with more than 12,000 WBENC-certified WBEs. WBENC’s certification is accepted by over 1,000 U.S. corporations, in addition to many states, cities, and other entities.

Its yearly event is the largest gathering of corporate and government buyers and Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) in the nation, where attendees enjoy three days of prominent speakers, practical workshops, and networking opportunities.

Gathered under the theme of “Creating Magic Together,” the 17th Annual NCBF was held in the state that boasts the nation’s fastest growth rate for women-owned business, according to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.

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The ConnXus booth at WBENC’s National Conference was a hub for conversations about women-owned businesses, supplier diversity, and inclusion.

Another highlight was the 300-exhibit 2016 National Conference & Business Fair, featuring informative panels, remarks from WBENC leadership, and targeted programming from event sponsors. The Women’s Enterprise Forum concluded with an address from keynote speaker Jennifer Brown on diversity and inclusion as a growth enabler for business.

Attendees also heard from C-level executives representing the 2016 conference co-chairs, including Shell; The Walt Disney Company; and Wells Fargo.

New Report Charts Record WBE Growth

The recently released 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report expands on prior years’ geographic analysis to include trends in the top 50 metropolitan areas (up from 25), along with the industrial mix of minority women-owned firms.

“The number and economic contributions of women-owned firms continue to rise at rates higher than the national average – with even stronger business formation rates seen since the recession,” the study notes. “As of 2016, it is estimated that there are now 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States, employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues.”

Other major trends include :

  • The ranks of women-owned firms increased by 45% between 2007 and 2016, compared to a 9% increase among all businesses – a rate five times faster than the national average.
  • Employment in women-owned businesses has grown by 18% since the recession, while job growth among all U.S. businesses has declined by 1% since 2007.
  • Business revenues among women-owned firms rose by 35% since 2007, compared to 27% among all U.S. firms – a rate 30% higher than the national average.
  • Women are now the majority owners of 38% of the country’s businesses, up from 29% in 2007.
  • Women-owned companies now employ 8% of the nation’s private-sector workforce – up from 6% nine years ago – and contribute 4% of the nation’s business revenues, a share that has not changed over the past 20 years.

Behind the Numbers: One Entrepreneur’s Perspective

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Behind every statistic is a real business, with owners, customers, and vendors. One such entrepreneur is Cathy Lindemann, president and founder of Cincinnati, Ohio-based Evolution creative solutions

So what’s her take on the state of women-owned business – and the increasing awareness that a more inclusive supplier base can actually be a competitive advantage?

According to Cathy, the impact that supplier diversity has afforded her company has been crucial — “not only in the way of gaining contracts, but the knowledge, experiences, and increased opportunities that otherwise would have been left in the dark.”

Lindemann, whose company provides commercial and large-format printing and brand design services, also credits her embrace of supplier diversity for personal growth as a woman entrepreneur: “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 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.”

In fact, she directly credits supplier diversity with her firm’s improved financial success and operational efficiencies. “Not only has it streamlined our business procedures, but it has revolutionized the ways in which we market our product offerings to new markets,” Lindemann notes. “Because of the increase in audience reach, our small business has experienced an outstanding growth in revenue.”

What’s more, the entrepreneur adds, “supplier diversity has positively impacted my employees. Through supplier diversity, they’ve been offered better benefits and more opportunities for personal and professional growth. Our team has grown closer and increased our growing culture of positivity, giving employees a newfound sense of pride, equality, and empowerment through leading.”

Lindemann is so convinced of this approach that she now serves as a mentor to other local women-owned businesses, especially during the WBE-certification process. “And once they are certified,” she says, “I help them narrow down which events and networking opportunities are best suited for their specific needs. Evolution creative solutions also has made financial donations to other WBE’s and small businesses to help them succeed.”

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STAY TUNED! In our next post, we’ll explain why more and more companies are moving beyond supplier diversity … to supplier inclusion.

 

Links:

 

 

ConnXus Raises $5M to Fix the Supplier Diversity Glitch (Part 2)

 

“I think it’s a perfect storm.”

by Safon Floyd Posted: June 3, 2016

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Rod Robinson, ConnXus Founder & CEO

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?

  1. Surround yourself with a great team of advisors to help you that compliment your skill-set, because you can’t do it alone.
  2. Use those advisors to help you find potential investors.
  3. 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.

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Read Part One: Rod Robinson Solves Supplier Diversity Disconnect

ConnXus at 2016 WBENC National Conference & Business Fair

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To receive the benefits of a Brown-Forman sponsored ConnXus+ membership, register your WBE on mysuppliernetwork.com

Email sales@connxus.com to schedule a product demo. 

Rod Robinson Solves Supplier Diversity Disconnect with ConnXus (Part 1)

 

By: Safon Lloyd, Black Enterprise Author

Rod-Robinson

ConnXus Founder & CEO, Rod Robinson

It is no secret that the supplier diversity landscape could use a little tweaking. There is a very obvious disconnect in the ease and access of corporations utilizing minority and female-owned businesses. This has been a continuous problem that has finally found a solution: ConnXus.

ConnXus offers a cloud-based supplier relationship management platform that streamlines the administration of corporate supplier diversity initiatives, helping grow small woman, minority, and veteran-owned businesses by connecting them to Fortune 2000 corporate buyers.

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with ConnXus founder, president, and CEO, Rod Robinson, and COO Daryl Hammet to find out how they created the platform that may single-handedly solve most (if not all) supplier diversity problems.

BlackEnterprise:com: What was the inspiration behind ConnXus?

Robinson: I was chief procurement officer at Cincinnati Bell, which is one of the regional bell operating companies based in Cincinnati. We were doing a couple billion dollars in revenue. I was responsible for all of the corporate procurement, and supplier diversity was one of the areas that reported to me. We had a responsibility to our customers relative to corporate and government mandates to report our results as it related to spending with suppliers/companies owned by women, minorities, veterans, and so forth. I found it costly to pay for access to multiple databases to find suppliers and to track and report the spend with those suppliers—sometimes on a monthly and oftentimes a quarterly basis.

It was frustrating to have my staff complain about having to spend so much time chasing numbers from prime suppliers, that we were required to report to fulfill contracts. I just felt like there had to be an easier way. I saw an opportunity to make that process a lot easier leveraging technology. With technology being leveraged in so many other areas, why hasn’t someone made the investment that is so important, it can actually help to drive the growth of minority and women-owned businesses which make up so much of the market in the U.S.

How have you seen ConnXus actively benefit diverse suppliers thus far since inception in 2010?

Hammett: I believe that we have created an awareness with corporations that did not necessarily have vehicles to get or engage minority suppliers, because they didn’t have a database and they weren’t posting requests for proposals (RFP’s) or requests for information (RFI’s) outside of their organization. We’ve created a lot of opportunity around giving corporations access to suppliers they never would’ve had access to.

Also, by bringing on suppliers to our platform, we’ve created millions of dollars in opportunities for suppliers to engage corporations that they never would’ve had access to. What we provide with this cloud-based platform lets companies connect, engage, and search for companies that have the capabilities, the size, the regional access, and the discipline to be able to engage at a higher level. What we do is provide the buyers the opportunity to post, vet, and have access. At the same time, we give suppliers the visibility that they need, because they can’t run around the country all the time and try to engage a McDonald’s or a Coca Cola.

This is where ConnXus, Connect U.S. has come in and linked these two together; it saves money, time, and allows for the connection to flourish through engagement.

Where do you see ConnXus in the next five years?

Robinson: Right now, we have a database of 1.7 million diverse suppliers. There are 14 million diverse suppliers in the U.S. representing over half of all businesses. However, that over 50% only accounts for six percent of the 30 trillion in revenue that’s generated.

How we plan to impact diverse suppliers over the next five years is to significantly increase that equation that’s currently out of balance. We’d like to see that number move from six percent to more like 30%.

By engaging suppliers and aggregating valuable opportunities, we are becoming the go-to place for major corporations to find posted opportunities and continue to make the market more efficient in helping major corporations find minority and women-owned businesses. We want ConnXus to become ubiquitous with that.

Check back for Part 2 of this enlightening conversation. For more information visit ConnXus.com.

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Staff Member Spotlight: Tyler Johnson

 

This month, we’re shining the spotlight on ConnXus’ Senior Manager of Technology Solutions, Tyler Johnson. Tyler joined the company in September of 2014 and currently leads the ConnXus IT Development team.

Tyler-Johnson

What motivates you to jump out of bed in the morning?

TJ: Jump is far too strong a word to describe my motion out of bed in the morning. However, it’s easier to go to sleep after having accomplished something during the day—at ConnXus, I always feel as if I’ve accomplished more than I set out for each day. Staying in bed longer just gives you less time to achieve your goals.

What are your top three responsibilities as Sr. Manager of Technology Solutions?

TJ: My largest responsibility is 1) ensuring a constant secure access to our software services is available, 2) providing and maintaining quality solutions that have passed rigorous testing requirements, and 3) producing innovative enhancements and features so that our services literally meet our motto: “Supplier Diversity Made Simple.”

How is your role pertinent to a fairly young software company?

TJ: We are in a stage where we have proven our model and have created a solid technology platform. Our next hurdles will be scaling to meet ever-increasing demands and usages of services while continuing to innovate. We have been preparing for this progression for years. My role is important in keeping us on track to have the technology, services, and processes of the company that we want to be not the company that we are now.

What song best represents your company and why?

TJ: Movin’ Out by Billy Joel—time after time ConnXus has shown that we won’t accept what the majority receives as “good enough” for a supplier diversity program. The largest sum spent with diverse suppliers does not always equate to the greatest economic impact. The materialism in “Movin’ Out” represents this outdated outlook on the supplier diversity industry as just another corporate checkbox.

When you’re not working, where in Cincinnati do you like to spend your time?

TJ: In my free time I most enjoy spending time at home with my family, single-track mountain biking around Cincinnati, Indiana and Kentucky, and attending my daughter’s sporting events.

What attracted you to work at ConnXus?

TJ: I knew that I had a purpose at ConnXus. I believed that our founder and CEO, Rod Robinson, was more than confident in his vision for ConnXus, and I saw a strong demand for advances in the under-served levels and quality of technology solutions in the supplier diversity space at that point in time. I had worked for similar small companies and larger companies and believed I could drive ConnXus’ growth in regards to development, infrastructure, and processes.

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ConnXus Raises $5M in Series “A” Funding

 

PR Newswire, Mason, Ohio – May 11, 2016 

ConnXus, a supplier diversity technology platform, today announced that it has closed $5 million in Series “A” funding, led by Techstars Ventures, Serious Change L.P. and Impact America Fund.

“This round of funding will significantly accelerate ConnXus’ long-term impact on generating sustainable and diverse supply chains,” said Rod Robinson, CEO and founder of ConnXus. “To date we’ve raised $10 million in investments, including participation from Techstars Ventures, CincyTech, Serious Change L.P., Impact America Fund, and several private angel investors.”

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ConnXus’ cloud-based, supplier diversity sustainability dashboards open the door for procurement, supplier diversity, and supply chain professionals to access a wealth of global supply chain analytics. Robinson believes Techstars and the other investors are the right investors for the company to disrupt and add imperative value to the $10-billion supply chain and procurement software market.

Robinson founded ConnXus in 2010 as a result of his personal experience and frustration with the complexities associated with locating qualified diverse suppliers, tracking spending, maintaining diversity certifications, and reporting reliable results in accordance with corporate and government mandates. ConnXus now solves this problem with a user-friendly and cloud-based technology platform. “During my tenure as a procurement executive with responsibility for supplier diversity,” he said, “I thought it was expensive and inefficient to pay for access to separate databases to search for minority-, women- , veteran-, and other classifications of diverse-owned businesses. ConnXus now makes it simple, with a single database of 1.7 million+ suppliers that combines all diversity classifications. Bid opportunities disseminated through the ConnXus platform have led to millions of dollars spent with diverse suppliers.”

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While minority- and woman-owned businesses represent more than 50 percent of all U.S. businesses, they only account for 6 percent of the $30 trillion in total annual revenue generated. Because small businesses provide 65 percent of net new jobs, it is imperative to foster an economic environment that supports the growth of small and diverse businesses. ConnXus is proud that 29 percent of its own employees are minority and 38 percent are women. This includes the hiring of COO and early investor Daryl Hammett, previously the highest-ranking African-American executive at the global retail giant Luxottica Retail, where he was a senior vice president & general manager running a $900-million brand. In support of young business leaders, Hammett has been a member of the prestigious, Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) international Cincinnati Chapter since 2012.

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“Not only does ConnXus align with our initiatives to serve high-performing, emerging technology companies, but they have created innovative software that directly improves diversity in the supply chain for startups and corporations,” said David Cohen, Techstars’ co-founder and managing partner. “Our investment in ConnXus is the latest investment from Techstars Ventures, our third fund, which is focused on seed and Series ‘A’ investments.”

This investment by Techstars also comes on the heels of its commitment to the White House to increase diversity in tech entrepreneurship, as well as the Techstars Foundation’s inaugural grants. Robinson is a founding member of the TechStars Foundation advisory board.

“Unprecedented in the supplier diversity space, this $5-million investment will redefine supplier diversity and inclusive procurement with a technology solution that is innovating economic inclusion analytics,” said Hammett, investor and chief operations officer of ConnXus. “We will now be enabled to ramp up marketing and sales, augment our software engineering team, pursue global strategic partnerships, and add to our management team.”

About ConnXus
ConnXus is a supplier diversity technology platform and certified minority-owned business (MBE) headquartered in Mason, Ohio. The cloud-based company helps small and diverse businesses, including woman- and minority-owned companies, grow by connecting them to Fortune 2,000 corporations.

About Techstars Ventures
Techstars Ventures is the venture capital arm of Techstars. Techstars Ventures has $265 million under management and they are currently investing out of their third fund totaling $150 million which is focused on Seed and Series A investments. They primarily co-invest alongside venture capital and angel communities in Techstars accelerator program graduates, new companies started by Techstars alumni, and companies formed by Techstars mentors.

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