Going global without going bust
The founder and MD of a SaaS platform which has secured household names and millions in funding in just three years has said its global ambitions must be handled with care.
Alex Short, MD and co-founder of Vizibl, told BusinessCloud that the company now counts four of the top ten pharma companies in the world and Vodafone among its clients, along with a recent major FinTech win described as a “stake in the ground”.
The company, which provides a platform on which both companies and their suppliers can do business, acts as a middleman for B2B deals.
It provides an alternative to email and Excel sheets, allowing businesses to measure profitability and relationship management with existing suppliers, while also providing access to a greater pool of business to work with.
“The relationships we're managing are global. We want to go global as quickly as possible,” Short told BusinessCloud.
The company’s potential has been recognised with the backing of Seneca Partners, who have provided a £2m injection of funding to the business, which has 25 people in its London office, supported with offices in Luxembourg, and a satellite office in New York.
Short said that around a third of the company’s revenue now comes from the US market, but the platform’s rollout to global domination is one he wants to get right.
“One of the biggest fears, having lived in San Francisco for a bit, is that in B2B you have to make sure you're hitting your data-points and you are not expanding too quickly,” said Short.
“You need to make sure you've got the team, the focus, and the maturity.”
“Being a small company and working with companies of those sizes is difficult, and for us it's all about laying out the relationship and not trying to bottle the ocean.”
His cautions approach to expansion should not be mistaken for a lack of confidence in the product.
Short said the company is trying to solve what he and co-founder, Mark Perera (previously founder of Procurement Leaders) consider to be a big problem.
One of the customers using the platform, with just one of their suppliers gained 146 weeks back to the business in personnel time over a year, he claims.
Extrapolated to bigger businesses, there is “a huge amount of returns on ROI”, he said.
Both Perera and Short previously worked in procurement, and wanted to see a ‘Facebook for procurement’, an antidote to the reliance on emails and existing software available.
“I grew up on Facebook, and you can order your food online so why is procurement software for managing these strategic relationships which could be worth a billion, so difficult to support?” Short asked.
In founding Vizibl in 2013, then known as Old St. Labs, the company has quickly grown an appetite for bigger fish. Short singled out Apple as a company it would like to reach.
“We're not scared of going in there and rubbing shoulders with the big boys. To date, it is what has proven out our business model and why we've had the investment,” he said.
It will now use its recent investment to expand sales, marketing, and business development.
It also plans to bring in what Short refers to as ‘grey hairs'; new minds “with a bit more experience to get us to that next level and really take the business forward.”
It is also looking to add more new features to the platform by harnessing AI to speed up the process further.
“The key to our success has been that we have our hands on the data and we make sure we're using the data to empower the individuals that are using the product.”