Sramana Mitra: What sectors are you big in? What sectors are adopting your methodology?
Ross Elliott: If I showed you the chart, you would say we are very cross-market. If you narrow it down, you’d find that the largest single group of customers on our business are in the industrial business. These are people that sell electrical supplies, plumbing equipment, heating, and air-conditioning.
We’ve got two types of the manufacturer community. We’ve got 10 or 12 of the top 25 electrical manufacturers globally. The second community would be for things like consumer-packaged goods. These are people like Kimberly-Clark and Procter & Gamble. Then we have the smaller companies that supply people like Walmart, Target, Costco in North America and a variety of the same types of companies in UK.
Sramana Mitra: Do you have any kind of formal relationship with QuickBooks to get to this customer base or did you acquire these small businesses individually?
Ross Elliott: There’s a couple of different ways to typify that. We are one of QuickBooks’ endorsed partners. When you buy QuickBooks and go into EDI, you’re actually adding us. We work very closely with them. The bigger picture beyond QuickBooks is, we have the same type of relationship with many of the other small to mid-market ERP providers both in North America and globally.
We have strong relationships with NetSuite, Microsoft, Sage, and SAP. We are embedded in all of their applications so that when someone needs this kind of connectivity, we make it very simple for them to get on the network. So the on-boarding is very quick and very easy. Then, they have this 90,000-connected community available to them from a transparency standpoint to do business with. Once you’re on the network, you have access to all the applications that we’ve built that are network-centric.
Sramana Mitra: Obviously, we are a large network of small businesses here. Are there specific things that you do to introduce a new vendor? If it’s a small business that’s coming to the market with a new product, do you help them, in any way, find channels and connect wholesalers to retailers?
Ross Elliott: We have had pretty good luck with Shark Tank winners. If somebody invested in by one of the sharks find themselves having a product that’s recognizable because of the exposure, they will have a better opportunity to go to a traditional retailer. They’ll find that they don’t have an easy way to do business.
They reach out and find us. We get together with them and at the outset help facilitate their on-boarding onto our network and then making those connections with one, two, or three of the retailers that are going to carry their product. That’s what we do today.
Secondly, what we do a little bit of today and plan to do a lot more of in the future is based on algorithms. We look at the type of company that they are. We determine if I were in that sector and I were connected, who were the likely other trading partners that may make sense for them?
We can provide a bit of a consulting service that said, “If you’re doing business with Walmart, have you thought about doing business with Target?” That’s a simple example. We can’t help make the deal. They’ve got to reach out from a selling standpoint and build a relationship. We can certainly help facilitate the flow of information.