The Amazon Of B2B, InstaSupply, Aims To Run A Full Blockchain Transaction Paid For In Cryptocurrency

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Tim Huegdon, Co-Founder of the spending control software InstaSupply, talks about technology as a mean to change the future of security and financial pitfalls for early-stage startups.

How would you describe InstaSupply in a few words?

InstaSupply is spending control software for growing companies – it manages all suppliers, orders, deliveries, invoices & payments in one place and in real time. In a nutshell, it’s an Amazon 2.0 for B2B.

What inspired you to create the startup? How did it all start?

Lee Pruitt and I wanted to bring the security, impeccable user experience and accessibility of B2C software into the B2B world. By creating a powerful cloud platform, fully accessible on mobile and leveraging blockchain technology, we want to empower companies to spend less time on admin, repetitive tasks, and unnecessary costs and instead focus on growing their companies in an efficient and cyber-secure environment.

As you mention, you employ blockchain as well as artificial intelligence to simplify buyer-supplier interactions. What can you tell us about this process and what’s the goal behind it?

The goal is to bring B2B trade and spend control in line with the tech advancements we are seeing all around us. Making processes safer, quicker and more efficient will not only benefit buyers but all the suppliers who struggle with late payments and misplaced documents. Think of how many bottlenecks we are able to eliminate by delivering actionable spend intelligence and removing third parties from a buyer-supplier transaction. Tech is not the end goal, it is the means. The means to make things better, more cost-effective and less of a hassle for the people who actually need to perform all manner of unnecessary tasks.

Emerging technologies impact almost any industry at the moment. From your perspective, what innovations will the security sector experience in the near future?

Let’s consider this for a moment – it’s estimated that some 65% of children entering primary schools today will likely work in roles that don’t currently exist. New technologies enabling remote working, co-working and teleconferencing are changing the way we work, trade and exchange information. The advances in mobile and cloud technology, allowing remote and instant access to data, are the most important technological drivers of change but also the cause of increased cyber threats.

Security education and actionable intelligence will become a must for all companies and individuals. Upgrades to safer software, data encryption, and password protection are no longer on a “nice to have” basis. They are absolutely vital. Just look at the recent SAP security issues due to missing XML validation. This could have lead to information being stolen – private encryption keys, hashes for operating system passwords, and sensitive corporate data included. One of the most severe bugs was discovered in Web Dynpro Flash Island, which enabled hackers to perform an XML External Entity (XXE) attack, without the need to authenticate and obtain local files on the SAP server such as private encryption keys and other business-critical data.

As you also have an extensive background in the financial service industry – what are the most common pitfalls for early-stage startups from your perspective?

Lack of transparency and real-time tracking of spend. We have seen it time and time again, unexpected, unplanned and unapproved spend creeps up and suddenly the runway is a lot shorter than you thought (and informed your investors) it was. When you start out, you have no real process in place for spend control and supplier management. Most purchases are made ad hoc either by one single person or by multiple employees. No approval processes are in place and seldom are suppliers selected based on best price analysis.

Are you using InstaSupply internally? How does that affect the viewpoints of the development team?

Absolutely! We’ve built and continue to build the platform organically, by testing everything ourselves and listening to our customers’ feedback. We want to improve the lives of the people using it and there is no better way of identifying areas with room for improvement than handling all the actions you are asking your customers to perform yourself.

What is the biggest challenge that your company has faced so far?

Fear of change and a lack of understanding when it comes to new technology. As we operate in the finance and purchasing sectors, we’ve encountered strong aversion to change from companies big and small. This is mostly due to legacy processes having been in place for five, 10, or even 20 years and a complete reliance on the “tried and tested”. The saying “nobody got fired for buying IBM” is definitely the pattern we’ve encountered even with incontestable proof as to the benefits of replacing legacy with nimbler, faster, highly superior and cheaper tech.

As a UK- and US-based startup, what do you think the European startup ecosystem can learn from the US?

Each ecosystem is slightly different and we know we all have great things to learn from each other. One thing we will say about the US startups is that they are a lot less risk-averse and will try something new a lot quicker. They are also a lot more open to remote work and I feel our platform lends itself to this beautifully. Being able to know exactly what you are spending as a business in real time, across currencies and countries is something you just aren’t able to achieve with old spend control software or processes.

What’s next for InstaSupply?

We’re continuing our journey of becoming the Amazon for B2B and removing the invoice from the purchasing process. As we leverage blockchain technology in the online purchasing process, the need for the invoice as a document is obsolete and so are the costs associated with the issuing and processing of invoices. By streamlining the buying process and removing unnecessary steps and costs, both buyers and suppliers reap the benefits. We aim to run a full blockchain transaction paid for in cryptocurrency by the end of the year.

What’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

Profit does not equal cash flow. Poor cash-flow management is causing more business failures today than ever before. Working with startups and being a startup ourselves, we know too well that one of the main reasons businesses fold is because they run out of cash. We’ve seen it all around us, startups overextend themselves and because they are not tracking their money at all times, they wake up one day and realize their year-long runway has been reduced to a week. The stories are out there to be read and heeded, but startups can avoid failure by getting smart about how they spend their startup capital.



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