Five Minutes with …Gregor Stühler, CEO of scoutbee GmbH
COVID-19 is one of these unexpected events that has taught businesses a thing or two about dealing with uncertainty, notably managing interrupted supply chains, volatile supply situations and delivery bottlenecks. Flexible selection of suppliers is becoming a key success factor. scoutbee provides an AI-based solution for a smarter way to find suppliers. The company aims to match millions of suppliers to billions in spend. Founded in 2015, scoutbee has been dubbed the “LinkedIn of B2B procurement”. In 2020, scoutbee raised $60 million in Series B funding, bringing its total funding to $76 million.
scoutbee is an amazing success story so far. Tell us how it all started. How did the idea originate?
scoutbee was born from my own necessity to access reliable supplier landscape data at speed. When a deadly tsunami hit Japan in 2011, 50% of my supply chain vanished overnight. To find new suitable suppliers quickly, I began to explore the most powerful way to pull together verified information about suppliers across the globe and make it available in a single profile. Thus, scoutbee as a platform was built. Powered by AI and continuously curated data, scoutbee tracks millions of data points to form supplier information with deep insights and a simple, digital process for strategic sourcing.
At first sight, Würzburg isn’t exactly the location where you’d expect to find Germany’s next unicorn. Can you explain why this city was a good launch pad for your team?
We chose Würzburg as our headquarters because we appreciate the clear strength of the location, including its proximity to target customers and access to talent graduating from the university. Whilst Berlin is 30 times bigger than Würzburg, that doesn't make Würzburg any less important for us - we have absolutely outstanding people located here. Additionally, access to the resources of the ZDI Mainfranken, and the excellent living environment of Würzburg also boost the building of a technology company in this region.
"Bavaria continually offers us excellent networking with qualified specialists, customers, science and partners within the region and beyond. Thanks to its central location in Germany, Würzburg offers the ideal starting point for access to major companies and important industries." – Gregor Stühler CEO scoutbee GmbH
Northern Bavaria plays a key role in the Bavarian government’s Hightech Agenda and its plans for a strong AI network across the state. How can businesses in the region benefit from that?
scoutbee is the perfect example of how AI can unlock huge value for businesses through information advantage, as well as more obvious productivity benefits. With insights from the best up-to-date market data, buyers can make smarter decisions, faster. This enhanced supplier landscape visibility allows companies to then make strategic gains in areas such as resilience, sustainability, cost, innovation and quality. AI overall is a huge opportunity for businesses to drive efficiencies and tap into new business possibilities previously hidden or hampered by complexity.
It is certainly the case that Northern Bavaria has a strong culture of collaboration between start-ups and established companies, and scoutbee is a prime example of how a best in breed technology startup has partnered with large organizations to help them digitally transform, and gain new agility in the face of global market competition. I would say both a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and networking between R&D teams at universities and corporations is an asset to the region.
Your business is obviously set to become a major global player. How did you manage to build a global presence within a short period of time?
We have always worked with larger scale companies which enabled us to build credibility and network effect rapidly, and today we have clients from West Coast USA to North Asia. Our investors in Series A, including Toba Capital, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures and 42CAP, and Series B including Atomico, Lakestar and Next47, have helped us to position scoutbee with the resources, including 76million dollars in funding, an expert team, and ambitious roadmap to be able to execute fully on the digital strategic procurement needs of clients globally.
Industry innovation awards always help too, whether it be for projects submitted with clients such as SEWEurodrive, or a Gartner Cool Vendor award or World Procurement Award. We have also recently become a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Innovators Community with a focus on the future of advanced manufacturing and production.
scoutbee is a great example for successful cross-industry innovation: an AI based solution revolutionising the procurement industry. What is your advice to founder teams with disruptive ideas like yours?
Back in 2015, we saw the need for a data driven product for a procurement community that was in strong need of digitalization - companies just didn't work like that back then. At first, we were not taken seriously, and we were fighting back against windmills, but I'm very proud that we have shown the way to large corporations and proved the case for AI in procurement.
Where founders can see an important business process losing strategic potential, our experience has been that large companies are motivated to address these areas but need targeted support. I am proud that scoutbee is collaborating with progressive clients such as Volkswagen and Unilever that became first movers and take data driven strategic procurement seriously.
Overall, Bavaria is an ideal playing field for collaborations between larger companies and innovative startups – it’s a great place to make cross-industry innovation happen.
When business partners from abroad come to visit Bavaria – what do you suggest they do in their spare time? What is the one Bavarian not-to-be-missed experience?
They should definitely not miss a good franconian wine on the Alte Mainbrücke Würzburg. It’s a magical spot, and the perfect place to unwind.
AI-driven strategic procurement platform
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