We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Igor Putrenko”, Founder of the Zurich – Switzerlan based start-up “IT-Suppliers”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
There is a huge need for people to outsource IT projects for large and small companies. These companies come to us for recommendations on the best IT suppliers. We know IT and that is what we focus on. Companies save money, operate efficiently and don’t have to purchase technology they only need for a short period of time.
“Can you recommend the best IT supplier to outsource our projects? Can you guarantee
successful implementation?” — this is what we address.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
IT-Suppliers.com together with Launch-Startup.com under the Suppliers Cloud Limited brand has been found beginning of 2014. We went live with our products on the market in summer 2014. At the moment we’ve been able to already attract hundreds of reputable IT Suppliers and gain first customers and projects to implement successfully through our service.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
We connect you with professional IT service providers with proven successful implementations of similar projects, including all relevant details of the supplier. Clients can see the supplier’s rating, customer satisfaction, specialization, references, certifications and other key information to give you a full view of each potential supplier. If a problem arises between a client and supplier, IT Suppliers is fully involved and protects clients with Success and Safe Pay guarantees.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
We’re professionals coming from IT, procurement and supply chain, marketing and communication. The team is presently located in two different places – Zürich, Switzerland for the client relationship, business development and marketing as well as in Minsk, Belarus for the IT development and product support.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
At IT-Suppliers.com, we take out the risk that clients face when hiring someone outside of their company to complete work. There are many freelancers marketplaces, so as many giant IT outsourcing companies. There were no “in-between” marketplace for those customers who need to choose a niche but professional IT supplier, focusing on a particular technology.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
Since we went live 6 months ago, we have gained hundreds of customers and suppliers already. Our aim is to secure certain particular market share in IT Outsourcing industry in our home markets – primarily Western Europe and North America, by the end of 2016.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
Our indirect competition focusing primarily on freelancers are oDesk, elance, freelancer.com. There are more generic and well known B2B marketplaces such as Alibaba and others who’re not, however, focusing on professional IT Outsourcing only or on Startup launching such as our sub product Launch-Startup.com.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
There are always obstacles. You can have the greatest project on the planet but without proper go-to-market strategy it may become just one more walking dead. The obstacles were and will be there, we’re ready to address them with an appropriate speed and energy.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
Fortunately not that many. The professional IT outsourcing has been there for the past 20 years at least. We’re just making the entire market much more transparent and convenient for all players. This what we believe our mission is for IT-Suppliers.com and Launch-Startup.com.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We have tested a huge demand on the market to get such a service. We’ve developed a great product to support the idea and we’ve been able to commercially test it on the market in just few weeks after the go live. We’re going to continue our journey according to our business plan and to our ambitions in order to make the IT Outsourcing industry a better place.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We have an expansion strategy into new geographies, besides we’ve been able to start with the Launch-Startup.com product in addition to our core product to support startups with better conditions, pricing, etc. We may look into further additional areas but we want to stay focused at the same time.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
The trigger to start the company was ever growing demand “to find a best IT supplier for my project”. There were simply no such place when the customer may go and compare the pricing, the reputation, check the technology focus of every supplier, it’s rating, customer satisfaction and project history. Having so many ad-hoc request to provide any advise in this field has triggered us to build such service.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
You need to focus on how you make the existing world (your customers’ world, any particular industry or any other particular area) better when using your product, not so much on the money first. Money is an important engine to drive your company forward but should not be a short term end goal.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
The problem of growth and support of scalability is a luxury problem to have, yet many are underestimating what does that mean for the startup in each concrete case. We’re working on a short term challenges and we’re preparing the growth carefully at the same time.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
We save you time and money by matching your project description, technology needed and budget with the best-in-class suppliers. We guarantee you’ll find the IT supplier that fits your requirements and protect you from losing on your investment in case a project is not completed. Our Managed Service option helps you determine the recommended project framework, technology needed and roles and responsibilities.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
We’re constantly monitoring the best channels for our customers. So far some social media channels in particular twitter was very helpful. We’re launching a new campaign in 2015 to explore more of these.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our current customers are small and medium businesses, both on the supply as well as on the demand side. We’re going to focus as well ohm large enterprises in future as these are under cost pressure too and flexible to find an alternative but solid IT Outsourcing options for their operations. We’re aiming to get first few large financial institution on board in coming future.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Majority of our customers are coming from the SEO and social media channels so far. We’re easy to use and “no risk” service, therefore the barrier to entry is rather minimal for all of them.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
Our demanding customers appreciate transparency, time- and costs-
savings, as well as security while using IT-Suppliers.com. Our IT Suppliers appreciate meeting and establishing business relationships with new customers, completing more projects and increase their revenues at the end. Although not all of our IT Suppliers are winning new projects yet, we’re working hard to make this happen for many of them.
20. How are you going to scale?
We’ve developed particular set of go to market measures and initiatives, that may vary from market to market.
We will use 2015 to establish a solid footprint in some of these project. In general our SaaS model is extremely scalable so as our ambitions to make this happen.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
There is no standing still product that may please all customers at all times. Therefore we’re constantly evolving the service to meet our customers requirements and to make their experience using the service as hassle-free as possible.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We have developed an in-depth business plan that supports the internationalisation (and yes, this is the primary goal too). This includes setting the local marketing campaigns as well as establishing lean but efficient customer care organisations in each main region.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
The IT Outsourcing industry is over 250 Bn USD industry in annual spent today and is continuing to grow – in good but as well as in bad times. Outsourcing is in general not even a trend, it is a reality that’s there and that’s going to be only stronger in coming decade. “Do what you do best and outsource the rest”. We’ve going to stick to our business plan to gain the aimed market share of professional IT Outsourcing.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We’re constantly looking for a great talents to expand our team. Often we’re using a local boards or a social media. One can always check our careers webpage, namely http://www.it-suppliers.com/info/careers
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We’re funding ourselves at the moment with no immediate need to raise the capital. We’re forecasting however a first possible external capital raise in 2015 in order to support our growth and scalability. To find out more and request our teaser please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief information and the subject “investment opportunity”.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Stay focused. Test your idea as fast as you can on the market with two or three customers and if it works – go ahead. But again – stay focused.
Set the right motivation for yourself – if it’s only about the money or getting reach (certainly nothing wrong with that!) – you’re likely to be disappointed faster than you will come to any positive results. Right motivation will help you to gain solid endurance – this will be important.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
We’d be happy to hear back your feedback on any of our products we have – it-suppliers.com as well as launch-startup.com. If you have any project or startup to implement – test it and let us know if it was useful, easy to use, etc. Best if we can learn something back from you what we still need to improve to make YOUR life easier, at least when it’s about professional IT Outsourcing. : )