Main activities of a corporation are usually well-automated. IT companies, for example, have development tasks go through the necessary manager, from there on to the team lead, then to the programmer himself, then the tester, technical writer, and whoever else in the chain according to the internal procedures. Everybody is aware of the sequence of actions, and JIRA or a similar tool won’t let them steer away.
It’s entirely different with non-typical tasks. ‘Look, how do we get this thing done?’ – ‘I don’t know, go ask Bob’ – ‘And do I need approval from Peter or Mary?’ – ‘No, I can’t sign this without Leo, go to him…’ The employees suffer and beat their heads against the wall instead of going on with their jobs.
The most typical activity that’s non-typical for most organizations is procurement of something non-typical. Everybody can procure laptops for employees or concrete for construction works, otherwise everybody would have lost their minds long ago. A one-time audit of GDPR compliance, on the other hand, is a much more tricky thing to procure, it will take you a lifetime to find out who can approve it for you.
Zip, the American startup of the day, eases this problem. This is a SaaS where the managers write out policies and ways to approve all procurements in detail, the employees get a convenient interface for requests, and managers get ‘approve’ and ‘cancel’ buttons. Naturally, this all gets integrated with other relevant systems and is flexible to adjust in the admin panel.
Compared to similar solutions, I spotted an innovation mentioned on the landing page: Zip stores the list of approved suppliers. If an employee needs to procure Mailchimp and another department purchased a license in a bulk earlier, then there’s no need to buy it anew, just use the negotiated subscription. There must be more advantages for various individual needs inside – dozens of developers work for the startup, they couldn’t all be busy with integrations alone.
Zip brought in USD 43M in Spring’s round at the valuation of over USD 1B and without significant revenue, the startup launched quite recently. The cool founders managed to catch the last ride of crazy deals.
Alexander made his career in Russian internet companies including Mail.Ru, Rambler, RBC. From 2016 to 2018 he was Chief Strategy and Analytics officer in Mail.Ru Group. In this position, he worked on M&A, investments, and new project launches. In 2018 he became Deputy CEO in Citymobil, a Russian Uber-like company that was invested by Mail.Ru Group and Sberbank (the biggest Russian bank), then he left the company to launch his own projects. Now Alexander is a co-founder of United Investors – the platform for co-investments in Russian early-stage startups. His blog #startupoftheday (#стартапдня) is one of the most popular blogs about startups in Russia.