ProcureTechSTARS with Brandon Card, CEO and co-founder and Eric Pritchett, COO and co-founder of Terzo, an AI-powered enterprise contract intelligence platform.
During the conversation, they discussed providing procurement and finance partnerships, servant leadership, unlocking money flow, becoming the next Salesforce, Zero to One and Oura rings.
1. What’s Terzo’s mission?
Terzo’s mission is to help organisations optimise their third-party relationships by providing contract intelligence for lines of business and business use cases. Today, all the contract systems out there have been built by lawyers, for lawyers, to help solve legal use cases. Our goal is to help the business make financial decisions with those contract insights.
Compared to the market, we are one of the few contract and vendor management platforms that sells to the CIO office and CFO office. We’re very focused on solving CIO use cases across IT. We also work with supply chain and financial leaders to understand all of their supplier relationships and the commitments they’ve made, as well as to enable them to budget and plan accordingly.
2. What have been the most significant milestones in the Terzo journey so far?
In our short two-year journey, the biggest milestone for us as a team was being able to roll out to one of the Fortune 25 retailers.
When we first launched the company, we started with a small pilot and a user base of 25 people to test the product. The biggest test for us is to see how we would play, not only in the market with some of the procurement and IT buyers, but also with the fortune 25 retailer that had a lot of demands.
“That customer used our product for a year, and came back to renew and sign a five-year seven-figure contract with us.”
3. What do you look for in the perfect customer?
Our view on the perfect customer is an entity that has a complex supplier ecosystem and a large annual spend. Our focus from day one has been on the fortune 500.
“It’s not traditional for a start-up like us to go after the most complex challenges with these fortune 500 customers early on, because the pain is so great. Our focus has been there because there’s billions of dollars wasted in the Fortune 500.
If you look at third-party data, about $16 trillion contracts are being bought and sold in the enterprise B2B world yearly, and companies claim about $6 trillion of it is waste. What’s impressive to us is that the majority of the waste, spend and complexity is in the Fortune 500.”
Terzo is looking to optimise spend and enable companies to understand their money flow across the economy. That is exactly why we wanted to get started with Fortune 500 companies and work downstream from there.
4. What are the foundations of a great team?
We are blessed to have great leaders early on, and we were able to put together a strong leadership team even during COVID, while working remotely.
We have three co-founders who have been great team players and great partners of mine since day one. We have guys like Eric who came in basically as a co-founder in the early days, before the product was ready and before we had any customers. We have people that understand how to lead through tough times.
We have had a very unstable environment to operate in. But because we brought in great leaders who know how to lead through tough times, who care about their people, who come to work every day with a real passion about what we’re doing, we have been able to build the company from three co-founders to 70 full-time employees in two years! We have also landed a handful of fortune 500 customers along the way.
I think that’s a testament to the people and how committed they are to our mission to getting this product out in the market.
“Our leaders follow the servant leadership strategy; leaders work for their team, and not the other way around.”
Just because I’m the CEO doesn’t mean I’m too good to do late nights work for my team if they’re busy doing other things. Eric has stayed up many nights taking on work for his team so they can get a good night’s rest. That’s the type of leader we’re looking for, and the type of mindset we instil in our people here at Terzo.
5. As we emerge from COVID what will you be doing differently?
For the past couple of years, we have been operating in a challenging environment, which allowed us to build the company organically in a way that that had to work in the pandemic conditions.
We are a proper global company with a strong engineering group, led by one of the co-founders, Pradeep Thangavel located in Chennai, and a strong product team that includes front-end design and engineering under our Chief Product Officer Roger Laforce in Montreal. We also have folks in LA and Atlanta in the US. We’ve used modern tools that have allowed us to collaborate effectively.
“We have leveraged the networks of the early team to find people whose values and work ethic are aligned with our company’s culture. It’s a fast paced and demanding environment, that’s why we sought out people that we know can come in and handle that kind of environment.”
We have a team that genuinely likes each other, and as the company continues to grow, and as the world continues to get back to normal, we’ll find efficient ways to get together more.
6. What is the vision for Terzo in the future?
Marc Benioff at Salesforce did an incredible job bringing together sales and marketing teams with their solution. I was watching them do that for many years, and I think it was incredible what they’ve been able to build.
Our vision is to bring procurement and finance together, in a similar way that Salesforce brought together sales and marketing. We believe procurement and finance should be working very closely together as there are a lot of ways for them to improve their collaboration.
“The market needs a relationship management platform, built for the buyer side, and we believe that if we execute, we will be the Salesforce for the buyer.”
To achieve our goal, we need to continue adding value around the core use cases, for example, contract insights and renewals. We also need be able to provide financial data insights such as budgeting and spend, and other actionable insights for finance and procurement to collaborate effectively within the platform rather than using email or spreadsheets. We believe if we provide actionable insights and automate manual processes, we will ultimately be bringing these two functions together.
We are aware it is going to be a long journey. It took Salesforce more than a decade to execute their mission of bringing sales and marketing together. It takes time to get large organisations to adopt this type of technology, but we are very excited about the potential, and the early signs are looking very promising.
7. How are you doing good for the planet?
We were talking with Honeywell about the idea of ESG and sustainability, and we believe that…
“no matter what your stance is on the climate, everyone wants to figure out how they can do their part to improve our climate together.”
It starts with holding your suppliers accountable for their practices. What’s also important is making sure that you’re working with suppliers who are using ESG principles and practices, and are following protocols that different organisations and governments are putting forth. This starts with the contract. If you have a very long-term and high-value contract with a supplier, we believe that there should be sustainability clauses in there to hold people accountable.
“What we believe we can do good for the planet is allow companies to track sustainability across their supply chain, figure out a way to digitally transform in a sustainable way, and work with suppliers that are treating the environment the right way. That’s something that we’re going to take a hard look into as we continue to grow in 2023.”
We talk to key operators in business about ESG, from supply chain, through to procurement, operations and sustainability. There are boards that are now devoting 50% of their annual reports to sustainability and DEI topics. But the operators are not quite as sure about how they are going to change their practices and demonstrably implement these changes that the board wants to see. I think there’s a long way to go before this shakes out in terms of exactly how each company implements them and becomes part of a general movement towards ESG. What Terzo offers is a platform where you can start to understand your actual contractual sustainability relationships with these other players.
To get started, just do an inventory of these clauses or accountability, and then start to create a roadmap of how to put them in if they’re not there. Initiate those conversations with your supplier by having a tool that can actually allow you to implement change in a way that you can then measure it, monitor it and report on it.
INSTANT BRANDON AND ERIC INSPIRATION
1. What is your favourite book or blog?
Zero to One by Peter Thiels (and Blake Masters). He touches not only on business topics that are 100% spot on, but also about educational challenges in the world and modern life. I think it’s one of the best books in the world and the best book I’ve ever read!
That book is fantastic! I’ll go blog then…I’ve been enjoying the Joe Rogan experience. I find that the guy has authentic conversations across so many topics. It’s entertaining to hear the different personalities and experts that he has on there, so it’s always a surprise, whatever he’s going to talk about next.
2. Who is your favourite inspirational leader?
Marc Benioff. Over the last 20 years at Salesforce, he co-founded and built that business up. Everything including its ecosystem and camaraderie which is extremely impressive, and everyone there is happy and proud to work for him which I think is a sign of great leadership. It’s an extremely competitive space; it’s very cutthroat yet he’s still leading by example and doing what’s best for his people and the planet. I’m inspired by the way he’s led Salesforce through the last two decades and I think he has a great balance of treating his employees, customers and investors right. That’s inspirational for me.
I’m going to say Boston University alumni, Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights hero and Nobel laureate for peace. I was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 70s and I think the country has come a long, long way from a very troubled past. I think he was the most influential figure to transform the country and move us in a better direction. I’ve made a huge effort to make sure my kids know who he was and what his life was all about. He went about real transformational and societal change and I’m proud of the many things he was able to do.
3. What is your favourite piece of technology?
That’s easy: the Oura ring. I love it! I got it in February 2020 and have got data from it for over 2 years now. It’s an incredible piece of technology that tracks my sleep and helps optimise my health. It also helps me see how my body responds to different things, like drinking alcohol before bed or having a late meal; the everyday insights are amazing and I really enjoy tracking my sleep cycles and heart rate throughout the day, those kinds of things.
Similar for me, I like the fitbit watch which helps track some of my habits.
4. What’s your favourite way to celebrate a success?
I’d say it’s pretty simple. We celebrate success when we can as we’ve been building the platform. But there’s nothing like travelling with good friends and family and listening to great music.
I’m still kind of old school and go for a glass of champagne. If it’s a big celebration, my wife does a good job of making sure I celebrate because as leaders, we’re pushing ourselves all the time! Sometimes there are shortcomings, we miss goals or see things we are trying to improve, but she reminds me to celebrate the milestones along the way.
5. What is your favourite cocktail?
I mentioned champagne, otherwise if it’s any old day at the bar, then it’s an Old Fashioned.
My go to, especially over the last five years; an espresso martini – with tequila!
1. Go for the complex challenges, and where waste and inefficiencies are greatest.
2. Build a committed, passionate team to work through the tough times together.
3. Initiate the right, insight-driven conversations with suppliers to take the right action towards sustainability.
4. Continue adding value and insights to your product: always innovate.
5. Focus on actionable insights for finance and procurement to collaborate effectively together.
6. Strong ‘servant’ leadership, shared goals and a great mindset builds a stable, future-fit team.
7. Push hard, but don’t forget to celebrate the good times!
Our industry is moving forward faster and faster, empowered by innovative, progressive digital procurement solutions created and led by inspiring teams. ProcureTechSTARS are the digital procurement company CEOs and Founders that are leading the change, they are entrepreneurs, engineers and architects collaborating to transform procurement and the enterprise. In an open conversation with these leaders Lance Younger will be discussing the highs and lows of building the future now, the challenges they’ve faced, their perspective on accelerators and hot topics, and what keeps getting them up in the morning (and keeps them up at night).