ProcureTechSTARS with Nina Vellayan

ProcureTechSTARS with Nina Vellayan, CEO and Director of Xeeva

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Nina Vellayan, President and CEO of Xeeva, the leader in indirect spend management solutions that optimize the entire procurement process.

During the conversation, Nina shared her thoughts on guided execution, platforms, data journeys, autonomous sourcing,  intelligence, promoting passionate team members and … vodka martinis!

1. What’s Xeeva’s mission and USP?

Xeeva uses technology to connect companies, with suppliers.

Xeeva starts with data and uses it with machine learning, artificial intelligence and intelligent insights on the platform to provide companies with visibility into their spend. This could show suppliers charging them more, freight costs, price, increases, tail-spend etc. This is also giving procurement leaders the ability to make impactful decisions throughout the process and schedule projects that they want to look at from a project-by-project view, even if they want to test their current suppliers. They want to go ahead and discover new suppliers, but the difference from a Xeeva perspective is not only do we provide all the analytics, but we also give them the execution arm.

So, they’re able to take the data that’s built into the platform and then go ahead and flip it over to do the execution. Our platform uses AI, this helps customers find new suppliers, ones that have been vetted, as Xeeva owns its own marketplace. We vet suppliers, and use all publicly based data; and if customer want to do a price comparison, then award business – it’s all done through the platform.

Our unique selling point (USP) starts with cleansing, normalising and enriching the data on our platform. We’re complete enrichment for organisations like Walmart, which means if we’ve enriched data for one customer, the 100th customer on Xeeva’s platform gets the benefit so it makes sourcing very effective. Another USP is with regards to category planning, the AI uses a bunch of attributes to see which is the most effective. Moreover… 

“…we own all of our technology! We don’t use a third party. Our system and database learns from each other from the first dataset through to the 100th. And each one of our customers gets the benefit of it.”
2. What have been the most significant milestones in the Xeeva journey so far? 

Xeeva has made a complete transformation in the last few years since the pandemic, where we focus on our platform approach.

“I always say it starts with data. The data journey, the visibility, but the fact that we can take the data and move it from visibility all the way through execution.”

Every customer that we speak to doesn’t have the staff nor buyers, so Xeeva supplements the team. We provide the guided execution, will do it for them and will help them find suppliers. There’s a lot of execution to ensure that they’re successful, not just one time but through a continuous journey throughout the year, and I think that is one of our differentiators. There are many companies in this space, and it takes them a long time to do it, from the time we get a data set – we’re able to show results in less than 6 weeks. We believe the mid-market needs help, so we’re not just focused on the big guys. We think everyone can benefit from our platform and what we’re doing.

3. What do you look for in the perfect customer?

There is a great customer we are working with now who has bought our entire end to end, analytics sourcing and procurement platform. They’re having the same issue: they don’t have buyers. We’re able to take their data and show them a category plan on a month-by-month basis.

We’re helping them through our marketplace to discover new suppliers and help with execution. In fact, one example is when they were looking at packaging from their incumbent; we’ve managed to save them $240,000 in a single sourcing event. Then again in Waste Management, we saved them another $30,000!

“The goal here is to do it more than once and have an autonomous sourcing edge. Due to supply chain disruption, people are looking for new suppliers because their current ones are not able to provide the goods that they need.”

We’re not just a software company (we’re not consultants!), but we help guide a project end to end because we have the experts who understand the data. Data is key. We do quality scoring where we tell our customers, what portion of their data is good enough to put in a catalogue, what portion is going to be enough for source ability, what portion that they need to work on, etc.

So, it starts with the data and item quality, and goes into category planning that we can help them where we have buyers on our end. We have people who know sourcing people and data, so we will work with them on an end-to-end execution plan all by using our technology for them to be able to ensure if they don’t have the staff to do it, they still see the results and they can make the impactful business decisions.

4. What are the foundations of a great team?
“People that are really passionate about what they do.”

Xeeva has gone through a lot of changes. I’ve been here two years, and most of the team is new, but culture is so important to us, and we have made it such a foundation. We’re very employee friendly and work remotely/home based, where everyone has a voice and is passionate about procurement. We’ve moved a lot and grown over the last few years, and it has been great to see.

5. As we emerge from COVID what will you be doing differently?

We really focused in on the intelligence built into the platform throughout the process. I mentioned there continues to be supply chain issues, but there’s also going to be staffing issues. We want to be sure that we use the technology to make it super easy for our customers to be able to reach their goals. It’s not always about savings. If you don’t have visibility to expand, you need to be able to see across multiple ERPs and datasets.

People in procurement have lost visibility…because of inflation prices have gone up, so Xeeva can provide insights to make impactful decisions. We’re passionate about the execution of it, including compliance on the P2P side.

The way we price our solution is on a subscription basis. It’s not about big implementation fees that are drawn out. Our new, next gen analytics platform will help customers compare prices and provide supplier suggestions, in an easy, autonomous way.

“On the supplier management side, we’re one of the few companies that owns its own marketplace. This means we’re able to build in a lot of technology to validate suppliers, and from my perspective, we’re probably one of the only companies that that does data services and data enrichment.”
6. What is the vision for Xeeva for the future?

The long term is really what we’re working on today which is all about the visibility of business decisions.

“I truly believe that technology should be used to connect all these organisations globally, with suppliers globally, to mitigate the risk.”

Everything that the pandemic has shown us is that supply chains are so fragile. If we can do that and you can have the right visibility into what’s going on with your global organisation and make these decisions with limited staff – that is Xeeva’s goal.

The intelligence built into the platform is going to give our customers recommendations on what they should be doing on a daily and weekly basis, and keeping it at a price point that’s reasonable. I think procurement platforms have become quite expensive and we want to support companies regardless of their size.

Our focus is on indirects, we’ll let the big guys focus on the direct side! When indirects are 30% of your revenue, and you don’t focus there and it’s thousands of suppliers, the opportunity from a savings perspective is large and it’s just not something that people have focused on, even though it’s been around for 20 years.

7. How are you doing good for the planet?

Within our marketplace we rate suppliers. We rate a lot of those and bring it into our marketplace, so when companies are evaluating for ESG, when they’re looking at sustainability, and looking for suppliers, they can actually go through and validate them. Built into the platform, coming into 2022, as part of our roadmap, they’ll be able to select certain criteria, so certain suppliers will come first, second, third and so on.

From a planet perspective, we also work from home so that reduces our carbon footprint instead of travelling into the office – we’re going to remain a remote company from that perspective and give our employees as much flexibility as possible and more family time.

INSTANT NINA INSPIRATION

1. What is your favourite book or blog & why?

ProcureTech’s – how about that?!

I don’t come from procurement, but I love learning all the time. I’ve been a CEO at 4 other companies and what inspires me is learning and helping organisations to help their employees and customers. I also read a lot about what’s going on in the industry and how can we help.

2. Who is your favourite inspirational leader & why?

Steve Jobs is one and Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s former CEO. I look at business leaders who have really inspired me, and have had some great mentors throughout my career.

3. What is your favourite app or piece of technology?

I cannot live without my iPhone.

4. What is your favourite cocktail?

I’m definitely a martini girl – low vodka for me!

5. What’s your favourite way to celebrate a success?  

I celebrate success when our customers are successful and honestly, if we can promote our employees in their future careers, I consider that a win. My role is being a mentor to the next generation.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

1. Help procurement leaders get the data visibility they need to make impactful decisions.

2. Data is key! Use it well to get the insights and intelligence you need to help customers and suppliers, and save time and money.

3. Supply chains are fragile – create visibility, otherwise no one knows where your company will go.

4. Don’t just focus on the big customers – help those in the middle and those that need help.

5. Make use of technology to augment employees to become more connected and productive.

6. Create a team that is passionate about what you do.

7. Support and promote your team to create a better future for everyone.

About Xeeva

Xeeva is the leader in indirect spend management solutions that optimize the entire procurement process. From delivering unparalleled data quality and completeness to intelligent guided buying for managing complex procurement operations, take advantage of Xeeva’s unique combination of AI-powered technology, industry insights, and domain expertise to maximize your procurement efficiency and savings.

Xeeva transforms indirect spend management with best practices around spend analytics, data enrichment, sourcing, and procure-to-pay solutions that drive better, more strategic decision-making and deliver real financial impact to the enterprise

About ProcureTechSTARS

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).

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