ProcureTechSTARS with Rajesh Kalidindi

ProcureTechSTARS with Rajesh Kalidindi, CEO and Founder at LevaData

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Rajesh Kalidindi, Founder and CEO of LevaData, an integrated, AI-powered supply management software platform transforms direct material sourcing, mitigates risks, and accelerates new product development.

During the conversation, Rajesh shared his thoughts on Elon Musk, insights to action, speed and innovation, three-legged stools, electric cars and Headspace.

1. What’s LevaData’s mission?

LevaData helps enterprises.

We use our insights and act decisively to build better products and improve their supply chains. We are specifically focused and purpose built for direct materials. Our goal is to apply the power of external intelligence, by bringing insights from 3rd party data together to create something consumable and pertinent for our customers. This helps with decision making and action based on our insights.

“Whether it’s supplier collaboration or internal collaboration, LevaData delivers impact associated with that compression of insight to action, creating agility, where companies are now able to make better and faster procurement decisions, from insight to action.”
2. What have been the most significant milestones and innovations in the LevaData journey so far? 

LevaData is 8 years old.

If you think about the number of startups and innovation right now, it’s at an all-time high. When we got started, we were literally on the very edge. We were the company that came up with this concept of how we take all this data and intelligence, and turn it into procurement’s next level capability. The first thing we tackled was the cost area which was very pertinent for the market at that point in time, by building a framework using multiple sets of data and converting it into insights and action.

That decision really allowed us to go from cost to risk, because it uses the same foundational elements – technology and data. Our sustainability use case can leverage the same framework.

“Our investment in AI, data modelling and our propriety purpose-built framework allows us to expand and scale across these different use cases for our customers.”
3. What do you look for in the perfect customer?

Customers who want to make the shift through digital transformations, by doing things faster with the help of the latest technologies. Understandably, budgets and leadership play a part, where they can help drive meaningful change. We look for these elements where they are looking to innovate and constantly build their solution.

4. What are the foundations of a great team?

I kind of look at it like a three-legged stool in terms of foundations.

The first and most important thing is having a shared mission. If you do not have shared purpose of where we’re headed, then it’s going to be a struggle. We were all going to be in different places so it’s really important to drive the focus, passion to get to where we need to do be.

Secondly, it’s about shared values that the team believes in and behaves accordingly.

Third is regarding the ability to continue learning and share that learning with others. We have so many people with different skills sets, abilities and expertise, so we want to elevate everyone in our team to the fullest extent.

When you have those three foundations, it’s a great thing!

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

It’s been profound in terms of impact both professionally and personally.

The first big change is managing talent more effectively. The future is hybrid and remote. We can no longer think about specific clusters – we can hire wherever we can find talent, and we need to embrace this new way of working. It’s an environment that is here to stay and we need to figure out how to scale and thrive. At LevaData, it’s not one we were prepared for before, but now we ask ourselves, how can we scale this opportunity?

6. What is the vision for LevaData in the future?

We want to be the dominant platform for direct material sourcing that delivers explicit value to our customers every single day.

We want to be a great place to work and we continue to be a powerhouse in Supply Chain Innovation.

If you think about some of the ways we assess success, it is going to be around getting a fairly large (maybe a trillion dollars plus) in spend. Customers are engaging, managing and making decisions on our platform, so we want several hundred thousand suppliers on there too.

“Our team is really moving the needle on supply chain innovation that we’re all proud that our customers recognise too.”
7. How are you doing good for the planet?

We’re all doing our bit, whether that’s consuming fewer animal products, recycling more and switching to better ways of living, for example, I’m getting my first electric car which I’m really looking forward to!

When it comes to business, I think there’s been a lot of hand waving for years and it feels like finally, both from a regulation standpoint as well as an investment standpoint, there has been a real move to make a difference in how we look at sustainability and reducing carbon footprints in general.

One of the propositions that we haven’t talked about is our ability to influence supplier choice, both in the design space as well as in the supply chain, production, and sustaining phases.

“By not just optimising cost and risk and picking your supplier and parts, we are going to offer the ability to also have sustainability as one of the key criteria when you evaluate choice of a supplier.”

By getting it right in front of the engineers, product operations, sourcing folks and showing the trade-offs between cost and risk and so on, this allows them move that metric up. It’s a great opportunity and an incredible way to achieve real impact versus just showing ‘here’s the supplier’, ‘here’s your score’ and that’s it.

INSTANT RAJESH INSPIRATION

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

ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

It’s a fantastic book for current and aspiring entrepreneurs, or anybody out there because it’s practical. It really inspires you to rethink everything. It’s about executing a certain way. Sometimes folks forget the basics. It’s a practical book that tells you how to stop and reassess. Go in and figure out how you’re going to rework and reset things. It also looks at innovation and speed – I love it! I’ve also gifted it to a lot of friends.

2. Who is your favourite inspirational leader and why?

There are many folks in different spheres, but from a business standpoint, I’ve got to say Elon Musk.

I understand he can cause controversy, but I can’t think of anyone else who has created and working in so many big, successful – and different – companies that aren’t related, like PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX and Hyperloop.

How can someone at the very edge of innovation on so many different verticals be that successful and head Twitter? Imagine the genius behind it! A person who can really shift between all these different businesses which work so differently.

3. What is your favourite app (not your own) or piece of technology?

We’re all flooded with a lot of apps.

I think being an entrepreneur for many years now, I like a couple of apps like Headspace and Insight Timer for meditation which I use a couple of times a day. It’s been really helpful for me.

4. What is your favourite cocktail?

Even though I’m open to ‘new fashion’ in technology, I have my old fashioned ways! I love an Old Fashioned. I moved to Austin 2 and a half years ago and there are some great ones around here.

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

Celebrate with those who have enabled that success, explicitly recognise them and thank them.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

1. Look forward – use data and insights to make strategic decisions and action

2. Leadership, technology and a strong business case all aligned can drive meaningful digital transformation

3. Work with customers with aligned interests

4. Embrace new ways of working to benefit in a post-COVID era

5. Make sustainability one of your key criteria for supplier selection and performance management

6. Vision, mission and continuous learning are at the centre of a high performing team

7. Increased regulation and investment are creating a genuine shift in improving sustainability

About LevaData

LevaData’s integrated, AI-powered supply management software platform transforms direct material sourcing, mitigates risks, and accelerates new product development.

LevaData power the smartest supply chains in the world by constantly analyzing business objectives against real-time market activity and community intelligence.

LevaData is trusted to deliver improved margins, control risks, generate new product velocity, and achieve multi-tier supplier engagement with purpose-built tools for quick collaboration and decisive actions. LevaData creates a competitive advantage with transformational and predictive insights. Customers include large and complex enterprise companies, as well as small- and medium-sized OEMs seeking to achieve best-in-class supply management practices.

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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