ProcureTechSTARS with Rujul Zaparde

ProcureTechSTARS with Rujul Zaparde, CEO and Co-Founder of Zip

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Zip, the world’s leading intake-to-procure solution, the one place for employees to initiate a purchase or vendor request.

During the conversation, Rujul shared his thoughts on UX, hyper growth, orchestration, Roger Federer, Steve Jobs … and a good traditional beverage.

1. What is Zip’s mission?

Before starting Zip, I worked in product at a tech company. One of the biggest pain points I had was trying to figure out if I needed to buy a $50,000 piece of software for example, or when working with an agency, where is the one place that I’m supposed to go to kick off my request, and how can I visually see who needs to approve it?

“I like to compare it to a Domino’s Pizza tracker; there just isn’t one view of the process that is intuitive and user friendly.”

This is the problem that Zip solves. We are so passionate about building a product that focuses on the user first. It’s like in procurement, if you make the process very clear and intuitive with no training required for the end user, that is what ultimately drives adoption which helps the function be more strategic. If you solve the end user’s problem, you can solve procurement – that’s the right way to do it and the most critical thing for Zip to solve.

Zip acts as an orchestration layer that sits across all of the different systems that might be involved in any sort of core procurement or vendor approval process. You need to connect to your downstream P2P or ERP, as well as your CLM, ticketing solution, and potentially a GRC. Zip allows there to be one interface for the end user and for procurement, but allows all the other teams to keep working in the systems that they love which makes us unique.

2. What have been the most significant decisions in the Zip journey so far?

I think it has been deciding to invest in being incredibly flexible, a no code configuration solution. I think it’s been one of the most important decisions we’ve ever made. One of the challenges today are old school systems where every time you want to make a change, you need to raise an IT ticket, and then you have to wait for weeks… but that’s terrible! It chips away at the quality of the product. Zip is no-code config, and so our procurement champions own and administrate the solution themselves.

Our procurement champion can actually change their flows and modify the logic themselves without needing any sort of additional assistance from us or from their IT teams.

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

Most companies are experiencing more software and services purchases than they ever have had before, which are being initiated in a more decentralised way. If someone in marketing, engineering, sales, or wherever needs to buy something, the initiation of buying is becoming more distributed and decentralised.

This is where emphasis on user experience and managing processes right across all these different teams and systems, especially for software, can be complex. It becomes much more of a pain point.

“Our procurement champions care a lot about user and employee experience, and wanting procurement to be strategic to the business.”

20 years ago, procurement was viewed as much more of a ‘spend police’ and just about savings. Today, it’s not about just that: it’s about enabling the business and speed. It’s also about delivering assurance to the company. Zip provides one auditable record across procurement, sourcing, IT, legal, data security, finance, and other cross-functional teams.

4. Your team is growing rapidly! What are the foundations of a great team?
“Hiring people is hard to do.”

We look at folks who are experienced and can create hyper growth at Zip from their past careers, whilst developing their own function whether it be marketing, sales or customer success. Zip folks are willing to get their hands dirty and do the work right. They can lead teams and do their job, whereas before, they may have been the only person. So, someone who is a self-starter and hard worker.

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

We were founded in the early parts of COVID and we have basically been fully remote for nearly all of that time. We just opened up an office about a month ago in San Francisco. I think I’ve learned it’s best to have a hybrid option, where we have some team members based in the Bay Area and others distributed throughout the US. It is still a bit difficult as you can’t have chats by the watercooler, but then again, we have built a really good culture around notation, documentation, and collaborating, mainly over Slack. We’re doing some fun stuff remotely and going to do some more!

6. What is the vision for Zip for the future and what will be most important to achieve it?

I think for Zip, it’s about being known for providing the best user experience.

“We will continuously improve on making the experience better for end users but also for all core cross functional stakeholders like legal and finance, along with procurement.”

In parallel, the most important thing is hiring the best product and engineering and design teams. We’ve brought onboard some of the best engineers from companies like Airbnb (where  my co-founder Lu and I used to work), Facebook, Square and Google, and some of the best consumer engineers, as they care a lot about end user experience. We now have this team that is entirely focused on solving this intake to procure problem.

7. How are you doing good for the planet?

Within Zip‘s product, we aim to incorporate more data and the ability to gather information around ESG supplier diversity, which is obviously a very important topic for nearly all the procurement leaders that we work with. We’re making it much easier to get that data from other sources like Dun and Bradstreet and other places, so that procurement teams can better manage their suppliers set for example, and then improve on that metric.

“At the end of the day, if you don’t track something, you can’t improve it.”

Then we can shine a light on some of these areas that are getting more focus so we can help our procurement champions and leaders improve those metrics.

Zip has different integration points with different systems but for supply diversity data, for example, we can connect into Dun and Bradstreet. Once our customers know they’re going to do business with a vendor or are evaluating them, they can run a DMV check and pull back supply diversity data for them and decide whether they want to proceed or not.

“If we can do that for every company of a certain size in the world, then we can hopefully do good for the planet.”

INSTANT RUJUL INSPIRATION

1. What is your favourite book or blog?

I don’t have a singular favourite book, but I recently read The Master: The Brilliant Career of Roger Federer by Christopher Clarey. I watched a lot of tennis growing up, and this book by Clarey is about how he tracked Federer’s success over the latest 25 to 30 years to how he has become the great tennis player he is today. The biggest takeaway for me was just how unintuitive all of it seemed right from the beginning.

2. Who is your favourite inspirational leader?

Steve Jobs. 

I watched him as I grew up and watched the keynote presentations, even when I was in school. 

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

That’s a tough one. I’m in Mexico City right now and I have no idea where anything is, nor do I speak Spanish, so Uber has helped me a lot! It’s clear I couldn’t live without it.

4. What is your favourite cocktail?

Anything old fashioned, so something with whiskey.

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

Having a good meal!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

1. User experience is the number one priority.

2. Focus on what drives adoption and helps make better, strategic choices.

3. Go low code / no code – let procurement own their own systems and processes.

4. Orchestration and simple interfaces are critical.

5. Today, procurement is about accelerating and enabling decentralised businesses.

6. Hire can-do talent that are ready for hyper growth.

7. Use data and excellent user experience to encourage supplier diversity.

About Zip Intake-to-Procure

Zip provides one place for any employee to initiate a purchase or vendor request. Each request is correctly routed for approval across procurement, finance, IT, data security, legal, and other teams, and Zip integrates into all major ERP and P2P solutions to create a PR or draft PO.

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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