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Unscrabble: A procurement platform to measure impact

The idea

Idea title: Unscrabble: A procurement platform to measure impact

One Sentence description: Connecting buyers and suppliers to improve social, ethical and environmental supply chain impact.

Addressing topic: Social Procurement Challenge

Team members: Sujata Karandikar

Provide an overview of your solution and how it solves the problem along with a short description of your inspiration behind the idea:

Having worked in large corporates in roles responsible for increasing supplier diversity, I know that there is one fundamental challenge that prevents greater social procurement within large buyers – the mechanisms that facilitate social procurement, whether it’s identification of potential suppliers, tendering and quoting mechanisms, or reporting of impact, often sit outside of the standard procurement process. As such, they rely heavily on motivated individuals to engage social enterprises, rather than creating an environment that makes it easy for any supply chain representative to procure through social enterprises.

Unscrabble is a marketplace that allows large corporates to connect with their suppliers and allow them to see the impact they make through supply chain, and streamline the current cumbersome procurement processes, from vendor onboarding, tendering and supplier feedback management.

Unscrabble ensures that:

  • Social enterprises are visible to large corporate buyers
  • They are given enough feedback to understand the minimum criteria required by corporates in order to become a potential supplier
  • Social enterprises can be considered for each and every tender/quote, rather than only seeing opportunities specifically ringfenced for social enterprises
  • Social enterprises with limited capacity can be paired with like businesses to jointly bid for opportunities.

The primary purpose of Unscrabble was to enable large organisations to measure the impact they have through their supply chain, socially, ethically and environmentally and work to maximize positive outcomes and minimize negative outcomes. Collectively, corporates and government across Australia spend over $500B – imagine the impact they could have through spending strategically with enterprises with social purpose?

Describe your solution in detail, providing a high-level business plan addressing how you would implement your solution:

Increasingly, corporate and government buyers are seeking to procure from suppliers who create positive social, ethical and environmental outcomes – such as social enterprises, indigenous businesses, businesses that sell ethically and responsibly made products and others.

The need to identify these types of diverse and responsible suppliers has resulted in the creation of various disparate, online ‘databases’ of suppliers – from Supply Nation to the Black Business Finder to identify indigenous businesses, Femeconomy that identifies female owned businesses, and the now decommissioned Social Enterprise Finder or the B-Corp directory to find businesses with social purpose.

Buyers and category specialists that work within large corporates are required to procure goods and services within tight timeframes. Whilst they may be encouraged to work with more diverse suppliers, time constraints often mean that it is impractical to trawl through various external websites to find potential suppliers, go through the process of contacting these suppliers to see if they meet minimum risk criteria (eg, insurances, financial viability criteria), risk not finding a suitable diverse supplier, and have to contact their known suppliers. Thus, many diverse suppliers, including social enterprises, can miss opportunities for business.

On the flipside, many social enterprises, even when given the opportunity to bid, often do not have the capacity to deliver on large corporate or government contracts, though they may have the capability. And although many corporates will unbundle large contracts to increase the number of opportunities social enterprises have to bid and supply, the ideal solution should also allow for separate enterprises with similar capabilities to enter joint bids for larger contracts.

The ideal platform should be part database – allowing all suppliers to register but with accurate search and filtering mechanisms to identify specific subsets of suppliers, and part e-tendering platform, allowing buyers to request quotes or expressions of interest for work packages, which can be bid on by single or joint enterprise bidders.

Unscrabble was designed for this very purpose.

The Unscrabble platform is a web-based double sided marketplace, connecting buyers with suppliers – like a ‘LinkedIn’ for business.

Module 1: Supplier Capability and Risk Profiling

Suppliers upload information onto the platform that is typically required by corporate buyers to assess supplier suitability and risk – everything from capability, capacity, financial solvency, insurances, social impact information, diversity details, ethical sourcing data and more.

The uploaded information can be shared with potential buyers on the system by ‘connecting’, ensuring that suppliers have control over who can view sensitive information.

At a glance, buyers can assess supplier capability and risk and provide feedback to suppliers if upskilling is required before a business is considered as a potential supplier – for example, if they require specific licenses, certifications or insurances to provide particular goods or services to a company.

Corporates can search for potential suppliers based on specific criteria, and assess the social, ethical and environmental footprint of their existing supply chain at a glance.

Module 2: RfQ/RfX

The platform will feature a tendering module. Buyers can upload requests for information or requests for quotations, invite specific enterprises to bid, or open tender, allowing any enterprise registered on the platform to view and submit quotes.

However, the platform also assesses and aggregates enterprise capability and capacity, allowing enterprises who identify themselves as willing to be part of joint bids/ventures of similar businesses that they can connect with to submit joint bids for larger tenders.

Implementation

Part 1 of Unscrabble has already been developed, and is currently being piloted with Origin Energy and Silver Chef. Through the partnership with Silver Chef in particular, we will be encouraging B-Corps and Social Enterprises to register their details on the platform. Having a substantial base of social enterprises, and existing corporate customers will allow us to develop and test Part 2, the RfQ module, over Q1 of 2018.

Unscrabble work with a local development agency Creative Curiosity for all technical development.

Outline the budget required to achieve the ambition of your idea:

The grant amount of $25,000 will allow us to develop the MVP Rfx/RfQ module with supply aggregation capability in Unscrabble, and begin testing the solution with our three current corporate partners.

The total amount sought in early 2018 through a capital raise is $500,000. This will allow Unscrabble to build an in-house technical and enterprise support team, and business development to onboard more diverse suppliers and corporate buyers onto the platform.

Unscrabble’s business model is a SAAS subscription model, free for suppliers to register, with a small monthly fee for access to premium features. Buyers are charged an upfront implementation fee and a monthly subscription fee.

 

Partnerships are critical for a stronger idea and delivering a solution. Who are the key stakeholders within your idea? Is your solution the result of a collaborative approach? If not, are you looking to bring other partners along:

In addition to our 3 corporate pilot partners – Origin Energy, Silverchef, and another that we can reveal at the end of November the Unscrabble team and its advisory board have connections to several partners – including the Australian B-Corp Community and Impact Academy, a social enterprise incubator. We will also look to partner with leading social enterprise bodies including Social Traders and Social Ventures Australia.

As a current cohort member of Springboard Enterprises, Unscrabble also have connections to local councils in NSW and QLD (City of Sydney, City of Gold Coast and Brisbane City Council/Brisbane Marketing) to potentially pilot the solution.

To strengthen the likelihood of success, a broad foundation of evidence is critical. What’s the evidence base that points towards your solution being a success? Is your solution addressing an unmet gap in the market:

The Unscrabble team have 30 combined years of management level experience in corporate procurement, and 10 years in supplier diversity and ethical sourcing roles. We understand the problem having experienced first hand how challenging it is to increase supplier diversity within organisations without the correct tools.

Our experience is in Mining, Oil & Gas and Retail, but having engaged with various potential customers in Government, Banking and others, there is a clear gap in the market, and our partnerships with Origin and Silverchef demonstrate the need for such a solution that will be adaptable to different industries.

Who are the key beneficiaries of your solution:

The beneficiaries of Unscrabble are both social enterprises and corporate/government buyers. Utilising the platform allows corporate buyers to find social enterprise suppliers who meet their minimum risk criteria instantly, simplifying what is currently an onerous process of finding and engaging diverse suppliers. Corporates can also then measure and report on positive impact they have through their supply chain.

Social Enterprises will have greater visibility to corporate buyers, and access to opportunities through the quote/tendering module. Allowing the aggregation of supply to meet corporate demand through the joint bid functionality will open greater opportunities to win work, and in turn, generate speedier enterprise growth by leveraging peer networks.

Do you have funding partners interested in your idea:

Unscrabble currently have three existing seed investors, and an angel investor who has subscribed $50K as part of our next raise. Pending successful pilots with Origin, Silverchef or our third corporate partner (to be named at the end of Nov), Unscrabble will seek to raise $450K (+$50K already subscribed for a total of $500K) through the Brisbane Angels network (negotiated by deal leads Simon Horne and Brian Cooke) and the Advance Queensland Business Development Fund in early 2018, to enable rapid scale of the platform.

Describe your most successful experience executing a solution to a problem:

I have a unique insight into this challenge, having experience in both startups and corporates. I have experience working in supplier diversity and ethical sourcing roles within the procurement divisions of large corporates such as Rio Tinto, Anglo American, David Jones and Accenture. One of my current roles is within energy retailer Origin Energy as Social Responsibility Lead within Supply Chain, where I lead a team tasked with increasing spend with diverse suppliers, including regional suppliers, small to medium enterprises, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, social enterprises, and female owned businesses.

I know exactly what tools myself and the supply chain function lack to meaningfully and sustainably increase social procurement, as I experience these on a daily basis.

Unscrabble was designed precisely to fill this gap, and enable a large corporate, such as Origin to procure from more diverse suppliers and measure the social, ethical and environmental impact of our supply chain, including extended supply chain.

And as founder of Unscrabble, I also have experience with startups. Unscrabble began when I pitched and won Westpac’s innovation challenge disrupt@scale – a competition where Westpac was seeking solutions from startups that solved problems they had. Through the competition, I won a seed funding and successfully managed an external development team to build the Unscrabble prototype. Through my various networks, I have also successfully engaged three corporate partners.

I have connections to corporate procurement departments across Australia, and building on the success of the existing Unscrabble solution, will look to onboard 10-15 large corporate buyers (with greater than 5000 current suppliers or >$1B annual procurement spend) in 2018.

We can make a positive impact so easily just by directing corporate procurement spend to companies that make a positive difference in our communities. Unscrabble is a platform that can make it happen.

 

Idea Opened: 12:54 PM, Friday 03 November 2017
Idea Closes: 06:00 PM, Friday 03 November 2017
Time to go: Closed

 

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The context

Idea Opened: 12:11 PM, Friday 03 November 2017
Idea Closes: 06:11 PM, Friday 03 November 2017
Time to go: Closed

Do you want to contribute to this idea?

Idea Activity

Idea Activity

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Megan Gale is now contributing to this idea Unscrabble: A procurement platform to measure impact

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Megan Gale commented on the idea Unscrabble: A procurement platform to measure impact

Having experienced the difficulties of navigating big company procurement requirements from the small business side (whilst trying to promote the benefits of engaging a competent and ethical business - of which size shouldn't matter), this is a much needed business.

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Anne Foster is now contributing to this idea Unscrabble: A procurement platform to measure impact

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Anne Foster commented on the idea Unscrabble: A procurement platform to measure impact

A phenomenal business and much needed as many companies, governments and NGOs need to track their supply chains and full cradle-to-grave impact to retain investors and value and run a truly sustainable business in every sense of the word. Not just a 'nicety' or importance but a necessity as more and more emphasis is placed on the changing role of Director and corporate responsibility beyond profits and across ESG. 

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Matt Perfect is now contributing to this idea Unscrabble: A procurement platform to measure impact

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Matt Perfect commented on the idea Unscrabble: A procurement platform to measure impact

Hi Sujata. Thanks for sharing your idea. It is great to see a technology solution with real traction participating in this challenge. 'Making it easier for people to do the right thing' has long been a mantra of mine when it comes to procurement technology... it used to mean complying with preferred suppliers and procurement policies but with 'Good Procurement' it means so much more. Good luck!

Contributors

Matt Perfect Founder and Impact Spender
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Anne Foster
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Megan Gale
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