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Damon Pistulka, Curt Anderson, Alexander Graf
Damon Pistulka 00:05
All right, everyone, welcome once again, it is Friday and it is the manufacturing ecommerce success series. We have a special time today because we wanted to get our guest on. So today we’re going to be talking about e commerce marketplaces for manufacturers and how you might want to be considering that for your company. I want to your co host, Damon Pistulka. And with me, that guy right over there, I can never get the finger quite straight. But it is Mr. Kurt Anderson, my co host, and I want to let Kurt take it away from there. Take it away, Kurt, my friend,
Curt Anderson 00:38
Damon, happy Friday, brother, man, it’s like super early your first cup of coffee in your side of the world. We’re just kind of mid morning. We’re not where I’m at. And of course, like we’re across the pond today. You know, we’re in Barcelona on Monday with our dear friend Leanne in Barcelona, Spain.
And now we’re heading over the pond over to our friend Alex in Germany. So huge warm welcome to our dear friend and you know the name of the program manufacturing ecommerce success in man. You know, if you Google manufacturing ecommerce success, you’re going to see a picture of Alex Graf. Because he truly is the definition of manufacturing ecommerce success. Alex, good afternoon to you. How are you my friend?
Alexander Graf 01:18
Thanks for the invitation. Feels great, feels great being guests to hear in the show talking about b2b and E commerce in the future and all this digital stuff. So it’s gonna be a good session, I think, Wow, this is gonna
Curt Anderson 01:29
be great. And I just want to, you know, for folks that are new to you and spryker and everything that you have going on, boy, they’re going to learn a ton in this session. But you know what? I’m looking over your shoulder and I see this wonderful, wonderful reflection in the glass. Do you can you turn your computer around real quick? Can you
Alexander Graf 01:44
I can’t I can’t make you jealous. here for a bit more. So it’s like, view European Europe, European summer year
Curt Anderson 01:56
that is absolutely awesome. Both thank you for sharing that. We’re just we’re gonna just kind of relish that that view right over your shoulder that reflection. So Alex, let’s take a deep dive. You’re a serial entrepreneur, you have a thriving podcast on E commerce in Germany, I think the leading podcasts, you’ve written a book on E commerce. So you really have just been an absolute Rockstar on top of you know, that wasn’t enough.
So now you launch an E commerce firm that we’re going to take a deep dive into so my first question for you today, as a young man, man, your Dude, you’re just such an inspiration. You’re absolutely thriving, crushing it. As a young boy growing up in Germany, I’d love to know who was your hero? Growing up? What inspired what fired up this killer entrepreneur that you are, who was your hero? Growing up in Germany,
Alexander Graf 02:47
I never had a real hero. So I was always impressed by people that just did stuff that really achieved stuff. So and I never worried about like, am I will I be able to achieve this kind of stuff? Let’s try it. And this. This led to our first entrepreneurial journeys when I was 18. We started a club. Like four people, actually in my hometown Kia, the lunak Lulu club, partying every day. And many of my co entrepreneurs from my generation started were like was organizing parties doing events and all this stuff today, you’re going to start with building an app also. But it was different back at this time and just kind of doing attitude. Never stopped. That’s what brought me here when
Damon Pistulka 03:36
Curt Anderson 03:37
I’ll take our take away other young entrepreneurs kind of, you know, fueling that fire getting things going and we have a bunch of people in the chat. Yeah, we’ve got Vale Happy Friday Vale, we’ve got John both Leno. We’ve got Tareekh. We’ve got Kazi if I’m not hopefully I’m pronouncing that thank you. If you’re out there, drop us a note give a big hello. First off connect with Alex on LinkedIn, you’ll be so grateful that you did you want to check out everything he’s got going on at spryker. So Alex, let’s take a deep dive.
And so a couple of weeks ago, we had a wonderful guest Her name is Dorie Clark, Wall Street Journal best selling author. She’s just a total powerhouse. And we were talking about dreams. And so entrepreneurs that have a dream boy, and there’s tons of entrepreneurs that have that dream, they can talk about it, but to really take it to that next level and execute it. How did you kind of you know, as a serial entrepreneur, any advice any words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there? How have you been able to have this wonderful track record?
Alexander Graf 04:37
Yeah, so obviously I can only share like my story and what kind of dreams I’ve dreamt I’ve dreamt that I would work for us boss actually, you should focus on the next Achievable Dream. So when we started our entrepreneurial career obviously, let’s start with the event business. So what why do we started with that? This is because when we were when you’re at this young age, you’re going to events parties whatever and you and you are start wondering, okay, how can I do it better?
Maybe I have like a better idea for the DJ for the catering, whatever. So let’s do this, when you’re in the event business, obviously start to start doing parties, then then you have to book venues, and then you think, Hmm, maybe I would be much better off like owning such a venue, maybe I’d like to read then us out to other parties organized. So it’s like, it’s kind of the next step. And the same happened actually with spryker. So we started with agency businesses.
So when we, when we built our first couple of like, major econ agencies in 2010 2011, we just had so much demand from corporates, b2b and b2c corporate saying, Okay, you young guys, you know how to do like, digital, you know how to do websites, I need an online shop. So and then yes, okay. We will do your website or your online shop, whatever, whatever you need, and you know, and then you will get in touch, you will get in touch with all this. Vendors, like back at the time, it was type of suite for kind of Benjamin systems, or WordPress or Magento.
And then obviously, when you’re in this kind of agency business, working with all these different solutions, and you say, it must be so much cooler on the other side, being such a vendor, so just selling the stuff and doing all nasty work, it’s not doing the trick, you have to be the vendor. And obviously, that led to spryker. And now like the next stream is obviously who is the dominating a business model in our it’s obviously the analyst houses, Gartner.
Forrester, I see it all the others, they are winning, then you ask, okay, isn’t it so much smarter to be become such an analyst house because every vendor every practitioner pays, it seems to be like superior businessman and this that’s what I say was like the next Achievable Dream, you have to understand your business, understand, like your stakeholder set to be able to think about your solutions. I don’t want to say I start Gartner now.
But it’s like, that’s how it worked out. For me. I don’t know if this kind of methods or strategies working out for other people. But I think if you see like a thing you think you can solve better? Just do it. And it will lead you to the next maybe bigger thing.
Damon Pistulka 07:19
Yeah. And I think I think this though, what you’re describing goes towards what your one of your sayings is, is innovate or die. And I think that this is what you’re doing is you’re seeing the next level for our business to move and we continue to innovate rather than stagnate. And, and, you know, like you said, you saw the opportunity, you moved, you saw the opportunity, you moved. You tried it. And I’m sure you had times when it didn’t succeed. But you saw that opportunity and move and I think that’s awesome advice for
Alexander Graf 07:50
Yeah. And I begged my I started my career, I worked for a corporate company called the Auto Group, which was the biggest name or a company in the world, very smart people very smart ownership, super, super nice stake stakeholders and shareholders. And I was in my position was to, to draw very, very, very elaborated PowerPoint slides to explain the world. And obviously, when you are in such a kind of a McKinsey BCG consulting job, you try to explain the world in a way where you think that you can put together some puzzle pieces and those puzzle pieces together will lead to a market leadership or to some competitive advantage or whatever.
And in the digital world, we’ve learned that regardless how smart how many smart people you put in a room, regardless how much material from McKinsey you buy, it’s always the people that do that act faster. They’re winning. There’s no advantage in being bigger. There’s no advantage in having more money. There’s no environment any more people always want and are acting slash acting faster, or winning. So and then if this is true, like for big corporate, corporate, if this seems to be like the only winning strategy act, act smarter and faster, then I have to adapt it. But that’s what I’ve learned in this in this consulting job.
Curt Anderson 09:12
Yeah, that’s, that’s absolute awesome. Fastest, right? Just yeah, we’ll save her that was smarter and faster. Ask smart boys simple advice. absolute love it. So Alex, you know, I love the path that you’ve taken and really led your rate to spryker Before we dig into spryker. Believe you had a thriving Company E tribes. Do I have that correct. Amazon firm? Talk a little bit about could you share a little bit about your experience from E tribes? And then I’d like to slightly know, how did that path bring us to spryker if you will,
Alexander Graf 09:40
yeah. So maybe let’s start with how did you end up in this kind of E commerce digital? Yeah, yeah. So what I went to the University my like, the results and the exams I had were like, kind of average. So I couldn’t like join my peers who started jobs at the desperate tech industry. In our consulting industry, obviously these are like the big jobs, you’re earning like 100k a year, get a nice car or whatever. But I just like my, my average like exam results led me to my first job in ecommerce for this mailorder company. So, because retail and ecommerce in 2005, when I started my corporate career, were kind of boring stuff.
So nobody wanted to work in E commerce, it was too new and too fresh to Yang, not predictable. Enough. And there, I’ve learned all the like problems and challenges with how we tell that retail head. And out of this experience, I started an agency group called E tribes, which was a concert consultancy part of another agency, because many, many of our colleagues came to us and say, Okay, you’re, you’ve learned so much about ecommerce and digital, we’d like to, we’d like to understand best. The best practice SEO strategy from Zalando. or Amazon tells us, I tell you, that’s how it works.
Then the next one asked me, okay, what is the best practice and go to market European European expansion? Then we told him to just aggregate all the data. And then we had such a long list of stuff, we had to tell people again and again and again that we said, okay, let’s write a book about it. Obviously, that’s so much stuff, we can turn out we can, we can aggregate it in a book so that let’s actually do the book project, which you just mentioned, and out of this E trikes consultancy project in 2011 2012. So there were many, many customer that advocate, we don’t need to Dziedzic advice. We need Amazon advice.
And then yes, why? Because now 40% of our ecommerce revenue, we are doing bananas, okay. And we need to do better than our competition, other brands or retailers. And then we started Amazon SEO, how to how to get better rankings, how to do keyword beatings, and there was so much demand that we started an agency called factor A, just a side business that grew to 150 people. Within two years, we sold it and to bigger, but there’s so much there was so much demand, because nobody from the bigger brands set like resources internally to just get ready with the product data with our management, like your inventory management on Amazon.
And its disposals was kind of a special discipline, where we have developed and in this in those e trucks projects, and we had a lot of with a lot of customers that ask us, okay, we’d like to become like, like Amazon, we’d like to become like, like Zalando, like this kind of digital leaders, how can we do and we said, if you want to be like Amazon, or AWS and no, you need to adapt their strategy.
And their strategy is to act faster based on their technological advance advantage, they can do stuff faster, because like their core competencies, it their computer core competencies, not inventory management, and purchasing and, and buying all this stuff, their core competencies, is it if you want to do it, you obviously need to build a very strong IT team and, and core competencies around it. And we can get it to you if you want. So we can, for example, try to hire 500 people for your business. And then and then they learned that we don’t want to do that we want to buy like a solution for this. And then we say the solutions out there in the market.
Usually potential SAP Hybris, Salesforce commerce are not made for acting faster, those solutions are made for just following the standard. If you want to differentiate like on it, you cannot follow the standard. Okay, I understand that. But still we try to we’d like to buy a solution. And we Okay, there is no solution out there. So we have to start something that is like more around like a framework modular system that is not limiting your abilities in from a business model perspective or from a delivery perspective, that really, that really gives you a competitive advantage on the IT side.
And that’s this LED actually into building inspector there was so many customers, which we couldn’t tell, based on their demand being more AGI or being faster. Putting it as part of their core competence. We said based on the technologists, technologies we know as an agency, which we implemented as an agency, we cannot help you is it those technologies are not made for you those technologies are just off the shelf stuff where you have to put your business inside Yeah. And if you want to differentiate you cannot buy off the shelf. That’s how it works.
Damon Pistulka 14:48
Wow. So there’s a lot to unpack here but this is really cool because you’re you saw a need in the market that wasn’t being filled because he’s People couldn’t build a marketplace within the current framework of the solutions out there. And that’s what really started spryker.
Alexander Graf 15:07
Yes, yes. Yes and marketplace project was one of our first projects was the marketplace called xivo. Were to two big corporates in Switzerland tried to compete with Amazon, and that used spiker as a basic infrastructure for it.
Curt Anderson 15:23
Alright, so before we let’s before we take that deep plunge into spryker What I just what I want everybody just kind of soak in here, Alex is just you know, I appreciate your modesty. Appreciate your humility, but boy, you know, your side hustle was 150 people? Is that what you said? You know, like, like, do you just have? Do you just feel that you were just put on this earth just to be a relentless entrepreneur? Do you just have a just your? Are you executing better? Are you do you have better vision? Like what’s what do you attribute the success as a serial entrepreneur?
Alexander Graf 15:54
So I’m not this kind of relentless guy you’re seeing on LinkedIn and YouTube videos, not sleeping and like working all day. So I’d like to sleep to be very honest, I like to watch a binge watch Netflix series. Yeah. And I do it. I do it. Now, I think it’s, it’s part of the focus decision we’ve made when we started in 2011. After I entered my corporate career, and we started with all this agency businesses, obviously, we started, I think we started like 12 different business models, like just in one year. So 12, like notary appointments like 12 different teams.
And they at the time, we thought that just having developer resources, online marketing resources, and some sales resources that are those are like the three ingredients you would need for successful digital business, like import longboards, online shop, life and sell those long boards, for example. And that and in there, we learned that all these different like b2c businesses, that’s not our niche, we are really good in those b2b business where like customers need like an online shop or like a corporate website, or some SEO competence. And we grew with our customers. So obviously, some of our customers had this came to us and said, Okay, we need an online shop.
And then we build based on Shopify, or Magento, or online shops. And then they said, we’ve learned so many so many things in this project, and you seem to very smart, we need some help with our strategy. Okay, okay. And then we build this kind of strategy, business, and then now we know they part of our strategy online, we’ll be selling more on Amazon, now we need more Amazon, okay, then we start the next business and you know, and then don’t we grew up with our customers, it’s, it’s essentially, it was always like to send customers, the average size of the customers grew, but they had different needs.
And in their, in this kind of need journey, we just built agencies or solutions for those customers. And this kind of focus really, really helped us because one of our core beliefs is that we have to deliver really good stuff, really good quality in the project. And on the software side, and therefore this kind of work, word of mouth effect helped us a lot and then there is no real risk. Obviously, the businesses we started were, I don’t want to say a risk free. But when we started spryker, we had already like 20 customers that needed this kind of solutions.
It was not kind of a blank, a blank sheet where you said okay, based on our BCG matrix, we see a couple of advantages or disadvantages. So let’s do this or that. That was not the case always said like many, many, many customers, for the businesses. We started and some like grew very big rights as Amazon agency. Another business we incorporate with E tracks was about you, which is now a 2000 people IP owed company already, which is one of the leading fashion companies in in Europe.
And this was a consultancy job that we helped the auto group the mail order companies to develop a new b2c. A business that became then about you were one of our employees became the CEO. And it’s just it’s, it’s not like, it’s not like we’re just taking a corporate consultants a blank sheet and think about the market. It’s like we know the needs, obviously, we know how those needs are developing over time.
We know the business. Inside Out when in our agency, obviously, we know how much our customers paid to the vendors, and how much was paid in the project for the agencies. So we know all the numbers. And therefore this kind of decision making matrix led to obviously some success, but I would attribute most of the success is just luck. And luck is a function of timing. Right. So we were there at the right time. So all the smart people were working at consultancy firms and bands. So we were there we were next in line at the right time at the right place. So we were lucky, I would say,
Curt Anderson 20:01
Well, I think there’s a thing creates luck. So, again, I appreciate your modesty, your humility, wherever you’re at, boy, drop us a note, let us know that you’re there, we would love for you to connect with Alex, we’re talking with Alex Graff, the co founder and CO CEO of spryker, with your co founder, Boris, of course, now, you know, one of my questions is going to was going to be and I think you’ve kind of answered I was gonna say, you know, gee, Alex, you know, what, crack? Or what gap? Did you see in the market to actually launch spryker?
I feel like you’ve answered that. But anything that you’ve uncovered, I’d love to, for you to tackle that. But let’s take a deep dive into 2014. So as you said, serial entrepreneur, you have multiple things going on. And for entrepreneurs out there, just boy, I hope you’re just really soaking this in and letting that resonate, listening to your customers, raising your hand being at the right place at the right time, and just, you know, delivering a powerful solution.
So there’s a gap in the market and you’re hearing it and you’re seeing it, you said you have about 20 customers that need a solution. So instead of trying to find a solution, you’re like, hey, let’s create a solution. Was it a big leap of faith? Was it a, you know, over a, you know, at a bar over a beer and napkin like, hey, let’s create spryker What was that next step of like, hey, let’s start something new.
Alexander Graf 21:15
Yeah, so obviously, we saw the demand and from an agency perspective, and obviously, we didn’t have like hundreds of developers and no experience in developing software, to be very honest. But we knew what we knew. Like at those time, one of our founding investors Project A was the leading incubator in the Berlin ecosystem. And the people that were leading project a this incubator, they built Zalando.
They build consortium that some of the most successful European b2c and b2b e commerce businesses, and we knew in 2014, they were refocusing not building b2b b2c anymore, but focusing on like software, Finance, Financial Industry, and so we asked them, Okay, their project A, you have like a technology developed already, which was like the base technology for Philando and Contura. On on tirando, and all those different websites over to another big E commerce project.
What can you imagine like outsourcing this technology, which was already kind of a toolkit, something which was way more agile than SAP Hybris, or Salesforce? Can you can imagine outsourcing or start a company around it and build the business model. And then they said, Yeah, that might be smart.
Because, you know, there’s also lots of corporates knocking at our door, like publishing houses and others and saying, Project A, you’ve built all this ecommerce businesses, we also want to be an ecommerce business, we are now one of the biggest Publishing Group for I don’t know, furniture, magazines, and we want to have like the biggest furniture ecommerce business to help us building it. And from an investor’s perspective or incubator perspective, you’re not allowed, you’re not allowed to work as an agency. And then we said, that’s a perfect fit.
We have the technology, we also have customers, we can be the founders of this business. So let’s like let’s, let’s put like the puzzle pieces together. And to our surprise, I said, that’s a very good idea. We just not give you the technology and the team, we also get the money to start it. And so it’s not such a big leap of faith. What a lot of like smart ingredients on the table, which we just put together and made Sprog out of it.
Curt Anderson 23:32
Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Okay, so you take so not a huge leap. But however, you still had the vision tenacity, Stryker off the ground. So for folks that spryker is say, this is a new word, new term, new company. Let’s get into basic let’s get into spryker 101. What is spryker? what solution do you deliver to manufacturers?
Alexander Graf 23:53
Yeah, we’re helping building sophisticated transactional business models. So what does it mean, obviously, and that’s a problem, especially in b2c when a b2b when people think about e commerce to be they think about like all legends, and that’s not the case. Obviously, online shop could be part of customer journey, but it’s like, it’s really like digitizing the whole journey. It’s let’s think about like the process. Let’s assume we are running an office and we need like 50 new office chairs. And then there might be like three different providers provider number one has a very smart website, we are just like posting our request because we are in a request for quote, operation mode here.
We are not just selecting chairs and then in bind, we want to have like a quote. We are just putting in there our request and we want to quote and then we the next provider, just the website and phone number we have to call we call him and say okay, we need like 50 office chairs and this one says okay, we will send you like a catalog or one of our sales force to your office, because it needs to be like A superb, superb tailor made experience. And at the time you’re like you’re having like this kind of phone call provider. Number one is giving you a quote already with information about pricing and like, on what places can be delivered, and what kind of options do you have.
And you can change your, your request, you can say, I want to have like 20 red ones and 20 white ones and these like switch to offices, like, please update your quote. And the time you’re like finishing the call was the one just offering you the phone number. The other one obviously gave you like an actionable like a piece of information, where you know, what kind of furniture what kind of guarantee what kind of delivery options, what kind of update options, you know, and that’s ecommerce that ecommerce in b2b It’s like, really being faster and better than the competition and,
and, and through the whole journey, I never mentioned price, you know, price was never a piece of this kind of two journeys, we just like Journey number one was just smarter and better equipped for you and helped you much better. And journey number two was just slow. And this is actually where like spryker comes into play. Like all this, like different journeys, especially in b2b. They’re not following a certain standard, every company has like a different journey.
And within like one company, there might be like 100 different customer cords, with different workflows. And this is something we help to build, we have to aggregate we have to like, put processes behind it so that for every customer for every potential journey, and like the perfect digital paths. For this kind of customer, they might end in an online shop, maybe. But that’s not the standard use case in b2b anymore. And I think that’s one of the biggest myths, misconceptions. In b2b, when we tried to lecture the b2b market about e commerce.
They always said, I don’t want to have like an Amazon with my products, I don’t want to have like an Zappos. And that’s not the case. So whenever it’s sophisticated, whenever it’s more than just putting standard products on a website, whatever and having like, one or two warehouses where you manage inventory, this is actually something where spryker comes into play. And when we help, like build whatever customer journey is necessary.
Curt Anderson 27:17
That’s perfect. Alright, so guys, if you go to strikers website, I dropped a link in the chat box, you have a couple of phenomenal resource guides. And I love what you’re saying. So for manufacturers, you know, typically, you know, it’s very common, like, Hey, I saw a quarter million dollar piece of equipment or I saw, you know, a $5,000 piece of equipment, people aren’t pulling out their credit card and buying however, they absolutely are making those purchases. So you have a guide called go beyond, let’s take another step further out.
So for manufacturers out there, whether an OEM with a finished good or maybe there’s somewhere in the food chain, they’re a custom manufacturer, not necessarily the proprietary product or product. But however, they certainly have proprietary processes. Talk a little bit about some of the solutions that you offer. And again, guys, I have the guide in the chat box here, clicking that guide, you can get it for free, but I’ve since taken a little deeper dive. So for a manufacturer who really fits this model, but they just don’t realize it. How do you have that conversation or kind of shine a light on E commerce for those folks? Yeah,
Alexander Graf 28:15
so so many, many of those conversations today are starting with like marketplaces, conversations they started with okay. Many b2b companies understand now that there’s a chance to build these marketplaces for the industries and in the podcast, I’m running I have many of those marketplaces as a guest. And we are talking about marketplaces with like, the total volume of like, I’d say, five to 10 million, a billion and g and d, and this GMB is like, is distributed between what 100 To 1000 merchants like people offering the product and maybe like 5000 to 50,000 customers and those niche marketplaces seems are like a big thing.
Now in Europe alone, we are talking about 500 b2b marketplaces, already with like, usually regional monopolies. And it’s, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say it, but monopolies made money. And those if you’re able to start like a b2b marketplace, in your niche where you can aggregate like the inventory of like 100 200 merchants, and offer it to like 1000 2000 3000 customers, that’s kind of the numbers we are talking it’s very, very manageable numbers.
And this is something where b2b companies say Okay, today I have my 1000 customers, we have 200, like fieldforce agents trying to try to manage those customers, but maybe I can leverage this relationship with my customers to do something smarter, to sell, to sell more maybe to sell access to those customers, which is actually the game those marketplaces are, are in and this is kind of that’s where we say this thinking beyond the thinking beyond On just selling more products from your warehouse, it’s like thinking about leverage here, set, leverage your different levers,
your different level of access to customers have access to merchandise, have access to logistic infrastructure, and try to sell this kind of, or try to try to leverage these kind of different layers. And definitely marketplace is one of the biggest drivers right now. But it’s like, we try to break it down into very simple customer journeys and say, Okay, please tell us about your top 5% cohort of customers. So how do you reach them? How often do you interact with them? How does it work today, and we’re not talking about like, getting rid of the of feet first.
That’s not That’s not to trick you. That’s, that’s not our work. Three, it’s really about how to create more value for this top 5% cohort find like 1020 customers we can talk with, we can like design something which makes sense. And it could be something where those customers can download their order history, or their invoice history, or their inventory history or where those customers can put like so called pending calls, when I say okay, I would be willing to buy material ABC for price def, whatever, if it’s available, just let me know stuff like this, where you are trying to understand and scan the market for your customers.
And like create a process where you will be able to ping those customers, when this product is available for the relevant price. One of our customers Pfeiffer group, for example, which is like it’s from the food industry in Austria, they are helping the customer and they to fill the fill to fill to, to, to order, the best size that fits in a truck. So let’s say you’re ordering like 20 pallets of what I’ve pre processed food or whatever. And then if you want to order like 20, the 21st pallet that doesn’t fit in this truck, you should order like another 20.
And this seems like super, super, super simple, but it’s usually not covered in the existing Europese. And this is like thinking beyond it’s really thinking about how to how to work smarter how to make the life of your customers easier. It’s not it’s not like it’s in 99% of the cases. It’s not about offering more for a better price. And this is like the big fear of the b2b companies like giving up their price Dominion giving up the pricing information and it’s nobody’s talking about that. It’s like it’s availability. It’s its service level. It’s logistics, its inventory. Management. Nobody’s talking about prices these days. There’s this
Curt Anderson 32:55
oh my god, I’m Dude, you’re giving me chills. So much to uncover right there. First off, me Happy Friday. Thank you for the question. Julia, thank you for having my back. She dropped the guide. It’s a go beyond guide. Vice Speaker Thank you Julia for jumping in the chat there for us. A couple of things I want to talk about. I just want every you know, if you’re just chiming in, I know we went over the top of the hour if you’re just joining us by any chance Are with Alex or wood, I don’t know what time it is bottom of the hour, I guess we’re at all mixed up. So bottom of the hour with Alex Graf, co founder and CO CEO of spryker.
And Alex Ray, multiple things, I just love what you just said there. So think about you know, creating a marketplace and then that guidance on your website with your preach the mission of spryker You’re helping manufacturers not violate your channel that’s such a threat and such a challenge for so many manufacturers, like I’m going to violate my customers, you’re helping folks go direct to customer through their channels, not next, not necessarily violating their channels, creating their own marketplace. Just think if you could you know, as Alex was describing earlier on, like, Hey, I see a problem. I’m raising my hand, I don’t want to find somebody else to solve it.
I’m going to solve it. I think if you’re in an industry you could be an industry leader by teaming up and partnering with spryker bringing the collective together in that marketplace. So I was 650 Strike ease do I have that correctly? You’ve gotten from that 2014 to 650 Sprite spray keys employees strong. Share a little bit about you know what I was just mentioning there like that leadership you know, for different industries, different companies that can create those powerful marketplaces take that a little deeper for
Alexander Graf 34:35
Yeah, yeah. So I think from a corporate perspective if it’s possible, they should follow like dream the next achievable dream to that the same thing that the same like strategy. How I built all the businesses that like a corporate to the client, biggest problem is line and this leading to channel conflicts. If you’re like trying to build a straight He have a blank sheet and you say, Okay, your company has to become like a marketplace or as to like compete like different, different regions.
And therefore you have to change ABC and like people need to be educated much more on digital, but that’s not working, because you’re not, you will waste so much time explaining and strategy where you cannot know if it’s working or not to like many, many people that are working for your company, and those people, most of them are willing, most of them do want to do something.
And if you cannot explain like the, the outcome, like in two or three or four years, and those people are used to get the get this, this kind of prediction, this predicted outcome, like for two or three years, you definitely must start like in a niche where you have some people that are trusting you like three, four or 510 people, we call it the Coalition of the Willing and build something, build something that matters, based on this coalition based on this momentum, you can add more people, you can go to the next three, you can add like the next step, maybe this next step will lead you to building a marketplace. Now, maybe this next step will lead you to extend into a new country.
Maybe this will lead you in like stopping the initiative and rebuilding it into a new industry. But it’s always like the next it’s the next dream. And especially like established companies, b2b companies that cannot build their strategy and their culture on a blank sheet of paper I really, really recommend like focusing on the next achievable thing. You cannot do it like our so we were able to do we were able to build our company on a Greenfield, right.
So we could like we were for us it was easy to switch into, into remote mode. We said okay, nobody needs to come to the office anymore. Anyway, we are hiring like globally, doesn’t matter if those people come to burden or not, they just need to deliver. And we focus on like one or two or three events a year where those people meet, and we can do it and other like greenfields company can do it, where there’s the snow processes, no, no big offices or whatever. But I would adapt like to the people that are there. And most of them are smart. Most of them have very good ideas about what your b2b customers would need. Focus on those ideas, focus on those projects.
Take realize the ideas that are not involving too many people, if you have to talk to let’s say that this is part of the Conway’s Law, maybe some of maybe Julia can post it in the chat here. It’s part of the comments. If you have to, if you have to talk with too many people explaining an unpredictable outcome, you never end talking, then because your promises you will explain what the outcome will be what your next job role will be how, what the payback will be. And this is not possible in a digital ecosystem.
Because it’s happening, everything is happening so fast that you need to get into this doing mode and is doing mode has no time for explaining things to people that just cannot understand because there is no definitive outcome and this kind of mode lead actually to this text about 50 people within the break. And I don’t know if it’s going to be like 1000 1500 people next year, maybe 300 People next year? I don’t think so. But maybe some of the decisions we need to have to focus on our customer needs and product needs. Obviously, what to do, we only have to do things that makes that makes sense.
We have in some cases that means we cannot explain the next step. So even we in a digital ecosystem, even we seeing so much stuff we cannot explain like the next step. We are happy to have a business plan for the next 12 months. You cannot ask me what’s happening next year or the year after next year. Who can know that? If we cannot know that most of the corporates can’t know and then you shouldn’t you should stop like building business plans. Like for 2027 2020 It’s ridiculous. It’s like the market told you already. It’s not working. Right. And man. Alright, this
Curt Anderson 39:05
is so good. I know. I have a ton of questions. But I know I want to be mindful of your time, Alex. Yeah, we’re going off script a little bit here, Damon. So Damon, we had the honor and privilege couple months ago of interviewing Joe Foster, the founder of Reebok and he shared a phenomenal story on what it took for him to take Reebok you know, they were a small little family company, what it took for them to go global Alex shirt just, you know what, what has it taken from you to turn this into a global company? Just share a little bit. So manufacturers that are out there, they want to go in other markets. Just hear from your perspective, what’s spryker Global?
Alexander Graf 39:41
So it’s, I think it’s very easy. So we are like most of b2b companies. We are in a b2b business. b2b business means it’s built on business relations. We have to talk you have to talk with other people and the son of like good talks have good relations with other people.
They are creating the outcome of is the more of good conversations we have like it with international partners, like we see centers we see the large with customers and they will lead to or to a certain result and like building a global business not like that we say, okay, let’s expand into Australia. And then Tom you’re doing it’s really finding the right people, they’re having lots of good conversation, delivering very good products delivering very good results over the years.
There is no shortcut, no, no marketing, there’s no shortcut in something, whatever. It’s like successful big b2b companies, successful big vendors that just the result of like, hundreds 1000s 100 1000s of good conversations, and good deliveries and that the only thing that Howard, we are in a situation where we can accelerate this kind of conversation with money, obviously. So we can hire people that where we don’t have like the income from the customer side. Yet, which we can find it with, venture capital, that’s different.
That’s a different business configuration. Obviously, we don’t need to find it out of the cash flow. So we can, we can grow a bit faster. But essentially, it’s a conversation thing. So if Kurt wouldn’t like me, and then we stopped doing the camera stuff, or you said that was all bullshit. Then I have to actually do better I have to find a way to convince to convince Kurt now maybe he is intrigued and say okay, this Alex guy 100% Sure, but maybe I can recommend him to a friend who was like running a b2b. It’s like, it’s like this kind of conversation than the quality of this conversation that is creating the outcome. Well, dude, I’m telling
Curt Anderson 41:44
you, man, if two things Alex, if I could just see the view on a more frequent basis and just listen to jam out about e commerce man. Let’s see it again. Guys. Look at that view. Isn’t that I got it kids are playing just warms your heart that summer. That stuff. That’s
Damon Pistulka 41:59
That’s key summer at its finest.
Curt Anderson 42:02
So guys, I want to be mindful of Alex’s time super busy guy, CEO of spryker. So Guido, if I’m pronouncing pronouncing your name correctly, just a great little link. And I’m here to catch Alex. So the wind down with my last question. But again, Alex has a phenomenal podcast commerce talks. He has a fantastic book, the authority book on E commerce you have you are obviously co CEO of ryker.
All sorts of things going on connect with Alex on LinkedIn. Alex, my last question for you, boy, and maybe you just showed us your answer. What is inspiring you today? What’s inspiring you to take this business to the next level? Taking your career family? What’s your inspiration today? That’s the driving force behind the success here.
Alexander Graf 42:46
So yeah, so the very cool so I’m interested like 1000s of things. So we can, we can engage in like 10 hours conversation into how to how to grow a tree or flowers or whatever, which is super, which is super cool. Because we have customers like from so many different fields, fields, like from the do it yourself industry selling hammers and like electric screwdrivers, or, and it’s like, for me, it’s like, I’m living the dream.
So I’m interested in like a certain topic, like doing this boot industry stuff like what is the business model of like owning a forest, for example, and I’m sure in my customer base, or maybe in the prospect age, there’s people that are owning forests, or that are in the monastery, and I can go to them, like ask about the business model for my podcast, maybe they will become spryker Customer sometime but that’s not important. But it’s really I’m so interested in so many different topics or the energy the renewable energy market.
So just a very good conversation and so we’re sitting like first in line in like all the different industries that need to change into like into digital and obviously we are not yet so we don’t have like these super big companies like Nike or Tesla that’s not our customers today but there’s the mid market or like very big b2b companies and even if you’re like selling a certain part of a compressor, which is then used in the solar factory like building solar panels so I can talk with you like ours I’m so interested in this stuff how it works and how your market is working and how reliable your about on shine.
I know you can do the production on yourself and how you can help young how you can reinvent the market or growing vertical so it’s like that is really driving me so many ideas I can like just with talking with customers every day and sometimes I have those podcasts and then I learned those are customers which I didn’t know before. And then I hope I find in our internal sales force management that agreed lie Saying customers had to eat everything is working out. Well,
Curt Anderson 45:05
this is phenomenal. So and Julia dropped a link in the chat box there to find Alex’s book to find catch on his podcast commerce talks. So Alex, we’re gonna you know, you’ve got a lot going on, it’s coming into Happy Hour dinner time across the pond. So first off, man, thank you, thank you for your inspiration, you know, a couple of takeaways, you know, Coalition of the winning, go to the next dream. And I’ll tell you, my friend, you are such an inspiration for what you’ve done. Again, appreciate your humility, your modesty, but boy, you are really a rockstar. Thank you.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy time to share with us to share with everybody else, guys, follow Alex on LinkedIn, check, connect on his podcast, grab his book, learn about spryker And if you are a manufacturer out there, and you feel a little bit behind the curve, but you want to connect with the folks at spryker and they’re gonna take you to the next level. So guys have an amazing, incredible weekend Alex hang out one second, and just guys just keep going out and just keep crushing it on a daily basis just like Alex at spryker Daymond Take it away, dude. Wow.
Damon Pistulka 46:11
All right, Kurt. Thank you so much for being here today. Alex taking the time out and in showing us the beautiful location where you’re at this summer. Man I tell you what, people if you didn’t hear all this, go back and listen to it again. Alex makes it seem like it’s just a walking through the park is to build these other businesses. But you know, when he when you break it down, I wrote some notes here. It’s about focusing on your customer needs focus on the next steps you can do and lots of good conversations. And as Alex says, innovate or die, so everyone have a great rest of your day to day. We will be back again on Monday curd who we talking to Monday,
Curt Anderson 46:52
and we’re talking to Jeremiah syncs from the Purdue University Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and it’s going to be a good one, Damon, so we’ve got so everybody dressed up for the weekend for Monday. So we’ll see. Yeah, we’ll see you there.
Damon Pistulka 47:04
Good stuff. Well, thanks a lot, Alex for being here today. Thanks everyone else for joining us for the manufacturing ecommerce success. We’re out for now. And we’ll be back again