Supply Chain Now Episode 444

Startup is hard. Startup is expensive. Startup is time consuming and startup is way more complicated than you think.”

-Greg White, Host of TECHquila Sunrise


The ‘TECHquila Sunrise’ Series on Supply Chain Now shares the latest investments, acquisitions, innovations, and glorious implosions in Supply Chain Tech every week. If you are looking for a podcast about ‘so-and-so signed a contract with such and such,’ or ‘they just released version 20 of that same technology you didn’t buy last year,’ this is the wrong podcast for you. But if you are looking for real news and innovation, welcome to the Sunrise.


Greg White (00:00):

Hey, it’s week 11 of tequila, sunrise. And I’m going to tell you what it takes to get started in supply chain tech. I’m going to give you a preview of some upcoming guests on the show, the core personal announcements, the supply chain tech stock index, and this week’s deal updates. So listen up it’s time to wake up to tequila. Sunrise we’re unfortunately, without the aid of tequila, we opened your eyes to how startups and venture investing techs focused on supply chain tech every week, this unholy hour of the day, if you want a taste of how tech startup growth and investment is done, join me every Thursday for another blinding tequila, sunrise, Greg white here from supply chain. Now I am always happy, never satisfied, willing to acknowledge reality, but refusing to be bound by it. My goal is to inform, enlighten and inspire you in your own supply chain tech journey.

Greg White (01:17):

Hey, in case you’re listening in supply chain now main channel, you should know, you need to subscribe to tequila, sunrise, wherever you get, your podcasts will only be in the mainstream for a couple of weeks more. Go subscribe to tequila sunrise today. So you don’t miss a thing. Last week we interviewed founder and CEO, Colton Griffin of cannabis supply chain tech flourish. I’d encourage you to listen to episode 10, spend an hour or so with Colton and me to learn about his journey and what you can take away from it. In fact, the response to Colton’s visit was so overwhelming. We’re making guests apart of the formula from now on, in the coming weeks, we’ll have founders, exacts and investors from throughout supply chain tech. Here’s just an example. Sarah Barnes, Humphrey co founder and CEO of ships, a freight tech that has just come out of stealth mode.

Greg White (02:11):

Jason Perez, founder and CEO of yards and equipment rental tech that is in a seed raise process. Paul Noble founder and CEO of Verisign and MRO and direct materials, data and optimization tech who will grow nearly 10 X in 2020. And don’t forget the investor side, Ben Gordon, industry stalwart and investor from Cambridge capital, who is funding, supply chain texts. Even in these tumultuous times, you’ll hear the ups and downs. The lessons learned and wisdom shared from people making it happen in supply chain tech, no better way to learn than from those doing it right now. That reminds me a couple of really quick announcements. I am honored to report that I’ve joined ships as an advisor. I’m excited about what Sarah and the team doing, and they have great early momentum. Also the ink is dry and I’m officially venture partner at Kibera venture capital. I’m already speaking to several supply chain tech founders and interested to find more seed stage companies looking for capital.

Greg White (03:14):

So if that’s you hit me up on LinkedIn or, K U B E R All right, let’s see what’s going on in supply chain tech this week, first of all, let’s start with the deal ticker with 251 rounds of funding for $3.5 billion and 76 acquisitions for $11.9 billion in the overall market. In supply chain, we had five funding rounds for $7.6 million. There’s still plenty of money out there to get okay. Many thanks to Daniel. Karen from port logistics group, who’s building an automated mechanism to enable us to track and analyze the tequila sunrise supply chain tech stock index, and the member companies. It’s a big effort and it will take some time. So thanks Daniel. I really appreciate it. A little bit of news this week, Shopify up almost 10% in the last week reached an all time high on Wednesday before it pulled back during trading big commerce jumped 50% last week, big week for e-comm stocks, but gave away most of its gain.

Greg White (04:24):

In the last few days, Manhattan was up about 5% in the last week and a big jump almost 8% on Tuesday. Hey, one quick change to the index membership. We dropped park city group as their market capitalization was too small. Okay. A couple of notable supply chain deals, cosmos AI lands $15 million to analyze shoppers. The startup analyzes mobile location data to predict and get this influence how people shop offline. It has raised a $15 million in a series, a investment round that sets a valuation for the company in excess of $100 million Tega investments, OTB ventures and T D J Patapsco led the financing. Sometimes it’s just fun to say the names of these investment firms, another one Fox robotics and Austin based maker of self driving forklifts that automatically unload trailers closed a $9 million series a funding round. The round was led by Menlo ventures, huge with participation from Nyack ventures, Luff, Amelia signal, fire, congruent ventures, and AME cloud ventures.

Greg White (05:37):

They got a new board member with Mark Segal partner at Menlo ventures. Joining the board of directors. The company intends to use the funds to ramp up production after running pilots with large logistics companies. Since last October, Charles do headway and Peter Anderson Sprecher who’ve built robots and led robotics teams at Stanford, Bosch, Google robotics, and Google X lead. The company that builds these self-drive moving forklifts, which leveraged technology similar to self driving cars, foxes, forklifts, AI for real time detection of pallets trailers and obstacles. So they don’t need fixed locations, pre programmed in they plan routes on the fly and don’t need memorized routes. Okay. This is our featured topic of the week. So let me tell you how I got this inspiration. Maybe for us. I saw an article about star, bring your own supply chain business somewhere on the interwebs. And it was just so generic.

Greg White (06:33):

It could have been about any business. It was not informative. It was not inspiring, but it did inspire me to compose something. I hope will be much more useful to you. So you want to start a supply chain tech, look, I want you to succeed the antics succeed. You got to know what you’re getting yourself into. So I’m going to share some harsh realities about startups, tech and supply chain with the goal, all of creating an awakening that shakes those with unshakable confidence creates surety in the unsure and motivates the solely opportunistic to seek opportunity elsewhere. This’ll hit hard, but confident, committed, and capable. It might just only strengthen your resolve. If it scares you away, then I’ve probably saved you years of pain and millions of dollars, no charge. All right, let’s recognize this fact right out of the gate, startup is only glamorous in your mind and on TV.

Greg White (07:30):

Startup is hard. Startup is expensive. Startup is time consuming and startup is way more complicated than you think. And if you have any doubt, I’m going to post a link to an article that urban, I created a spreadsheet for creating a tech startup 40 point checklist look co founder under complications, finding the market accepting you’re wrong, pivoting fast plus dealing with success and struggles at the same time it’s coming at you fast and you better be ready for it. In fact, more than ready. Obsession is required. The great Brad Feld of Foundry group constantly repeats this. And I completely agree. A lot of people say I’m into this because it’s my passion or I’m an expert, or I have vision look, passion, vision, and industry knowledge is not sufficient. Don’t simply look for opportunity, attack a problem. You are driven compelled and feel a responsibility to solve.

Greg White (08:31):

Oh, and on that obsession topic, let’s be clear on this point. Work life balance and startups have never met. Just forget your current perception of work. Life balance startup life is your life. It is your team’s life and it is your family’s life. You can find work life balance as long as your definition and your loved one’s definition of work. Life balance, 70% work and 30% life as balanced with about a third of life interrupted by work. My suggestion is that if you decide to go into this, you are very intentional in communicating and finding acceptance from your loved ones on this. Even then you have to continually over-perform on the life side and continually ask forgiveness and make up for intrusions from the work. It is important to calendar all life events in advance, set expectations and make provisions at work during events and do it well ahead of time.

Greg White (09:32):

On another front, you don’t know enough to do this startup thing. Team is the first and most important thing. Yeah, you’re really, really smart and exceptional intellect, visionary or whatever, but you are not the total package. Knowing your weaknesses is just as important as knowing your strengths. First find a yin to your yang. Always have a cofounder for any startup. There are two fundamental sides, vision and sales gifts and tech and science gifts. Both are a must. Whichever is your gift. Find the other in your cofounder and make sure they share your obsession and work life imbalance perspective. Hey, here’s a really interesting tip. Find a geezer, no joke. A 50 plus founder is 2.2 times more likely to succeed than a 30 year old go boomer. One more recognition. You need lawyers and accountants. I know, but even at their exorbitant rates, your time is better spent elsewhere.

Greg White (10:39):

And in an industry where high finance rains and your intellectual property is your company’s valuation. You need professional help bite the bullet, find a mentor or two or three to balance your strengths. For instance, I always need a science guru and a finance pro in any company that I’ve found. Let’s talk about business plan. The reality is that 10 slides and one page of text is your business plan. Don’t waste time on a 200 page analysis. All you need is a simple pitch deck. Of course you need greater depth of understanding than that. And backup documentation is helpful, but get your framework built and document depth along the way you got to get money. Start with yours, get others, friendlies, friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors, trusted advisors. If you are interested in how to get money, check out some of our earlier episodes for details on how to fund a startup.

Greg White (11:38):

Big part of the business plan, build a team and remember culture eats strategy for breakfast. Hiring is the most important thing you do. Hire slow, evaluate thoroughly and fire fast. If you don’t have a fit, find someone who fits your culture as well as the skill set of your company. They need to adhere to the core values that you’ve established for your company. Now on to the solution. If you build it, they will not come, but if you solve it, they will. Before at a single line of code, this is incredibly important. Before you write a single line of code, you need to start by getting the market. Don’t expect the market to get you. You need to understand what the market needs and deliver it. If it’s in a new and maybe difficult way to conceive or conceptualize, you’ll do a lot of explaining, but you will fit the market a lot better.

Greg White (12:38):

If you understand the need from the market’s perspective, ask everyone, you know about your unicorn idea and by the way, never ever, ever say, yes, you are the next unicorn. You are not an eight year old with dreams of being an astronaut. You are a servant to a market with a problem. You have to be an adult. You own so need to test your hypothesis with the market. To assure that the product is compelling, not just interesting, compelling sells. Interesting. Doesn’t it that a problem exists is not sufficient for people to pay for it, to be resolved. You have to test today and that your solution is a differentiated one. You’ll know when people will pay you for it. Of course not. Everyone will pay you. And you will have pilots expect some unpaid pilots and consider them market research. It doesn’t hurt as bad if you think of them that way and use paid pilots as trade to market leaders, opinion makers, big names, companies will pay and getting their skin in the game is critical to getting them to commit, to implementing your technology, your initial offering your minimum viable product.

Greg White (13:54):

It needs to start by solving the most painful and only that, of course you plan for enhancement. But one of the things you want to do is you want to strive to get customers asking, wow, that helped us a lot. Could you also help us with X then? You know, you’ve got it. You’ve got a solution. You’ve got trust. And you’ve got customer advocates. That is a winning formula. This is a big one. Listen up. If you are a founder, definitely dial in right now, you have more competitors than, you know, more than you can find on the web. More than you can conceive in your mind. It is rare that you are the only one doing something, even something that is disruptive or innovative or life changing or game changing or world changing. Even if there is not a same solution, which is unlikely, there’s at least a way of solving the issue today or an inadequate ill fit or old fashioned solution that people are clinging to.

Greg White (15:01):

In any case, someone is competing for the dollars you want to get for your solution, recognize and embrace that there is competition. Dig hard to find it. Don’t be Pollyannish enough to think you have no competition. And even if you think you have no competition, certainly don’t say that investors know better. And it smacks of immaturity. When anyone says that, and finally you have to face the cold, hard truths of this ruthless venerable supply chain industry. It is very complex and there are many times where a risk slash cost slash constraint evaluation must be made. The answer many times is it depends where depends equals 20 or more variables. There is little room for error is always on the line. And sometimes it is literally life or death. Lastly, because risk is so great. And the unknown is the ultimate risk supply chain is a laggard industry.

Greg White (16:06):

Yes, resistant to change while service and customer experience are important. The focus is still often. And so frustratingly on cost efficiency and labor for most risk management and optimization have not yet taken the forefront in the industry and even seismic disruptions like COVID, haven’t broken this laggard mentality, manual processes, paper, and spreadsheets of bound. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to break through. Even with an advanced technology change in the industry is directionally correct, but glacially slow by comparison to other industries. Now look, here are a few final thoughts. We’ll go deeper in another episode and I’ll ask these questions in our founder interviews, but recognize this one, tech is expensive. Be ready to burn cash and prepared to get investment to pivot is inevitable. Your initial premise will almost always be wrong. Don’t think of that as failure. It is an important part of the process.

Greg White (17:14):

It may be a 180 degree pivot, or it may be just a few degrees to tweak your original precept, but it will happen. Three struggle is real embrace share and overcome struggle as a team. It makes you stronger or it kills you. But I think it makes you stronger for death is the most likely outcome five cheating death is Oh, so gratifying, maybe as gratifying as delivering a valued solution as hitting an IPO as making a bill. No, no, not even close to that, but it, but anyway, cheating death is gratifying. Okay. After all that, if you are foolish enough to be undaunted or heaven forbid even encouraged by all this congratulations, you are a founder. These harsh realities are only part of the picture and overcoming them, or even just attempting is a thrill for many pioneers. We love the fight. As much as the victory look, it helps to believe that there’s something better out there and to have a healthy dose of narcissism that makes you think you are the one to bring it to the world.

Greg White (18:26):

This is why I encourage people to acknowledge reality, but refuse to be bound by it. Reality is simply that, which you can envision based on your current awareness to truly breakthrough requires the blessing of naivete and unfailing, perseverance to shape a new reality. Now go change your reality. All right, that’s all you need to know about supply chain tech for this week. Don’t forget to get to supply chain now, for more supply chain now series interviews and events. And now we have two live streams per week. The most popular live show in supply chain, supply chain buzz every Monday at noon Eastern time with Scott Luton, the master and me plus our Thursday live stream to be named later where we bring you whatever the hell we want. Like a few weeks ago, when we interviewed our producer clay, the DOE Phillips, thanks for spending your valuable time with me and remember acknowledge reality, but never be bound by it.

Would you rather watch the show in action?  Watch as Greg introduces you to TECHquila Sunrise through our YouTube channel.

Greg White serves as Principal & Host at Supply Chain Now. Greg is a founder, CEO, board director and advisor in B2B technology with multiple successful exits. He recently joined Trefoil Advisory as a Partner to further their vision of stronger companies by delivering practical solutions to the highest-stakes challenges. Prior to Trefoil, Greg served as CEO at Curo, a field service management solution most notably used by Amazon to direct their fulfillment center deployment workforce. Greg is most known for founding Blue Ridge Solutions and served as President & CEO for the Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader of cloud-native supply chain applications that balance inventory with customer demand. Greg has also held leadership roles with Servigistics, and E3 Corporation, where he pioneered their cloud supply chain offering in 1998. In addition to his work at Supply Chain Now and Trefoil, rapidly-growing companies leverage Greg as an independent board director and advisor for his experience building disruptive B2B technology and supply chain companies widely recognized as industry leaders. He’s an insightful visionary who helps companies rapidly align vision, team, market, messaging, product, and intellectual property to accelerate value creation. Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams to create breakthroughs that gain market exposure and momentum, and increase company esteem and valuation. Learn more about Trefoil Advisory:

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