Last week we spoke to Hugh about the Supply Chain industry, and its challenges. We also learnt a bit about Hugh’s background and experience that led him to become an innovator in the industry.
Today, we welcome back Hugh to chat about how Switchboard came to be, get an idea of how the business model works and exactly how the startup tech is driving change in the Supply Chain industry.
Hi Hugh, welcome back! Shall we dive straight in?
Hugh: Thank you - absolutely!
How long did it take for you to pull the trigger between the concept and idea of Switchboard to the creation?
Hugh: When I ran a freight company, I started to see and feel the pain points around integrating the IT systems in supply chains. It took me about 8 months to find and refine the idea, get investment, and get the basics set up, at which point I left my job and started working full time on Switchboard.
Wow, what a turn-around. Talk us through what Switchboard does, exactly?
Hugh: A term you’ll hear from us a lot is that Switchboard is a universal supply chain integrator. We sit in the middle, between all the different companies in a supply chain, exchanging all the information they need to run their businesses. To do that, we connect any supply chain systems so that companies can instantly send and receive accurate information with trading partners - either in an automated, scheduled way, or on-demand.
Our Integration services solve industry-wide problems, which include:
A regularly scheduled or on-demand integration to pull a SKU list with up-to-date inventory stock levels, locations, prices so that you can check stock without contacting suppliers; with automation to trigger an order whenever your stock levels go below a pre-set threshold
An order flow so that you can send or receive an order (and confirmations) directly from your system without preparing a manual purchase order and emailing it, including sending and receiving confirmations
Sending and receiving other supply chain documents like Advance Shipping Notices, Bills of Lading, and any other documents required
We manage both EDI and API integrations, and will work with major software vendors (SAP, Oracle, etc), as well as smaller vendors (Cin7, Unleashed, etc) and proprietary systems
However, we can integrate any other supply chain process, and welcome discussions that discuss supply chain process pain points where we will be able to assess what integrations would help to simplify it
In a recent article, you mentioned the complexity of integrations used in the Supply Chain industry, who or what does Switchboard work with? Read: Supply Chain Management: Problems vs. Solutions
Switchboard integrations connect all the various IT systems for supply chains for any company. This includes enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs), transport management systems (TMS), warehouse management systems (WMS), order management systems (OMS), and any other supply chain system. We are open to working with any system and supply chain process that can be aided and smoothed by an integration - we are a universal supply chain integrator. We will connect companies to external parties (i.e. their suppliers, customers, providers, etc) and can connect a company’s internal systems - connecting a WMS to a TMS, or a TMS to an ERP, etc.
Switchboard seemingly is on an achievable mission to completely change the supply chain industry but who, specifically, is it designed for?
Hugh: The beauty of our system [Switchboard] is that it is truly industry agnostic - our integrations will remove cost, process, time, and errors from any business that has a supply chain, i.e. any business that is selling or engaging with a ‘good’. There is no limit to what kind of client we can onboard to simplify their process. This includes inventory management, ordering, transport, warehousing, and other supply chain processes. We work with companies from a wide range of industries including retail, healthcare, household, consumer, FMCG, food and beverage, hospitality, supply chain and logistics operators, and many others.
The benefits speak for themselves. Working with Switchboard means that many of the more basic supply chain tasks (checking inventory levels with suppliers, sending and receiving orders, etc) will be automated, resulting in:
Reduced manual effort and fewer time consuming processes
Faster turnaround times that improves customer experience
Improved data availability to facilitate analysis for businesses
Fewer supply chain errors
Reduced cost for the business, with a direct impact on the bottom line that will be a ROI of many, many times the cost of working with Switchboard
As a startup, a major challenge for business owners and entrepreneurs is finding customers and investors. How did you go about finding investors, and now that you’ve launched, customers?
Hugh: With my industry background and network (both in supply chain and software development), I knew the pain point and process and industry well enough to create and get the first pieces moving.
Then, we worked with our early clients to design out a great solution for their processes that forms the basis of our product - this is something that we are continuously working on and improving by working with our clients, gathering user feedback, etc.
My network in the industry helped get me started with some early customers, but this is such a clear and well-known pain point in the industry that when we started offering a strong solution we started getting lots more interest. We are already working with a number of existing clients, and many more companies that are in the process of joining and integrating with Switchboard to connect their supply chain. This clear pain point, strong solution, and promising customer traction meant we were also able to generate strong interest from investors.
Hugh, what are the next steps, how can businesses get in contact if they need a hand with their supply chains?
Hugh: If your business (or your suppliers/providers) could be benefit from fast, reliable, affordable integrations for your supply chain, then contact us at email@example.com
Our team will get in touch with you to talk through your business and how Switchboard can help.