Mike Nevens serves as Chairman of the Board NetApp; Board Member Ciena; Senior Advisor to Permira; and previously the Technology Practice Global Leader for McKinsey & Co.
This conversation took place on November 6, 2020.
Q. Mike you had a long career at McKinsey and you’ve been very active with software start-ups. What drew you to Inxeption as an advisor?
A. I’ve known this team for a long time and from the first demo the idea of an infrastructure for B2B online commerce just clicked for me. The understanding that Farzad and the team have of the challenges in B2B commerce is both deep and broad. There have been lots of efforts to deal with helping companies sell online, but they’ve been overly simplified. Other companies have only solved pieces of it. A manufacturing company needs a relationship with a partner to work through complexities and also features like blockchain security. Inxeption is a game-changer for companies who can benefit from having a fully digital channel. B2B ecommerce, or what Inxeption calls I-commerce, is so much more compelling than going to Amazon to buy these services.
Q. At McKinsey, you’ve seen big software integrations up close. How does Inxeption’s approach compare?
A. I had a meeting recently with two brand-name system integrators working with a company I’m involved with. What it boiled down to was that we were $30 million into what was supposed to be a two-month, two-million-dollar implementation. You ask: What’s going on? After two years, nobody had the total view of the problem.
What Inxeption’s done is remarkable. Mark Moore is a brilliant systems architect. They’re way ahead of what’s going on, so much so that sometimes they explain the concept of this platform surrounded by key services to a potential customer and the company says “Oh you can’t do this. You’d need magic.”
It’s not magic. They can do this. They are the real deal.
Q. What is the ‘total view’ other solutions lack?
A. They really do solve what I’d call the whole problem. It would be easier to explain if the company was just, “We can help you get your products online faster.” Yes, they can, but that doesn’t solve the whole problem of industrial commerce. There’s logistics, financing, configuring the system to work with what you’ve got. It’s all important.
What’s just as important is that there is a phrase that is kicking around VCs right now – low code. Inxeption’s approach is really low code. It’s much simpler than anything we have seen before. And yet thanks to blockchain there is security and accountability.
Q. One of Inxeption’s messages is that it can enable incremental transformation. How does that play out for customers?
A. I think customers think about buying software in several steps.
(1) I need something specific right now--like to automate order-entry (2) What are the products that do that and also meet other needs? (3) What about risk-reduction; what is likely to break if I do this? (4) What’s it going to cost?
Inxeption looks good at all these decision-points.
The software can automate a function like order-entry or create an online store and solve a need that is obvious to a customer. You aren’t going to need to put out an RFP for that; that’s a straightforward decision.
They have the technology to integrate the first goal into an existing system but then add other capabilities and services.
The third step may actually be Inxeption’s greatest advantage against most other platforms out there. It’s not a big distracting two-month implementation that turns into two years for 10X the cost. It doesn’t require ripping everything else you’re doing out first.
Finally, the pricing model based on transaction value means they have the most to gain by making you successful. They drive revenues and take a percentage of that growth.
Q. What is the best use case for Inxeption’s model?
It’s pretty broadly applicable. But I also see a use case that I think will develop into a massive business. Take a company like Boeing with thousands of suppliers. If you could put your whole supply chain on the Inxeption platform and manage ordering through that portal it would streamline and rationalize what can be a very fragmented process. Lots of opportunity to take cost and friction out of that process.
Q. What do you see as the next frontier in I-commerce?
A. Fintech is a critical piece of this. When I can integrate purchasing and financing and insurance that’s a big advantage. Getting a credit check into the actual check-out process is big. That’s the step today that makes transactions harder. When you’re selling to smaller companies, you really need to know their credit worthiness before you accept an order. The team is putting those elements in place right now. It’s very exciting.