What We’ve Learned From Building The Largest North American B2B Marketplace


By Karthik Sridharan  |  May 03, 2019

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Six years ago, my co-founder Rui and I recognized a major structural problem with our nation’s economy. Small and medium-sized businesses were stuck in an awkward no man's land when it came to discovering the best suppliers. They neither had the resources of Fortune 500 enterprises to have dedicated purchasing teams nor could they avail of the same tools and websites that individual consumers had to make the best purchasing decisions. We saw that something had to be done- someone had to change the status quo and help businesses discover the best suppliers. The inevitability of change was powerful and undeniable. That’s why we started Kinnek.

 

Over the past six years, we’ve been hard at work making that original vision come to fruition. We’ve built North America’s largest B2B marketplace, and we’re not slowing down anytime soon. We’ve worked with hundreds of thousands of business owners, handled billions of dollars in quotes, and have analyzed millions of data points throughout our journey thus far. We’ve expanded to dozens of industries, and worked with businesses in every single US state and Canadian province. And surprisingly, at every step of the way, we noticed that businesses were encountering the same issue again and again:

 

There just isn’t a good way for businesses to evaluate the trustworthiness and reputation of suppliers before working with them.

 

As we built our marketplace and we facilitated more and more quotes between suppliers and their prospective customers, the more we saw that those customers craved information that just wasn’t available on suppliers’ websites or in the quotes themselves. It became increasingly apparent that this lack of objective reputation information about suppliers wasn’t just a secondary concern. If we wanted to truly help businesses discover the best suppliers and accomplish Kinnek’s mission, we knew we also had to help businesses evaluate the reputation and trustworthiness of suppliers. It was a daunting challenge—but luckily, we had at our disposal an unparalleled source of B2B learnings- Kinnek’s own network.

 

Kinnek’s network is comprised of hundreds of thousands of businesses, and every month thousands more join, each with the intent of discovering and choosing the best suppliers. That’s a lot of purchasing activity- and it’s provided Kinnek with a treasure trove of learnings about what businesses look for when choosing suppliers. To put it another way, our marketplace has helped us learn the factors that are critical for business reputation. And we’ve taken those learnings and created our most exciting product ever- Kinnek Reputation. It’s the culmination of years of blood, sweat, and data.

 

So what exactly are these learnings that power Kinnek Reputation? Well, here are a few of the more fascinating findings:

  • Businesses are very hesitant to trust unverified claims on suppliers’ own websites. They crave third-party validation of suppliers’ claims.
  • Businesses are often as interested in seeing a supplier’s awards, certifications, press, and organizational affiliations as they are in seeing the supplier’s product information.
  • Business owners want information about suppliers in a standardized format- they find it helpful for comparing and evaluating suppliers. Remember, they’re extremely busy people with not a lot of time to waste.
  • Businesses want to see verified reviews from identifiable customers that they can trust have actually done business with the supplier. Having a collage of logos on a supplier’s website is simply not trust-inducing.
  • Businesses look for a demonstration of industry expertise. Not just claiming you’re an expert, but showing it in a concrete way.

 

These powerful learnings highlight that businesses do not stop their evaluation process once they reach a supplier’s website or receive a quote from a supplier. In fact, that’s just the beginning. And unfortunately for everyone involved, businesses are usually looking for the type of reputation information that can never be found on a supplier’s own website. This is what drove the development of Kinnek Reputation. We’ve created a state-of-the-art company profile that helps B2B suppliers emphasize the most critically-important components of their reputation. Kinnek Reputation helps everyone in the business world- suppliers get to control their online reputation and strengthen their trustworthiness in the eyes of prospective customers. And businesses get to take advantage of the information in those profiles to learn more about suppliers and evaluate their trustworthiness more effectively than ever before.

 

 

 

Karthik Sridharan is co-founder & CEO of Kinnek.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he was formerly a Researcher at AQR Capital Management. He’s passionate about helping small businesses, breakfast cereal, the Utah Jazz, and mangoes.

If you’re a small business that wants to learn more about how Kinnek Reputation can help you learn more about a supplier, or if you’re a supplier that sells to businesses and wants to learn more about how you can use Kinnek Reputation to build trustworthiness among your customer base, email us at questions@kinnek.com or call us at (800) 784–3151. We’d love to chat more!

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