Proovide: Steve Pritchard

Proovide's founder explains how an early challenge helped the business find its USP and why being a lean start-up means they can concentrate on customers and not investors

Name: Steve Pritchard
Company name: Proovide
Location: Yorkshire and the Humber 
Date launched: 12/02/15
Website: www.proovide.com

Tell us what your business does:

Proovide matches companies looking for services or products to the best suppliers available, applying an advanced algorithm to score each provider using over 140 different third party metrics.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

The business idea came from a personal business struggle to find good suppliers; it was taking me so much valuable time to research, evaluate and short list potential companies and I believed that with all of the data available, we could make this process more efficient and transparent for customers and also deliver a cost effective channel for suppliers to find new customers.

How did you know there was a market for it?

There are already firms helping companies to find freelancers and remote workers so the market is an established one, but by covering multiple sectors we are able to cover a wider range products and services.

What were you doing before starting up?

I have worked for various blue chip digital marketing agencies for over 10 years, and in 2012 setup my own boutique media agency covering a variety of campaigns including SEO, web development and social media.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Definitely, since starting my first company in 2012 I have continuously challenged myself to become a more rounded founder. The experiences and skills obtained during this time would not have been possible if I have been working for someone else.

How did you raise the money?

By being self-employed I was able to increase my workload, which helped me to build up the savings I needed to start-up the company and so this is a self-funded venture. We are developing a lean start-up approach to the business, allowing us to retain control and focus on our customers rather than investors.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

Suppliers pay a monthly subscription to gain access to customers looking for their services or products. Additionally we have plans to further expand the platform, which will allow us to offer more solutions whilst remaining with a simple subscription model.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

When we initially developed the platform we didn’t incorporate a ranking system, as such we struggled to get any customers to submit their project. We had to develop a reason for them to do so as though it’s completely free, there was no benefit to the customer.

By developing the score we built the reason and this is our unique selling point as the platform.

What was your first big breakthrough

Once the ranking system was live we had our first 10 projects submitted, this was a great achievement and confirmed that the scoring was the right feature to develop. Since then, we have had over 200 projects and suppliers sign up, which has been fantastic.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Learn as much as you can about marketing and PR, and try to do as much of it yourself. Having already developed these skills I was able to build the website and brand on a small budget, something I just couldn’t of done with a third party provider.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

We will hopefully have a presence in Europe by then and be preparing to expand further afield, such as into the USA and Australia.

I want Proovide to be using over a thousand different metrics within the ranking algorithm, allowing us to build an enterprise level procurement dashboard that helps both suppliers and customers.

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