When you’re looking to make an impression in a new market, coming up with a first-of-its-kind technology is a great way to start.
Tradeshift, the San Francisco company whose open business network connects 800,000 buyers and suppliers across more than 190 countries, unveiled the world’s first B2B virtual assistant for business spending this week. The solution, Tradeshift Go, eliminates the tedium of requesting, approving, and processing business expenses. The virtual assistant uses a conversational UI to make interaction natural and easy, and its virtual card technology limits fraud, maintains transparency, and ensures administrative control. And courtesy of Tradeshift’s acquisition of chat-based travel assistant app, Hyper Travel, Tradeshift Go can also be used to tackle another business pain point: booking travel arrangements.
During a briefing with Tradeshift’s Sarika Garg, SVP/GM, network and apps, and John Eng, SVP, brand and marketing, the team explained how Tradeshift Go solves a major challenge for middle-sized businesses for whom most procurement solutions were “too heavy and inefficient.” Geared toward businesses with staffs between 50 and 2,000 employees, Tradeshift Go gives workers the ability to make business purchases via a pre-approved, single-use virtual credit card that is billed to a corporate card. The employee never sees the corporate card number, and the employer has 100% visibility in real-time on how much and what is being purchased. Compare this, Eng suggested, to the typical situation of the financial officer who doesn’t learn what company funds were actually spent until after they are spent.
Tradeshift Go is available for free at the iTunes store, with Android versions of the app “coming soon.”
Garg and Eng discussed how the solution was an example of how AI and machine learning can “transform age-old problems at work” into “consumer-grade experiences.” It also represents Tradeshift’s new focus on the challenges of medium-sized businesses. The team suggested that additional “skills” beyond travel booking could be added to the Tradeshift Go platform including legal, temporary labor/consultant hiring, and other areas. Tradeshift says it is actively working with partners to add these features to the platform in the future. “We are democratizing access to expertise and buying power of large companies,” Eng said. “(Tradeshift) is changing the landscape of what’s available (to middle market businesses).”
Early feedback has been positive. MyStartupCFO.com, which handles financing and accounting for hundreds of startups, is one of the ten companies piloting Tradeshift Go. “Being nimble and having transparency is important,” MyStartupCFO.com CEO Sandeep Shroff said. “Go gives us both and will save us a ton of time.”
Founded in 2009 and based in San Francisco, California, Tradeshift demonstrated its Instant Payments technology at FinovateEurope 2012 in London. The company has raised $174 million in total capital; its most recent investment was a $75 million capital infusion in June led by Data Collective. Also in June, Tradeshift announced that it was partnering with kompany to automate KYC and KYB verification. The company teamed up with Chinese taxation services firm, Baiwang, in March, the same month it was named to the Tech Tour 2016 Growth 50. Christian Lanng is co-founder and CEO.