The Great Supplier Debate

In a small tech start up, you will need to outsource or buy in some areas of your business or technology platform. Unfortunately, it is necessary to get the agility and speed that is required in a start up environment. You can’t do everything in house, and frankly, in some cases, why would you want to?

At PiggyBank short term loans we use a multitude of different suppliers for different elements of our business. For example one supplier provides our payout mechanism, one supplier provides our hosting, one supplier provides our SMS send, and so on and so forth.

At PiggyBank we split our potential suppliers into three categories when we are discussing which solution is best for us:

Known entities

These are suppliers that we have first hand experience of using or working with.

Recommendations

These are suppliers that one of our peers have used, have had a positive experience working with and have given us an introduction

Google Roulette

These are suppliers that we have found on Google.

Most of our suppliers tend to come from the first two categories, but we have had the odd gem through Googling. Google is supposed to deliver the most relevant search results after all 😉

But how do you know that your chosen supplier is the most fit for purpose for your business before you sign up with them? Well, unfortunately you can never know for sure. But there are a few things that you can do to see if they will cut the mustard:

  • Check their customer service- call and email. If they are slow to respond to a sales lead, chances are they will be slow to respond when you have a problem
  • Have a face to face meeting- although it is old fashioned, there is a lot to be said by meeting people face to face. But the face to face can always be over skype if you want to keep it techie.
  • Demo their solution- if they will let you, try before you buy. Is it fit for your purpose?
  • Ask the community- if it’s a new or unknown solution, ask for opinions in related forums. If you don’t get any valuable feedback, ask yourself if it’s worth the risk/reward.
  • Ask current customers- always always always ask current customers of the business for reviews. It is a very valuable box ticking exercise
  • Don’t sign a long contract unless you have to- long contracts mean you cant be agile if the supplier doesn’t meet your expectations. Not good for a start up
  • Don’t make decisions based purely on commercials
Author

Dan Ware

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PiggyBank Start Up Journey