The Taulia Interview: Markus Ament on Growth, Dynamic Discounting, and the Long Tail of the Supply Chain

Markus (Maex) Ament, Chief Product Officer at Taulia, had a virtual sit-down with the Spend Matters team to answer some questions we had for him about Taulia, dynamic discounting and the future of trade financing. Maex has big opinions and a big personality (and is not shy in front of a camera, as his “Most Remarkable Man in AP Automation – see below – will attest to). Read between the lines as you see what Maex has to say – Taulia is doing exceptionally well right now in the field and the Taulia philosophy is one that is being mirrored by many AP, procurement, and treasury heads we speak with.

Spend Matters: Are you really the most interesting man in AP?

Maex: Some may know me as the most remarkable man in AP. Some may know me as the “bearded one.” The rest know me as Chief Product Officer of Taulia. I, however, consider myself the most remarkable bearded one at Taulia.

Spend Matters: Give us a sense of where Taulia is today: number of customers, growth, typical penetration (and opportunity left) within customers, etc.

Maex: 2013 was an amazing year for us – from product development and evolution, to nearly doubling our company size and tripling our revenue. We ended 2013 with over 50 buying organizations in the Taulia network – all Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies. We continue to maintain one of the fastest growing buyer networks in the market, expanding our customer base by six to eight new customers per quarter, with deep penetration in multiple industries including Utilities, Food and Beverage, and Oil and Gas.

In addition to expanding our customer base, Taulia has focused on global growth with suppliers using our product in over 100 countries and in 10 different languages. While we continue to be headquartered in San Francisco, we recently opened a European headquarters in London, as well as have six additional offices across the globe.

We also signed our first “any ERP” customer, which opens up additional market opportunities that we hadn’t yet penetrated. In order to continually meet the needs of today’s organizations, we quickly realized our solution needed to integrate into all ERP systems, as it has done with SAP for the past three years.  We are excited to say that Taulia’s solution can now be deployed into any ERP environment, which is exciting as any company, regardless of their back-end system, can use Taulia.

Spend Matters: If you consider your core customer base in AP, procurement, treasury and the types of suppliers that it is intended to support, what is the ideal fit? Is this changing?

Maex: Originally, we sold our solution mainly within the AP and Finance space, primarily because our previous startup, Ebydos (now part of ReadSoft), focused on AP automation. We had hands-on, in-depth experience and knowledge in how these departments operated, the challenges they were facing, and the ways we could make their jobs easier. AP and Finance have always been some of our strongest supporters and we continue to have great success in working with them.

However, as the market has become more interested in supplier financing, we’ve had increasing requests for a more comprehensive supplier financing offering that moves beyond supply chain finance (SCF) and dynamic discounting, to meet the needs of the entire supply chain. SCF is great for the top 25-50 most strategic suppliers, and dynamic discounting is great for the mid to long tail of the supply chain, but we have come to realize that there can oftentimes be a gap in the middle. Hence, it became essential to add on to our dynamic discounting platform a tool that appeals not only to AP and Shared Services, but also to Treasury. This is why we’re announcing a very exciting extension to our offering next month that allows organizations to receive early payment discounts on invoices without affecting cash positions or DPO.

For procurement, we added offerings to the Taulia Business Exchange that would make it ideal for procurement teams looking for a complete P2P solution. Supplier adoption is always a barrier to e-invoicing, and now suppliers have a compelling reason to get on the platform, that is, getting paid faster. They no longer have to negotiate discounts on an invoice-by-invoice basis and can now benefit from a completely automated solution. Where deeper functionality is needed (we can’t possible do everything!), we partner with experts in their space, like our friends from Coupa.

Furthermore, as financing the entire supply chain becomes a strategic initiative for both CFOs and CPOs and organizations begin to familiarize themselves with the automation of early payment discounting, it’s going to greatly affect the way organizations think about partnering with their supply chain and become more of a priority.

In the next installment of this interview, we’ll cover Taulia’s approach to discounting and his perspective on the systems integration requirements of discounting solutions. In the meantime, we encourage you to check out our latest site, Trade Financing Matters, and a recent Spend Matters PRO research brief exploring all sides of the dynamic discounting opportunity.

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