Coupa Roadshow London – Fascinating and Random Observations

As we mentioned last week, the Coupa Roadshow hit London last Thursday. Despite clashing with the CIPS annual conference, it drew a good crowd – around 100 people, and standing room only certainly for the opening sessions. That was a mix of customers, potential customers, plus some of Coupa’s technology and consulting partners (Xoomworks, KPMG, Andomise, etc.)

So here are some key points of interest from the morning.

  • Rob Bernshteyn, the top man at Coupa, has the gift of sounding both smart and sincere – a surprisingly difficult trick, as many CEOs regularly demonstrate.  And his top team is getting stronger all the time, on both sides of the Atlantic. Alex Kleiner now has a whole team of good people working for him and alongside him in Europe, with strong backgrounds. And US based Amit Duvedi, the new VP of Business Strategy, who spoke about how to build the business case, is ex McKinsey and SAP and another impressive addition to the team.
  • The Coupa figures were impressive again. Platform use up 250%; renewal rates of 95%; 100% growth in “bookings” (not sure I got that bit), $1.5B a month going through the platform.  I did get a couple of minutes with Rob B and asked him whether he was tempted by a float of the business. “Don’t see the point at the moment” was the essence of his reply. He suggested that floats and perhaps any subsequent fancy valuation could be distracting from building a sustainable business and serving customers well – and I believe him (it’s that sincerity thing again)!
  • Raja Hammoud, VP of Product Management, was flying on from London to the Lebanon, to surprise her parents and other family with a flying visit (she lives in California now). We hope that went well for her and the family. The Coupa roadshow has been and is going all over the place in North America, and even to Australia in November, so there was a slight air amongst some of their team of “if it's Friday it must be.. . so, where the heck are we today”?!
  • Hammoud spoke about the development path for 2014. There’s more to come on travel integration; on advanced invoicing and services procurement; inventory management (that’s a bit different to anything Coupa currently offer); supplier engagement; dynamic discounting, and “bringing social to procurement”.  That’s likely to include supplier ratings, buyer to buyer interaction and some other pretty sexy stuff.  That’s also, in the round, one heck of an ambitious programme – but we wouldn’t bet against them achieving it based on past hsitory.
  •  Jason Smith, leader of KPMG’s private sector procurement advisory group spoke briefly - it was interesting to hear him say that his team are now basically recommending Coupa to clients without suggesting they go through a full product evaluation. Quite brave and unusual for a consulting firm, as those evaluations can be very lucrative for them! And a big vote of confidence in Coupa of course.
  • I enjoyed speaking to Gavin Johnston, Finance and Procurement VP EMEA at NEC Europe, who gave a client presentation. We’ll feature that in more detail shortly, but one notable point was the speed at which he progressed through the evaluation process. Having seen some selection and implementation processes take quite literally years, NEC managed a structured and professional three month selection process, signed the contract with Coupa on Christmas Eve 2012, started implementation on January 15th and went live on March 28th! OK, it's not the full Coupa suite but pretty remarkable anyway.

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