Golub Capital’s Peter Fair interviewed Jonathan Spira, CFO at BROWZ.
BROWZ has developed a solution to achieve high supplier compliance through innovative patented technology, value-added services and best practices. A key differentiator is the software’s configurability. It enables us to tackle each client’s specific risk management strategy, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. The framework also allows for rapid expansion: BROWZ has managed to regularly be first to market with new products and solutions, such as mobile applications.
Successful enterprise software solutions have powerful intellectual property and offer a value-added service using a signature approach. In our segment, SaaS providers must have deep expertise in the domain in which they offer qualification services, an intimate understanding of their customers’ pain points and the ability to advise suppliers on how to adopt best practices using cost-effective processes.
New entrants in the space must overcome the technological challenges of building a quality solution. They must also establish credibility with large, conservative multinational clients. BROWZ derives considerable advantages from its existing network of client relationships which have a high percentage of shared suppliers. This network lowers barriers to adoption and TCO (total cost of ownership) for new clients—in many cases, ones that already have a meaningful percentage of their suppliers registered with us. New competitors would not have this advantage.
We see considerable international growth opportunities. We’re also well-positioned for dramatic growth in manufacturing, chemicals, transportation and energy.
For a company like BROWZ, successful global expansion is critical to providing high service levels for its predominantly multinational client base.
One key challenge in global expansion is managing multiple, divergent labor, tax and business regulations. Another is establishing a cohesive company culture across multiple regional satellite operations. It’s also essential to ensure strong communications with varied constituents—including personnel, professional advisors, vendors, suppliers and government officials— that operate across time zones. Finally, marketing messaging must be localized, not just translated.
Tech companies have identified the Silicon Slopes’ unique combination of a large, high quality labor pool and a strong local venture capital and private equity community. This extraordinary location also features a reasonable cost of living and offers a myriad of year-round recreation options and is a gateway to five national parks (more than any other state, except California and Alaska).
However, the rapid influx of tech employers over the past few years is fueling growing competition for talent, driving up wages and extending hiring timelines.
One challenge is hiring key talent, including leadership, at the necessary pace to sustain growth. This hiring often needs to take place before you need it. Leadership and key personnel must cooperate and understand the unique challenges of rapid growth, such as high stress.
Another critical challenge is securing ongoing access to growth capital.
Finally, maintaining focus on evolving client needs and process improvement is key. It’s a fine line to walk between implementing continually enhanced controls and more effective processes without simultaneously creating burdensome bureaucracy.
My first job, at age 16, was as a sales person at a Joseph Magnin department store in Los Angeles. I learned many valuable lessons: the importance of customer service, professionalism, punctuality, dependability, sales and persuasion. I also developed a lasting appreciation for team diversity that has stayed with me throughout my career.