You would never see a construction site without safety helmets, a warehouse without trolleys, or a restaurant without cutlery.
These things are always found where they belong, but they don’t just appear without someone who sources hard for them behind the scenes.
Procurement in any business is invisible to ordinary consumers like you and me, and we might imagine that it’s as simple as a trip we make to the supermarket, or an online shopping-spree.
Well, it’s not.
Logan Tan learned this when he shifted from a corporate banking job to managing finance and procurement at a local construction company.
His background may have given him strength in finance, but it didn’t prepare him to deal with such a painfully archaic routine.
I realised that even with [our] advancements in technology, procurement in business was still pretty much an antiquated process.Logan Tan, Co-founder of Eezee.sg
It was so unbearable it even pushed Logan to decide he would “give up the comfort and security of corporate life to spend the rest of [his] career [building a solution]”.
A Job In Procurement Really Trains Your Patience
Just how complicated is it for businesses to get ahold of the tools and items they need?
We don’t know, so we got a better understanding of the problem through Logan’s eyes.
First things first, an employee handling purchasing must find the product they’re looking for.
That alone is already frustrating when not all suppliers have digitised their products yet. Even those that can be found online usually don’t provide full visibility of important product specs and prices.
“Chances are that more than 80% of the time when researching a product on a supplier’s website, you will be greeted by a pesky ‘enquire now’ button,” Logan says.
Rather than displaying details upfront, Logan feels that hiding them “serves little purpose”, and just adds an extra layer before reaching the purchase decision.
This is especially cumbersome when purchasing agents are expected to do the due diligence of sourcing for three quotations from different suppliers before making a final selection.
A typical civil engineering project will have procurement requirements of more than 300 products. Imagine emailing and calling up three vendors for every product, how much time will that take?Logan Tan, Co-founder of Eezee.sg
There’s also the extensive paperwork that goes between suppliers and buyers, including quotations, purchase orders and invoices.
“Sometimes, entire project pipelines rely on the timely delivery of these official business documents,” he adds.
Even internally, the nightmare of paperwork continues.
Employees can’t just choose, buy and go—they have to create purchase requests that must be approved by a manager, often with a physical signature.
“All in all, the entire procurement process is inefficient and costs businesses a lot of time and money.”
What If It Could Be As ‘Eezee’ As Shopping On Amazon?
Sometimes, the best solutions are the ones that are simplest.
Shoppers love the ease of browsing multiple brands, categories and products on a single platform when they use online marketplaces.
The idea of letting many sellers list on one shopping site is nothing new—Logan simply decided it was time to bring the same benefit into the business-to-business (B2B) space.
In 2017, he created Eezee.sg, which he describes as “an Amazon-like marketplace for businesses”.
He says, “Eezee.sg was born to help streamline and automate some of the processes of procurement, which include aligning product information, streamlining the approval process, and reducing human errors.”
Businesses can specify the budget they’ve set for an item for the year, and the website will display suppliers who carry the product at a suitable price.
At a glance, buyers can compare products from various suppliers, with prices and specs all listed clearly.
However, they can still contact individual suppliers to seek quotations if they would like to negotiate further.
Once they’ve chosen a supplier to buy from, all they need to do is select the amount, arrange a delivery, and check out online.
Instead of people manually filling out purchase orders, seeking approval, and receiving invoices, everything is settled by the platform which automatically links the buyer’s purchase back to their own enterprise solution.
A Bumpy Road To Assembling The Dream Team
While he’s out there making the world a little simpler, Logan’s journey as a founder wasn’t trouble-free.
He first embarked on this project with a group of friends in early 2016, but even before their launch, Eezee’s team was already slashed from five members to “a lonely two”.
“When we incorporated the business, we were working on it part-time as we all had our full-time jobs,” he shares.
As a founder who believes commitment is a “key criteria in building a good business”, Logan hoped the whole team would soon be able to put 100% of their time and effort into Eezee.
But as life would have it, each of them was going through different seasons with their own priorities, such as getting married or buying a house.
Due to unmatched levels of commitment, they agreed to go their separate ways.
The days that followed were tough for Logan and his then-Chief Operations Officer (COO) Darius Ong, as they were left without even a tech person who could complete the platform’s development.
We constantly battled with the thought of dropping Eezee for good. But we were reluctant to because deep in our hearts we both saw and understood Eezee’s potential.Logan Tan, Co-founder of Eezee.sg
Both Logan and Darius were graduates of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and they decided to return to the school’s student incubator, The Sandbox, to seek guidance.
They were introduced to software developer Jasper Yap and UX designer Terence Goh, who hit it off with them right away.
Two weeks after Logan pitched his idea to them, Jasper and Terence joined him full-time in July 2017, and it only took them till end September 2017 to turn Eezee.sg into reality.
Although Darius left the team shortly after, they also saw the addition of Julian Siew, who now fills the COO role and handles Eezee’s human resources.
Through the ups and downs, Logan learned the importance of having the right people beside him, who are equally committed to reaching the same goals.
Bootstrapping With S$30K, No Salary For Founders
In a previous interview with e27, Logan shared that the Eezee team bootstrapped “with just S$30,000”.
The co-founders didn’t draw a salary when they started out, in order to sustain the company’s cashflow and hire more manpower to support them instead.
In the beginning, they struggled to generate interest among suppliers who were still pretty comfortable doing things the old way.
“After many rejections, we took time to listen to their [concerns] and derive new ways to onboard them,” Logan said.
Each time they brought a new supplier onto the platform, it required a lot of time and effort to break down their layers of bureaucracy.
But they eventually hit the right notes with suppliers, which brought their onboarding success rate up to 90%.
On the customer front, they worked hard to make sure each individual product would rank well on Google’s search engine optimisation (SEO) so that they could be easily discovered.
In time, this turned into a (sort of) happy problem, when the incoming traffic to Eezee.sg became too massive for its old code base to handle.
Of course, at the time, this was the company’s “worse nightmare”, as the website repeatedly went down throughout the week, and caused major inconvenience to its clients.
“The team was working around the clock to refactor the entire code base,” Logan says.
From A Single Order Of Tape, To Multi-Million Dollar Contracts
Two years on, Logan still freshly remembers Eezee’s first transaction was a sale of transparent tape on 10 October 2017.
Just one month after that, they already gathered a host of suppliers and wholesalers to list 10,000 products on their platform.
This has since tripled to over 30,000 products, provided by close to 700 suppliers in 2019.
“We are quite pleased with Eezee’s growth to date and we are currently the largest B2B industrial procurement marketplace [in Singapore],” says Logan.
Among more than 7,000 local business accounts that procure through Eezee.sg, they’ve served big names like Rolls-Royce, Razer, Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore Police Force.
“We have been awarded long-term, multi-million dollar contracts with large corporates in the past six months, and we intend to scale that up.”
Logan also shares that they have their eyes on their first overseas market, Indonesia, where they’re already seeing “a growing number of clients”.
In 2018, he previously named Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia as three markets he wanted to enter.
While we have identified three countries to expand to, it was apparent that we had to scale at a pace that we can manage, as we are mindful that expanding to new markets has its risks.Logan Tan, Co-founder of Eezee.sg
Eezee was awarded a “six-figure” grant by Enterprise Singapore, as well as raised an undisclosed sum of seed funding from Insignia Ventures this year to bolster their ambitions.
As they pave their way forward, they will be working on a new feature to let corporate clients connect directly with suppliers and check on stock availability in real-time.
Improvements like these will help Eezee towards their goal of becoming the first marketplace in Southeast Asia to support “convenient and seamless business trade in the maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) industry”.
If you’re a business owner looking for a simpler procurement solution, check out Eezee.sg.
Featured Image Credit: Eezee