We’ll cut to the chase: to the ordinary individual, procurement is not a sexy industry. It’s not cryptocurrency, does not let you plug in a VR headset, and will not fly you to the moon (yet). Though to Natasha Foster, the COO of Paid, a next-generation procurement automation platform, procurement is the next hot battleground for disruption. Paid enables small businesses to connect and work with large businesses, simplifying collaboration for all.
Paid’s mission excites us. This is why we are thrilled to back Natasha, her co-founder Tom Howsam, and the rest of the Paid team in their £2.2M raise, led by our friends at Crane Venture Partners. During their launch, we sat down with Natasha to pick her brain about Paid, COVID’s impact on supply chain, and her post-fundraising goals.
What excites you about supply chain and procurement?
At Paid, we are a procurement platform and that’s what we are doing today. But our big mission is to create equal opportunities for businesses of all sizes all over the world, giving everyone the opportunity to be successful. That mission is what I identify with.
“Big Businesses are big tankers, they move so slowly.”
Big businesses have loads of options available to them. They’ve got financial security. But they are big tankers, they move so slowly. And that’s your advantage as a small company. You can move and be nimble, you can grab opportunities when they come up, because it doesn’t take five committees and 25 people to make a decision. The idea behind Paid is to give both sides access to each other’s plus-points. We are enabling big companies to work with small, agile suppliers so they can be innovative. And we are giving small companies the ability to work with these keystone clients.
So yes, supply chain and procurement aren’t very sexy. But getting behind that mission, that is sexy, you know?
What was the point you knew this could become a venture-backed business?
When I met Tom, he had built the product already. I joined about a year in. He had built a product to solve problems for SMEs and freelancers. It was quite a one-sided way of looking at the world. What we realized when we started working together, and we spoke to big businesses, is that actually, the client side had the problem as much as the supplier side. This was a two-sided issue. Both sides had things to lose and things to gain by working better with each other. And that was when we were like, ‘oh, we can make this work for everyone’. And that’s what’s going to make it a billion-dollar business.
You’re currently managing teams across London and Teesside — how do you manage a fast-growth remote team?
Communication is key. You need to be 100% transparent. You need to keep the whole team updated in a way that you may not do when you’re sitting in an office together because you would filter by osmosis. You don’t get that general chatter when you’re in an office together so you have to be more proactive about that.
“Co-workers exist outside of work…This is a huge thing for our company ethos.”
So much about being a good team and working well together is not just about getting the job done. It’s about feeling comfortable with each other and knowing about each other’s personal lives. Co-workers exist outside of work. You have to be very conscious of that and this is a huge thing for our company ethos.
Tell me about the impact COVID has had on supply chain and procurement workflows.
I think there are two broad themes that COVID has shown big businesses who have complicated supply chains. COVID has shown us that it’s really important to have a good diversity in your supply chain. Most big enterprises historically have thought about consolidating longtail, trying to decrease the number of smaller suppliers so that it’s not that inefficient to work with them. COVID has shown them that they can’t do that. They need to have a diversity of suppliers. And they need the businesses that can move the most quickly and be most agile. They need access to those SMEs.
The other side of it is this concept of remote working and being able to do things on-the-go. Big enterprises have quite manual processes generally. You either need to be on-premise to do some of the work you need to do for procurement, or you need some form of complicated VPN access, all of which hike up the cost of working with those suppliers.
Without wanting to be too tongue and cheek, the impact of COVID has been quite useful for us to open enterprise’s eyes to the changes that need to be made. You need to be agile, you need to have access to diverse suppliers, and you need to be able to do all that from your mobile phone. That’s what we can offer them.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned over the past six months about the procurement industry?
Traditionally, procurement professionals have been seen as a blocker to buying. You get these jokes about procurement being the place where deals go to die. I don’t think we ever believed that, otherwise we wouldn’t be trying to hero the procurement function. But the kind of camaraderie and level of enthusiasm to do better in the procurement community has been amazing. It just goes to show, if you give people the opportunity to be innovative and transformational, then they will do that.
Paid just raised a stellar £2.2M seed round. What are your plans for the next six months?
Yes, we are in a really exciting phase now thanks to Seedcamp and Crane VC and our other investors like Techstars and other awesome angel investors. We have closed our round and are now hiring to support our growth. We are hiring developers because we have some big plans in the product roadmap. We are ramping up our sales process as well. And then we are building the customer service and operational team to be able to support those clients because that will ramp up really quickly.
Some hiring, some sales, and loads of tech developments. That will be the next six months for us. It’s really exciting, having spent quite a bit of lockdown on the fundraise. Lockdown 2.0 will be focused on this.
If you are interested in learning more about Paid or joining the team in redefining the procurement process, visit paid.co.uk.
Our continued dedication to be in your corner from the moment we sign that first cheque
Seedcamp Fund V is here. Yes, another VC fund launching another fund. We’re not going for gimmicks or saying we’re reinventing the wheel. We actually think the way we do things works pretty well. So, we’re standing by it and continuing to do more of the same – with some added firepower – as we launch Fund V, by far our biggest and most ambitious fund to date.
Seedcamp started out in 2007, we’re sure by now most of you know the backstory. A tiny ‘micro-fund’ coming out of those unknown European gates with 2.5MEuros in cash from a handful of trusting investors; limitless ambition and a belief that European entrepreneurs could, and should, have the chance to compete on a global scale. That same ambition and drive powers us today as we announce Seedcamp Fund V at £78M 13 years on. Perhaps the number 13 isn’t so unlucky after all!
Like many, we’ve had more than our fair share of issues when it comes to fundraising: economic recessions, Brexit, global pandemics – you name it, we’ve been through it. That’s why Fund V, more than 50% oversubscribed and raised in the midst of COVID-19, feels all the more special. It’s the first time we feel we genuinely haven’t had to fight tooth and nail to explain to investors why, by now, we know what we’re doing. Thankfully, the results from over a decade of work and over 1000 entrepreneurs we’ve supported can speak for themselves
Whether it’s believing early in a couple of guys from Estonian who stood on stage at Seedcamp Week in 2011 and set a £50 note on fire and went onto build a little known company you may have heard of, called TransferWise. Or that Romanian founder who many investors turned away because they failed to understand him or the market he was helping create but where we saw heaps of potential and now leads Europe’s first-cloud based decacorn, UiPath. Or the Irish duo behind Pointy who wanted to help independent retailers get online and in 2020 had their ambition fully validated in an acquisition by Google.
Seedcamp Fund V Fundraising Deck
We pride ourselves on being that first fund of choice for the people who are truly building the breakout businesses of tomorrow. Whether that’s Johnny Boufarhat, founder of Hopin – a platform many of you have likely spent A LOT of time on over the past 8+ months and who, yesterday, became our fourth unicorn – or Emi Gal, a second-time Seedcamp founder now building pioneering technology for early-cancer technology with Ezra.
What’s all the more special is these exceptional founders have put their trust back in us and the continued success of Seedcamp by investing in our new fund and our future founders. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have 80 members of the Seedcamp Nation joining us as investors in Fund V.
Alongside our founders, we’re proud to have the support of 100 of the world’s most impactful institutions, venture capitalists and angel investors. These include Legal & General, British Patient Capital, TIFF, making Seedcamp their first European VC investment, LGT, Vintage IP, Isomer Capital and Rabobank. We’re rejoined by leading Venture Capital funds such as Index, Atomico, Underscore, Draper Esprit and Venrex and are delighted to welcome new investors, Sequoia, and Northzone – co-investors in breakout company, Hopin. Along with a number of Seedcamp founders and angel investors: Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise), Daniel Dines (UiPath), Jeppe Rindom (Pleo), David Helgason (Nordic Makers/Unity) and Shakil Khan (Spotify)
Seedcamp is the sum of its people – we don’t call it the Seedcamp Nation for nothing. Now with well over 1,000 founders who’ve raised over $4bn in follow-on capital from all corners of the globe, the power of this micro-community is growing into a macro one.
To everyone who’s put their faith in us over the past 13 years and looking ahead for what’s to come, we thank you deeply. Now, let’s get to work!
Hiring the right candidate can seem like a herculean endeavor. You glance over hundreds of applications, interview a handful of individuals, and then are expected to choose the ideal fit. Given the speed and complexity of this process, particularly at the interview stage, it is no wonder that hiring frequently suffers from bias and bad decision-making.
Siadhal Magos and Shahriar Tajbakhsh recognized this problem first-hand. While making hiring decisions at Uber and Palantir, respectively, they observed that interviews are the most outcome-defining step in the recruitment process. Yet, they are subject to bias, especially when the employer has not been trained to lead rigorous interviews.
With this in mind, Siadhal and Shahriar founded Metaview, an Interview Intelligence Platform.
“Interviews are vital when building an exceptional team,” co-founder Siadhal Magos comments. “Being an effective interviewer is a highly-valued skill. But there is so little data available to leaders about these crucial moments.”
Having backed the team in 2019 alongside Fly Ventures and Village Global, we are delighted to see the launch of Metaview’s new product, Interview Metrics. By recording and automatically analysing interviews, the software helps employers access data on the consistency and rigor of their hiring process. Using this unique data, Metaview is able to identify interviews that are inconsistent and lacking rigor, which leave the process overly exposed to bad or biased decisions.
“With this new product, Talent leaders can finally start to understand what is happening in the thousands of hours of interviews taking place in their organization,” Siadhal explains. “Once issues with consistency or rigour have been identified, Metaview automatically starts providing personalized feedback to interviewers to help them get back on track.”
Since our investment, Metaview has recorded, transcribed, and analyzed tens of thousands of hours of interviews. Their current customers include Bulb, AngelList, Careem, Wave, and Stedi.
“The talented team at Metaview using AI to improve interviewing effectiveness is in the sweet spot,” our Venture Partner Stephen Allott explains. “Great people solving valuable problems using leading edge technology and striking the subtle balance between what the human does and what the machine does.”
We are excited about Metaview’s potential to transform hiring from both the applicant’s and employee’s perspective, making interviewing more fair and effective. If you would like to learn more about Interview Metrics and how it works within the Metaview platform, visit metaview.ai/interview-quality.
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