Two months after the launch of JoCoBu at The Business Show, we ask Managing Director Kavita Cooper to tell us more about the new B2B platform for connecting buyers and suppliers of business products and services
1 Briefly describe what JoCoBu does
JoCoBu (Join, Collaborate and Buy) is a new business with big ambitions to support Buyers and Suppliers across the world. In our first phase, we have built an open and straightforward B2B supplier list to connect buyers with suppliers. We know cost is important and we also know businesses consider many other factors when buying goods and services. We therefore encourage our suppliers to share as much as possible including their social and ethical values i.e. social impact, environmental impact and whether they align to the UN sustainable development goals. The option to consume relevant content before buying has become more popular than ever; we offer suppliers the ability to upload podcasts, blogs, videos and, of course, client reviews. We also invite all our premium partners to podcast at our HQ.
2 When was JoCoBu launched and by whom?
JoCoBu was built to solve a problem for Novo-K and our clients (Novo-K is a procurement solutions company offering Procurement as a Service). As part of our procurement activity, we regularly search for new suppliers with innovative solutions. We needed a quicker and easier way to find and approach the right suppliers based on location, category, reviews, ethics and values. We also wanted the ability to bring together the requirements of our clients and leverage their overall spend to secure better deals, whilst also offering suppliers more business and building stronger relationships. Novo-K built and launched JoCoBu in May 2019 at The Business Show at the ExCeL London.
3 What is your target market?
We have global ambitions (the platform supports a number of currencies) and are focusing our efforts on building relationships with B2B businesses across 18 categories. We currently have suppliers registered in the UK, France, Portugal, India, Australia and China and are building local partnerships to grow our reach in South Africa, India, USA and Mainland Europe.
Our typical user would be a buyer, procurement professional or budget owner in a business. We would like to encourage all businesses (B2B), including social enterprises, to sign up, particularly those looking for an alternative sales channel or to boost their SEO.
4 How does JoCoBu differ from similar platforms?
We offer an alternative to search engines, by not ranking our suppliers according to advertising spend but by category, location, values and client reviews. We focus heavily on ethical and social values, as we have found that buyers want more than just low cost – they want to trust an organisation and ensure business values align. JoCoBu is open and free to use for buyers; they don’t share any personal information and have direct contact with suppliers.
5 How do you measure the ethics of different suppliers?
Today, we are asking suppliers to be open about their CSR, what they are planning and what has been achieved. As we progress, we will be requesting evidence of certifications or standards and will be building technology to showcase these to our buying community.
6 How is JoCoBu funded?
JoCoBu is currently funded by Novo-K and suppliers that sign up to be included on the platform (supplier packages start from as little as £9 per month). In the future we may look to investment to grow and develop the platform.
7 How many suppliers have you signed up so far?
Since our launch, more than 150 suppliers have signed up.
8 How many purchasers are using the platform?
One of the benefits of JoCoBu is the open search, which allows buyers to access the suppler listings without the need to sign up. Although we don’t capture purchaser numbers, we are seeing a 100% increase in unique visitors week-on-week.
9 What feedback have you had?
Buyers tell us they enjoy the open access and the ability to search for a supplier based on their requirements. Suppliers have positively fed back on the opportunity to promote their business directly to a ‘ready to buy’ audience. Our clients have awarded contracts and business to suppliers on JoCoBu.
10 How do you plan to develop the platform in the next year or two?
We plan to continue our expansion into different global regions and, in the next 12 months, we will be building intelligent technology to support collaborative buying with a goal to become the alternative marketplace for B2B purchasing.