The first six months of the Pulse Marketplace journey has certainly flown by. Since September, the founding team and vision has now been enhanced through the addition of new team members, clients, advisors, product priorities and lots of discussion! Armed with a clear initial vision, we began a series of over 50 one-to-one interviews with senior executives from Asset Management, FinTech, Digital Marketing & IT Services. There was very loud agreement from these sessions that the current way of doing B2B procurement is highly inefficient resulting in lengthy buying cycles and huge costs.
And there was also general positivity for our vision of how to resolve this problem. Indeed over 20 companies have so far signed up to become members of our inaugural Pulse User Group to help guide & support our product evolution. In November, we took their feedback onboard and put pen to paper to produce a set of early product wireframes. We workshopped these with 13 of our User Group members in a series of four 1.5-hour sessions (2 buyer & 2 vendor). These provided some very powerful insights which have driven the immediate product roadmap priorities.
In particular, 3 key core areas have jumped to the top of the Product Queue:
Since the start of 2021, we have been engaged in our first, “seed” funding round & flush from early successes, we have now begun to build out the team, adding UI/UX designers, developers, QA, marketing & client service resources. By March, we’ll be eleven employees and can see the good folks at Coupa & SAP Ariba already quaking in their boots!! We have also now turned the sod of our new product, and our developers are building out the first version. In February, we will be inviting the User Group members to engage with our first product prototype, with a view to getting early feedback.
Our goal is to have an Alpha version of the product available in Q1 and then in Q2, we hope to generate the first little bit of early revenue. In so doing we will finally put paid to our Four-Pre’s - “pre-product, pre-client, pre-revenue & pre-investment”, and begin in earnest the next chapter!
I am very pleased to welcome you to our second ever Pulse Marketplace User Group newsletter. I would like to start by thanking those that responded so positively to the first newsletter and to those who signed up to our first ESG working group.
This month we are very excited to introduce the first Pulse prototype. The growing product team has put a lot of effort into this and we are very eager to get your feedback. The prototype focuses on providing functionality specifically for the vendor community within our marketplace. We have included a short video later in the newsletter to introduce it and would like to invite you to participate in a 30 mins hands-on workshop next week, where we will measure user responses.
This month I am delighted that we can introduce three new recruits to the Pulse team. Tim Murphy has joined us as Chairman, and will bring years of financial services, corporate finance, and general start-up know-how to support our senior team. And Nina Krstičević and Cathal O’Shea have joined the product & client service teams respectively, and both are repeat offenders, having worked with one or more founders in a past life!
Fresh from completing our seed funding round, I would also like to thank and welcome our new investors to the Pulse journey. It was very heartening indeed that we ended up 90% oversubscribed after just 4 weeks. Many of our investors have significant experience and extensive networks, and we look forward to working with them and benefiting from their support in the months ahead.
Finally, we have an update from the inaugural Pulse ESG working group, which was held on 18 February, and which promises to provide a dynamic forum for our clients and the industry more broadly to lead and embrace all things ESG.
With ESG at the heart of our business, we are proud to have successfully launched our industry-leading Pulse ESG User Group. Our membership covers large and medium sized asset managers, insurers, Regtech and risk management firms. Our ethos is around idea sharing in an open, honest and trusted environment.
We have deliberately kept the user group to under 10 members (for now), as the initial focus is to define the scope, purpose and structure of the group.
Our first session was refreshing, as challenges, ideas and much more were openly shared within the group. Each member shared their specific interests in ESG from their corporate roles and how there is a lack of standardisation and approach to ESG across the industry, With ESG being as wide as it is deep, it is no easy task to define a single topic to focus on, however, consensus was reached that the group will share their specific ESG topics. These topics will then be voted on to identify the first topic for the group.
The key themes that the group discussed are summarised as follows:
'We have a really good market structure basis in the US and globally to build upon. We don't need to build a new market structure. But there's a lot of work that's going to have to be done. Every indication is that the Biden administration is going to be pursuing work in that area just as we've seen regulators in Europe and other jurisdictions do.'Kenneth Bentsen, president and CEO of Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA)
Firms who wish to express an interest in joining the ESG working group can contact John Dowdall.
Another month on and we're delighted to welcome three more experts to our team and Pulse.
A Boston emigrant in Dublin, Tim has a long career in financial services, including in senior executive positions at IBT (now State Street), BNY Mellon and DMS Governance. More recently, Tim has focussed on corporate finance and investing in & supporting start-up fintech firms. As our new Chairman, Tim is looking forward to challenging the senior team at Pulse and helping them to build a truly scalable, global success. As an avid sports enthusiast, Tim is a loyal fan of his home-town teams of all stripes.
A Corkonian stranded in Dublin, Cathal joins older brother, Michael for the 2nd time, having previously worked with him in Delta Index. Cathal is a bit of a “start-up junkie”; he has worked at several smaller firms, including financial markets trading firm, Aldabra, and is very eager to roll up his sleeves at Pulse and to ensure our clients have a loud voice always in what we do! He likes playing football, watching movies and has a new passion for all things Greek, fresh from recent nuptials to his Greek bride, Petra! Top of their list, once Covid allows, is to get to Greece for their deferred wedding celebration.
Former Dublin resident for many years, Nina has moved back to her roots and is currently living in the city of Osijek, Croatia. Nina has worked with RegTech firm, CSS initially as a client service analyst and then as a Project Manager, where she was mentored by our own John Ellis. Passionate about innovation and creative work (from big things such as building the Pulse Marketplace platform to making her own furniture and decorations). A keen cook who likes nothing more that baking and eating chocolate cake :). Nina also loves to sing, dance and play, but only because she has a 7 month old baby.
Nina previously worked with both John’s and Michael at CSS and is really looking forward to re-joining them in this exciting journey and creating a product that everyone will love.
It has been a very exciting experience over the past 8 months or so, discovering with your help, what your pain points are around business-to-business procurement and tendering of services, and where we can focus our efforts to best effect in addressing these.
Our vision for the Pulse Marketplace is to make simple, intuitive, and efficient, the process whereby businesses engage with other businesses to buy and sell services.
In doing this, we see a need to produce three products/services in one:
Today, we would like to share with you, our now 20+ user group of early adopters, exclusive access to an early prototype of the Vendor Console.
The video below shows some highlights from the prototype, which specifically covers the Vendor Console, the part of the Pulse Marketplace where a vendor can manage their proposals, their Pulse profile, and critically the repository of assets (documents, answers to RFP questions, marketing materials, etc.) that allows them to respond quickly to tender opportunities, both “on Pulse” or to export for use off the platform.
And we are looking for User Group members to participate in a 30-minute user-experience workshop next week. This will be fun, first hands-on interaction with our new product; no expertise required. In this session, we will use tracking software to follow your progress as you complete a number of “missions” in trying to use the prototype. This will provide invaluable information on how well we are doing in our core mission to provide an intuitive, simple user experience, and where we need to improve. If you would be willing to participate, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign-up for the 30 min UX workshop next week, where we will be taking our User Group through the prototype.
It is with great pleasure that we have managed to secure an industry stalwart as our new Chairman. With extensive experience in financial services and building start-up's that fly, we welcome Tim Murphy to the Pulse team.
I’m delighted to introduce myself as the latest addition to a very exciting team here at Pulse Marketplace. And I am very much looking forward to working closely with the team in my role as Chairman.
I first came to know two of the Pulse founders, John Dowdall and Michael O’Shea, while doing some consulting work for them at their previous entrepreneurial venture, Silverfinch, which was part of the MoneyMate Group. It was evident then, as it is now again at Pulse, that they had no shortage of ambition. Since the successful sale of MoneyMate and John and Michael’s subsequent exit, I have followed very closely their progress, in particular over the past 9 months, as they took the embryo of an idea and turned it into something that has now gathered considerable momentum. I have since met John Ellis and the rest of the team and am very excited and impressed by the prospects to build something very special here.
My background is in financial services – I began my career at EY in Boston auditing Banks and other financial services firms, then joined the financial services industry in 1994 when I took a role with IBT, now part of State Street. I moved to Ireland with IBT 24 years ago in April, then soon joined BNY Mellon to run its then joint venture with AIB. During my 15 years at BNY Mellon, I held several senior positions within the Irish and European operations. Since departing BNY in 2012, I have been involved in corporate finance consulting and working as an Independent Director for several firms. In 2015, I joined some former colleagues from my BNY Mellon days at DMS Governance, where, as COO and CFO, I helped them prepare for global expansion and transformation into a leading third-party Manco, culminating in a successful refinance in 2019. I continue my corporate finance and board work today, along with investing in early stage fintech and regtech ventures.
I volunteer my time as a board member of The Social Care Workers Registration Board in Ireland, and in governance roles at Basketball Ireland, where I was a board member for 6 years. Despite my 24-year absence, I remain a loyal fan of Boston sports teams, particularly, the New England Patriots, and despite his change in teams, cheered Tom Brady onto his seventh Super Bowl victory a few weeks ago.
We asked the pulse team for the one key stand-out from the last six months and one key future activity they are looking forward to seeing:
LOOKING BACK: 3 guys agreeing on a new business venture after exploring and discounting various options.
LOOKING FORWARD: Welcoming our 100th firm on to the platform in 2022 and being voted best place to work by our people.
LOOKING BACK: Remembering the evalution of the vision through engagements in validation sessions & workshops with member firms.
LOOKING FORWARD: Seeing the industry change through the smart use of technology to make doing business easier and more intuitive for all.
LOOKING BACK: One highlight was the day we held four workshop sessions with 13 User Group members; 6 hours in total on Zoom!! But great to hear the enthusiastic feedback on our initial product wireframe & the views for how we should prioritise our efforts going forward.
LOOKING FORWARD: I look forward to the day, hopefully not too far away, that a client manages end-to-end an RFP for the first time on Pulse.
LOOKING BACK: Day one being blown away with the vision and scale of opportunity the Marketplace could offer.
LOOKING FORWARD: Building something special for our clients our team and to change the procurement process for the better.
LOOKING BACK: I led a UX / UI team to develop a platform for a non-profit organisation in order to help people who have suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic.
LOOKING FORWARD: For this year, I will bring innovative and creative thinking to Pulse. A new Era is coming and our procurement process won't let you down anymore.
LOOKING BACK: I was studying computing science aiming to get all my assignments completed. LOOKING FORWARD: I hope to keep learning and progress in my Career.
LOOKING BACK: Over the past few months, I’ve worked in a team of developers, driving the latest technologies through different applications and platforms and I’m very excited to bring this to Pulse.
LOOKING FORWARD: I’m not only looking forward to working on a company that it’s the best at what it does, but a company that has earned its employees respect and that makes people want to work for it.
Originally from Brazil but having studied for the past four years in Dublin. Taise will help drive forward our vision of making the Marketplace a fantastic user experience for our members. With a passion for art, photography, graphic design and building great user experiences we’re a delighted to have Taise join the Pulse team.
Our Brazilian team living in Dublin is bolstered by our appointment of Mariana. A passionate designer, creative, UX/UI and developer Mariana has just finished studying computer science. She has a passion for travel, music, great coffee and top of the list her lovely dog. We’re extremely happy that we’re going to benefit from her expertise going forward.
To further add to our international focus we’ve also managed to onboard Josema. Originally from the beautiful city of Seville, Spain our Full-stack web developer, hardcore gamer and music enthusiastic will add some high-end technical expertise to our Pulse team.
ESG is at the heart of the Pulse Marketplace. As a platform we will focus on promoting responsibility in the areas of climate change, Labour rights, diversity and business ethics. Over the last decade ESG has moved from purely a marketing tool sometimes looked on as greenwashing, to being a core focus for firms, and now a key focus area for integration into a companies DNA. Furthermore, regulators now have ESG in their sights in 2021 and beyond. The ESG regulatory landscape is rapidly changing the way the financial industry operates.
The fast-approaching EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) requires financial market participants and financial advisers to incorporate sustainability risks across various aspects of their operations, including disclosures, integration into policies such as remuneration policies, risk policies, the investment process, product governance and wider internal processes and systems. The EU Taxonomy regulation defines whether an economic activity constitutes an environmentally sustainable activity, which helps asset managers ensure they are anti-greenwashing.
In this regard, Pulse is developing working groups to focus on key areas of ESG for members (both financial services firms and solution providers) to aid in the process of standardising the response from both an ethical & a regulatory standpoint. Firms who wish to express an interest in joining the ESG working group can contact John Dowdall (email@example.com).(more…)