B2B distributors are being squeezed by competitors and neglected by the venture capital community. VC’s have focused on investing in B2B marketplaces to disrupt the distributors – including a $1 billion and $150 million VC fund from Amazon and Home Depot, respectively. In addition to Amazon and Home Depot trying to disintermediate distributors, now – manufacturers are turning up the heat as well.

Just last week, Schneider Electric invested in a CRM, contractor tool startup called Kojo, this follows a previous investment into RenoRun – an Instacart for same-day delivery of job site, construction materials. We’ve also seen manufacturers like Hilti acquire Fieldwire for $300 million in 2021 and just this past summer, Stanley Black & Decker acquired Msuite, a construction tech startup providing software tools to contractors.

B2B distributors command over $8 trillion reasons as to why the tech community should focus on helping distributors as opposed to solely focusing on disruption. The Innovators Summit, the NAW’s inaugural technology conference, seeks to bring the best and brightest tech innovators in wholesale distribution together with executives at leading distributors.

Collectively, these tech companies have raised over $2 billion in investor capital. Some are marketplaces, or SaaS companies. Some provide software to contractors. Many create software specifically designed to help distributors. 

The tech companies will present in a closed-door environment without media present. A “no fluff” zone. And, if you like what you hear, distributors can use our scheduling service at the conference to book additional time for a private, 1:1 meeting. 

Leading Marketplaces

Distributors can partner with leading marketplaces in non-threatening ways and also learn from their way of doing business. 

B2B marketplace CEO and co-founder of Xometry (NYSE: XMTR), Randy Altschuler will talk about their efforts to bring back manufacturing to the United States and their expansion efforts. With a $2.5 billion market cap, Xometry is the biggest, public B2B marketplace in the US. They recently acquired Thomasnet expanding into a myriad of adjacent verticals. Xometry’s core marketplace connects over 5,000 machine shops in the US to make custom-made parts for NASA, BMW and others. Now, the company is expanding into handling full-production volumes, adjacent verticals, and adding value added services like financing and digital tools for manufacturers.

Kevin Weadick, President of Zoro has added over 7 million SKU’s to their online catalog in just the past   5 years. Zoro’s revenue is growing at 20% yoy to over $1 billion, from just $500 million in 2017. Kevin and the Zoro team actively look to help and partner with distributors to help them reach a new audience of small and medium sized businesses.

We also have software companies presenting that help distributors launch their own marketplace from scratch like Mirakl Co-founder, Adrien Nussenbaum, and Nautical Commerce CEO. Mirakl is worth over $4 billion and has raised nearly $1 billion in equity capital.

Tech Enablers

Another theme at the conference are tech startups that will help a distributor’s core business to modernize and digitize. 

Balance and Resolve are the leading B2B fintech providers that are powering instant-decision net payment terms and facilitating seamless B2B payments. They have over $500 million in debt facilities and have raised over $100 million in equity capital.

Curri is a leading last-mile logistics marketplace, like Uber for last mile logistics or “hot shots.” They are working with a number of mid and large distributors as well as marketplaces to provide last mile fulfillment, including heavy products.

Drivemyway and Workstep are helping distributors source, hire and retain truck drivers and warehouse workers. They have their own networks of labor as well as tools to help optimize your hiring process and workflow. 

Recurrency is solving ERP connectivity problems – enabling distributors to get easier and better access to the data in their ERP’s. 

Proton is providing software tools to distributors’ sales reps to help them better qualify leads and bundle product recommendations while selling to customers. How could you better activate and train your thousands of sales reps? Talk to Proton.

Building a Culture of Innovation

The best part is that this isn’t even the full list of our speakers and presenting companies – in addition to tech companies, we have keynote speakers and panelists from leading B2B distributors. This includes Kathy Mazzarella, CEO of Graybar – as well as speakers from companies like MSC Industrial, Benco Dental and others.

The distributor executives will speak about how to create a company culture that promotes innovation. If you find a great tech partnership opportunity, it’s hard for large wholesalers to execute effectively. These new digital tools and business models require a different form of collaboration and support from the enterprise. 

By: Alex Moazed

Founder $ CEO