Christian, Tradeshift

Member Article

Bdaily goes behind the business with Tradeshift

Tradeshift is a global startup with ambitions to change the way businesses connect with each other. At the heart of the Tradeshift platform is the ability to exchange invoices for free, enabling companies of all sizes to take this time-consuming task into the cloud.

The company’s CEO and co-founder, Christian Lanng, used to work for the Danish government before seeing a wider need to improve the way businesses work with each other.

What is your career history to date?

I launched my first start-up aged just 19 after reading and becoming obsessed with Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs.

The start-up I created was one of the first mobile web browsers and was sold two years later, shortly before the internet bubble burst, just as Coupland had predicted.

Not knowing what to do next, I studied sociology for three years, but then quit university to go full time working for the Danish Science Ministry, becoming the youngest head of division in the Danish government.

During this time I met the co-founders of Tradeshift and we created the world’s first open-source peer-to-peer e-business infrastructure, which was used throughout the Danish government and became incredibly popular among Danish companies.

What were the initial challenges your company faced?

The initial driver behind Tradeshift was frustration with business solutions and technologies that were currently available. Soon however we realised that a fundamental shift in the focus of business networks was needed to truly change things. We wanted to create a new kind of network, one that focused on people and business relationships.

One of the ways we have countered this is to make our technology as open and flexible as possible. Tradeshift provides Open APIs which allow developers to build their own apps within the network. This is incredibly liberating as it means users can access and use these apps to extend and improve their business processes.

What is your biggest focus for the coming year?

Innovation! We secured another round of funding late last year, launching a revolutionary feature called Instant Payments - where small businesses can receive instant payment for approved invoices that have been received through Tradeshift. And the new features don’t stop there. Our developers (all our development work is done in-house) are working on some pretty impressive things right now and some of them will be launched very soon. We don’t believe in standing still.

If you had to choose one top piece of advice for someone just starting out in business what would it be?

I’m passionate about small companies and their future. One of the best things about my job is that I get to speak to small businesses that are doing revolutionary things to change the way you work (see more of this on the recently launched ShiftBusiness.net.) Our approach to business connections is just one of the ways I hope we can help.

And invoicing is a great case in point. There isn’t a single small business in the country that will need to be told how difficult the last few years have been. But savvy small businesses are finding ways to transform the way they work by adopting new business practices that allow them to punch above their weight.

There are grave injustices when it comes to unpaid invoices. Some research we’ve just released found that that 13% of invoices issued by UK small businesses remain unpaid every year. That’s a phenomenal figure and one that I hope we can address with Tradeshift.

Can you share with us your view of the current landscape of business in this region or generally and where your organisation sits within it?

I think the web has made business truly global no matter what size your company. The cloud-based technologies out there mean there has never been a better opportunity to be in business. And I really believe that small businesses have a better opportunity than most because of their ability to be agile and flexible.

Cloud computing has put small businesses in a position where they can store all data remotely, make payments securely and instantly collaborate using free tools and apps to communicate and work across the world.

If we can play even a small role in helping businesses achieve more, then I’ll be immensely proud.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tradeshift .

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