How a Black Female Founder Helps Big Companies Buy Black

  • Companies like Target and Walmart have committed to buying more from black-owned companies.
  • Sourcing expert Tiffanie Stanard created a startup to help with that.
  • Stanard is one of Insider’s 100 People Transforming Business for 2022.

Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in May 2020, businesses responded to mass protests by promising to better support black communities, in part by buying more merchandise from black-owned businesses. Target pledged to spend more than $2 billion on black-owned businesses by 2025. Walmart has since pledged to spend $5 billion on products from “different suppliers” by 2025.

“The best way to help communities is not just to give jobs, but to buy from their companies and help them grow,” said Tiffanie Stanard, an expert in corporate procurement — the technical term for when companies buy things to sell and use.

Trying to spread that spending across different business owners is something many businesses prior to 2020 have never attempted.

“Procurement is the biggest cost driver for any business,” she said. “Yet you have very little information about these deals.” Owner race is not a data point typically captured in a business transaction, but suddenly that data had gained importance and value.

Two years before George Floyd became a household name, Stanard founded Stimulus, a software startup that is building a data service to make it easier for big buyers — like retailers, hospitals and governments — to buy from different companies. When supply chain diversification became a priority in the same year that the Stimulus platform launched, the fledgling startup got a boost. Stanard raised $1 million in 2021 and a $2.5 million seed round led by Black Ops Ventures in August.

There is a startup for that

Sourcing technology is a growing field for entrepreneurs, in part because new constraints and ever-changing supply chain conditions mean companies need to make faster decisions about which suppliers to buy from – in days or weeks rather than months.

Stanard’s goal is to create a dataset that allows shoppers to accommodate diversity.

“Our hope is that our product will lower the barrier that exists between diverse and non-diverse companies where you’re just looking at the data to make a decision,” she said.

Size is just one data point companies could be drawn to, Stanard said. Large companies can easily abandon smaller suppliers close to their facilities and use larger, more remote suppliers – adding to transportation time, costs and emissions. But a smaller company might be more willing to customize a product. And it could also be female-owned or black-owned.

“We help various companies get orders and create jobs to create a better community. But that doesn’t mean we’re not helping these billion-dollar companies save time and money and increase their profit margins,” Stanard said.

Next year, Stimulus plans to start offering a more convenient service for small businesses – where the platform’s data can make decisions about where to expand and how to grow.

“The biggest thing people forget is that every business starts small, right? Someone gave them that first contract.”

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