The SME Story: Igor Nikolenko, co-founder and CEO of SupplyMe The SME Story: Igor Nikolenko, co-founder and CEO of SupplyMe
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The SME Story: Igor Nikolenko, co-founder and CEO of SupplyMe

The SME Story: Igor Nikolenko, co-founder and CEO of SupplyMe

SupplyMe is a B2B marketplace that connects local food suppliers with foodservice businesses

SupplyMe Igor Nikolenko

What were you doing prior to starting SupplyMe?
Prior to starting SupplyMe, I was running a digital agency that helps other startups and enterprises to launch their online ventures. My co-founder and COO of SupplyMe, Husam Al Bardawil, has significant experience owning and managing restaurants.

The shift in consumption and purchasing patterns witnessed in 2020 led to the B2B food industry embarking on its journey to embrace innovation and be more efficient. Understanding the opportunities of this market eventually ignited our passion to launch SupplyMe, an online B2B marketplace that connects local food suppliers with cafes, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, and other foodservice businesses of all sizes.

How does SupplyMe work and what is its USP?
The registered users of the application can choose from a selection of food and beverage products required by Horeca businesses from a network of dedicated regional suppliers.

The main USP of this marketplace for buyers includes stress-free ordering with a wide variety and availability of products listed on a single platform.

This will enable them to simplify their buying process, and be assured of competitive pricing and on-time delivery to manage their business needs. With the power of machine learning and data-driven technology available on the platform, businesses can keep track of their procurement needs and restock their supplies – streamlining the tedious process, manage finances, improve decision-making, and help mitigate risks.

For suppliers, the application aims to take the sales and marketing efforts under its umbrella. The tech solution installed on the app will support with transparent reporting metrics for simplified sales management. It can assist with confirming orders and details, offer promotions, improve customer experience, and most importantly, build a new customer base. Some of our biggest clients include suppliers of brands such as Coca-Cola, Barilla, Pomi, Taylors, Alpro, Elle & Vire, and Ile De France.

Igor Nikolenko, co-founder and CEO of SupplyMe
Igor Nikolenko, co-founder and CEO of SupplyMe

What is the market size that you are competing in regionally ?
According to Statista, the size of the F&B industry in the GCC is currently at $34.1bn and another report by Forrester suggests B2B e-commerce will hit $1.8 trillion by 2023. The number of online marketplaces in the region is extremely low and the number becomes even more segmented when it comes to the B2B food and beverage industry. We are still in the nascent stages of our operation and soon we will be looking for investors. We are only operational in Dubai at the moment. We plan to operate across the entire UAE by the end of this year.

What are some of the biggest challenges you are facing with SupplyMe at the moment?
Covid-19 has created new dynamics for the evolving F&B industry. Sixty-seven per cent of the buyer’s journey is now completed digitally. B2B suppliers are aware of this fact, but are still a little skeptical to let go of the traditional methods of doing business and jump on the digital bandwagon. This is one of the biggest challenges we are facing when it comes to suppliers. Customers, on the other hand, are looking for an immersive experience and expect the B2C convenience to transfer over in B2B e-commerce as well.

What are your plans for growth?
In the next 12 months, we aim to extend our presence to other GCC countries, with our first priority being Saudi Arabia. Depending on the market requirements, we might be looking at expanding our product offerings too.

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