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Keelvar – Disrupting Public Sector Procurement

Written by Alan Gleeson Thursday, 19 September 2013.

In a world where B2C apps garner much media attention, one Irish startup is focusing on a less sexy niche, that of public sector B2B procurement.

However, the reasons for their focus are pretty clear - their innovative offering has the potential to disrupt the industry and the addressable market is huge writes Alan Gleeson.

Keelvar is an ambitious VC backed startup from Cork, in Ireland, which is keen to disrupt the somewhat staid procurement software market with its innovative solution.

As CEO and Founder, Dr Alan Holland explains, ‘Keelvar is unique in that we approach procurement with an intelligent competition design focus striving for maximising value for money. Our solution complements existing procurement solutions by gathering enhanced bid data and adding an intelligent layer to evaluation software to ease winner determination process. This intelligence layer can help users elicit considerable savings as our existing customers can testify to.’

At the heart of the Keelvar offering is a powerful evaluation engine, which enables those procuring goods and services to elicit savings in excess of 10% in most cases. It achieves this by encouraging those participating in the tender to offer a much wider set of conditional bids and discounts than would be traditionally the case. Using Keelvar, suppliers offer aggressive discounts that ratchet up based on the amount of business won. They can do this by bundling and packaging combinations of lots that play to their individual strengths. Historically all of these ‘conditional discounts’ would have been impossible to evaluate, whereas Keelvar’s algorithms kick in at the click of a button. The price evaluation engine then evaluates all permutations before arriving at the winning outcome.

For those procuring, this equates to the best value outcome, which is ordinarily at a price point 10-15% below what would typically be achieved from suppliers offering standard pricing with basic discounts. When the percentage saving is viewed in the context of procurement spend in the millions, it is all too easy to see the appeal of the offering.

An added benefit is this novel approach is that it also facilitates SME access, something politicians have struggled to achieve in procurement for many years. As Rt Hon Francis Maude MP recently claimed, "We have launched radical reforms to increase opportunities for SME suppliers and to give the government access to SMEs creativity and innovation." Keelvar helps make these aims become a reality. With Keelvar, SME’s can bid aggressively on lots safe in the knowledge that under this system, the best overall outcome is the key determinant, even if that means a small number of suppliers win a share of the spoils also.

Dr Holland points to a number of factors that support his view that the appetite for his software is significant. “In these austere times, everyone is looking to cut costs, and the beauty of our offering is that this is what it essentially does and without squeezing suppliers. Facilitating SME access is also near the top of most government’s agendas and again given that ‘encouraging competition’ lies at the heart of what we do, we believe we are uniquely placed to deliver on government goals in this area.”

The Keelvar solution was designed with compliance in mind, which partially reflects the focus on the public sector for now. However, plans to tackle inefficiency in private sector procurement is also on the radar once Keelvar has established a strong foothold in the public sector. As a SaaS offering, Dr Holland is keen to ensure that what Keelvar is building is scalable and can support both public and private organisations with a global footprint.

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About the Author

Alan Gleeson

Alan Gleeson is the Head of Sales & Marketing at Keelvar is a VC backed startup offering an innovative and market leading procurement software solution for the public sector. Alan has an MBA from Oxford University and MSc in Strategic Management from University College, Cork, Ireland.

You can follow Alan Gleeson on Twitter here: @alangleeson

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