Amazon is a behemoth whose shadow falls long in just about every industry in which it operates. That is perhaps clearest in the supply chain industry, where Amazon and other retail giants have the resources to invest in artificial intelligence and automation tools that enable them to stay significantly ahead of smaller businesses.
“It’s hard to compete in this landscape as an independent dealer,” said Alex Vincart-Emard, CTO of Enkidoo, a supply chain automation and optimization platform. That’s why Enkidoo specifically serves SMBs. The startup, which specializes in inventory management, provides small- and medium-sized businesses access to the same types of resources Amazon and Walmart use to optimize their processes.
“We want to give them solutions where they can leverage AI and machine learning and automation to stand a chance,” Vincart-Emard said. Enkidoo has an eye to preserving opportunities for small businesses in the hopes of avoiding a big box store takeover. The goal is to give small- and medium-sized business owners cost-effective solutions tools to improve efficiencies so they can spend more time doing what they love — building companies about which they’re passionate, and which give character and life to their communities.
“Small retailers are really the DNA of a city. We don’t want to see Walmarts in our downtown areas,” Vincart-Emard said. “But they need help thriving, and we want to provide that help.”
While small businesses may not be able to afford to hire data scientists, the Enkidoo platform helps them gather key performance insights they can use to refine their strategies. Enkidoo will even suggest tactics such as offering promotions on specific items based on the company’s performance data. Those insights and recommendations can substantially improve a small business’s profitability and competitive blueprint.
Enkidoo graduated from Creative Destruction Lab’s most recent cohort, an experience Vincart-Emard said yielded many insights and opportunities for the company. He and his business partner, Enkidoo CEO Pholysa Mantryvong, applied to CDL-Montreal after completing an accelerator program in Montreal. While there, they crafted and refined Enkidoo’s value proposition and messaging for investors and clients. With their marketing message in place, they saw CDL as a natural next step toward growing and strengthening their company by connecting with mentors and investors.
Vincart-Emard said one of the many benefits of the CDL-Montreal program was receiving feedback from a variety of experts, including scientists and investors, and then integrating that into Enkidoo. “Reconciling that was really fun,” he said. CDL mentors also helped the founders refine their approach to growing the company, encouraging them to become laser-focused rather than taking on too many goals at once. That approach would allow them to hone their skills and reduce the likelihood of errors as they scale up in the future.
“People there were really good at reminding us that sometimes, it’s good to just become good at one thing and do it so great,” Vincart-Emard said. “Then when you move on to the next one, you can do it with even fewer hiccups.”
Asked what advice he would offer for future CDL participants, Vincart-Emard emphasized being receptive to feedback from mentors, investors, and peers. When you’re working in your startup every day, there’s a temptation to think you know best and to trust your gut rather than taking in helpful feedback. But in an environment like CDL, it’s important to take advantage of the wisdom and support offered to you there.
“Don’t be dogmatic about your beliefs,” Vincart-Emard said. “Have an open mind, and don’t act defensive because you might be surprised by the things you learn.”
Applications for the Creative Destruction Lab 2019/20 Prime and Specialized streams are now open. The deadline to apply is August 12, 2019. To learn more about the CDL program, attend one of our Live Information Sessions.