Balancing expansion with Consolidation in Tech and Business: a sit-down with Malin Schmidt

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“We’re at an awesome crossroads between tech, digitalization of supply chain management and sustainability. Through tech, we’re able to scale sustainability like never before, and at the same time drive performance.”

Wedged in between two customer meetings on the west coast, before the long trip back to Stockholm to pick her kids up from school, Malin Schmidt and I delved into conversation about her company, Kodiak Rating.

Schmidt, co-founder and CEO of Kodiak Rating, described the company and product with a passion and energy that permeated through the phone. “Being that Kodiak Rating works with such large, global and visible brands and their supply chains, our technology is utilized to create game-changing corporation-wide decisions.”

Kodiak Rating has been up and running since 2014, offering cloud-based based services and apps to modernize the way companies select and collaborate with suppliers globally. Schmidt contests that, the software is indeed “Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) SaaS, absolutely, but our main value added to our clients is operationalizing their responsible sourcing strategies and help them improve performance among their suppliers”

“Sustainability has always been at the center of what I’ve done in business. There’s a lot of talk about sustainability, but integrating it into the line where the main focus is business as usual; that’s the challenge.” Schmidt remarked poignantly.

Kodiak Rating’s focus is to build better relationships between their clients — often with large spend — and their suppliers. “The goal is to bring traceability and transparency in all parts of our customers’ supply chain. We make it simple and easy to make smarter business decisions encompassing a wide set of perspectives; Financial, Risk, Performance and Sustainability & Governance.”

“When companies are able to make informed decisions about their suppliers, they safeguard brand and shareholder value. They will eventually also be able to operationalize what all CPO´s talk about today namely collaborative innovation with the right suppliers,” Schmidt remarked.

After a number of years as a line manager and intrapreneur with the global consultancy and technology firm DNV, it seems as if the entrepreneur within Malin Schmidt just couldn’t be held at bay any longer. Flash forward 7 years; Malin Schmidt co-founded Kodiak Rating. With a background in engineering, Schmidt’s practical, process-oriented, problem-solving line of thinking has been instrumental in the company’s development.

From what I could decipher, as CEO, Schmidt has operationalized her time in nearly every dimension of the company’s structure. Building an innovative and digitalized work tool for managing large and complex supply chains was the vision, and that’s exactly what Kodiak Rating has become. Schmidt, obviously instrumental in the product and company’s growth remarked, “Innovation rarely just happens. It needs to be at the heart of everyone that works here. Every on-boarding project, every customer interaction, offer innovation opportunities for us also because there is still so much to do how tech can be used to improve Supplier Relationship Management.”

Source: YouTube

It was clear to me that Schmidt was happy with the journey that the company has made, and believes they’re in a good place. At the same time, I could tell that Malin Schmidt isn’t really a person who’s content with being content.

When asked about the biggest challenges for Kodiak Rating so far, and in the future, Schmidt was quick to deliver her pain points. “Balancing expansion with consolidation. To be successful, we are continuously balancing growth with the capability to grow. Every customer who steps through the door gets a bottom-up experience, and that’s the way we intend on keeping it, no matter how much we expand.”

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Source: LinkedIn

There’s a harrowing statistic, often thrown around in the startup community that nine out of every ten startups fail. Which means only 10% of startups succeed at business.

When I mentioned this statistic to Malin, and asked her opinion, she answered, “you’re probably right.”

Malin Schmidt knows the challenges ahead of her, ahead her team, and ahead of Kodiak Rating as a brand, company and product. She’s practical about those challenges, and strives to be honest with her team, and herself.

Hearing her describe how she juggles managing a growing and dynamic team, whilst instigating a culture of customer empathy, and at the same time bringing service design knowledge from her PhD studies is astonishing. Schmidt and her team are embodying the essence of modern business, and it will be exciting to see where she and her team can take Kodiak Rating in the next years.

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