At Trakti, we streamline procedures and transform old contract templates into intelligent contracts. This can easily deploy smart contracts in the blockchain, improving operational activities while reducing administrative costs for medium to large organizations of more than 25%-30%.
Name: Trakti Ltd
Product / Service Offering: End to end contract negotiation and management platform integrated in the blockchain
Co-founder Interviewed: Luigi Telesca, Co-founder and CEO
Other Key Management Team Members: Mahfuzul Islam, Nevio Boscariol
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight Series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?
I have been playing with technology since I was 10. I started coding with my Commodore Vic 20 and have been always fascinated by business dynamics and service ecosystems since youth. In the last 15 years, I have been working in the Research and Development (R&D) sector developing new technologies for the Telecommunication and IT industry. Starting my career in R&D was a great opportunity to understand and explore new technologies and ideas and meet with top experts in the field. I started as the first employee of a new Italian research center. Later, I became the Chief Operating Officer with more than 110 people between researchers and administrative personnel under management.
Building a successful R&D venture from inception to exit has been exciting! The activity I am most proud of was the ranking of this tiny R&D center among the top 20 R&D centers in Italy, and among the top 30 Future Internet contributors in Europe with only 1/10 of their budget. Last but not least, I created and led the “Open Negotiation Environment.” This is a 2 MoE project funded by EU that released the first P2P open negotiation protocol and platform well ahead of Bitcoin blockchain.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
Trakti is the result of the R&D activities we have done in the last 6 years. The company was established in November 2016 after we won the Italian Fintech Award and were selected by Startupbootcamp for its Fintech program in London.
There were two main components in the origination of the concept:
We have been involved in contracting and procurement activities as managers in the last 15 years. We knew the process of negotiating contracting was really broken.
We wanted to develop a peer to peer negotiation and contracting platform that would facilitate the creation of dynamic and trusted business ecosystems. This breaks down corporate back office silos, reducing coordination costs and increasing operational efficiencies during the contracting process.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
My co-founder, Nevio, and I have been responsible for negotiation and contractual processes for many years. We know how complex and frustrating it is finalizing B2B contracts in medium to large organizations. Legal officers, consultants, and salesman suffer an asymmetry of information. They must sift through vast amounts of dispersed data (emails, word documents, phone calls, CRM data) to complete their deals. Companies lose money and waste time manually coordinating different parties and aggregating information coming from different channels using inefficient, not fit-for-purpose tools. We wanted to change that and facilitate the adoption of a new paradigm in this space.
All economies will be more and more digital; therefore, we believe contracts will orchestrate relationships, the implementation of new business models and asset management. In this context, Trakti will prosper. Since we are the first contract negotiation and management platform enabling the possibility to run deals/contracts negotiations using different protocols and interaction models, both buy and sell, on a self-service basis. We automate the obligation management of the contract via smart contract and blockchain. We streamline interaction procedures and transform old contract templates in intelligent contracts that can easily deploy smart contracts in the blockchain. This improves operational activities while reducing administrative costs for medium to large organizations more than 25%-30%.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
Although there are several players already active in this space, their focus is more on the document sharing or the final part of the process and not on the end to end automation since they are not able to master distributed ecosystems. Our vision is to make Trakti the Stripe of contract negotiation and management for all those companies that are looking to put intelligence and automation in their contract processes. We offer a unique, flexible, compliant end to end contract negotiation and management framework easy to implement in different market verticals.
Trakti bridges the gap between the old world of contracts with the new world of smart contracts. Our platform streamlines the contract negotiation and contract lifecycle management procedure with more agile and relational frameworks empowering a distributed service ecosystem.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
As a B2B solution provider, we offer a solution for commercial contract negotiation and management mainly in the Financial/Insurance and Enterprise sector. As a B2B startup, working with big organizations has never been easy for us. Most of the time navigating internal hierarchies, understanding priorities, procurement processes, and procedures and finding the right sponsor can be very frustrating. Resilience to change and inertia are startups biggest enemies.
I think all founders should seriously take into account those elements in their business and operational models, and manage resources and expectations wisely, to avoid stress and disappointment. We created a specific approach to overcome those issues. Trakti spent quite some time to standardize our methodology so that the customer acquisition cost could be aligned with our startup resources and approach.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
Coaching and support services are very important in Fintech. If you want to validate your market fit, enter a new market, explore a new vertical, you need help. Joining top accelerators like Startupbootcamp and Kickstart has been our key to success. We needed experts to navigate us during the process and help us establish a trust relationship with counterparts. We work with many organizations in the UK, Italy, France. Trakti learned quite early that without a network supporting operations every activity or investment may not be favorable.
We are now joining Kickstart Accelerator and for us this is a fantastic opportunity to connect with their renowned ecosystem. Thanks to Kickstart’s expert team and extraordinary partners, we are sure we will be able to create new business opportunities, activate new Proof of Concepts, onboard new clients and establish new partnerships in Switzerland.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
We received friends and family round and have been always self-funded. Trakti has paying customers; therefore, we are increasing our pipeline every day adding new clients and channel partners. Funding has never been a key priority for us until now.
Funding is very important when your engine is ready to scale. Getting money too early can be tricky if you do not have an effective way to satisfy and onboard customers and generate returns. In our case, we are now ready to look for our first round, which will begin in the next months.
If we would have to start over I would better manage Public Relations (PR). We have never been a marketing/PR machine, which is because we are very product/customer driven. For sure we did not consider with enough attention the positive aspect connected with a good communication. That would have probably facilitated our visibility and appealing in front of clients and investors.
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
Many people were asking us why they should use the blockchain for their contracts and not just a simple database to store their word documents. In the beginning, we struggled to respond correctly since for us it was so obvious. We started explaining all the technical aspects that make blockchain interesting. After several iterations, we realized that the difficulty was not the question itself but rather the confusion those companies had around blockchain capabilities and benefits. Consequently, instead of speaking about the technical elements and functionalities we started clarifying them with the improvements we were offering. Then, we enlighten them about the fact that this was only possible because of Trakti blockchain and smart contracts capabilities.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
We are working hard to make our company effective in the way we work with clients. Our objective is to deliver a great service and establish long-term relationships with them without falling into the consulting pitfall. This means training and motivating our team. Also, we must transform the company in a purpose-driven way. We must be able to achieve a high level of operational efficiency while cultivating talents.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Validate, validate and again validate your assumptions before building your product/service, enter a new market or add a new feature. The barriers to entry are very low now. Having the perfect value proposition with the right customer and onboarding process in place will transform your early adopters into your best fans and your future product evangelists.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
We also won the Leonardo (ex Finmeccanica) Logistic 4.0 Award. We will begin offering our contract management system in the cybersecurity and defense sector. So proud of that!
Are you familiar with other startups you believe should be spotlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them, sharing in your comments below!