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In This Issue:

    March 22, 2011

    Member connects corporations with diverse businesses

    connXusA new online service called revolutionizes supplier diversity by focusing on corporate purchasing demands and making it easy and affordable for corporations to locate, evaluate and engage performance-rated small, minority- or woman-owned businesses.

    The system actively matches buyers with diverse suppliers that fit their needs based on membership profiles.  Buyers can also conduct searches for performance-rated small, minority- or woman-owned suppliers or post contract opportunities for suppliers to submit bids.

    “Since our trial launch started in December, buyer members have posted real bid opportunities totaling more than $10 million,” said Founder Rod Robinson.  “Based on this success, we project 100-150 opportunity postings with an aggregate value of $40-60 million this year.”

    Robinson founded the consulting firm Accel Advisors in 2005, after serving as chief procurement officer for Cincinnati Bell.   As a procurement expert and supplier diversity consultant, he knew the biggest challenge his Fortune 1000 clients faced was finding qualified, diverse vendors for the specific products and services they needed to purchase.

    “I knew that it was a true challenge and not just an excuse,” said Robinson.  “I experienced the same frustrations with out-of-date or incomplete databases, fragmented resources and expensive software trying to match what a company needed to purchase with diverse companies who supplied it.  Given all the ways that technology is being leveraged in today’s business environment, I just knew there had to be a better way to connect buyers and diverse suppliers.”

    Robinson partnered with Chris Downie, founder and CEO of America’s #1 diet and fitness site SparkPeople to develop combines Robinson’s understanding of private-industry procurement and supplier diversity with Downie’s technical know-how.

    At, corporations register as buyer members and include the categories of products or services they need to purchase in their profile.  More than 100 spend categories are represented, including construction, legal, facilities, information technology, professional services (accounting, consulting , training, etc.), capital equipment , manufacturing, transportation and temporary labor.

    Small, minority- or woman-owned (MWBE) businesses register as supplier members, creating a profile that indicates the categories of products or services they provide, company size, industry expertise, representative customers and other relevant information.  Supplier members then request performance ratings from prior customers via the proprietary rating system.  Just like other consumer-focused websites, the more and the better a supplier member’s ratings, the higher that supplier member will rank in a buyer’s search. was recently awarded a $40,000 CincyTech Imagining Grant to help it develop this technology. CincyTech is a public-private venture development organization that invests in startup businesses in high-tech industries in Southwest Ohio. Over the last three years, the organization has provided nearly 30 Imagining Grants of up $40,000 to entrepreneurs and early-stage companies in information technology and bioscience. These grants help transition promising ideas and technology into successful businesses. According to CincyTech Investment Analyst Justin Thompson, connXus received an Imagining Grant because it addresses an unmet need in the marketplace. 

     “ harnesses the power and scalability of technology to make it easy for companies to find small, woman- and minority-owned businesses,” said Thompson.  “Also, connXus was founded by a knowledgeable and experienced executive who has tremendous experience in helping companies find diverse suppliers, both as a philosophical imperative and to improve their bottom line.”

    “With, companies can easily integrate supplier diversity into their normal sourcing process, reduce costs and increase quality,” explained Robinson.  “Our proprietary performance rating system helps reduce the risks of trying a new supplier and at the same time helps quality suppliers promote themselves. Our mission is to be an engine of economic growth by making it easy for small businesses and diverse businesses to connect with larger companies, and even each other.”

    Suppliers pay an annual subscription based on company revenues; buyers register for free.  For a limited time, is offering new supplier members a free 60-day trial membership.

    More information is available at

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