Founders Fridays is a new StartupAmsterdam initiative that showcases local entrepreneurs who help strengthen our ecosystem. By inviting founders to answer five questions, we want to shine a light on our ecosystem’s most inspirational stories and role models. We hope that by providing startup founders a space to share their insights and experience, we’ll all learn and grow together.
This week we spoke to Nancy Shenouda, the co-founder of Tradesnest, a B2B platform that connects products with distributors and retailers in their target market, and helps distributors and retailers find new and innovative products.
1. How did your career journey lead you to found Tradesnest?
I have worked for both multinationals and small startups for many years, and noticed that smaller players with fantastic, award-winning products most often struggle to get their products on retailers’ shelves.
I have experienced it first hand while working for companies like Unilever and L’Oréal: retail buyers always found time to discuss our latest products and innovations, but they rarely would when you are a startup or an emerging brand. The best way for a smaller player to place a new product on the shelves is through a distributor who has already built a solid connection with the retailers. Unfortunately, finding a distributor can be as challenging as connecting with a retail buyer.
Traditionally, a distributor can be found through cold calls, trade associations or trade shows, but all of these methods are inefficient and can be extremely costly. It is clear that a better solution was needed, and that is when Tradesnest started to take shape. We began building a B2B SaaS platform to connect brands with distributors directly, for a fraction of the cost of visiting international trade shows or hiring sales representatives to search for distributors.
2. Why did you choose Amsterdam to start & grow your business?
Of course, Amsterdam is a vibrant and dynamic city where the world interconnects. There is a fantastic pool of creative and talented people to exchange ideas with. But first and foremost, Amsterdam is a business city where, for hundreds of years, companies have come to exchange goods. Similarly, Tradesnest’s vision is to be the place where distributors and retailers come to discover the latest innovations in consumer tech.
3. How are you approaching diversity and inclusion as you build your team?
First of all, diversity and inclusion are deeply rooted in our team. I am a woman CEO from a visible minority and our CTO is French-Canadian. We believe that different backgrounds augment the quality of the team and its output. Having said that, our approach to diversity and inclusion is to always hire the best person for the job, no matter the gender, colour of the skin, religion or orientation - and everyone in the team will benefit from this diversity.
4. When it comes to funding, in the Netherlands only 5% of funding goes to mixed- & female-founded startups and scaleups. What was your personal experience with this?
This is an extra motivation to work even harder. Being a woman CEO looking for funding can be hard. However, our biggest challenge has not been so much to find an investor who believes in a female-founded startup. It has rather been to find an investor that understands the retail industry, since we are solving a huge problem that is very common in this business. Our ideal partner is someone who can support us not only financially, but can also connect us further in the retail world. Having said that, I do believe that we need to see more female investors, since studies show that they are more likely to invest in female-led businesses.
5. What has been a recent “win” for your business?
We were recently published by Emerce magazine in the Netherlands, Industrial Distribution media in the US and Retail Technology Innovation Hub in the UK, which is great! We are also proud to have been nominated in the Dutch Blue Tulip Awards 'Innovations' category for digitising the trade show industry.
However, the biggest recent win is our partnership with the largest electronics retail chain in Europe. We are excited about this partnership and looking forward to bringing new innovative products to their Dutch and Belgian consumers.
Want to learn more about the women breaking through the startup scene? Check out this roundup of Amsterdam’s wonder women.
And if you want to share your story with our local ecosystem, you can contact us by email: email@example.com.