Meet the winner of the DEMO 2021 startup competiton. PACTUM.
Meet the winner of the DEMO 2021 startup competiton. PACTUM.
More than 100 startups joined us at DEMO 2021, powerered by EcoVadis, DPW’s signature startup pitch event showcasing the industry’s most disruptive emerging technologies and “the next big thing”.
The showdown’s Grand Finale, broadcasted live at DPW Conference 2021, showcased the top 10 startups pitching their solutions in five key categories, each one ranking high on the priority list of global procurement organisations.
And now, without further ado, our DEMO 2021 winner in the category “Automation & Efficiency.
PACTUM is an AI-based system that helps global companies to automatically offer personalized, commercial negotiations on a massive scale. The system adds value and saves time for both the PACTUM client and their negotiation partner by aligning their values to determine win-win agreements via an easy-to-use chat interface that implements best-practice negotiation strategies. The company is based in Mountain View with engineering and operations in Estonia. PACTUM is backed by founders of Skype and TransferWise and built by luminaries from Skype, Starship Technologies and the Government of Estonia’s e-Residency program.
Interview with Kaspar Korjus, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, PACTUM
How important are competitions such as DPW’s DEMO?
Korjus: Well, there are soft facts and there are hard facts. The easiest ones to deal with are hard facts. So, we signed one client after the DEMO pitching and most likely, we’ll sign one more. Getting two clients from one event is impressive, particularly as they’re two of the largest companies in the world. These are hard facts that matter regarding ROI for our company, regarding investment and exposure – it’s just amazing. There are soft aspects as well, obviously, in terms of general visibility and internal team motivation and recognition and even for global fundraising, these things matter also, they’re just more difficult to put into numbers. It’s just a really, really positive thing for a startup.
We signed one client after the DEMO 2021 event and most likely, we’ll sign one more. Getting two clients from one event is impressive, particularly as they’re the two largest companies in the world.Kaspar Korjus, Co-Founder & CPO, PACTUM
What would your advice be to any company thinking of entering DEMO 2022?
Korjus: It’s about more than grasping an opportunity. It’s also crucial to put some extra time into preparing for it. This three-minute pitch really matters. It’s something worth preparing and practicing for. In a loud voice I approximately went through the pitch 30 or 40 times. Always when you’re pitching you’re a bit nervous, so you need to feel as confident and lively as you can in this event – you need to put in the hours beforehand.
How much are you looking forward to DPW Conference 2022?
Korjus: These days, physically being in the same room at a conference seems like something to dream of. I’m massively looking forward to meeting peers and potential clients when it takes place.
Have startups really come into their own in the past few years as a result of the pandemic?
Korjus: For us, our growth is probably faster because of the pandemic. There is less travelling. The day the pandemic really hit, I cancelled three trips – one to New York, one to Berlin and one to London. Travelling and being jet-lagged for a couple of days when you arrive, it’s really a two-to-three-week time investment for three meetings. Instead of that, we had three-hour phone meetings and some additional preparation time. I would say it really saved me two weeks of my calendar time. The world has, in one sense, become smaller because it’s more natural to work remotely and to collaborate. It’s less important where the founder is from, or where the engineering team are from – everything has become more global.
How important has the agility that tech startups bring been to larger companies in recent years?
Korjus: For us, if external factors change then even more negotiations need to be triggered, which makes autonomous negotiations even more valuable. It depends on the industry but, generally, start-ups are technology companies and they can be more useful if digital channels are used more, which is what we’ve seen during the pandemic. It makes sense that the startup sector can benefit from that. The other argument is that startups are more nimble, agile and can adapt to change quicker and raise capital quicker. When the external environment changes, then start-ups are better suited to making a change in two weeks instead of two years.
What has been your own route into procurement?
Korjus: Before Pactum I was the founder of Estonia’s e-Residency, a programme where people can become a digital citizen of Estonia. I worked and developed it with ministers and the president and we created a new concept of how nations can have subscribers, like Amazon or Netflix. You pay a monthly fee and you can use the services. They already have around 100,000 e-residents, and it’s generating hundreds of millions of euro value to Estonia. I was running that for five years and then stepped down to set-up Pactum. There are now five countries who have followed and implemented the model. They’re recognising that revenue can be earned digitally, not just by the people who are physically living within their borders.
Do you predict that the pace of technological change will continue to increase as we move through 2022 and beyond?
Korjus: I do see that technology transforms every industry and the things we know and even don’t know yet. The e-Residency programme, for example, even transformed what the nation state is and how it’s defined. At PACTUM, we are doing autonomous negotiation and before Pactum there wasn’t such a term. A negotiation was viewed inherently as something that humans do – it involves emotions and our minds. There were few who believed that negotiations could be automated. Now it’s proven, it’s a new category and a new industry and we’re still at the beginning of this. There are a lot of things happening that don’t remove humans but change the habits of what humans need to do. They need to work less on mundane routine tasks and more on greater strategic tasks.
Watch PACTUM’s winning pitch at DEMO 2021
Email Kaspar Korjus to learn more about PACTUM’s award-winning negotiation platform.