SalesTechStar Interview with Jim Thomsen, CEO at Zimmi
Jim Thomsen, CEO at Zimmi chats about the need for buyers and sellers to prioritize transparency while having more access to central platforms that can help them connect better with each other to drive business and customer output:
Hi Jim, welcome to this SalesTechStar chat, tell us more about your journey through the years and the story behind Zimmi (and the rebrand)!?
I’ve been in business my entire career. I started out growing, buying, and selling smaller stage financial service companies. Then, I moved into larger corporate companies. Most recently, I’ve ventured into early-stage companies, like Zimmi—the world’s first exclusive B2B search engine and online community.
Zimmi caught my eye for a few reasons. One being that many people, like myself, missed out on the opportunity to invest in the world of search engines the first time around. It is hard to remember a time before online search, but as platforms like Google and Bing first started to come into the limelight, some of us laughed at it. Their valuations almost felt comical. Of course, now they are multitrillion dollar companies. Back then, we didn’t see the initial value in search, and we didn’t fully grasp the intimate relationship between individual consumer buyers and sellers. When it came to Zimmi, I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity again.
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Zimmi also attracted me in because strict B2B operations have not been well-served in the evolution of search. Online search has been driven between sellers of consumer products and individual consumer buyers. This business model—while it is highly streamlined for consumers—has left B2B search capabilities and platforms in the dust; business are still trying to connect with buyers and sellers the old-fashioned way. Zimmi.com is trying to change that by building a platform where B2B global buyers and sellers can come together.
In today’s increasingly competitive and pretty crowded B2B digital marketplace, how do you feel buyer and seller interactions and engagement can be made more impactful?
Buyers and sellers must prioritize transparency, global choice and ease of connectivity. Many B2B companies use the same three or four suppliers because they are dependable and it’s hard to find new suppliers. Now, suddenly, those suppliers have been compromised by current supply chain disruptions. Trying to find a reliable, cost-effective new supplier is like trying to find a needle in the haystack. The timing is right for Zimmi to fix the lack of transparency and lack of global connectivity in B2B operations.
As a consumer, I remember when we used to look for a products or services in the Yellow Pages. If I needed office supplies, I went to the office supply store. There was no online connectivity. Now, online connectivity exists for individual consumers, yet B2B connectivity can often feel 15 years behind. This is where a platform like Zimmi brings together global choice and connectivity in a transparent way.
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Can you talk about a few challenges companies / businesses face when trying to identify the right vendors for their needs in B2B and how are platforms like Zimmi enhancing / optimizing this?
The only way search platforms work is if buyers and sellers come together and actually use said platforms. Google would not be Google if millions of user didn’t get onboard and choose to connect with each other. There needs to be an understanding that there are options for buyers and sellers that they maybe don’t understand yet – this is often one of the most unspoken, but prevalent challenges.
Oftentimes, B2B organizations settle for “good enough” because they don’t know what else is out there. Here is a quick example. If you ran a lumbermill and need to buy 1,000 sawblades, you might Google search “sawblades for lumbermills” or “wholesale sawblades.” The results wouldn’t be that productive (as they’re driven by consumer keyword searches), but you may end up settling for one of those consumer search results—without truly being able to compare prices, search across the globe, etc.
Another challenge is that B2B buyers are being pushed back to their go-to suppliers who are dependable, but they really don’t know if they are getting the best product or price; they lack the criteria to make an informed choice in the same way that individual consumers can. You don’t know what you don’t know when it comes to finding a good supplier.
A few thoughts on what sellers should be doing in this dynamic environment to connect easily with buyers not just with online marketplaces but using other tactics too?
Right now, we’re seeing major supply chain disruptions. There has been a disconnect between what is needed and those that can serve those need. Now more than ever, businesses who have services and products to offer need to make themselves known. This is not a time to wait for the phone to ring, it’s a time to broadcast – we’re at a tipping point. Platforms like Zimmi have the potential to help address these implications.
Some thoughts on the future of global search engines like Zimmi and how platforms like these will need to evolve to meet newer challenges?
B2B search simply doesn’t exist in a meaningful way today. If you think about the evolution of search, it starts with the willingness to be an active member of the platform. If Google was a platform without consumers or sellers, it would feel useless, right? Platforms are only as good as their community and the engagement within the community.
When it comes to B2B search platforms, it’s about attracting users and adding value in the early stages. We want to be able to connect buyers and sellers and then listen to what they really need to evolve to platform. People must be willing to get on that platform and begin that process. Consumers twenty years ago didn’t know what they were missing, and search solved a problem they didn’t even know they had. Opening up the global supply chain in a more transparent and choice-driven way can help streamline business for both buyers and sellers.
Some last thoughts and takeaways before we wrap up?
Because of the supply chain disruption crisis, we’re going to start to see the supply chain reimagined right before our eyes. The market size of B2B business and transactions is five times that of the consumer market; there are trillions of dollars trading hands. Businesses and organizations need to be willing to reimagine the supply chain for their own company, whether you’re a buyer or seller. There will be more platforms like Zimmi that will emerge that will bring value and solutions to these challenges – it would be wise for us all to embrace them.
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Zimmi is a new search engine platform that connects B2B—and B2B only—buyers and sellers across the globe using secure, verified search. The site hosts over 20 million verified suppliers from over 200 countries, providing more buying options to businesses that need it.
Jim Thomsen is a co-founder of Zimmi, Mr. Thomsen is an enterprise leader with years of executive management and board experience. As the operating President at Thrivent Financial, a privately held Fortune 500 organization, Mr. Thomsen provided strategic and operational leadership for multiple Thrivent subsidiaries within the asset-management, healthcare, banking, insurance, and trust domains. With over 30 years of P&L experience, Mr. Thomsen has led transformational strategy development and execution for existing businesses. Mr. Thomsen holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Luther College and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.
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