Munich Startup: What does your startup do? What problem are you solving?
Tacto: We’re creating sustainable supply chains for Europe’s industrial SMEs. In other words: Tacto is developing software that SMEs can use to digitize their procurement processes in one single tool and to transparently evaluate their procurement activities. Our goal is to support procurement in SMEs with intelligent digitization, to promote smooth cooperation across company boundaries and to reduce the consumption of resources along the supply chain.
Procurement departments in industrial SMEs have to purchase thousands of parts at the right time and in the right place to maintain production. Current supply bottlenecks and price increases in day-to-day business also make it necessary to respond immediately. Due to new and increasingly complex regulations, such as the Supply Chain Act that is currently under discussion, industrial SMEs in particular need new solutions to set the course for the future. And it all needs to be managed as efficiently as possible with limited IT capacities and a shortage of skilled professionals. As a result, strategic measures that add value are often neglected because the proper tools are missing: Procurement in industrial SMEs is still predominantly carried out using ERP systems, various spreadsheets and email. This is exactly where there is enormous potential for savings: Suppliers account for 50 to 70 percent of the costs and emissions of an industrial company.
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Tacto: We find it important that we are working for SMEs as an SME: Our solution was developed in close cooperation with leading SMEs and based on daily activities, which means it is perfectly tailored to the needs of our customers. Our software can be used without major IT resources, is intuitive to use and gets employees on board from day one. We can evaluate all of the data along the supply chain, which allows us to provide insights and automation using modern data processing that had not been possible with previous tools. Our solution fills a gap in a market, that of industrial SMEs, with a unique product – a gap that has been producing a ton of spreadsheets until now.
“You see every day in the news why supply chains need to be made more sustainable”
Munich Startup: What’s your founding story?
Tacto: We started our company in a small laboratory at TU Munich. Even from the very beginning, the grand vision was to found a startup together in supply chain management with a focus on industrial SMEs. You see almost every day in the news why supply chains need to be made more sustainable in general – from supply bottlenecks to climate neutrality. And that’s what motivated us to found Tacto.
We met during our studies and had already worked together on several projects at university and at the CDTM. We quickly realized that we share the same values and philosophy. In addition, Munich seemed like the perfect location for a startup to us due to its potential in the field of digitization and software. We all had professional backgrounds in AI-research and had already supported SMEs with digitization and procurement projects before founding the company. Even so, in the early phase we still talked with more than 400 experts and users along the entire supply chains of industrial companies in order to get a very good understanding of the problems. We then developed the product with several SMEs through co-innovation. This close communication with people who experience the challenges of the procurement process up close and personal every day allowed us to develop the product as closely as possible to actual day-to-day business and to create real added value for our customers.
Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Tacto: The biggest difficulty in the beginning was determining the exact needs of our customers. After all, our product is meant to cover or meet these needs in the best possible way. But the large number of interviews with customers helped us clearly understand their pain points as well as which products can help meet their needs.
On top of that, we were able to get key partners on board who helped us develop our software even further. In regular conversations with procurement management once a week, we were able to find out exactly where their pain points were. Our prototypes were developed in this close communication with the business world and were rapidly optimized through continuous adjustment. We can now respond to individual customer requests with our software and offer our customers exactly what they need.
Tacto: “Our major vision is to create sustainable supply chains”
Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, and where in five years?
Tacto: In one year, we want to have expanded our team to approximately 40 people, to have upgraded our product in terms of supply chain regulations and data intelligence (with raw material prices, for example) and to have established Tacto as the leading company for SME procurement in Germany.
In five years, we want to be the leading platform for industrial procurement throughout Europe. That means for us: We’ll be ushering the backbone of the European economy, industrial SMEs, and its tens of millions of employees into the digital age. We’ll be supporting smooth cooperation in supply networks beyond company boundaries as the basis for future growth. We’ll be optimizing the 50 to 70 percent of costs and emissions of a physical product that suppliers account for in order to save resources along the supply chain. Our major vision is to create sustainable supply chains.
How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?
Tacto: We’re a founding team that met during our studies at TU Munich, UnternehmerTUM and the CDTM. Even then, we appreciated the many forms of support from the various institutions and were able to grow on a personal level through various practical projects and programs. Moreover, we were supported by the Munich startup ecosystem from the very beginning, for example, by the confidence placed in us by our first investors (such as UVC Partners, to name just one) and business angels (including Hanno Renner and Michael Wax). We are proud and happy to have such renowned investors from the industrial and digital realm by our side. Everybody knows each other in the startup scene in Munich and we help each other. Moreover, the local scene is clearly linked with industry and is very tech-oriented, which suits Tacto well.
Outsource or DIY?
Tacto: We do all the work on our product in-house because our software is the heart and therefore the core competency of our company. In other areas, such as marketing, we often bring in experts to advise us on very specific topics or to take the first steps with us. That saves time and resources.