SaaS startup Stimulus announced today the closing of an oversubscribed $2.5 million seed round led by Black Ops Ventures.
Tiffanie Stanard launched the company in 2017 with a focus on the supply chain, creating a product that provided establishments with the tools and data to choose, compare and form relationships with product suppliers and vendors. The result is a product that helps businesses cut costs by avoiding mismatched suppliers while introducing diverse vendors to companies that might have overlooked them.
“You have exposure from household names to smaller businesses run by underrepresented founders,” Stanard told TechCrunch. “It’s going from discovery to matching in real time.”
Stanard established the company after her own experiences as a buyer and vendor manager. She found that the job always came down to two points: who you know and what information you have to make decisions. She hopes Stimulus can digitize the process of building brand-to-brand relationships in a way that is efficient and easy for both parties to utilize.
Her product is a hit with investors, the most notable of which include Morgan Stanley, The BFM Fund and Northwestern Mutual Futures Ventures. Stanard originally asked for $1.5 million, though it became oversubscribed as more investors took an interest in her product.
“We were able to surpass our goal with great partners, especially strategic partners, as they are trying to have more visibility into their own supply chain,” she said, adding that the conversation around supply chain and diversity has increased these past few months.
This year, she met her lead investor, Black Ops Ventures general partner James Norman, at SXSW via a mutual friend. Norman told TechCrunch that he immediately knew Stanard was the right founder to build Stimulus.
“Her experience in and around procurement uniquely positioned her to develop a solution that could quickly find a fit within her early target segment,” Norman said. “As we learned more about the business, it was clear how we could collaborate to scale out her efforts.”
Darco Capital founder David Adelman, an early investor in Stimulus, echoed these sentiments as to why he was first drawn to the startup.
“When Tiffanie approached me about Stimulus, I knew immediately this was a solution that we could all use,” he told TechCrunch. “We as a society owe it to one another to understand how we can use this type of thinking to improve our own businesses, and it's one I'm so incredibly excited to continue to support.”
Stanard plans to use the money to hire more in sales, data and engineering and expand Stimulus’ partnerships with existing companies. She also hopes the company will introduce establishments to a more diverse set of vendors, in a boost to minority-owned businesses often excluded from the shelves of retailers.
Stimulus arrived after Stanard accrued more than 15 years of industry experience.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Stanard grew up helping her mom and grandmother sell Mary Kay and Avon products. She said the experience piqued her interest in selling, and she learned about the concept of entrepreneurship after taking a class on it during her senior year of high school.
She spent six years as a payroll and vendor manager before starting her own company, Prestige Concepts, which advised big-name companies like Comcast, Microsoft and McDonald’s on building relationships with suppliers and expanding their businesses.
She spent 14 years working there before leaving to focus on Stimulus.
“What have I learned? Have more encouragement in yourself,” she said, adding that the entrepreneurial path is long and often arduous. “Your self-belief will get you through the long journey it takes to get there.”