How does LinkedIn, Twitter and Airbnb relate to suppliers?

April 16th, 2015


When I started developing tealbook, I (maybe naively) didn’t look at other e-sourcing or procurement tools. I knew they existed, but I figured that if the 25-plus companies I had worked with expressed the same challenges in quickly accessing supplier information, no one had yet provided a good solution.

In 2014, how was it possible that there was no single, credible, gold standard database of suppliers across all functions of the healthcare industry?

I knew something had to be done. This tool had to be intuitive, interactive and innovative. I looked for inspiration amongst the social media platforms that are part of our day-to-day life. I wanted clients and suppliers to easily relate to what they already know and use.

Here’s how six social media platforms have inspired tealbook:

LinkedIn. There is a reason I contacted Reid Hoffman a few years ago via LinkedIn to share my idea. I was pretty excited that he took the time to get back to me, but it didn’t lead to much. I was passed over to other people and was told that LinkedIn was focused on professionals’ networks and not B2B. Still, LinkedIn has been my biggest inspiration. There are a lot of synergies between LinkedIn and tealbook:

  • Connecting companies to suppliers based on trusted peers perspective
  • Allowing companies to gain great knowledge from peers’ supplier connections and quickly filter through supplier contacts
  • Using tags (albeit differently) to support credibility and provide greater insight into how other clients engage and value suppliers
  • Public recommendations for supplier credibility and to see who is endorsing them and for what

SlideShare. Presentations are a large part of the supplier selection process – and I believe the best presentations tell a story in just a few short, focused slides. With tealbook, suppliers can add a 10-slide presentation to their profile to present their capabilities. They can also respond to an RFI with a 10-slide presentation customized to the client’s needs. We developed our own slide tool, but we are still trying to figure out a way to integrate SlideShare into tealbook…any suggestions or introductions are welcome!

Pinterest. The Pinterest idea board inspired us to develop an at-a-glance Rolodex of supplier logos. The easy search by filter is also integrated so that clients and corporate accounts can easily use a combination of tags to filter through their own supplier contacts.

Airbnb. Although a seemingly unlikely inspiration, we liked the quick and easy way airbnb built requirements. We opted for a similar approach for tealbook’s RFI, instead of a painfully lengthy questionnaire. It’s actually fun to complete!

Twitter. Our industry is inundated with info from many different sources. Although clients are hungry for innovation and want to stay on top of trends, they rarely have time to keep up. Tweetdeck and other similar aggregator dashboards inspired our tealboard. By pulling supplier social media feeds from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn into tealboard, clients receive curated content from suppliers they trust. Clients can also search for content across our supplier member universe. Next up will be customized alerts based on a client’s areas of interest. And no good online tool would be complete without its own feed, to share tealbook content directly with clients.

Google Docs – sort of. To increase collaboration when developing an initial list of suppliers, clients can invite their peers to collaborate through tealbook’s RFI tool. And when we launch tealbook’s corporate membership (ready next week), sourcing managers will be automatically invited as a collaborator on an RFI. This increased visibility will help easily gather requirements from a team, and help a company select suppliers based on our recommendations and the entire team’s insight.

We continue to be inspired every day! tealbook continues to evolve and adapt to meet our clients’ needs, but I am confident that it will change the way clients search for and connect with suppliers, just like social media has changed to way we interact with each other.

As always, I welcome you to reach out to me and share your feedback.

Steph (

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