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In episode #17, Anna Nadeina talks with Bettina, CEO and co-founder of Hivebuy, assisting small and medium-sized businesses in streamlining their internal purchasing and ordering processes.

From Corporate to Startup Founder

Bettina Fischer, the CEO and co-founder of Hivebuy, never intended to start a company. She had a successful career working in corporate finance and procurement departments, implementing ERP systems and optimizing processes. However, she grew frustrated with the long project timelines, change management challenges, and overall dissatisfaction that often accompanied these large-scale implementations.

After her last project at a large company, Bettina found herself at a crossroads. She wanted to make a change, but wasn’t sure if founding a startup was the right fit for her personality and character. It was through conversations with other founders and a pivotal meeting with an influential mentor that Bettina realized she could solve the very problems she had experienced in her corporate roles by starting her own company, Hivebuy.


Identifying the Untapped SMB Opportunity

When analyzing the market, Bettina and her team recognized that larger enterprises often have high expectations and require extensive certifications and data security measures that can be difficult for a startup to meet. Conversely, the procurement space for enterprises was also highly competitive, making it challenging for a new player to gain traction against established players.

However, Bettina saw a largely untouched opportunity in the mid-market, with companies between 250 and 1,000 employees. These businesses often can’t afford or don’t want to invest in large, complex procurement solutions, yet still have a need for a streamlined, intuitive tool to manage their purchasing and ordering processes. This became Hivebuy’s target market, as Bettina and her co-founder believed they could provide an effective and efficient solution for this underserved segment.


Lessons Learned in the Early Stage

Like many founders, Bettina and her team made some mistakes in Hivebuy’s early days. One of the biggest challenges was balancing their excitement about the product they had built with the need to truly listen to their customers.

“At the beginning, you’re really super excited about the things you’re building, and you think that you’re the only one who can solve the problem. You don’t listen to your clients, but you’re pushing your ideas onto them,” Bettina explains. This led to wasted development effort, as they could have worked on better prioritization of features and improvements by actively engaging with their customers from the start.

Another early misstep was the disconnect between sales and the technical team. Bettina shares, “we really had a huge issue and a huge disconnect between sales and product. We really had to improve our qualification to fix that.” This involved ensuring that everyone in the company, not just the developers, had direct exposure to customers and a deeper understanding of how Hivebuy was being used. 


Prioritizing the Product Roadmap

Hivebuy has implemented a structured, three-month process for developing their product roadmap. This involves:

  1. Brainstorming sessions, where the team looks at market trends, emerging technologies, and innovative ideas, and then ranks them based on potential impact and sales opportunities.
  2. Validating the top ideas with a select group of clients to gather feedback and gauge interest.
  3. Handing off the prioritized innovations to the tech team to assess feasibility and resource requirements.
  4. Finalizing the roadmap and planning the development work for the upcoming quarter.

This methodical approach helps ensure Hivebuy is focusing on the most impactful and innovative features, while also balancing customer requests and maintaining a strong connection between the business and technical sides of the organization.


Overcoming the Procurement Purchase Cycle

One of the biggest challenges Hivebuy faces is the complex and multi-layered decision-making process for procurement solutions within their target companies.

To address this, Hivebuy has developed a range of tactics, including:

  1. Improving their qualification process to better understand the key stakeholders and decision-makers involved.
  2. Creating tailored sales materials and videos to address the concerns and needs of different departments, such as finance, marketing, and IT.
  3. Leveraging digital sales rooms and personalized content to guide customers through the purchase process and provide the necessary information to secure buy-in from all relevant parties.


Partnerships and Integrations as Growth Drivers

Bettina recognizes the importance of partnerships and integrations as a key growth channel for Hivebuy. The company has focused on two main areas:

  1. ERP and BI system integrations: Hivebuy has leveraged integration platforms to quickly and cost-effectively connect its platform with a range of enterprise systems, making it easier for customers to adopt and use the tool.
  2. E-commerce platform integrations: Hivebuy has established commercial agreements with various e-commerce platforms, allowing customers to access and purchase products directly through the Hivebuy interface. This integration also opens up opportunities for joint marketing and sales initiatives.


Maintaining Work-Life Balance as a Founder

As a first-time founder, Bettina has had to navigate the challenges of balancing the demands of building a business with her own personal well-being. She shares that at the beginning, she was “really tense” and wanted to make everything perfect.

However, Bettina has learned the importance of setting boundaries and taking care of herself. 

Some of the techniques Bettina has found helpful include:

  1. Reflecting on her daily achievements to maintain a sense of progress.
  2. Allowing herself the flexibility to not rigidly plan her free time, giving her the mental freedom to recharge.
  3. Avoiding comparison to the “perfect” founder narratives often portrayed on social media, and instead focusing on her own goals and well-being.

Bettina’s journey as a first-time founder has been filled with both challenges and successes. By prioritizing customer feedback, fostering cross-functional collaboration, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, she and her team have truly been able to build a compelling procurement solution for small and medium-sized businesses. 

Head of Growth,