Connects Small, Minority Businesses with Corporations

As a small, woman- or minority-owned business, have you ever entered your company’s information into yet another corporation’s Supplier Diversity Portal, only to wonder if you will ever hear from anyone? A new online service called aims to change all that.

Like all inventions, was born of frustration with the status quo. As a procurement expert and supplier diversity consultant to Fortune 1000 companies, Rod Robinson was all too familiar with the challenges small, diverse businesses faced trying to effectively connect with large corporations. Having also served as chief procurement officer for Cincinnati Bell, Robinson also understood that large corporations faced similar challenges trying to find qualified, diverse vendors for the specific products and services they needed to purchase.

Rod Robinson

“Given all the ways technology is being leveraged in today’s business environment, I just knew there had to be a better way to connect buyers and diverse suppliers,” said Robinson. “The marketplace is full of out-of-date or incomplete databases, fragmented resources and expensive software. So I set out to create a solution to connect buyers and suppliers simply and easily.”

Robinson partnered with Chris Downie, founder and CEO of America’s top diet and fitness website SparkPeople to develop It combines Robinson’s understanding of private-industry procurement and supplier diversity with Downie’s technical know-how.

Using connXus

Here’s how it works:

  • Corporations register as buyer members and include the categories of products or services they need to purchase in their profile.
  • Small or diverse businesses register as supplier members, creating a custom profile describing their company and the categories of products or services they provide.
  • Suppliers also request performance ratings from prior customers via the proprietary rating system. Just like other consumer-focused websites, the more and the better a supplier member’s ratings, the higher that supplier member will rank in a buyer’s search.
  • The system then actively matches the two based on both profiles.
  • Buyers can conduct searches for suppliers or post contract opportunities for suppliers to post bids.
  • Suppliers can use their custom profile to market their company to anyone.


More than 100 spend categories are represented, including construction, legal, facilities, information technology, professional services (accounting, consulting , training, etc.), capital equipment, manufacturing, transportation and temporary labor.

Membership has its privileges

The service will be subscription-driven. However, one of Robinson’s core goals was to make it as affordable as possible for suppliers, so the service offers tiered levels of membership.


Basic Supplier: This basic membership is free, and includes:

  • A custom profile describing your business, identifying the products or services you offer, featuring your logo and including your contact information. Can be used to market your business to anyone.
  • Inclusion in the proprietary, searchable database of small and diverse suppliers.
  • Automatic notification of new Buyer members seeking to make purchases in your category(ies).
  • Ability to view a list of connXus Buyer member company names.
  • Ability to view summaries of all posted contract Opportunities.
  • Access to business news, The Connection Point blog and information resources on relevant topics.

Classic Supplier: This membership costs $19.95 per month and includes all Basic benefits, plus:

  • Ability to connect with contract Opportunities posted by Buyer members.
  • Access to complete Buyer member profiles, including contact information.
  • Ability to secure performance ratings from customers via the proprietary connXus rating system. The greater the quantity and quality of your performance ratings, the higher your company will rank in Buyer searches.
  • Ability to upload documentation Buyers require, such as certifications, proof-of-insurance or bonding.
  • Automatic distribution of your company’s information to Buyer members looking for suppliers in your category(ies), creating a constant source of potential new business.

Buyer Classic: Membership for buyers is free, and includes:

  • A custom profile describing your business, identifying the products or services you seek to purchase, featuring your logo and including your contact information.
  • Access to the proprietary, searchable database of performance-rated small and diverse suppliers. Information includes: description of business, products or services offered, contact information, performance ratings (Classic members) and certification, proof-of-insurance and bonding documentation (Classic members).
  • Automatic notification of new Classic Supplier members meeting your specified supplier criteria.
  • Ability to post contract Opportunities for Classic Supplier members.
  • Ability to refer Supplier members to anyone.

Access to business news, The Connection Point blog and information resources on relevant topics.

    Memberships for Buyers are also tiered according to the level and amount of services provided, starting with a no-cost option.

    Since the site’s trial launch started in December 2010, buyer members have posted real bid opportunities totaling more than $10 million. Based on that, Robinson projects 100-150 bid requests totaling approximately $40-60 million in 2011. More than 100 suppliers have joined connXus so far, along with industry-leading buyer members like Mars Chocolate, Duke Energy, ICG Commerce, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Cooper Industries.

    According to Robinson, has been a true bootstrap start-up, with very little budget. He’s been working with a team of five, but has plans to begin hiring staff in the areas of sales/marketing, technology, and business development in the next six months

    News you can use also offers information and tools for both Buyers and Suppliers, including interviews with Chief Procurement and Diversity Officers, sample supplier diversity programs and policies, and best practices. The site also features a blog called The Connection Point, will focus on issues, events and news about procurement and supplier diversity. So, whether you’re purchasing or selling, they’ll have information you can use. Robinson also hopes to facilitate a healthy, respectful exchange of viewpoints on issues surrounding supplier diversity and procurement.

    As for the future, Robinson envisions’s services expanding significantly as the site continues to aggregate bid opportunities for the diverse supplier community it serves.


    You can connect with connXus on

    The Connection Point Blog:


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