CMU-Q alumni streamline supply chain and re-imagine enterprise procurement
Three Carnegie Mellon University graduates, including two from the Qatar campus, have created a startup that could revolutionise the way engineering and manufacturing firms do business.
The brainchild of CMU-Q graduates Naassih Gopee and Jaasim Polin and CMU alumnus Brian Jeon, Inpleo addresses the complex process of enterprise procurement. The team has created a system to match engineering and heavy manufacturing companies with vendors using a reverse-auction platform. Buyers list their Requests for Quotation (RFQ), including the maximum price they are willing to pay. Inpleo provides a real-time tracking and bid-monitoring service, and buyers are charged a percentage of the amount they save on their maximum price.
The power of Inpleo’s service lies in sourcing, which has the potential to eliminate the traditional RFQ. In practice, buyers send RFQs to a small selection of vendors within their immediate network. The Inpleo team has re-imagined the process, creating an in-memory processed matching algorithm to bring together buyers and vendors in real time. By casting a wider net for possible vendors, buyers can choose the best, and most profitable, suppliers.
The response from industry has been positive. Jeon, Inpleo’s CEO, commented:”We have several exciting opportunities in the horizon as we pursue large financial firms and heavy manufacturing clients. We are getting an excellent response. They are very interested in using the power of artificial intelligence. The sales and approval processes at these firms is lengthy, but their continued interest shows that they see Inpleo as a tool for real, profitable change.”
In fact, procurement has an important impact on profitability: reducing the cost of production means a more favourable bottom line. Mustafa Akan, associate professor of operations management at CMU-Q, commented:”Price is one metric, but there are others that have an impact on profitability such as quality, reliability and customer service.”
With backend analytics and predictive forecasting in the works, the system analyses, deploys and monitors procurement and supply chain management, improving efficiency and reducing error rates for over- or under-purchasing.
Akan added:”There is a real cost if a manufacturer does not get a part on time, so the optimization elements of the software would be appealing to buyers.”
Inpleo’s matching capabilities will improve as customers use the service, making purchase recommendations based on past deals, sales cycle pricing variability and similar industry purchases.
“We have received so much support from faculty members at CMU. Andrew Moore, dean of the School of Computer Science, helped us when we were in the alpha stage, and we are pleased that Manuela Veloso, the head of machine learning, has now joined our team as a key advisory board member. Our connection to cutting edge researchers such as Dr Veloso gives us a true advantage in navigating the growth period,” said Gopee, who serves as Inpleo’s chief technology officer.
Inpleo is moving ahead with a truly international team. Members are based in the United States of America, Egypt and Qatar, and as the platform moves past the beta stage, they envision a global presence. Gopee noted that their international team is appealing to potential clients:”This is the age of globalisation, and clients can see the growth potential of enterprise software that is located in technology hubs like Pittsburgh and Doha.”