Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Minesh Pore, co-founder and CEO of sourcing platform BuyHive, discusses how his company thrived in the last year and what the apparel industry should prioritize.
Name: Minesh Pore
Title: Co-founder and CEO
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
Like the apparel industry, the consumer electronics industry is another seasonal industry. In fact, we have seen solid and profitable supply chains from the electronics industry, and the apparel industry must closely observe the supply systems and processes set up by the electronics accessories market to learn from it.
How would you describe yourself as a consumer?
I’m a brand loyalist. I have chosen a few brands for clothing, electronics and even automobiles that I buy from regularly. While I may occasionally indulge in some impulse purchases, even those invariably go to the same brands or categories that I like.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
I become loyal once I have experienced the product and feel it has served me well. For instance, I would have to try out a particular piece of apparel, wear it a few times and feel comfortable with it. After all my needs have been met, I’ll buy everything from the same brand. I believe feeling comfortable over being fashionable is more important.
What’s your typical work (or weekend) uniform?
When I was in the corporate role, it used to be suits. However, now that I’m a startup founder, I started wearing more casual and comfortable clothing. It’s mostly very comfortable slacks and a breathable shirt or shorts and a T-shirt.
Which fashion era is your favorite?
I think my favorite era was the early 2000s when casual dressing started. Though, in formal, I like the ’80s through ’90s; it had pinstripe suits, leather shoes and beautiful, crisp white shirts.
Who’s your style icon?
For formals, I like the style of Gianni Agnelli. And while there is no casual wear icon, I do like the James Dean styling.
What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?
The company is trying to solve the problems of sourcing. Over the last two years, we have seen a lot of trust issues developing in this space and more traffic going to websites like Alibaba and Made in China, and occasionally people getting duped. So, we developed an in-house platform completely different to the Alibaba or Made in China where an independent sourcing expert can help you do the sourcing.
With the Alibaba or Made in China model, people have to search through thousands of advertisers to find the right supplier. Our model uses a network of sourcing experts who are also category experts and therefore have the complete knowledge of the local terrain. Those guys can really help the buyers understand what is happening on the ground, plus they go out and find the product and its manufacturers based on your specific needs. So, our best decision last year was to invest into building our platform. Today, because of that decision, we have more than 5,000 sourcing experts from about 15 countries active on BuyHive.
How would you describe your corporate culture?
Our corporate culture is very open and completely transparent. Before setting up our company, we decided to define our values that we use when hiring and managing employees.
Our seven values are: We are kind and helpful; We think outside the box; We act with honesty and integrity; We are organized and process-oriented; We are team players; We get sh*t done; We are not Debbie Downers.
What can companies learn from Covid-19?
The biggest takeaway is that the only constant in our future is change, and therefore, adaptability must be the number one priority. The faster they can adapt to change, the more chances they have for survival and success.
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
The apparel industry is on the cusp of a huge change in the way it goes about its sourcing. First, the order quantities of these third-party sellers are much smaller, while these sellers are proliferating. So, we not only see a huge and competitive market building up, but we are also watching how each of these sellers demand a lot of customization to differentiate themselves in a competitive market.
Also, buyers will have to change their entire sourcing strategies and reorient their approach to buying from these new markets. To summarize, the apparel industry should be looking at non-China-based manufacturing, which can be in different Asian countries, Latin American countries, Africa or even here in the United States.
What keeps you up at night?
These days, it’s the never-ending lockdowns in China, the factory and warehouse closures, the ports that are not functioning and goods that are not coming out that are keeping me sleepless. Finding the perfect investors to help us grow the right way rather than rushing the process is also keeping me up at night.
What makes you most optimistic?
Since the global markets are constantly changing and buyers are still not able to travel worry-free to trade shows, there is going to be demand for a sourcing solution that is transparent, accountable and sustainable. This is what makes BuyHive most optimistic. Another factor feeding into our optimism is the shift of sourcing destinations caused by the ongoing geopolitical crises around the world.
Tell us about your company’s latest service:
Our core product is a network of sourcing experts with tremendous local expertise, which in many ways is a network like Uber. Uber built a network of drivers who drive people from point A to B. Wouldn’t Uber users value expert drivers who understand their cities well?
We have built a network of sourcing experts who have many years of experience in buying from factories in different regions of the world. They are experts in their regions and their product categories, and we believe their expertise will make a difference in the profitability of the retailers of the future.