U.K. B2B Marketplace Launches U.S. Site

Calling itself one of the world’s first online business to business marketplaces for small and medium-sized companies, mondus.com announced the launch of their U.S.-based site yesterday.

The Oxford, England-based company’s new U.S. site follows on the heels of launches in the U.K. and Germany. Mondus.com claims to streamline the purchasing process for smaller companies, reducing both procurement time and costs for necessary products and services.

The site allows a business to solicit bids from vendors by submitting a free Request for Proposal in a variety of different categories. The first 10 categories for the U.S. site are printing, office equipment, property services, intellectual property services, couriers, IT services and equipment, Internet services, telecommunications, financial services and corporate hospitality. The company says it will eventually post an additional 20 main categories.

Mondus then notifies vendors in the relevant categories to submit bids. The bids are displayed to all vendors, providing an open competition. The company says the bidding process utilizes specially developed technology, making it easy to follow online.

“Small business purchasing constitutes an untapped $70 billion (US$) market,” claims Alexander Straub, company co-founder and CEO for U.S. operations. “Mondus allows small and medium-sized businesses to enjoy the benefits of e-business that previously had only been available to Fortune 1000 companies. We reduce the cost of purchasing products and services significantly and free business owners to read anything but the Yellow Pages.”

Competition Winners

Straub and fellow former Rhodes Scholar Rouzbeh Pirouz formed their company after beating 1,600 other applicants in a competition organized by venture capital firm 3i. The prize was nearly $1.5 million of first-round funding. The company was established last March and received a $12 million investment from Eden Capital, a London venture capital firm, in August.

Others share the enthusiasm for the business-to-business marketplace for smaller companies. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Forrester Research estimates that the B2B e-commerce industry will produce $800 million in revenues by 2002, but also that small businesses — which represent an estimated 80 percent of the market — could well be left behind due to the costs of developing a professional Web site.

Mondus claims to fill that gap by providing its service for both buyers and vendors, giving them e-commerce solutions without the need for a proprietary Web site.

The company says it has over 5,000 suppliers and buyers registered in its database. It opened its offices in New York and Hamburg, Germany last month.

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