There’s a lot of money sloshing around in the public sector. By some estimates as much as 10 to 20 per cent of the world’s GDP. However, selling into the public sector — for startups, SMEs and enterprises alike — isn’t always so easy. Oppex, which operates a search engine for public sector tendering, wants to change that.
Today sees the Helsinki-based company launch officially, along with announcing $1.5 million in seed funding. The investment comes from media company Alma Media, startup accelerator Veturi, the tax payer-funded Finish fund Tekes, and seven unnamed angel investors.
“The public sector presents huge sales opportunities many companies are not even aware of,” says Oppex CEO Ville Heinonen, when asked to explain the problem the startup has set out to solve. “Most companies cannot successfully bid for and win public sector projects even in their home country. Cross-border deals are often even more complex. With Oppex, companies find new business and make more revenue from the public sector.”
Not only can you search Oppex for tenders and other public sector sales opportunities — the search engine currently has a database of 3.5 million public sector tenders, which it claims makes it the world’s largest source of tenders — but its raison d’être is that tenders are machine-translated into English, regardless of where and what language they originate in. Thus, opening up sales opportunities globally.
Furthermore, the Oppex database spans a huge array of industries world-wide. The public sector, after all, both at local and national government level, buys all kinds of goods and services — from multi-billion dollar construction and IT projects to niche and smaller products and services, such as specialist supplies and local cleaning.
To that end, Heinonen says “competitors” include government websites that provide information about public sector bidding contests, though Oppex also uses such sites as a data source. In addition, there are many private companies that provide an interface to the same information.
“Most of the competitors are local, meaning that they only cover a fraction of the markets we do. Some of our global competitors include Tendertiger (India), dgMarket (World Bank) and Global Tenders (India),” he says. “We’ve focused heavily on the user experience and made Oppex as easy to use as possible.”
Regards monetisation, unlike most of its competitors, the Oppex search engine is free for individual business users. “We are also piloting a subscription fee based premium plan that already has more than 500 paying users,” adds Heinonen.