Kent Yan, CEO of TraDove, is not your typical CEO. While tenacious and driven, Kent has a deep appreciation for people and a compassion to make business deals that will impact both parties positively. He is driven by helping people and this can be seen with TraDove.
From a small startup a few years ago to over 250,000 B2B sellers and buyers, TraDove has a network of over 250,000 B2B buyers and sellers. It is essentially aimed at being the LinkedIn for B2B business.
The idea behind TraDove stems from CEO Kent Yan’s frustration with international trade. Yan’s experience is heavily focused in China, helping large corporates source products and services. This experience led to the realization that doing international trade is difficult and poses many challenges. To solve this, TraDove was formed to authenticate, vet, and review buyers and sellers with the use of smart contracts to execute safe B2B global interactions.
I caught up with Kent to learn more about the current state of the business, how he got started, his personal interests and learn a few key business tips.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business philosophy
I am an MIT graduate with a Masters in Science in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management. My business specialties are technology, business and finance. What sets me a part from a lot of people is my willingness and guts to take risks and chase that one percent opportunity. That feeling of taking on big challenges to potentially make a dent in this world is what motivates me.
I also love working with people. Both the good and the bad. Talking to 100 people and being turned down by 99 only to have one person say yes is a great achievement. I learned early on to never take no for an answer. Being resilient is very important. You have to break the hurdles on the road to your vision and be flexible enough achieve the goal. Persistence is the key.
2. What are your three key attributes?
I am low-key, humble and accessible. I also value loyalty a lot.
3. What was your inspiration behind TraDove? How did it all begin?
I was helping US companies like Anheuser-Busch, Anderson Windows and Constellation Brands with sourcing manufacturing from China. During this process, I quickly found out that there are big problems in B2B. It is difficult, costly, and hard to navigate – particularly internationally. I became obsessed with simplifying this process.
4. What are some of these problems? Can you elaborate?
First, people do not see each other, even if your partners are in the same town. This lack of personal connection is the first missed opportunity to build trust between two parties.
Second, B2B is not transparent. It’s very hard to validate and qualify a good buyer or supplier. You can read what you find on the internet, but there is not a central network where these buyers and suppliers can be rated and vetted.
Third, there is a lack of trust, especially in international trade. How can I make sure that I get paid for the goods and services I deliver? Given the cross-border nature of the industry, it is very easy to find yourself in a tough spot.
As a result, I came up with this idea to create a business-oriented social network to connect corporate buyers, sellers and other partners together so they can find each other in clicks rather than weeks or months. This ultimately shortens due diligence time and allows for targeted company to company advertising. The goal is to build more trust in international trade.
5. How do you hope to solve this problem?
What I have built is a B2B social network allowing corporate buyers and sellers to find each other within clicks rather than weeks or months. They can easily share knowledge, experience and opportunity:
- We validate each user to maintain the credibility of the business social network.
- People can provide references for people, products/services and companies so that data can be shared to shorten other people’s due diligence time.
- We use big data and AI to match buyers and sellers and place targeted ads.
- We use blockchain technology and our BBCoin to solve the trust problem in international trade and relieve the stress of dealing with local banks.
6. What would your advice be for young entrepreneurs?
Be patient and find something you can relate to on a personal level. This can even be something negative at first. If you can fix that problem or help other people in the process, that may be a good sign to start. Also, treat people well. Without other people on your team, making a global impact will be very challenging.