Podcasts > Ep. 196 - Realize Visibility and Resilience in Commodity Supply Chain Management
Ep. 196
Realize Visibility and Resilience in Commodity Supply Chain Management
Andrea Aranguren, CEO, Minehub
Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Today, we have Andrea Aranguren, the CEO of Minehub, as our guest. MineHub offers advanced digital solutions that establish connections among buyers, sellers, and financiers in physical commodities supply chains. These connections operate within a digitally integrated workflow, utilizing data that is both usable and shareable, with a focus on verifiability and incorruptibility.

In this episode, we delved into the necessity for transparency in supply chains stemming from widespread disruptions, labor shortages, systemic fraud, and ESG reporting requirements. We also examined how the digitization of supply chain operations unlocked real-time visibility, highlighted risks, and improved the resilience of revenue and feedstock streams.

Key Discussion Points:

  • Who is currently driving the strongest push for the adoption of solutions that offer better visibility and management?
  • How does Minehub tailors  the needs of users from finance to operational teams for both buyers and sellers?
  • With GPT being designed for handling messy communication, how do you see its role in enhancing communication within your solution at Minehub?

To know more about our guest, you can find Andrea Aranguren on:

Website: https://minehub.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrea-aranguren-454544a/


Erik: Andrea, thanks for joining me on the podcast today.

Andrea: Thank you for having me.

Erik: I'm looking forward to this one because this is a topic that we are trying to understand better at IoT ONE. I think there's an interesting interplay between digitalization and sustainability, which maybe is not intuitive. But it's actually really hard to do sustainability without using a lot of digital technologies, I find, in terms of tracking, in terms of analyzing, in terms of reacting to data.

Andrea: Absolutely. We're also at the intersection between supply chain and commodities which is also a combination that not that many people are familiar with.

Erik: Yeah, absolutely. So I think this will be a good education today from a couple of perspectives. Before we get into the topic, I'd love to understand your background. It's fascinating. You started as VP of Commodities and Metal Logistics at Goldman Sachs. Then you were with IHS Markit. I understand you helped set up their Commodity Tracker solution. Then you set up or co-founded Waybridge, and eventually sold Waybridge to Minehub where you are currently today as a CEO. So there seems to be a pretty clear golden thread through that. What was it, or when was it that you decided that your career was going to be devoted to this set of topics?

Andrea: It's interesting. I actually didn't start at Goldman Sachs. Right after college, I actually worked at UBS, in private wealth management. I covered the Latin American market, and I was put in the Brazilian team. I spent some time living in São Paulo. That's really where I got a lot of exposure to commodities, specifically alternative energy and sustainability, since a lot of our high-net worth individuals had derived their wealth from growing commodities-related businesses. That's when I decided that I really wanted to transition into commodities and sustainability. So I went to business school and able to do that. That's actually when I started at Goldman Sachs. So I really developed a love for commodities actually when I was in Brazil.

Erik: Got it. And so that was back in — I guess 2009 was when you joined Goldman Sachs. Was sustainability already on top of your mind then, or was it first commodities and eventually sustainability emerged as a topic as you understood the industry better?

Andrea: It's actually a funny story. I interned at Goldman in between my first and second year at business school. I was 100% focused on alternative energy and sustainability, and they knew that. And so as an intern, I spent time in a group. I spent most of my summer in carbon markets and looking at wind and solar energy, very, very focused on environmental markets and alternative energy.

Then when I joined a year later, most of that had dried up, and the risk tolerance had changed within the organization. A lot of those teams had actually become much smaller. And so I spent most of my time in oil and gas, the complete opposite of what I had planned for. It was funny. Since then, I've spent most of my career in a variety of different physical commodities markets. I did spend some time in oil and gas, of course in metals and non-ferrous base metals. Then, as you noted, I spent some time in environmental markets while I was at IHS Markit as well. But I've also consulted with a lot of different startups, helping them as well set up their supply chains and thinking about supply chain optimization in other industries, everything from haircare to infant formula.

Erik: Okay. Interesting. Yeah, I think normally you don't think of Goldman Sachs as necessarily a sustainability-oriented company. Just, I'd say, a very practical financial-oriented company. But I think this topic is also becoming a financial topic in many respects. Let's touch quickly on Waybridge. Of course, you're CEO of Minehub today. But I think the integration of Waybridge is an important part of the story. What was the touch point or the logic behind the integration of the acquisition?

Andrea: When we co-founded Waybridge back in 2019 and we set out with a mission to digitize the physical commodity supply chain, we were finding ourselves competing more and more with Minehub. And so at the end of last year, we actually reached out in order to explore a strategic partnership. As we started getting into detailed discussions, we realized that it made all the sense to actually combine the two companies. Because there were so many synergies from a platform and a people, a customer, and a prospect perspective.

Erik: Yeah, it makes sense. I feel like there's a lot more situations where that logic makes sense, where you have an emerging space. You have a lot of younger companies popping up to solve the solution that end up looking fairly similar, but of course, have very limited resources. The logic of them joining forces makes sense. But not many, I would say, manage to actually find that point of alignment. People get married to their brand. There are certain things that you fall in love with when you are running a startup, and it can be hard to accept giving up your brand or giving up a leadership role. Why do you think you were able to succeed in finding it was just the management team you had to share a vision or a cultural fit? What was it that allowed you to actually succeed in bringing these companies together?

Andrea: That's a good question. I think it was a couple different things. One, it was that, I think first and foremost, it was mutually beneficial for both companies given the stage and the commercial momentum and the stage of product development that they were at. Minehub was very close to signing a very large deal with a very large mining company. It had a very deep partnership with Sumitomo. A very strong presence in Europe and in Asia, particularly in the concentrates market. Waybridge was very, very close to signing a big deal with Codelco and had a fair amount of traction in the refining market, mostly focused on North America.

And so, as you note, for startups with limited resources to actually go into new markets and to expand the capabilities of the product, to be able to cover diverse markets, it requires a significant investment. Our companies and teams and products in some ways fit together like two perfect puzzle pieces. Not to say that it hasn't taken hard work to integrate the two teams and the two cultures and think really long and hard about our product and commercial strategy. But now that we've invested the time in doing that, we really do have a very holistic offering for both the concentrates and the refined metals market.

Erik: Yeah, okay. Great. It makes sense. I want to go through maybe the, let's say, 60-second pitch of what Minehub is doing before we go real deep into the business. Then we can first discuss the problem around that. Let's go first into this high-level value proposition. What is the goal of Minehub when it comes to helping to address the challenges related to commodity supply chains?

Andrea: Sure. Absolutely. We actually start that pitch with the problem. So if we think about it, the world has digitized everything that we do, whether it's in our personal lives or in pretty much every other industry. Yet, the $11-trillion physical commodity market is still operating almost exclusively on paper, Excel spreadsheets, and email. The market is starting to realize that there is a massive inefficiency. As you struggle to find workers to actually do the administrative work of manually entering data and reconciling in a variety of different spreadsheets, there's, of course, massive inefficiency in that. But the market is realizing more and more, particularly in a post-COVID era, that there's also an incredible amount of risk inherent in continuing to operate very complex global supply chains on spreadsheets in Excel. Mistakes are more common. We're seeing increasing supply chain disruptions. We see issues with production in freight markets. And so a failure to modernize is actually creating a massive risk for the companies within the supply chain and will eventually create a competitive disadvantage if they do not digitize.

Our solutions are solving these very high-value challenges. Supply chain resilience. More and more, we're seeing ESG compliance in emissions accounting, regulations coming up in a variety of different jurisdictions. We see increasing trade regulations. We see the Inflation Reduction Act in the U.S. mandating companies to show the provenance or origin of shipments. We see fraud, unfortunately. We've seen the Aurubis fraud recently, a variety of different frauds consistently almost every quarter within the commodities market, as well as an increasing focus on data security and regulations. And so these are really the macro forces that are driving this movement towards digitization, especially since the combination of Minehub and Waybridge. There is no other company out there providing as holistic of a trade management solution that is purposefully built for the mining and metals market.

Our platform is a post-trade management platform which is AWS hosted, so it can be accessed from any modern internet browser. So buyers and sellers within these markets, they continue to negotiate their contracts — whether their annual contracts or spot contracts offline. Once those contracts are confirmed, they will be entered or uploaded or automatically entered into our platform. That sets off a series of workflows that helps both buyer and seller to manage the fulfillment of that order. That's really where the pain and the risk comes in in the commodities market. It's in the actual transport and fulfillment, the lack of visibility and information that exists in the market today without a digital platform. So we bring the market that transparency, access to visibility into their shipments, into the status of their orders, and help them to manage really critical aspects of that operational workflow, such as the asset exchange which is a very important part of the concentrate settlement process.

Erik: It's always interesting when you have these massive industries that are lagging really a decade behind in terms of technology adoption. We're doing a lot of work in real estate right now, and it's a bit the same, right? You have companies that might be managing portfolios of billions of dollars of assets, and they're doing it on Excel. I would say that's actually easier for real estate. Because your assets don't move, right? At least, they're stable.

Andrea: Yes.

Erik: That's not the case in commodities. Some of the topics that you mentioned are a bit newer, right? So COVID gave everybody a bit of a slap in the face in terms of supply chain disruption. ESG is a bit of a newer topic. But some of these, when it comes to fraud, when it comes to just general complexity, these have been the state of the business for a long time. Why do you think there's been this delay in adoption of digital solutions in the industry, given that really the technologies existed for, I would say, a decade or so at least?

Andrea: It's a really good question. I think, in a lot of ways, it's cultural. It's an industry that in a lot of ways is a very old-fashioned industry that has been operating the same way for hundreds of years. The demographic of the people, I mean, a lot of our customers and our main users on the platform have been at their companies for 35 years. And so they're very entrenched in this way of doing business which has worked for decades and didn't seem to be problematic in the past, and they could just manage.

I remember actually in March of 2020, with COVID, when there were massive plant shutdowns. Because only one or two people actually knew anything about the incoming material. That information lived in a piece of paper, in a Manila envelope in the office that nobody could access or in a file that was saved on somebody's desktop. That person unfortunately got sick, and we couldn't access the file. And so I think COVID, in a lot of ways, has really opened everyone's eyes to this issue of business continuity and the risk of not centralizing data on a secured platform where it can be shared internally within teams, as well as more efficiently externally.

I was an operator for a really long time. I arranged hundreds of thousands of truckloads to be delivered to customers. When my customer would send me a schedule, 9 out of 10 times, a truck would arrive according to schedule. But the market has changed significantly because of all the supply chain disruptions. you can't just count on material arriving anymore. And so it really highlights the need for digital tools, that increased visibility into where that material is, which, as you say, it certainly is moving. Both buyer and seller need to know exactly where it is. Because you risk plant shutdowns, which are incredibly costly.

Erik: You mentioned a few topics there, and I guess these topics are important or relatively more or less important depending on geography and depending on the industry. So if I run through the key ones, that would be supply chain disruptions, labor shortages which feels a bit more maybe a European or maybe particularly American problem right now, fraud probably a global problem, and then regulation related to maybe ESG also. I guess other topics as well: child labor, slave labor, et cetera are also topics. Do you find that those are more general? Or is it when you go into mining in the US, you talk about topic A, and if you go into Africa in oil and gas, you're talking about topic C? How do you find the resonance?

Andrea: That's an interesting question. No, they are all, I would say, global topics. Perhaps on the labor shortage side, yeah, that does tend to be more of perhaps an American or European issue. But certainly, as it relates to ESG and sustainability, that is certainly a global concern. I think there's a lack of clarity in terms of what that really means and what companies actually need to report and what they need to record. But we certainly are seeing an increased focus on that, I would say, in all regions throughout the world. Supply chain disruptions are certainly global. Fraud is definitely global. Huge, huge focus on data security and business continuity, that's global as well.

Erik: And the push to adopt now solutions that provide better visibility and management, do you feel that this is coming more internally from, let's say, the traders themselves, or is this coming from downstream customers? Is it coming from Apple saying we want to know where the raw materials that go into our phone are? Where do you see the strongest push for adoption today?

Andrea: It's a combination. On the sustainability side, I would say the push is certainly from shareholders and customers downstream, particularly for customers that are supplying the EV industry, the electric vehicle industry. We do see that pull from customers, certainly. I would say, candidly, sustainability is a focus. It's something that companies are really keen to understand how we can help to improve their reporting.

But ultimately, what drives sales for us from a platform perspective is really mostly on the commercial side. Often, we'll see C-level mandates or commercial teams that are very focused on improving their margins or the way that they do business and mitigating risks. That tends to be who's really becomes our champion to actually sell the platform internally almost on our behalf.

It's really interesting. Because we're not replacing another line item. We're not replacing another system. We are a completely new line item for these companies. They're not used to buying software, this type of software, in any sort of pre-determined way. And so we've been most successful at finding an internal champion who's often tends to be on the commercial team to help us navigate that process. I find that it varies very much from company to company.

Erik: Interesting. I guess the ROI calculation is interesting. Because there are some areas where you say, well, we get you a 20% efficiency in terms of maybe labor. Okay. That's pretty set. But then, there's others where you can say, "Well, you had a fine for $90 million last year, and we could have helped you avoid that," which is a very lumpy ROI, right? But if you talk to somebody a month after they got that fine, they're going to be all ears, right? Tell me how I can avoid this next time.

Andrea: That is right. That's true.

Erik: Cool. Well, let's talk about the platform. You've already given us a good high-level overview. But break it down. Maybe, actually, let's start with the user. So you already touched quickly on who the champion is. Is this something that's going to be used by one team? Is it going to be that it's owned by one team but then there's eight different teams in the organization — everybody from finance to the guys that drives trucks that are going to be logging in? What does the user landscape look like?

Andrea: The user landscape is evolving. We use what we call a phase implementation approach. So we'll start deploying the platform initially with the operations teams often, procurement teams, or the sales team. So it's a combination of the commercial and the operations teams. In order to capture all the contracts, we help them to really collaborate with their supply chain, whether they're a buyer or a seller. To facilitate everything from confirming monthly quotas, which are constantly changing, to managing delivery schedules and providing updates to the schedule.

We work really hard to understand where all the shipments are coming from, and we'll actually connect to the source of every shipment, whether it's a warehouse, or we're connecting to a trucking carrier, or a shipping line, or to the supplier themselves. We will automate the vast majority of all the shipment data in the platform. We capture really critical facts. Not just the typical bill of lading number and maybe the weight, but actually the brand and the specifications of the material on that ship. Then that unlocks a huge amount of capabilities from a reporting and analytics perspective.

We also help both buyer and seller to manage all of the shipping documents. A huge pain in this market is managing all of the shipping documents. Metals is notorious for having a huge amount of paper and way too many emails, so we streamline and automate that process. We centralize all of the digital shipping documents and associate them with the shipment and order to take away a lot of the reconciliation work that has to get done, to even understand this supplier owed me 1000-metric tons this month. How much has actually been delivered? How much is in transit? How much is left? That simple calculus is very hard to determine often. And so we take all of that reconciliation and manual work out of the process. It's completely digitized. It's streamlined the entire operational workflow in order to fulfill an actual order in the market.

Then once we get that foundation down, we often expand within the user set to other areas within the organization. Once we have a critical mass of data on the platform for a particular company, we often start engaging with their sustainability offices. As we can now provide comprehensive reporting around transportation emissions, around traceability and source of data, we help customers to calculate percentage of sustainable sourcing and a number of other factors to verify compliance with different regulations. You mentioned child labor and other human rights regulations.

Then we'll also open up, depending on whether our customer is a manufacturer or a producer. In the case of manufacturers, we'll often expand to the actual workers at the plant who will be using the platform. Because it provides them with the much-needed visibility to their incoming shipments, so they can know what they can expect to receive and when and, more specifically, the actual chemistry of the material so that they can plan better from a smelting perspective at the manufacturing facility.

Erik: Got it. One of the pains that at least I've encountered before working with clients in the supply chain areas is that data input still requires human effort in many areas. I mean, there are some areas certainly where IoT solutions could do this, but a lot of supply chains just don't have the sensors in place to provide that data. And so you're requiring somebody to, at some point, say this arrived. I'm going to open up the app, and I'm going to put the data in. Otherwise, you have a dark point in your map.

So what does that look like? Do you take an active role in helping people to fill these? You mentioned in the manufacturing space, by guessing logistics, also, there's a lot of cases where there might be more of a blue-collar worker. That data input from that person is very important to provide in the visibility.

Andrea: 100%. That's where we've really created a competitive advantage. 90% of all data in our platform is automatically created. So we work very, very hard to eliminate any manual data entry. That 10% tends to be the entry of trades that are annual trades that get entered once a year, or very low volume vessel shipments may be entered manually creating one or two shipments a month. But in the vast majority of cases, that's what we've had to get really good at. It's automating data in a variety of different formats from a variety of different sources.

At this point, whether we're connecting to a customer's ERP system directly, whether we work with them to create automated reports that come to us via email as a CSV or Excel format, whether we're getting a structured email that's in the same format every time from a trucking company, whether receiving exports of data from the rail line or from the warehouse itself, or even from the manufacturer, we can automate data in pretty much any format to precisely avoid that need for manual entry.

Erik: Okay. Interesting. Yeah, so it's that kind of job of saying, okay, there's 300 different ways that people share data. We just have to figure out the reliable way to ingest that data regardless what format and which channel it should.

Andrea: It's not just the formats, but it's actually also very, very difficult to match data. The way that sellers refer to a shipment is actually not the same the way they refer to a shipment that they receive. And so sometimes we'll see a shipment that went out and other shipment that went in, and it's actually difficult to determine that it's the same ship. And so we've done a lot of work on data mapping as well to make sure that we can actually map data. Because the market refers to the same thing, whether it's the shipment identifier or even the material itself in so many different ways. There's really a lack of standardization in how the market communicates with each other. That, in fact, is one aspect of our goal. It's helping to standardize the way that buyers and sellers manage their trades, to really drive operational efficiencies.

Erik: Interesting. So GPT came out about a year ago. I suppose that is a tool that's well-designed for handling situations where you have messy communication, where people are using similar but not exactly precise terms to talk about the same thing and to make sense of that. Have you found ways to integrate this generative AI into your solution, or are you working primarily with rules-based and then trying to build standards into your customer's processes?

Andrea: We're starting to look more and more at AI in a variety of different ways. One is to actually improve the productivity of our own employees. Our engineers use AI-related tools to help in the actual writing of the code and helping to enhance their output. We also use AI in some of our sales and marketing activities to help internally with that as well.

Then we recently launched a new tool which we call enhanced ETAs. Because we have a tremendous amount of shipment data, we've created a proprietary data science model where we can understand what the route that a shipment is trying to take. We can actually create our own ETA or predict when that shipment is going to arrive. We find that tracking is very, very difficult. And so even though we have a very comprehensive network of visibility partners, and we're connected to a very large number of logistics partners, even if we have GPS connections to a truck, sometimes it fails. The truck driver turns it off. And so it's actually really difficult to get even above 90% tracking accuracy on the platform, which is why we've invested in building this machine learning data science-based algorithm in order to enhance the tracking and the visibility that we provide customers. That's an example. We're just getting started. It's definitely a huge growth area and a huge opportunity to leverage all the really exciting technology coming out in the AI space.

Erik: Okay. That's very interesting. So you could say the sensor says that the product hasn't moved, but the truck just cleared a document somewhere. So we think it probably is actually moving.

Andrea: Yes, that's exactly right.

Erik: Okay. Cool. There's another technology that's been around for a while with the value proposition on supply chain visibility. I'm curious if you think that there's anything here or not. That's blockchain. Companies have been talking about how this can help provide visibility in supply chain for a while. I have yet to host anybody on the podcast that really has a legitimate solution there. Do you think this is really a useful technology for this field or more like a technology in search of a problem?

Andrea: I think we've seen a lot more examples of failures related to blockchain than successes. That being said, I think a lot of those failures are based on people expecting blockchain to solve underlying problems. It's not some magical box is just going to solve the problem of the data within it. But I do think there are some use cases we do right, particularly for our asset exchange functionality. Because it is incredibly highly sensitive and very commercial, there's an issue of trustless data. We write aspects of the data to the blockchain for immutability and data security.

I don't think that it's necessary or something that needs to be utilized. Probably, I would say, in the vast majority of cases. But there are some situations with highly sensitive data where customers they do feel much more comfortable if aspects of that most sensitive data is written to the blockchain. They feel like it's immutable, and it can't change. Even though, as technologists, we know that we can build very secure infrastructures that have audibility and permissions and controls and uphold the highest standards that relate to data security, a lot of this is about perception. In particular, in this market, change management is so important that providing that additional comfort in certain situations I think is justified.

Erik: It's a good way to think about it. It's better thought about as a particular type of infrastructure that you can use to support your solution in very specific areas as opposed to a solution itself, which I think is what a lot of companies try to say. We are a blockchain company that does x. Then in the end, maybe a lot of what they're doing actually doesn't require blockchain. It just becomes a bit more of a branding.

Andrea: Exactly. Yeah, and it becomes complex from a coding perspective to develop and maintain. It becomes much more costly from an infrastructure perspective as well often.

Erik: Yeah, great. Talk to me a bit about some of the challenges when it comes to bringing customers on board the platform. Clearly, there's a lot of drivers right now that are incentivizing companies to figure out supply chain visibility, whether it's from a cost perspective or regulatory compliance perspective. I think there's also still in this traditional customer base challenges for adoption. What tend to be the big challenges? Then how do you address those and try to smooth the process for adoption?

Andrea: We actually touched on some of those, right? One of them is difficulties with tracking. You mentioned this as well, the lack of sophistication in terms of the tech architecture. What's even available? We could connect into any system, IoT or GPS. Particularly in markets in Latin America or in some of the more undeveloped regions, it's actually very difficult to get GPS tracking on trucks in an automated way. And so I think tracking is very, very difficult. It's also one of the biggest problems we're trying to solve, which is providing increased visibility into the material flows. We're limited by the tech architecture of our partners, whether they be logistics partners or even warehouses.

We're dealing with one warehouse which is a very important warehouse that brings in more than 50% of the copper into the US. They still operate on clipboards and paper, and scan handwritten bills of lading to their customers. And so it's still in a lot of ways a pretty unsophisticated supply chain from a tech architecture perspective. That certainly creates challenges.

The other aspect which we touched on is change management. I think, even though there are certainly macro forces and tailwinds helping to drive digitization, it's still a process. Companies did. They have operated the same way for decades or even hundreds of years sometimes. And so that change management challenge is certainly real. I think that when you start talking about operational efficiency, people get worried about their jobs. There's resistance from a variety of different user groups at times.

I think the other thing which we talked about which is actually a huge challenge is that justifying the cost. So we're not replacing an existing line item, but we're actually creating a new cost for the company. And so it becomes very, very critical to be able to justify the value from a dollar perspective that we're going to be delivering. As you correctly pointed out, we can certainly calculate operational efficiency gains or gains from a working capital perspective, gains in getting paid sooner and what that looks like in terms of financing, cost savings.

But probably the biggest saving is an avoided fraud or major issues. Those are hard to calculate and hard to justify sometimes from a company perspective because, well, it may happen. It may not happen. And so the actual budgeting and process of securing budget to purchase the software is still a process that we're navigating.

Erik: Yeah, understood. So what would that look like if we look at a typical rollout? I mean, you've already shared who the champion is and who the users are. But if we look at it from because you have to justify the cost, I guess, you start small with a specific team. You maybe do a pilot, or you do a couple of modules. Then you ramp up. What would be the timelines? How many people would you be starting with? I don't know. Maybe we don't need to get into budget. But if you can give a high-level indication of what would be a starting cost for somebody that wanted to — give us a little bit of a look at what would it look like for somebody to start using the technology today.

Andrea: Our typical implementations have become much, much quicker. So we've actually invested in internal tooling. We now can benefit from a very large network and ecosystem so that every new customer implementation is much, much more seamless. We are in the process of implementing with a company as complex and global as Codelco. We're managing 100% of the refined copper sales globally. They are set up with their initial customer set which represents about 50% of their business in 30 days. I think that's really representative of where we are from an implementation perspective. And so their commercial teams are engaged from a contract entry and booking perspective. Their operations teams are engaged as it relates to anything having to do with logistics. We've already done counter-party outreach and had initial conversations. We're in the process of getting all of their customers connected to the platform. It's been 30 days.

So we can actually implement very, very quickly. We don't tend to start too, too small. I really don't like pilots. Minehub I know traditionally did a lot of pilots. I really don't. I think it's very hard for a pilot to be successful. I think you really see the value of the platform when you have substantial business on the platform, and you can really see the value of all the reporting, the analytics. We have some really innovative predictive tooling on the inventory side that becomes really impactful once you have all of your suppliers or your customers connected to the platform as an example.

And so what we do tend to do is, we do start with a subset of our customer's businesses, whether it's one region like the U.S. or one commodity like refined copper. Then we'll start implementing with their most important customers, and then eventually add everybody in their network. Then often what we look to do is to expand to additional materials or to additional regions with that customer.

Erik: Okay. That makes sense. Interesting point about pilots. I do feel like the IoT industry is a little bit addicted to pilots. Maybe it's a way to show success, or it's way to get a bunch of customer logos and say we're working with these 100 customers. But I agree. It's very hard then to point to any real tangible impact. Because you look at it and you say, well, okay, maybe the technology seems to succeed. But does it impact our business, who knows, after it's been deployed? Often maybe the technology doesn't succeed, or the problems in terms of actually using the technology at scale are very different from the problems when it's a pilot with three users, right? So there's actually not a direct comparison to those two deployments?

Andrea: That's right. I think it's a big mistake to try to validate, does the technology work? I think the question you should be asking is, is this a product that has product market fit? Can I show a repeatable sales process by which multiple companies are willing to pay for this product and continue to pay for it because it's transforming the way that they do business?

Erik: Yeah, it makes sense. Great. Well, let's talk about the future. This is still a relatively young field, and you're also a relatively young company. So I imagine that 12 months looks like quite a long time in terms of your technology roadmap and market development. So if we look out over the next 12 to 24 months, what's exciting for you in terms of the company, and maybe also in terms of the broader ecosystem?

Andrea: Absolutely. In the short to medium term, we are incredibly focused on ensuring that our customers are happy, in ensuring that the Codelco, as well as Sumitomo — we've recently signed a very large mining company that I would like to keep their name confidential. We are very, very focused on ensuring that those implementations with market leaders that we worked for a very long time to secure those deals and to get not their business but their partnership, really. We want to make sure that that is incredibly successful and that we can bring on their business and deliver optimal value.

Looking a little bit further out, we see the platform we built as an incredible foundation for future growth from a product perspective. One is growth into adjacent commodities. Right now, we've been very, very focused on mining metals, most specifically within copper and aluminum markets. Because those are the markets where we've seen the most traction. But we're very keen to expand into adjacent markets. We're looking at steel and chemicals, agriculture, potentially lithium and some other physical commodities, markets that suffer from a lot of the same pain that we see in copper and aluminum. It could certainly benefit from a digital platform, such as the Minehub platform.

Then from another perspective, we also see the platform as a really incredible foundation to overlay additional services and features. That same visibility that we provide to buyers and sellers is really attractive to banks that are financing the transaction. So we're in conversations with banks to see how we can help them to mitigate risks from a trade finance perspective as a finance commodities transactions.

Then you brought it up. Sustainability, I think, is a huge growth area, particularly where we sit in the supply chain where we have a robust offering for both the bulk concentrates market as well as the refined copper market. We're incredibly well-positioned from a traceability and a chain of custody perspective. We also have all of the critical shipment data, so we know exactly where every shipment came from, all of the key criteria. For every shipment, we can easily pull in carbon intensity, transportation emissions. I alluded to it earlier in our conversation, but I think the market is still evolving and defining what the requirements are as it relates to sustainability. I think there'll be a huge opportunity for growth there once the market is ready, and we'll be well-positioned.

Erik: There's another set of stakeholders, I can imagine, giving you a call at some point which would be the IHS Markit or Goldman Sachs and saying, "Hey, you have a lot of interesting data that we'd like to have a look at." Do you see any possibility in the future for any type of data monetization, or is that just too tricky given the confidentiality issues?

Andrea: Way too tricky. I get that question a lot. We had to work so hard to get companies and traders comfortable with putting their most sensitive data on the platform, that I think it's going to be a very long time until the market is comfortable with us actually sharing or selling that data.

Erik: I see a lot of companies working on technology solutions to anonymize and say we only sell certain metadata. But I think at the end of the day, it's a trust issue, right? It's very, very complex.

Andrea: It's also very hard to anonymize a lot of that data. Because you have very large consumers in one area. If you're talking about a very large aluminum flow in Davenport, I'm pretty obvious who it is. So I think it's actually very difficult to anonymize data in a lot of cases even on an aggregated basis, even on a global scale, just because you have so many concentrated activity from certain market leaders in certain regions.

Erik: Yeah, it makes sense. Great. Andrea, anything we didn't touch on yet that's important for folks to understand?

Andrea: We're just incredibly excited to be at this inflection point. Both Waybridge and Minehub invested a huge amount of time and effort in getting to the point that we are. We're really excited about the partnerships that we've secured, about the team that we've put together through the integration and through the acquisition really. We spent a lot of time investing in coming together as one company and one team. I think there's a lot of work to do. But we have an incredible team of engineers, and product people, and commercial people, and incredible network of customers that are really supporting our success. And so I just feel very fortunate to be here at this time.

Erik: Great. Well, it sounds like you're on the right path. I wish you lots of success in the future. Thanks, Andrea, for joining us on the podcast today.

Andrea: Thank you. My pleasure.


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