Vel Dhinagaravel

Vel Dhinagaravel

Founder and CEO at Beroe

Beroe
Once intent on pursuing mechanical engineering, Vel Dhinagaravel, Founder and CEO at Beroe, shares his unexpected journey into procurement and supply chain

Like many working in procurement and supply chain, Vel Dhinagaravel more or less fell accidentally into the industry. 

Growing up, a young Vel was intent on pursuing mechanical engineering and, for a while, he did exactly that. Towards the closing stages of studying for his undergraduate degree at the Birla Institute of Technology And Science in Pilani (BITS Pilani), he spent his final semester on placement with General Motors (GM). 

Naturally, Vel expected to be assigned to the design department doing engine design, but ended up working with the materials, planning, controlling and logistics team. 

“Before that I’d never even heard of procurement,” Vel confesses. “I stumbled into the profession but loved it from day one, especially because GM had just entered the Indian market and it was almost like a startup operation.

“Because we were so small, I had a lot more responsibility than I would've been given at a larger organisation and I was able to work very closely with the person heading up inbound and outbound logistics.”

Spotting a gap in the market

Vel impressed from day one, achieving 30% cost reduction in logistics after being tasked with optimising truck movement. 

Looking to build on this potential, he opted for a move to the US to study operations in greater depth at North Carolina State University, where he worked closely with Rob Handfield – a top professor in the procurement and supply chain space.  

After completing his Master’s, Vel’s first job in the US was with a consulting firm that was in the midst of numerous major projects. One of these involved working closely with a large software company that was considering getting into the procurement software space. 

Vel spent months speaking to the organisation’s top customers – specifically their CPOs –  to understand whether there was appetite for a new software solution in the procurement space.

“We realised there was no appetite whatsoever for a new software solution because this was right on the heels of the dot-com bust,” he explains. “And so, we went back to this company and told them that they should not build the software they were considering. 

“But there was one common thread we took away from all those conversations: CPOs felt their teams were not as well equipped with market data and understanding relative to suppliers’ sales teams. They felt that, during negotiations, they were fighting with an 18th-century pistol against an automatic weapon.”

Beroe is born

Vel and his co-workers dug deeper into this contrast – and what they discovered was quite shocking. 

For every dollar procurement teams were spending on data, suppliers’ sales teams were spending 105. 

He continues: “Given procurement was getting a lot more investment and was being seen as less of a back-office function and more of a strategic function, we bet that this gap had to shrink and there would be increased appetite within procurement organisations to consume market intelligence in a more sophisticated and structured manner.”

And the rest, as they say, is history. Looking to plug this clear gap in the market, Vel launched Beroe in 2006 alongside two of his former professors from NC State. 

The organisation has continued to grow and evolve – to the extent that it partners with a staggering 1,400 companies worldwide, including 80% of the Fortune 500.

A clearly enthusiastic Vel adds: “Right from my leadership team to every analyst, we have a fantastic group of people working for us, who are very smart, very engaged and committed to delivering a fantastic customer experience. It's an absolute privilege to be leading them.

“I deeply respect the profession, too. Procurement's a fabulous function because it’s so multi-dimensional. The ability to interface with every part of the organisation, to almost be the eyes and ears of the company in engaging with the supply base, is fabulous.”

Read the full story HERE.

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