“Constant iteration drives us to do better” – SourceSage’s recipe for success in the digitalization of a B2B E-Commerce

With a user distribution throughout 117 countries, about 50 clients worldwide and over 883 product categories – SourceSage is looking at a very successful history of only six years since its founding. The idea behind SourceSage: To digitalize the B2B2C sector with a platform for E-Commerce, a unique selling point which helped the startup expand.

In an interview with 5-HT, CEO & Co-founder Jian Min Sim talks about their founding and how the Singapore startup grew and scaled.

Jian Min Sim, CEO & Co-founder of SourceSage

What is SourceSage?

“SourceSage is an E-Commerce platform company that targets different sectors. One of our key sectors that we are focusing on is the chemical sector, but also other markets like the pharmaceutical sector can utilize our platform.”, Jian Min, CEO of SourceSage explains. “We help B2B companies digitalize their buying and selling process. This helps them make the processes more efficient.”

SourceSage can be seen as an Online Store Builder, which constructs – according to their website – the fastest and most customized B2B2C platform. Through diverse tools, clients can create an E-Commerce platform that helps them find customers, drive sales and manage their day-to-day. Within this platform, many different features are offered, for example a mobile-friendly platform, unique customer profiles, social media integrations and even the addition of an unlimited number of product lines. Of course, there are different features for Analytics, too, which helps not only with the selling, but also with insights.

Though it has (almost) the same pronunciation, SourceSage has nothing in common with ‘sausages’: “But people always joke about it”, Jian Min tells laughing. “When we first came up with the word ‘source’, it stood for sourcing or source code. We believe that B2B industries with selling and buying processes that are trying to digitalize have a lot of domain knowledge. This is what we first have to digitalize. It is the constant digitalization of knowledge.” Therefore, SourceSage’s unique advantage lies in the dataspace.

As opposed to B2C, where digitalization of selling and buying processes are much more straightforward and therefore already implemented, selling and buying processes of B2B industries were yet to advance – until SourceSage came around. “The industries on B2B have a lot of workflow, processes and company policies and that is what we want to capture. That is also the reason why we called it SourceSage.”

From two to a company: Who is behind SourceSage?

“When we founded SourceSage, it was only John Sim and me”, Jian Min remembers, “It was a good partnership between someone who has more than 30 years of experience in the chemical industry and someone with knowledge in engineering and computer science. We can see John as the sage behind SourceSage and me as the source code.”

After Jian Min graduated from the University of Oxford, UK, he went to Princeton, USA, for a year and came back excited of the idea how digital platforms can support industries. “When we first talked about how we could digitalize his knowledge, John was excited about the idea as well.”

Their first product was a mobile application. “We then travelled to conferences and showed our product to a number of people, trying to get some validation. In the end, our first investor was a venture capital firm. In 2015, we finally decided: Let’s do it.” Then, SourceSage was founded in April 2015.

Today, a team stands behind SourceSage – distributed in Singapore, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and most parts of South East Asia, who help to push their mission forward.

 SourceSage chief executive Sim Jian Min (second from left) and his team

“It is the constant hassle of getting validation of customers that pushes us forward. And it is the constant iteration that drives us to do better.”

From one startup to a network: How can 5-HT help you?

“In terms of our geographical reach, we already have clients from different countries: We have clients from Vietnam, like An Phat or from Japan, like Mitsui. We also have clients in India, the USA, South America and so on. Of course, we have clients in Germany, for example Chembid or DHL.

Through 5-HT, we hope to get two things: First, to receive mentorship on how to target the sectors in Germany and, on a broader level, clients in Europe as well. This is especially important since we do not have a corporate entity or a business development team in Europe at this point at the time. We would like to see how we can use 5-HT’s services to reach out  to clients in that region.”

The second reason Jian Min explains is to get in contact with investors and clients through 5-HT. “When we talk about investments, it does not have to be ‘people investing money in the company’. It could also be strategic investments.”

After all, 5-HT’s geographical location could be helpful for SourceSage: “Since we are not based in Europe, having an organization that facilitates such high level conversations will help alot. We are quite optimistic that through these high level conversations, we are able to find different opportunities, like partnerships, mentorships, investments and so on.

From none to over 50 clients all over the world: Would you still consider yourself a startup?

“Six years ago, when we were founded, we started as a startup and today, we would still consider ourselves a startup”, Jian Min explains, “The concept of a startup is to react to opportunities very fast. It means the constant iteration when it comes to innovation, problem-solving and finding new markets. That is important because situations change.” As an example, Jian Min sees the pandemic, which no one would have guessed six years ago when SourceSage was founded. On the other side of the coin, also no one would have realized the opportunities of digitalization post-Covid.

“For us”, he draws the conclusion, “the idea of a startup is to remain vigilant when it comes to opportunities or crises.”

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