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Ahmed Raza of PartnerLinQ On The 5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App, SaaS or Software Business

An Interview With Tyler Gallagher

Support — A good SaaS Software is nothing without support and services. We have built a platform and interoperability support into the base subscription, ensuring your software is always supported and available for you and your users.

As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ahmed Raza.

Ahmed Raza is the Vice President of PartnerLinQ and he has extensive experience in design, development, and architecting enterprise-class software. As an excellent communicator, Ahmed created PartnerLinQ and pitched it to Visionet’s C-suite. Agreeing with his vision, Visionet created PartnerLinQ as its flagship digital supply chain connectivity solution. Ahmed has more than 16 years of experience in architecture, design, and development for large enterprise systems and has spent the last 8 years as product owner and solution architect on PartnerLinQ.

As the supply chain evolves and new trends emerge, Visionet’s next-generation connectivity solution, PartnerLinQ, reimagines real-time customer demand monitoring and inventory management across global supply chain and e-commerce. By offering real innovative capabilities for intelligent automation and multichannel integration, PartnerLinQ has helped many companies affected by today’s disruption connect to multi-tier supply chain networks, markets, and core systems around the world to deliver a unified integration for the future.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I started the journey as a software developer for Visionet Systems around 18 years ago, fresh out of college. Somewhere during the journey, the goal changed from writing quality code into building the architecture for a multibillion-dollar enterprise company. PartnerLinQ is just the culmination of this effort where we have tried to take the enterprise integration principles into traditional B2B integrations. I am now the Vice President of PartnerLinQ and lead an innovative team.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

As part of Visionet’s journey into Enterprise Application space and more specifically into Microsoft Dynamics space we learned that there was a large gap in the market for a truly modern platform to manage B2B / EDI transactions. So, a discussion in one of our offshore offices with a whiteboard on how to solve this problem for the Microsoft Dynamics platform ended up in the now modern, cloud-native B2B/ EDI platform that is PartnerLinQ.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

The initial idea of the platform was much smaller than the current product and almost died after the first successful implementation as the ERP space and a tool that was just supplementing our own ERP practice resulted in a lack of immediate large-scale sales impact.

So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

At this point, PartnerLinQ is a platform that services more than 80 Million transactions a month and is hosted in more than 6 Azure Regions at the same time. The demand and acceptance of the solution beyond just Dynamics and the Microsoft ecosystem has grown to more than 72 ERP, TMS and WMS systems has revealed the true strength of the platform and fueled its growth.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take away’ you learned from that?

Try creating a product in a traditionally services-based company, it is not easy.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We stand out because we have created a platform that gives our customers control, while our competitors are still stuck in the past of adding their customers to their network. We want our customers to have the freedom to do what they need to do when they need to do it. That’s why we’re giving them native apps that require no coding as they add to their supply chain network..

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Do what you believe in and love rather than just doing a job. Have the drive and the resilience to see over the obstacles ahead, if you are doing what you love, really go for it!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Without specifically naming names, I have a lot of people of whom I am grateful toward for helping me to get where I am today. It is not without the support of many people that I would be so honored to hold the role I do now.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?

PartnerLinQ is a multi-tenant multi-geography platform that processes more than 80 million transactions per month. The transactions are done between more than 3700 trading partners, and that list is growing. PartnerLinQ as a platform takes pride in making our customers the center of their supply chain network rather than building the greatest, largest network of its own.

What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?

The platform keeps the monetization process very simple and is fueled by the number of transactions exchanged between the partners. Our pricing follows complete and real-time transparency to the transaction tier. This process works the best for us and we plan to stick to this model.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app or a SaaS? Please share a story or an example for each.

Up time — Most of our customers suffered through issues with up time during migration to a cloud-based platform. We at PartnerLinQ pride ourselves on maintaining 100% up time over the past 24 months.

Availability — Enterprise SaaS Platforms need to be accessible across multiple devices and across secure and unsecure networks and the only way to achieve that is to ensure the right level of data and user access.

Scalability — We have customers that came to us with transaction volume numbers that were 10X lower than their actual transactional numbers and a platform that cannot take these kinds of spikes or miscalculations would have not been able to service the customer. PartnerLinQ is built to scale automatically for customers requiring a few hundred transactions per month to more than 40 million transactions during the same time span without requiring manual intervention.

Security — The biggest hurdle for SaaS applications to be accepted in large enterprises is not being able to satisfy the security compliance needs of these organizations.

Support — A good SaaS Software is nothing without support and services. We have built a platform and interoperability support into the base subscription, ensuring your software is always supported and available for you and your users.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Hiking is my passion. I would like to start a movement to get everyone to take time out of their busy lives to go find their true selves in nature and reconnect with the earth. We, like many others, get caught up in work and forget to create a work-life balance.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ahmed-raza-bb8b573/

https://twitter.com/PartnerlinQ

https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/partnerlinq-digital-supply-chain-solution/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqAgkpNJzFFB3qRJDSxvsag/videos

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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