TradeBeyond co-founders Michael Hung and Tim Chiu met while working at Lotus Consulting, the consulting practice of Lotus Development Corporation, in the ’90s. The two worked with Lotus’s top corporate customers until 1995, when on the cusp of the internet boom Michael and Tim decided to leave Lotus and start their own business.
The first iteration of their business, Core Solutions, was started in a shared office in Hong Kong. With little savings to draw on, in the beginning, no customer or project was too small for Core Solutions. By 1997, Michael and Tim had grown the business rapidly, with 20 consultants. “We specialized in helping our customers in workflow automation,” Tim reflected. “This was during a time when e-mail was just being introduced to businesses and faxes were still the mainstay in business communications.”
By 2005, Core Solutions had grown to over 100 consultants, serving customers in the finance, transportation, retail and services sectors as well as government organizations. However, given that Hong Kong was effectively the merchandise sourcing capital of Asia, most of the company’s customers came from the thousands of buying offices of brands and retailers and their suppliers, that maintained a presence in Hong Kong.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. The company had many ups and downs, the most significant being the dot-com crash which resulted in most customers freezing their IT spending. “At the time, most of the companies we competed with were going out of business,” said Michael, “We had to significantly downsize and at the same time reinvent ourselves to avoid the same fate.”
Over the next few years, Core Solutions invested in several ventures, including development of its own software, which had little success until 2010, when the company introduced CBX or Core Business eXchange.
“Our vision was to help brands and retailers streamline workflow and collaboration internally and with trading partners,” continued Michael. The company leveraged its relationship with many brands and retailers that it has served over the years to create solutions that were essential to the buying offices. The initial version of the software had offered specific capability to merchandisers to manage their suppliers and automate the requests and processing of quotations. This narrow functionality was a big step toward removing a lot of manual processes. From this, CBX Software was born.
Fast forward 10 years, the CBX platform now offers a broad range of functions to help brands and retailers in their buying, designing, merchandising, sourcing, quality and compliance processes. With 250 employees on three continents, TradeBeyond the company and the CBX modules platform serve 50,000 users at 30,000 retail and vendor partners in 50 countries.
With the support of strong partnerships with customers, that play a huge role in helping shape the roadmap and future of the company, the business is constantly evolving and bringing new functionality and solutions to the market. The name change to TradeBeyond, with the tagline, Empower Tomorrow, opens the door to a new chapter for the business.