Interview with Ariel Luedi

The time is ripe
for Balluun !

Ariel Lüdi sold the multi-channel e-commerce company Hybris to SAP in 2013 and has since been actively involved in the Swiss technology market as an investor with his investment vehicle, the « Hammer Team » named after the company’s headquarters in Cham. He has more than 20 years’ experience with software companies in the B2B sector and is convinced that Switzerland has excellent engineering expertise, but sees further potential with go-to-market. This is where he puts his focus, accompanying software companies from the B2B and cloud sector during the start-up and growth phase as a growth accelerator. Ariel Lüdi has been a leading Balluun shareholder since 2016 and, following his election to the Board of Directors at the 2017 Ordinary General Meeting, he wants to play as the chairman an active role in the strategic leadership of Balluun while supporting the management.

What made you want to work with Balluun ?

Balluun is the consistent realization of the fact that after the business-to-consumer market (B2C) the business-to-business market (B2B) is also becoming digital and expanding across the internet. The time is ripe for Balluun !

What does that mean ?

First the B2C market was hit by digitalization and now e-commerce has become ubiquitous in our everyday life. Digitalization has now taken hold in the B2B market as well. It sounds simple, but it is an actual revolution and the processes have to be completely redesigned.

Why ?

For a long time the maxim in trade between companies was to cover customers’ needs. The most that could happen was maybe an online order form. In the meantime Digitalization has turned B2B commerce upside down. Nowadays the B2B market is demanding the same usability as is the norm in trade with consumers. Buyers in companies want to obtain the same service that they have come to know and hold dear as a private customer. This is precisely where Balluun can offer a unique solution.

How does the Balluun solution work ?

Let’s take a look at the professional buying process, using the example of « TOYSRUS », a partner of Balluun : Until recently the buying team regularly had to travel to the toy fair in Nuremburg to have the products showcased by vendors on site and put together the product assortments for the next season. The exchange between vendors and buyers is limited to a brief period at the trade show and then it stops off again. The disadvantages of this process are obvious. On the one hand, it is time-consuming and expensive. On the other hand, it impedes innovation because perhaps the really exciting new products, which will be developed by innovative, young manufacturers, will simply not be presented at the trade show for cost attendance reasons. This is where the Balluun business model comes to play. We connect product manufacturers and qualified buying teams on Balluun’s digital marketplaces. Balluun brings trade shows to the internet and makes them independent of location and time !

What does this mean ?

On our digital marketplaces each provider can launch and market their products easily and in a cost effective way. The professional buyers are informed about the offers in the marketplaces through a personalized newsletter tailored to their needs. This means that they are always up to date with what is new in their industry. Balluun’s social media network for B2B contacts is efficient and effective, and it increases security and trust for the involved partners.

Why ?

Each new supplier and each new customer also poses a risk. Now a social media network makes it easy for members to warn each other, thereby reducing the business risks. As in any other social media network, users of Balluun’s platform can rate partners and give each other tips. This provides transparency and builds trust and security. In addition, Balluun carefully vets each new member. And connection/contact requests must also be approved by trading partners first. Only then can the mutual introductions take place. From then on the network partners decide themselves how they want to proceed.

What are the advantages of Balluun ?

At Balluun, contact between customers and vendors is possible at all times. Like in other social media networks, contacts can be developed at various levels : level-appropriate information sharing, the discovery of new offers, the comparison of different vendors, etc. All trading partners can stay up-to-date on what going on in their industry and between themselves with a minimal level of effort.

Why is Balluun necessary for this ?

Developing and maintaining a professional social media platform like Balluun can be very costly. It must work perfectly and be developed redundantly, which is too expensive for a normal provider of products. This is where Balluun comes in with its « White Label Platform » which meets all these needs.

What does the future hold for Balluun ?

Balluun is a so-called business enabler. With our software, customers such as the global leading trade show organizer UBM, but also trade and industry associations, operate their own B2B marketplaces for the retailers and brands in their industry. With the three existing active marketplaces Balluun carefully validated the business model and brought its B2B platform to market. The task now is to scale the business model : Balluun needs to focus on its vertical markets, build up strong sales and rollout the product globally. I can provide robust support to Balluun with my years of experience creating technology solutions for the B2B market, with my network and with the « Hammer Team ».

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