WeConnectNM, a group that bills itself as a small business economic development think tank, held its inaugural summit Wednesday in Downtown Albuquerque.
At the summit, Board Chairman Chris Schroeder introduced a free application aimed at matching New Mexico small businesses with procurement opportunities from various in-state organizations. It can be accessed at buylocalnm.com, and is accessible via both desktop and mobile.
“It’s meant to connect small businesses with big opportunities,” said Schroeder, who is also COO and lead designer at software company Real Time Solutions. “It’s not Tinder, but it’s like Tinder for business.”
Like the dating application, users fill out a profile page and the system generates matches. Users input basic information about their company, indicate what services it provides and check off categories of items and services the company purchases each quarter. The categories are meant to encompass everything from construction services to buying burritos for a weekly staff meeting.
Also like the dating application Tinder, users can swipe right to connect with another business or left to reject the match. Or the user can provide a thumbs up or down, if preferred. A “match” takes the user to the profile of the matched organization with instructions on how to move forward in the procurement process.
Organizations can also post their own procurement opportunities, which are sent out to up to five businesses each day.
WeConnectNM is funded by Public Service Company of New Mexico, DaVita Medical Group, the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico.
The organization also announced that it is in discussions with two government agencies to create a study on procurement throughout New Mexico. The study would identify opportunities for both governmental entities and major businesses to keep their money within the state by employing local organizations.
According to Schroeder, there are over 150,000 business in New Mexico, about 99 percent of them small businesses. Those small businesses employ more than half of all New Mexican workers.
Other speakers included Jason Harrington of HB Construction, Greg Levenson of Southwest Capital Bank and Tony Trujillo of Holmans, among others.