Tim Intfen | Crain's San Diego

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Tim Intfen

Background:  

Tim Intfen spent more than 15 years in the nutrition and food industry selling raw materials. After noticing that many companies struggled with excess ingredients, Intfen created inField Market to increase supply chain efficiency and reduce waste. Located in San Diego, inField launched to the public in November 2017. The platform lets manufacturers, brands and ingredient suppliers sell extra or “need to move” raw materials and ingredients to each other.

The Mistake:

Not knowing enough about my customers.

I had a humbling moment at a protein company where the buyer was in a bad mood—or he was right—I don’t know which. He asked me the price of a material and I didn’t know it off the top of my head. He explained that I didn’t know what I was doing.

In that instance I was able to get past it but I didn’t forget it. I realized that everyone’s time is extremely valuable. If I ask for a meeting with someone or a company, I should be buttoned up on what the company does, what they need and be prepared to adjust for that.

That was in the middle of my career. I think there’s mistakes that happen throughout your career. It’s rattling, but you walk away from it, remember it, laugh it off and don’t let it happen again.

[A mistake is] rattling, but you walk away from it, remember it, laugh it off and don’t let it happen again.

The Lesson:

Take the approach of listening to the problems the customers have.

In my industry, there are those who want to buy material and those who want to sell material. For those trying to sell materials it’s a bottom-line problem, they lose money on it. Listening to their problem and responding to it with inField Market is the lesson I took from several years of selling ingredients.

On the buying end, I need to listen to what their issues are in supply chain. Are they required to take too much material or is there a lack of material? Is there a resource to find what they’re looking for?

I’m very open and maybe to a fault. I think a lot of companies I work with are guarded, and in some circumstances for good reason. But I think things could work more efficiently if we were more sharing-focused and not doing our jobs with blinders on. My passion with inField Market is to get people to open up to other companies and even their competitors, to become a sharing business community whether it’s big business or small business.

Photo courtesy of inField Market

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