#64: Mike Zayonc Founder of Plug and Play Supply Chain

#64: Mike Zayonc Founder of Plug and Play Supply Chain Featured Image

In the two years since Mike Zayonc founded the Plug and Play supply chain and logistics innovation platform, the Sunnyvale, California-based platform has become the world’s largest supply chain business accelerator. The program works with over 30 corporate partners and has helped hundreds of startups build their businesses. and connect with major corporate clients including Schneider Electric, Lufthansa, Prologis, Adidas, Walmart, DHL, FedEx, Shell, DB Schenker.

Mike’s innovation platform belongs to the wider network of Plug and Play, which also spans across startups in a few other verticals including FinTech, InsurTech, Mobility, Internet of Things, FMCG, etc.

With over 6,000 start-ups and 280 official corporate partners, the platform has created start-up ecosystems in many industries and their companies have raised over $7 billion in funding, and successful portfolio exits included Dropbox, PayPal and SoundHound.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.



Connect with the Guest:

Mike Zayonc: Linkedin
Plug and Play: Linkedin

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • How Plug and Play connects startups and corporates in the area of supply chain and logistics
  • Corporate network of 300 major multinationals worldwide
  • Characteristics of a strong start-up team
  • Startup culture – integrity, hard work, passion, and collaboration.
  • Key to building a strong start-up team
  • Success case studies

Show notes:

  • [01:34] How did you end up at Plug and Play? Why specifically supply chain and starting the supply chain practice in Plug and Play?
  • [04:11] What are your criteria in terms of getting a startup on the program?
  • [05:20] We have 600 people, 100 of whom are Ventures Associates. They analyze and meet startups and look at them for investment as well as making introductions to our corporate network of 300 major corporations from around the world.
  • [05:49] We look at the challenges they are solving, we evaluate how strong their founding team is and see how much traction they get among the corporate partners.
  • [06:39] How would you define a strong founding team?
  • [08:05] Tell us a little about the collaboration with corporates and the whole financial model of Plug and Play.
  • [9:00] In the corporate perspective, we like to diversify the costs and just make it affordable for everyone, but for the startup perspective, we have a very unique model where we do not charge the startups anything.
  • [11:00] Tell us some examples of companies that you are supporting, what do they do, that gained the most traction.
  • [16:10] Are there specific areas where corporate partners are more interested in working with a startup as supposed to others? How do they decide which area they want to work with?
  • [17:48] There were a lot of startups that we’ve worked with that got a lot of traction like Project 44, FourKites, Ocean Insights, Ocean tracking, and ClearMetal.
  • [18:32] Did you ever get in the position where a corporate plant bought a startup by themselves?
  • [19:00] 70% of the time we want to introduce potential business development engagements to the corporate partners so they can test and implement the technology.
  • [20:14] What do you see makes the difference between the ones that will make it ultimately and the ones that will fade along the way?
  • [20:34] We need to make sure that the team is fully engaged, that they’re really passionate about the product and that they won’t give up.
  • [21:10] I think being opportunistic from the startup perspective is really important. They may not have the perfect product in the beginning. But if they can work very closely with their customers, they can be successful in the long term.
  • [21:35] What are some of the mistakes you made so far that corporate innovation people need to watch out for?
  • [22:53] We do like to work with these serial entrepreneurs that don’t give up too easily; that doesn’t have any choice but to make the startup succeed. Those are the kind of founders we really want to work with.
  • [23:25] What are the main principles that you want to instill in your startup culture?
  • [24:00] In terms of the startup culture, it is important for us to have integrity, to be hardworking, to be passionate, and have a collaborative team environment.
  • [27:00] Are there patterns, advice or principles that you think are critical when it comes to hiring the first members of the team?
  • [27:37] It is good to have a diverse team that complements each other. They may have different skill sets but they have the same vision at the end and working towards the same goal.
  • [28:19] Are there certain core business or management people training you want the founders to go through to make sure they have the fundamentals in place in terms of running a business?
  • [29:05] For a startup, it is better to move quickly than not move at all and when opportunity knocks open the door.
  • [30:13] If a corporate pilot startup and it works and they have some good results, what is the typical implementation and adoption process in a big corporate?
  • [31:55] What would be the best piece of advice that you would give a  founder, co-founder or their founding team in terms of making their idea successful?

Quote from the Episode:

Soundbite from the Episode:


About the Host:

The host, Radu Palamariu is the co-author of “From Source to Sold – Stories of Leadership in Supply Chain”. He has been named one of the top 3 Global Supply Chain Influencers on LinkedIn and was featured in ForbesBloombergWEFBangkok Post, and MIT Supply Chain Talent magazine. Radu invites executives to share stories and perspectives around technology, logistics, e-commerce, supply chain, and manufacturing, and their views on how the future will look.

Alcott Global connects and upgrades the supply chain ecosystem by finding the right talent through executive search, developing talent through learning solutions, and meeting supply chain technology needs through a comprehensive crunch base marketplace.

The supply chain executive search has been our focus since the very beginning, offering recruitment services for top-tier supply chain roles at every level of the end-to-end supply chain: plan, source / procure, make, and deliver. Our consultants have years of experience in placing top talent, in North America, LATAM, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, and APAC, and besides speed, one of our biggest strengths is our network within the supply chain industry, and we capitalize on it to find the best solutions.

Through the years, we have grown as an organization and our offerings with it. One of our initiatives, the learning solutions- training and supply chain academy, is focused on transforming leadership- self-leadership, executive presence, influence capital, and business acumen. Through Supplify, we aim to match corporations with the top technology companies to solve their supply chain and logistics challenges with a focus on innovation and digital transformation.

We are in constant touch with the leaders in supply chain, inviting them to inspire the supply chain professionals in thought-provoking podcast episodes and events, and showcasing what is possible at the yearly Leaders in Supply Chain Awards.

Related Episodes:

Episode #44: Graham Parker CEO and Co-Founder of Kontainers

Episode #61: Lidia Yan CEO and Co-Founder of NEXT Trucking

Episode #63: Christian Lanng CEO of Tradeshift





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