Why I take my company to Davos

November 13, 2017 Christian Lanng

I was in Davos, Switzerland for the 2017 World Economic Forum when the CMO of one of the world’s biggest soft drink companies approached me. I figured he wanted to talk about business, but I was wrong. Partly wrong.

As the founder of Tradeshift, a marketplace and business commerce platform, I was technically there “on business.” But he must have picked up on something underneath the surface, because what he said next made me stop and think. He said, “Christian, I’ve never seen any company do what Tradeshift has done here.” I know he was referring to our Sanctuary space, but I was a bit taken aback. Another attendee commented that we were “the rebels of Davos” and I laughed.

The truth is, what Tradeshift does in Davos is less important than why we go there—and why I encourage other business leaders to come as well.

We don’t go “on business.” We go to “change business.”

That’s what makes us different, and that’s why our hosted panels and spaces stand out.

I know better than anyone that we are still a young company—building our brand takes immense resources and tenacity. That’s why I’m thrilled that we’re headed back for our third year in Davos during the World Economic Forum, to continue working toward realizing our mission of “commerce for all.”

If you’re wondering what a company like Tradeshift is doing in Davos, here are three reasons why we’re headed back this January. 

  1. A shared future.

For its 48th annual meeting, The World Economic Forum’s theme is “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”. In the world of international business, we are all dealing with an increasingly fragmented reality of people and systems that I believe can only be re-aligned through technology that connects everyone and helps everyone collaborate easily to by putting humans first. I believe the future is inclusive, and must be toward everyone, if we are to succeed.

I couldn’t have asked for a more relevant motif, one which matches Tradeshift’s vision for a world in which all businesses have a level playing field where they can operate like equals. Having the opportunity to offer a perspective from our unique vantage point of B2B commerce and engage in conversation around it is of the utmost importance.

  1. Connection.

The quality of conversations that happen throughout four days in a tiny mountain village with global leaders and innovators—and the actions that come out of those conversations—organically occur in a way that simply doesn’t happen elsewhere. I’ve connected with brilliant minds as diverse as Jack Ma, Kofi Anan, Richard Branson, and Matt Damon from every industry and nation, and look forward to doing so again this year.  

  1. Real change.

I fervently believe in the World Economic Forum’s mission and capacity to enact real, global change. And the leaders who attend Davos tend not only to embrace Tradeshift’s vision; they also happen to be in unique positions to help us make a real difference toward creating positive change. We are committed to solving critical global challenges and are looking forward to developing both quick-win solutions and long-term partnerships that leverage technology—the kind that has the power to connect trading partners of every size all over the world. Even if you sometimes have to be a rebel to get your message through.

To learn more about what we’re doing in Davos, download our paper from last year, “The Future of Business Commerce.”

About the Author

Christian Lanng

Christian is the CEO and Co-founder of Tradeshift. Christian started his first technology company at age 19 and was the youngest Head of Division in the Danish Government, National IT and Telecom Agency. Christian is a recognized thought leader and Fortune 500 advisor, as well as a member of the Global Agenda Council on the Future of IT Software and Services, World Economic Forum. He frequently keynotes conferences on topics such as digital disruption and business agility, and supply chain sustainability.

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