VChain Solutions innovates the supply chain

VChain Solutions is a startup in Austin specializing in supply chain software and consulting that's working to create more supply chain professionals in one Austin high school.

Sara Inés Calderón | June 23, 2014 | 2:57 pm

An unhappy mistake as a supply chain college intern inspired a passion for this work in James Vinson, who then dedicated his professional career to figuring out how to make supply chain more efficient and easier. In 2005 he left his job at Motorola to found VChain Solutions with the intent to build that solution, to make supply chain more proactive and less prone to errors.

The Austin-based company is a supply chain solutions company that offers supply chain software and consulting, but is also invested in creating the next generation of supply chain professionals. It’s Vinson’s life story that inspired his love of supply chain, and in the past few years in Austin he’s found a way to share this love with the mostly Latino youth of a local school.

And, most recently, VChain Solutions was accepted into the Capital Factory’s incubator program. Capital Factory is a Google Tech Hub in Austin.

Vinson worked hard to get VChain Solutions off the ground; he said after he burned through investor cash he decided to make “severe cuts and sacrifices” and chose to work three jobs while living in a homeless shelter, in order to fund the company. At one point he decided to back to school in order to participate in business plan competitions, and eventually one a big one in Austin, prompting his move there.

It was after moving to Austin that Vinson found another way to expand his supply chain work — by teaching young people in Austin the business. He began to visit Austin’s Can Academy as a speaker and decided to create a program at the school to teach them the ins and outs of supply chain.

“These kids for whatever environment they were brought up in, they haven’t been given the right atmosphere to succeed. Some kids didn’t even have food when they got home, just what they eat at school.” he told Más Wired.

The pilot program at Can Academy was a huge success, Vinson said, and the fact that there’s a shortage of 1.4 million supply chain jobs in the U.S. inspired him to take the program further.

Vinson’s experience in the military informed the way he set up his supply chain training, creating as many real scenarios as possible in order to train his students. He gives them a budget of $500, then through 80 hours of simulation, throws up obstacles that normally disrupt the supply chain and sees how the students can solve them and keep profits coming.

The program for the mostly Hispanic students has been so successful that VChain created a division within the company called the Institute for Supply Chain Innovation to further the program, called the VChain Proactive Supply Chain Simulation Course. Currently the certification is taken at the high school level, but the company is working on an online course, Vinson said.

In the course participants learn to become buyers, planners or inventory control analysts, something Vinson said had been a great opportunity for the students.

“When they see they have an opportunity to make more than a minimum wage job, it opened a lot of doors with them,” Vinson said. “Seeing them blossom into supply chain experts has been an amazing journey.”

Courtesy image

About Sara Inés Calderón (183 Posts)

Sara Inés Calderón is a journalist and writer who lives between Texas and California. Follow her on Twitter @SaraChicaD.

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