Matthias Gutzmann, Founder of DPW Amsterdam, discusses the conference’s rise to prominence, reflects on challenges and reveals future plans.

“Our challenge is always around asking ourselves how can we make DPW Amsterdam better every year?” 

It’s fair to say Matthias Gutzmann, Founder and CEO of DPW Amsterdam, doesn’t believe in standing still and resting on his laurels. 

​​Since launching DPW in 2019, the conference has grown from strength to strength and is now widely regarded as the biggest and most influential tech event in procurement and supply chain on the planet. And despite welcoming over 1,250 procurement professionals with more than 2,500 virtual attendees watching along at home in its 2023 edition in October, Gutzmann is eyeing continuous improvement. 

​​In 2018, Gutzmann was researching procurement conferences to showcase his then-employer, Vizibl, a startup. He was frustrated by the options. The existing conferences were prohibitively expensive for a limited startup budget, lacked investors, and failed to attract an audience of startup businesses, which is critical for the development of digital capabilities and to drive innovation. Identifying this gap in the market, Gutzmann left his job in New York, moved into his parents’ house in Germany, and invested his entire personal savings to launch DPW Amsterdam.​​     ​​ 

“As soon as one conference finishes, we’re already thinking about the next one,” he explains. “We all sit down and think about how we can improve the experience and what new technologies we can bring in next time. It really is a 12-month process to bring it all together.”  

Bringing DPW to life

Held at the former stock exchange building, the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, this year’s theme was “Make Tech Work” which focused on turning digital aspirations into a reality. There was a deep dive into discussions surrounding AI and machine learning in procurement, digital transformation strategies, sustainable procurement, supplier collaboration, risk management as well as innovation and disruption. The two-day event was centred on ensuring the vision of digital procurement happens now and how organisations can be challenged to deliver results instantly instead of only concepts and theories. 

Despite significant success, Gutzmann maintains that there are some difficult aspects to get right in order to make the magic happen on the day. DPW ​Amsterdam ​builds client booths themselves instead of allowing sponsors to bring them themselves. “That’s a massive undertaking to get this done because we need all the design elements from the sponsors,” he says. “It’s that quality standard but we know it comes with more work instead of just allowing people to bring their own stuff. We have Simone Heeremans, Head of Production, who is amazing and oversees logistics such as catering to the suppliers. 

​​“There is also the sales part of the conference which is selling the tickets and sponsorships. We have created this pull for the conference that we didn’t need to build a proper sales team around it. That said, there’s always a stress factor to get the numbers we want every year and grow it. So far, so good.”​     ​​  

​The uniqueness of the conference, the problem it solves, and the timing of the launch in 2019 were the basis for today’s success and fast growth.  

​Matthias Gutzmann:​​  


​​​Traditional procurement conferences only attract procurement professionals. But, DPW Amsterdam recognised the need for breaking this silo and for more collaboration in order to harness the potential of new digital technology, targeting an audience of procurement professionals, business leaders, suppliers, startups, data scientists, investors, and young talents No other procurement conference brings this variety of people together.​​ 



​​​DPW Amsterdam is built to bring startups into the procurement ecosystem. In 2023, we displayed over 50 startups, giving delegates a unique insight into procurement innovation.​​ 


I always thought procurement events felt boring – and I felt lost in a sea of guys wearing suits and ties. So, at DPW, our goal is to make procurement cool and sexy. Not an easy feat, I know. Our dress code at DPW Amsterdam is strictly “startup casual.” You’ll see t-shirts, hoodies, and sneakers from attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, and speakers alike. This dress code embodies our entrepreneurial spirit. But it also breaks down barriers– and levels the playing field between big-shot enterprise CPOs and 20-something startup founders. 

​​​Better than ever

A large focus for Gutzmann and his team has been tweaking the formula of the virtual experience. Due to the impact of COVID-19, DPW was forced to cancel its 2020 conference before offering a virtual-only event in 2021. The experience, although different, was praised for its ‘TV feel’ and still created a buzz for those watching at home. However, with day-to-day life returning to a new normal, DPW Amsterdam reverted to an in-person conference in 2022 but offered a hybrid solution for those keen to watch the action from afar. “There wasn’t really anything special about it,” he discusses. “If you run an eight-hour live stream from only one stage, you aren’t likely to keep people watching. That’s why this year we asked ourselves: what can we do to increase the virtual experience? So we did just that.” 

This year, Gutzmann and his team set about creating a pop-up broadcast studio to generate a television feel with live coverage from podcaster and host of Let’s Talk Supply Chain Sarah Barnes-Humphrey, as well as a reporter conducting interviews on the expo floor. “Now we’ve got cameras moving around which helps bring the whole conference to life,” explains Gutzmann. “We’ve really ramped it up this year and turned it into a large production.” 

Up until this point, DPW has run solely in Amsterdam which Gutzmann believes has acted as his organisation’s competitive advantage. It is this approach that has enabled DPW to allow it to reach the level it is today. Hosted at the Beurs van Berlage, Gutzmann is full of admiration for the historic building which was built in 1896. According to Gutzmann, he believes it is what sets DPW​ Amsterdam​ apart from other conferences operating in the space.

“We love it here, it’s unique and I feel it’s a key part of the experience,” he says. “But we’re becoming bigger and we might need to build something completely from scratch. Every year, we think about how we can do things differently. I don’t know if bigger is necessarily better, it’s also about the quality of the solutions we bring in. My goal is to map out the entire end-to-end tech ecosystem and bring in that diversity of solutions.” 

Bright future

Procurement, like many industries, is suffering from a talent shortage. The need to find ways to plug that gap, whether that’s through education, industry rebrand or AI, has never been so crucial. With an eye on the future, Gutzmann believes in procurement’s workforce of tomorrow and gave out around 100 free student passes this year. “When we talk to CPOs everyone’s talking about talent shortages so we understand the need to bring in that next generation and show them that procurement could be the way forward for them,” he says. “I think in the context of digital, who better to do digital than the next generation? They are more tech savvy so we need them and it’s a great opportunity for both sides because they can meet CPOs and it’s also becoming a place for recruitment too. We are doubling down on young talent 100% and it’s a win-win.” 

Gutzmann is candid about the future of DPW ​Amsterdam ​and is always open to feedback while striving for continuous improvement. He believes in the value of innovation and shaking things up in order to best meet attendee’s needs. “I always think we can always bring in new speakers, but this year’s agenda was incredibly strong,” he discusses. “It’s really about listening to the people. Ultimately how can we be more relevant around the solutions as well here? How can we better matchmake people? I was wondering about how we can work pre-event with some of the corporate attendees that are coming to the conference around mapping out their challenges to then have more meaningful matchmaking at the event because it’s an innovation showcase here as well. There’s more value to be had but we know that also comes with more work. There’s always more we can think about.” 

With an unprecedented amount of technology at procurement’s fingertips today, Gutzmann is in no uncertain terms about what the next chapter of the space holds. “It’s the best time to be in procurement,” he explains. “It’s the most exciting era to be in procurement and supply chain. We need to get loud about it and celebrate that fact.” 

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