Y Combinator Challenge #5 – Enterprise Software 2.0

For more information about the Y Combinator Challenge, check out this post first     

5. Enterprise software 2.0. Enterprise software companies sell bad software for huge amounts of money. They get away with it for a variety of reasons that link together to form a sort of protective wall. But the software world is changing. I suspect that if you study different parts of the enterprise software business (not just what the software does, but more importantly, how it’s sold) you’ll find parts that could be picked off by startups.

One way to start is to make things for smaller companies, because they can’t afford the overpriced stuff made for big ones. They’re also easier to sell to.

My Idea – Judy’s Book for Enterprise Software

I was at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Fran a few months back and if there’s one thing I learned from walking the conference floor, it’s that the enterprise software field is very, very crowded.  So instead of coming up with a new idea that will inevitably receive several “have you seen site XYZ? It already does this.” comments, I’m going to read between the lines of Paul’s idea and come up with an idea that improves upon the process of selling software to business (Pickaxes for sale!  Get your pickaxes here!)

Today’s idea is to take the community-review concept popularized by sites like Yelp, Judy’s Book, and others, and apply it to the enterprise software space.  Check out any of those sites for the overall basic idea, but here are a few features to make this concept pop in the B2B space.

  • Self-Assessment Tool – This component would allow a user to fill out a questionnaire to get a sense of the type of software that may be the best fit to address the user’s business needs.  It would take into account factors such as company size, industry, budget, privacy tolerance, growth rate, etc..  Once the system determined the categories of software that the user may be interested in, they would get back a list of software options for the various categories, sorted based on ratings assigned by other users.  From here the user would have the option to purchase the software and (optionally) find service providers who can help with training, implementation, hosting, customization, etc..
  • User Ratings and Comments – In this section, existing users of the systems can provide feedback on the system from a day-to-day user perspective.  This is very important for Enterprise software vs Consumer software, as it often takes a large up-front investment for customization and deployment before a customer can fully evaluate the usefulness of a system.
  • Three Minute Demo Videos – This section would consist of a series of 3 minute (or less) demo videos created by the software makers to pitch the value propositions of their products.  Each video would be tagged and easily searchable, and would allow users to get a visual impression of the features and functionality offered from each product.

For revenue opportunities, there are a few options.  As much as I usually don’t advocate for ad-based revenue models, given the target audience and motivation to purchase, I think it might actually make sense here.  Another option would be to create a freemium model for software companies where they would be able to perform basic functions like submit product information for free, but might need to pay for additional services such as the ability to post demo videos.

What do you guys think?  Is something like this already out there?  Let me know in the comments below!

2 responses to “Y Combinator Challenge #5 – Enterprise Software 2.0

  1. And could you have a way for people to leave feedback on individual features of a product? So much of enterprise sales seems to be using features as selling points but a lot of the features are so poorly done as to be useless.

  2. That’s a great idea. Ideally, users would only be able to provide feedback on a product unless they’ve been actively using it. Like you mentioned, features don’t matter unless they’re done right.

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