Happy New Year to all! 2015 was amazing, and we have even higher hopes for the year ahead. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the talented founders that we have had the privilege of working closely with throughout the year.
As we look to 2016, we continue to focus on on being the first call for enterprise founders as they start their business, well before seeking seed financing. It is at these formative stages that we most enjoy working with founders and helping them shape their vision and bring their ideas to fruition.
To further our mission in helping enterprise startups scale, Eliot and I were thrilled to welcome our new venture partner, Jeff Leventhal, to team boldstart. He brings a wealth of experience building enterprise companies, and his most recent startup, workmarket, has become a force with Fortune 1000 companies helping them find, manage and pay their freelance workforce.
So what are we fired up about in enterprise tech in 2016?
- We remain incredibly bullish on seed investing in the enterprise and feel that we are just scratching the surface, particularly in NYC. We recently funded 3 NYC startups, all in stealth mode, and founded by seasoned enterprise vets with significant prior exits. We are thrilled to be supporting the awesome talent emerging in NYC and look forward to partnering with many more great entrepreneurs in 2016.
- While the bar for raising the next round of funding has moved higher, we strongly believe that those that reach this milestone will be well positioned for future success. The key will be to extend runway by whatever means possible to buy more time to prove out the business model. There will be plenty of cash available for those who can demonstrate product market fit and a repeatable go-to-market model.
- We remain enthused about our core themes when we started this fund in 2010; many of which are slightly evolved for 2016.
Smart Data is clearly here to stay with the slight twist that AI and Machine Learning will be a core component of getting smarter and dealing with the data deluge. This will be manifested not in platform plays but in more specific applications like those focused on customer service, sales, marketing, and IT back-end like security and network management.
SaaS 2.0, reinventing for the mobile first workforce will continue to remain robust. We also see older school SaaS companies being rebuilt with more flexible back-end technologies like microservices and reimagined with a more responsive and beautiful UI.
The Googlization of IT, we continue to remain bullish on enterprises demanding the benefits of an on-demand scaling infrastructure, delivering the ability to rapidly deploy apps at scale, cheaply, easily, and in the cloud. Tied to this trend, we see 2016 and beyond as the rise of the developer as enterprises move to microservices and developers continue to download and distribute core technology bottom-up inside the enterprise.
4. As software eats the world, we have moved to a continuous release cycle where speed is paramount, both for startups and enterprises. Those who do not adopt the frameworks, methodologies, and tools to support this dramatic shift will perish. We see incumbent SaaS companies greater than 5 years old having to either (a) rebuild their stack from the ground up or (b) get crushed by a new generation of startups that we have funded or are looking to fund.
5. We see the continued movement towards tech-enabled and data-driven sales; again those companies that do not adopt these new tools for lead capture, lead gen, automated drip campaigns and machine intelligence improve sales efficiency will struggle.
6. We remain bullish on enterprise companies with an incredible time to value ratio, getting to the “aha moment” in seconds, minutes, or hours rather than weeks or months.
7. We believe that every enterprise company will need to focus on killer UI and design as much as consumer companies; this will be another dimension that will help separate the winners from the losers.
8. We will see more enterprise companies taking advantage of new capabilities within browsers, especially chrome, allowing rich applications to be developed and run in the browser, eliminating the need for expensive deployment via application downloads, resulting in faster development and deployment cycles.
9. As the bad guys continue to get more sophisticated and exploit new attack vectors, we remain bullish on continued security investment. This is an arms race that will only escalate in the years ahead.
10. We are excited about VR as the tools, platforms, and $$$ invested continue to rise — while initially focused on consumer, VR will also provide a way for enterprises to visualize large amounts of data to discover trends.
11. Messaging as a front end to enterprise services and data will be paramount, especially with bots easily accessing data and running queries via SMS or slack or any other messaging services.
12. Explosion of the on-demand workforce started by the Ubers and instacarts will continue to proliferate, especially in the b2b sector with multiple vertical markets being disrupted from merchandising to professional services to sales to research to engineering. In addition many sleepy, old line industries will be turned upside down and the opportunity to create massive companies with a real business model and high gross margins will be ripe for the taking.
These are just some of our thoughts, and we would love to hear what you are fired up for in 2016!