Post-mortem: SAP.iO Foundry NY Cohort of Women-Led Enterprise Tech Startups
16 weeks. 150 mentors. 9 enterprise tech startups, with a combined annual revenue run rate of $24MM+. All women-led.
This was SAP.iO Foundry NY’s first cohort by numbers, which ended on August 14.
Only 17% of tech startups have a female founder, and this percentage is even lower for startups focused on B2B enterprise tech. Through the SAP.iO Foundry, SAP decided to tackle this disparity head on — with a no-equity program that would provide deep support for female founders from the entire SAP ecosystem to lift up their businesses and open doors to curated mentorship, SAP technologies and APIs, and unparalleled exposure to SAP customers (including many Fortune 500s).
SAP.iO Foundry is the first accelerator in NYC to ever launch a program focused on women-led enterprise startups. We can’t be prouder of what we accomplished with these talented founders and their companies. Here are some of the takeaways our cohort had over the course of the program, so other enterprise tech entrepreneurs — particularly women and those of color — can also benefit.
1. Build relationships with those that know pain points to close that enterprise sale
Enterprise sales cycles are notoriously long; it can take 6 to 18 months from first contact to close. At large organizations, there are typically many stakeholders who need to be brought onboard, especially if there is no formalized procurement process.
Through the Foundry, our cohort companies found success shortening sales cycles by working with SAP Industry Value Advisors, who are industry experts with years of experience and who know client pain points very well. At many large enterprises, such pre-sales experts often organize highly curated innovation tours for client executives. At SAP Hudson Yards, where we have several of these a week, our companies had opportunities to pitch to clients at the point where we knew they were looking for specific solutions. Pain points + right time/place = sale!
Another one of our companies found success by getting several enterprise end users to use (and fall in love with) their marketing SaaS solution. By the time she had discussions with senior executives, the sale was essentially sold internally for her. Onboarding a company from the bottom up — similar to what Slack has done — is very effective.
2. Pricing right can be the key to driving revenue
Onboarding new customers isn’t the only way to drive revenue; for many B2B enterprise startups, pricing is just as effective a lever. A common mistake is pricing too low rather than pricing based on value and ROI to the customer — because founders are worried about initial traction, or because they price based on cost-plus models. Another common mistake is not revisiting pricing often enough — pricing requires a comprehensive strategy as solutions should reflect the market.
Our companies worked closely with SAP’s head of global pricing to refine their pricing structures, with one of our companies doubling their prices during the course of the program.
3. Nail your story
Many B2B enterprise tech companies have distinctive tech capabilities, and our cohort was a model for this, with products and solutions encompassing blockchain, AI / machine learning, next-gen supply chain, augmented reality and more. However, to communicate effectively, what you need is a narrative — not pages about how your tech is better or lists of technical features. People buy from people they like and can relate to, they don’t buy tech for tech’s sake. This is also the way to develop a strong company culture and clear vision.
As part of the final pitch preparations, we spent hours with each team honing their stories — to the point where they could tell them on the big screen to a mass audience through NASDAQ Marketsite.
4. Invest in the community
“I am so proud to call you all my cohort founders.” This is just one of the emails our founders sent to each other. One of the highlights of the program was seeing how the founders supported each other and provided opportunities to one another — from investor and customer intros to giving each other advice on how to handle difficult situations.
Moreover, they amplified each other’s wins. “Many of us are heads down and don’t spend the time to take credit for what we’re doing. Here, we celebrated each other and together.”
A big thank you to all of the internal and external supporters that helped make this cohort a success. Please join us in congratulating the graduates of our Spring 2018 cohort!
Amberdata (Co-founder and COO Tongtong Gong): Amberdata provides monitoring and analytics for blockchain infrastructure and smart contract applications. Enriched on-chain and cross-chain data enables transparency and trust for businesses to invest, develop and operate decentralized applications on blockchain.
CN2 (Founder and CEO Margaret Martin): CN2’s platform allows enterprises to transform the CAD, 3D and 2D content they create everyday into compelling mobile X-Reality (AR+VR=XR) Applications. Their patented technology allows sales, service and training applications, that historically took months to develop, to be created within days.
DMetrics (Founders Ariadna Quattoni and Paul Nemirovsky): DMetrics lets business users create and deploy AIs to extract insights from any text, in mere hours, and with zero coding. Major financial institutions and pharma use DMetrics’ platform, Minsky, to automate back office tasks and improve customer experience.
Lately (Co-founder and CEO Kate Bradley Chernis): Lately is an AI-powered marketing dashboard that is reinventing the marketing process to give individual marketers the power to create and scale smarter, more consistent messaging.
Narrativ (Founder and CEO Shirley Chen): Narrativ is a media technology company building a better internet for shoppers with its patent-pending SmartLink technology. On pace to deliver more than $600M in advertiser revenue in 2018, Narrativ enables partners such as New York Magazine, Dermstore and Nordstrom to tap into $25B of annual consumer spend.
Nopsec (Founder and CEO Lisa Xu): Nopsec provides threat prediction and cyber risk remediation solutions for enterprises to prevent security breaches. Forrester named Nopsec a “Leader” in Vulnerability Risk Management in 2018 and Gartner named Nopsec as a SOAR tech innovator. Customers include Bank of China, Transatlantic Reinsurance, and Hess Energy Trading.
StyleSage (Co-founder and CEO Jade Huang): StyleSage solves the massive data inconsistency in retail with an eCommerce Smart Tagging API. StyleSage auto-enriches product listings with attributes, and then maps to eCommerce sites in a few minutes. This unified, standardized data set is a must-have in a retailer’s tech stack.
Sundar (Founder and CEO Jag Gill): Sundar is building software that connects apparel brands and retailers with suppliers of textiles, raw materials and garments — transforming the antiquated fashion supply chain by driving the speed, responsiveness and sustainability standards demanded by today’s digital consumer.
Ziggeo (Founders Susan Danziger (CEO) and Oliver Friedmann (CTO)): Ziggeo’s award-winning cloud-based video technology powers millions of videos each month. Secure and seamless, Ziggeo’s embeddable video recorder/player captures Intelligent Video that leads to new insights.
Applications for the SAP.iO Foundry NY Winter cohort (launching in January 2019) are now open! We are looking for women and diverse entrepreneurs focusing on enterprise social impact, including sustainability, business beyond bias and employee wellness. If you know of Seed to Series A startups that may be interested, please reach out or apply HERE (applications close November 5th).