How We Define Game Changing Enterprise Technology
As we find ourselves in the midst of our quarterly member application process at Work-Bench, we want to articulate the kinds of exceptional enterprise startups we’re looking for to join and power our Work-Bench community. In short, Work-Bench’s core area of focus is on enterprise software startups with preliminary customer traction. Yet given that “enterprise tech” has become a somewhat overused* term recently, we want to define what enterprise technology means to us, and how we’re hoping to transform the space.
*This frenzy may be attributed to the huge market caps of recently IPO’d companies and the valuations of soon-to-go public companies, per the figure below.
Defining Enterprise Software
Let’s start by defining what enterprise software isn’t. It isn’t something that is pitched to just one stakeholder; it isn’t something that you can develop over a weekend at a hackathon; and it certainly isn’t something that you can hope to sell over a weekend. While all enterprise software is B2B, it needs to be made clear that not all B2B software qualifies as enterprise.
At Work-Bench, we define enterprise software as possessing certain inalienable characteristics:
- Enterprise software solves the needs of a complex organization rather than those of a personal consumer or a small to medium-sized business.
- Furthermore, enterprise software has to be secure and scalable enough to have thousands of concurrent users, all engaging with different parts of the application, and these days often from a multitude of devices and form factors.
- It also needs to integrate with other third-party and home grown software in use by a large corporation.
- Beyond just a product, enterprise software requires support. If you’re selling to an international company, they will potentially have team members using your software around the world. If someone has a question or if something breaks, they need to be able to reach out for help 24/7/365.
Commercially, enterprise technology is sold to large, global companies. Selling software involves negotiating with procurement and legal, going through security architecture and information security audits, and meeting with stakeholders from both the IT and business units. And it’s not just the sheer number of decision makers in the process: you’re often involved in an request for proposal, where you’re competing with several larger and smaller companies, who are trying to beat you on pricing, features, and support.
Enterprise software requires a certain amount of grit to sell and survive the 6–12 months sales cycle, and it is certainly not as glamorous or ‘sexy’ as the tech media would have you believe. Yet it is these very obstacles that present our opportunity at Work-Bench, and they themselves are what make us so relentless in our mission to connect startups and Fortune 500s — our pursuit to add lasting value to both parties.
Disruption Across the IT Stack
We are excited by companies who are disrupting all areas of the traditional IT stack, as exemplified in the figure below. Both in terms of replacing legacy vendors (e.g. Workday displacing Peoplesoft) or in offering solutions where there wasn’t even a use case just a few years ago (e.g. Mobile Device Management companies to secure tablets).
Our Focus at Work-Bench
We focus on startups building software with broad horizontal applications across various industries. This allows us to identify vertically-agnostic pain points of Fortune 500 buyers, and then solve those pain points with new software solutions. We love enterprise technology startups tackling bold problems in big arenas such as:
- Analytical Tools
- Business Intelligence and visualization software
- Cloud identity, APIs and entitlements
- New IT Security paradigms
- Mobile productivity applications
- Software Defined X and the new datacenter
So are you working on a predictive analytics startup that empower business users to derive efficiency gains for their teams? Every Fortune 500 company needs this solution. Infrastructure security software or software defined storage? Definitely. A new method to seamlessly provision and manage a hybrid cloud infrastructure? Let’s do this.
Where Work-Bench can offer the most value for our members — aside from our workspace and community — is through our business development platform, where we bring Fortune 500 customers and insights to the table. Our extended network, which includes 97% of the Fortune 500, allows us to target engagements and sales strategies for maximum effectiveness in your market.
Given the above, we exclude Adtech and Healthcare IT from our core areas of focus. While these products have many of the above enterprise attributes, their end customers have many specialized needs that we aren’t able to help scale at the moment.
If you’re an extraordinary entrepreneur tackling an enormous opportunity in enterprise technology, we would love to help you build to scale.