In the last few weeks of 2012, I received a number of emails referring to a growing preference within the venture capital community for revenue focused enterprise software startups compared to market-share consumer startups. While the argument is way more complex than what can be expressed in the light of this blog post, there is certain true to the fact that the tight economic times and the poor performance of recent consumer-based software IPOs have impacted the consumer VC market.
However, despite this VC love, I think this year is going to be “interesting” to say the least for enterprise software startups. The uncertainty of the world economy, particularly the US markets, fiscal cliffs, the budgets cuts established in most IT departments as well as the large number of startups that raised angel funding and are now competing for a Series A are just some of the factors that, I believe, will make 2013 a challenging year for most enterprise software startups.
Like any other challenging time, this upcoming year offers a unique opportunity for the better companies to solidify their market presence as a lot of the weaker competitors won’t be able to survive some of the phenomenon listed above. Not to sound apocalyptic, but my advice to the enterprise software startup community is to operate as it we were expecting another economic downturn. We certainly already started doing that on our side. Here are a few of the aspects I consider relevant:
Focus on Revenue
If driving revenue wasn’t your immediate goal, now it should be. In 2013, focus on finding and nurturing the revenue producing engines of growth of your company. Discovering the different avenues by which enterprises can acquire your software will provide you with the necessary resources to keep growing during economically uncertain times while building a loyal and committed customer based.
Focus on Organic Growth
These are not the times to foment rapid growth in order to just capture market share. In my opinion, this year, enterprise software startups should focus on growing organically based on revenue and optimize for being extremely efficient operationally.
Target Relevant Markets
These are great times to be in the enterprise software business. With revolutionary technology movements happening in areas such as cloud computing, mobility, big data, gamification, etc the opportunities for building relevant enterprise software companies are tremendous. However, with the uncertainly of the economy, I believe enterprises will invest on the areas that are key to their growth and set everything else aside. In that sense, enterprise software startups that are targeting mission critical areas are likely to receive a lot of attention from customers while the others would have to wait for better times.
Go After the Big Guys Money
Tough economic times can affect the big enterprise software vendors more than any other startup. While the big enterprise guys struggle to convince companies to spend large sums in complex enterprise solutions, leaner, more efficient and technologically superior startups can find an opportunity to capture that customer based with more attractive solutions.
These are some of the key advice I have for enterprise software startups in 2013. I have a lot of ideas about this topic but I will save those for a later post.
What about you?
Any words of wisdom for enterprise software startups in this new year ?