On Wednesday, at SAP’s Startup Forum, I watched enterprise startups pitch. To be honest, it was quite refreshing coming from last week’s TechCrunch Disrupt, where many of the startups presented products with little real-world value (including gender-degrading apps).
In fact, despite the ongoing request from VCs for more enterprise startups, this ecosystem is relatively unpopular. We’ve seen well-known venture funds, such as Greyfield, hire a former VMWare executive, and 500 Startups launch an “UnSexy Conference.” Yet, very few VC funds or incubators have the bandwidth and 40 year global presence in enterprise like SAP to scale 650 startups since March of 2012.
In addition to hearing pitches, I also had the chance to meet with Kaustav Mitra, the person responsible for running the 650+-startup program. He explained that waves of popularity are primarily driven by news of large exits, but not to be misled by the current interest in enterprise. “The reality is that there has always been and always will be terrific opportunities in the enterprise space. B2B startups have always been around and on average tend to have higher chances of success than B2C startups.”
On that note, here are two B2B startups to keep an eye on:
When most of us discuss energy, we discuss oil, gas and electricity. But how many times have you discussed B2B wholesale energy? My guess is that investors and engineers will start discussing this trillion dollar industry over the next few years, considering it’s currently still run on hard-wired phones and fax machines.
Grid Speak, the startup posed to answer the B2B wholesale energy market, is technically a SaaS platform, which provides tools and data with a Bloomberg-esque interface. This means you can run trading and ops off the same platform, inter-weaving data on both the wholesale electricity market and the company product.
With seemingly no competitors, Grid Speak was off to a head start in 2010, raised a Series A in 2011, and has already successfully used the platform for both SaaS applications and hedge fund trading.
Will Big Data be the death of advertising in the traditional sense? A new startup, Relevvant, would like to think so. The Founder argues that, if we can now track purchasing data, behavioral data, social data, and loyal data followed by creating a universal profile around each individual, companies should no longer be deploying mass advertising campaigns.
The goal of Relevvant is to “abolish advertisements.” Enterprise is a good place to start, because of the advent of big data, and the fact most enterprise companies are already set up to track multiple sources of data on their customers; albeit segmented.
Relevvant is putting the proverbial “better to listen than to speak” into practice: “What we do is help them understand who their clients are; and learn what their customers are really interested in.”