Enterprise Software Products – Big Clients, Big Opportunity

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of investment activity in the B2B Technology product space. One can broadly classify B2B Tech into two categories based on the size of the end clients, and the delivery model (on-premise or Cloud).

End Customer      Mid-Large Enterprises      SMEs
Typical Delivery Model      On Premise      SaaS

Most of the recent investment activity in the B2B Tech space has primarily been in “SaaS”. This is because SaaS products are relatively easier to scale globally as against Enterprise Software products. Some of the drivers for this are as follows:

  Enterprise Software SaaS
New Customer Acquisition (High Cost) Sales Team Driven Digital Marketing (backed by Inside Sales)
Sales Cycles 3 months – 9 months 2 weeks – 1 month
Enterprise “Buyer” Multiple business heads & CIO, CEO / Board Single Business Head (directly impacted)
Integrations & Customizations Needs “Services” Primarily DIY
Recurring Revenue % Low – Typically just the AMC (10%-20%) (not counting the “upselling”) High – Periodic subscription based

That being said, we see a huge opportunity for Indian Enterprise Software product companies. The “edge” such companies have over typical SaaS companies are as follows:

  • Only a handful of global players are fighting it out for the larger clients. For example, in case of Enterprise CRM, the primary competition is from Oracle Siebel, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce (for large enterprises that are comfortable with SaaS), and SAP. In case of Contact Center Software, it is from Avaya, Cisco, Aspect & Genesys. In contrast, for most SaaS products, the vendor market is quite cluttered since the barriers to entry (and exit) are much lesser for SaaS products.
  • Incumbents in Enterprise Software are large (and relatively slow moving) firms with “legacy” products. Large enterprises have seen lesser innovation as compared to SMEs – immense opportunity to be nimble-footed and have a more contemporary product platform for the younger product companies in this space.
  • Enterprise Software platforms are typically more comprehensive and feature-rich, whereas SaaS offerings are relatively more of “point” solutions.
  • As a result, an Enterprise Software vendor has greater opportunities to expand and penetrate into adjacent add-on offerings, with great ease.
  • Higher customer stability – typically much lesser churn, since the integrations and customizations are an ‘investment’ and provide stickiness to the vendor.
  • India is a great place to start. Getting large Indian enterprises as customers and then expanding overseas (to other developing regions like South East Asia, Middle East and Africa) is a trend we keep seeing.
  • While in developed markets, even large enterprises have adopted the Cloud infrastructure and software as integral to their businesses; in India the mid-to-large enterprises are still in the early-cycle of Cloud adoption.

So if you are an Enterprise Software company, and are looking to raise funding, what are some key aspects from a VC fund raising perspective? Here are a few that we at Zanskar Advisors have learnt from our past engagements:

  • Revenue Scale already achieved: The bars seem to be higher for Enterprise Software companies as compared to SaaS. For e.g. an Enterprise Software firm would need to have approximately $ 5 mm of revenue to attract similar amount of funding (for similar dilution) as a SaaS product firm can attract with say $ 2 mm (that too on an annualized run-rate basis).
  • Established Partnerships (especially for overseas customer acquisition / servicing): As the “expansion” would be primarily coming from overseas, some instances of selling to overseas customers (preferably through channel partners – as direct sales are less scalable) will help.
  • Instances of displacing established incumbents (large product companies) at key accounts (for reasons other than just the cost).
  • Revenue Trends
    • % of Product Revenue (License + AMC) as against Services revenue (upward trend is favorable)
    • % Revenue from top x (say 5) clients (downward trend is favorable)
    • % Revenue through Partners (upward trend is favorable)
    • Average Revenue per Customer (an indicator of “upselling” – could be in terms of no. of users or no. of modules – upward trend is favorable)
  • Global Recognition (from the likes of Gartner, Forrester etc.) is a plus

We strongly believe that a new wave of Enterprise Software product companies from India is going to take on the world – in line with the thesis of “Make in India” (and sell globally).

Guest Post contributed by Mandar Kulkarni, Zanskar Advisors

InTech50 – helping software product companies connect with influential CIOs from across the world

In a recent article in ET, Mohandas Pai and I suggested that if India does not produce enough product companies, our economy will not be sustainable in the future. The data is compelling. To quote from that article, “Boeing and Airbus alone generate almost as much profit as all global airlines put together. Pfizer’s profits are more than those of the top 100 hospitals in the US. Cisco’s profits are more than those of all European mobile operators. Microsoft generates more profit than those of top 20 pureplay global IT services firms.While Indigo is a very well run airline, being a Boeing creates far larger value.”

Indian entrepreneurs and businesses can be world-scale and world-class. We have demonstrated that convincingly in services. Airtel, Jet, Indigo, Apollo Hospitals, Fortis Healthcare, TCS & Infosys, etc. are fine examples of companies that are respected across the globe. There is no reason why we cannot create world-scale and world-class product companies in India. The environment is conducive for entrepreneurs to now think ‘products.’

We created iSPIRT as a non-profit think tank with the aim of accelerating the software product eco-system in India. Since our inception in 2013, iSPIRT has focused on solving tough problems that will foster software product companies in India. Making M&A happen is one such problem. iSPIRT’s M&A Connect Program has made a big difference there. The last one-year has changed that perception of India as just a software services destination, and we have now generated early but enthusiastic interest in the international markets for our software products.

Some of that change in outlook started becoming apparent when, in January 2014, Facebook acquired Little Eye Labs, a Bangalore based startup that develops performance analysis and monitoring tools for mobile app. This was followed by Yahoo’s acquisition of Bookpad, whose document-viewing product is similar to Google Docs. The latest in the series of acquisitions is that of ZipDial (a mobile and analytics company) by Twitter. Some of these acquisitions, which got significant media attention in the startup eco-system, will hopefully encourage more entrepreneurs to think products.

Another hard problem

Another problem, which is equally hard, is to do with getting quality access to big-name CIOs in US. InTech50 address this issue. It is a one-of-a-kind forum where shortlisted software product companies get an opportunity to showcase and interact with some of the most influential CIOs from India and other parts of the world. This unique platform is a springboard that provides software product companies a connect with potential customers, investors, partners and influencers – that they would otherwise find it difficult to access, and certainly impossible to access over a 2-day period. InTech50 – a collaboration between iSPIRT and Terrene Global Leadership Network – serves as a platform for recognizing the most promising software products by entrepreneurs in India. After a thorough screening of applications, 50 innovative technology startups from the software product space are shortlisted to interact face-to-face with a panel of renowned CIOs and investors from across the globe. Through their close interaction with them, these startups gain valuable insights, which can facilitate them in scaling up globally.

The event, scheduled for April 15-16th 2015, is our 2nd edition. In our inaugural InTech50 event last year, we curated some high-potential companies. The audience of CIOs and other stakeholders took note. They now recognize that India is on the cusp of becoming a product nation.

InTech50 is the only forum of its kind where startups can get unparalled access to top global CIOs and investors, closely interact with them and showcase their products extensively with the end goal of closing deals. The best part is that CIOs from across the globe will assemble right here in India with the sole objective of finding interesting software product companies that they can engage with.

Though the applications for InTech50 are closed, if you are convinced about your product and feel that it deserves every chance to be showcased at the event, you have ONE LAST CHANCE TO APPLY by getting one of the Fellows, Founder or Product Circle Donor at iSPIRT to recommend you. (You can view the list of iSPIRT Fellows).

13897639212_c86c8c02ed_cIf you are shortlisted, do work with Mentor Panels and Business Catalysts, to prepare your pitch, and interact with our team and past participants to understand how to best leverage this unique opportunity. Take a look at our illustrious panel of Business Catalysts here.

NRK Raman, Co-Founder of iFlex (instrumental in its acquisition by Oracle for a whopping USD 909 million in 2005), is driving our effrots to help product companies sharpen their pitch and presentation.

With InTech50, you have everything you need to GO BIG, right here, on a platter – the right connections, the requisite support and everything else that you’ll need in the process.

Watch this space. India is on its way to becoming a Product Nation.