It's possible to "sell" directly to users, but you have to have a particular pricing structure: free to individuals.
This is what TravisCI, Dropbox and Slack did.
You actually have to have a really good product to pull this off, though.
What you want is the right level of decision making for what you’re selling. Sometimes it’s a skip level manager with budgetary authority and expertise to champion purchasing. Other times it’s many different stakeholders up and down the org chart (from end users to execs).
In my experience you won’t get exec buy in if you don’t have their subordinates and others championing you as the best choice. If the in house expert in the domain isn’t interested, you won’t succeed with the executive.
Ideally you maximize value/experience for users while you figure out how to get execs to buy your thing, but the sad state of most B2B software is a testament to how insanely hard it is to be good at both.
If someone wants to really optimize for exec only, just do it the old fashioned way and bribe them. That's probably cheaper than making functional software, right?
Please don’t. Please. Really. Please don’t. Training my users to fend off social engineering attacks is hard enough as is. Please don’t use your talents in this way.
Some parts of the org chart can be inferred from various public data. Is it any wonder that people want to scrape LinkedIn so much?
Theres a reason probably 95% of software developers are employed to write redundant repetitive corporate business software over and over and over again. Everything else is being done philanthropically because anyone outside the perview of a budget department at a big co recognizes the value in reaching a consensus solution everyone uses because its a lot of work to make and is good enough. Even corporate-adjacent software like databases, game engines, etc are trending this way - Unreal, Unity, and Godot are all varying degrees of open now in ways engines weren't even a half decade ago. The world is coalescing around Postgres in a way unexpectable a decade ago under the tyranny of SQL Server and Oracle SQL alongside a half dozen "competing" open source databases.
Do you think those who contribute the most to Postgres get anything close to "reasonable" compensation for having architected the database engine that is now running likely trillions in business infrastructure and data management?
Their software is maximally useful - "the betterest things" - but you can't survive being maximally useful. You have to sacrifice how useful what you make is to not be homeless in 99.99% of cases. You have to make worse, often redundant things, wasting your time and the time of others in the process, because thats the only (feasible and/or reliable) way corporations will pay you to write software.
How much does the license matter?
Would it be feasible to release source code for inspection while simultaneously retaining exclusive rights to operate the software?
Would that garner a negative response from the developer community?
For someone who has to sell stuff, this would be incredibly valuable if executed well. It's possible to build something like this using only publicly available data about people and organizations.
Genuinely curious - where is the ethical problem?
Why not sell stuff based on the quality of that stuff? If the stuff is crap, or is a bad fit for the purchaser, but you've managed to sell it anyway thanks to various sales tricks (playing off a company's org chart would be one of such), then you've done an unethical thing. Since buyer's org chart has little to do with quality of your wares and their utility to the buyer, such an org chart spying tool seems to serve only to enable unethical sales behavior.
I make a living selling software that I write. My customers have no way of judging quickly how good my software is or even whether it solves their problems. When I'm selling to someone, it is my responsibility to figure out whether or not what I'm selling actually solves their problem.
Being able to navigate their organization helps me extract this information more quickly than I would otherwise be able to. It allows me to convince people for whom I'm really solving a problem to try out my solution. It allows me to leave people alone for whom my solution would only add noise.
that seems to describe close to 100% of commerce.
I enjoy reading people’s startup ideas. But this is a pretty uninspired list - (“Better Google Groups”, “Better Zendesk”, etc) There are thousands of solutions to these problems out there.
Not sure what makes them more ripe for a startup then bill splitting or pizza.
It's not just that ticketing products won't build next-gen reporting with thematic monitoring and analysis, it's that big companies have more than one source of customer conversations.
Actually answering the questions that matter when it comes to customer contact -- "what's driving specific outcomes, and what about them has changed over time" -- needs to be done across all sources.
The company I work at (frame.ai) is an add-on with built-in connectors for all the help desks like Zendesk, Intercom, Service Cloud, Help Scout, etc. for this reason.
> Every founder goes through an identical process: downloading Microsoft Word, changing variables in a legal template, opening it in Preview, attaching their signature, and sending it over to the counterparty. Automate this process. Offer templates for common documents (company formation, SAFEs, etc). In time, you might become the store-of-record for company documents.
My friend was working on a product that does this called Formswift! I can upload a PDF, have it convert to a set of form fields, and email it out pretty quickly.
It's not the most glamorous-looking startup, but it works really well for the mom-and-pop small businesses that are their usual clientele.
Take a look:
Having a hard time seeing this turn into anything but linkedin wankery. The people who could give you honest responses either don't care enough to or will start a 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours'.
> 5. Org Chart As a Service
Prepared to get sued out of existence. I was at a finance firm where all external emails were sent to both legal and security. I had to redo security training because I didn't report a phone call I got from an external source that shouldn't have had my details.
And god help you if you do any of those ideas to EU citizens.
Shout out to Clerky who has been doing this wonderfully since 2011.
Additionally, what markets are underserved? This is an area I'm interested in but don't know much about (except from my own anecdotal experience like the fact that comparing costs of healthcare from different practitioners being prohibitively difficult)
Should clarify that by "specifically for" I'd mean that the 1% have all the money and thus practically all the decision making power. An example of the distinction would be that though everybody engages with AdTech software the software is built for the 1% to make them money.
The 1% isn't a demographic that's targeted by some SaaS in this case, it's a way of naming the rich who create the demand for a lot of software (they use the software to make money) and control the (high-level) implementation of most software in the world.
While the "decision maker" is not the user, they may be the project lead/implementor.
Certain managers are looking for low risk, high visibility projects & notable successes. They're expending a sort of social capital within their company, putting themselves on the line.
Those are the managers that need to like your thing.
Companies selling to these people need to focus on those individuals, and figure out what the hell "costs," are, irl, to them. It's not money
They want to scale this. I've discussed this same thing with friends before but we couldn't find a way to keep it clean.
This is also a powerful advantage of a good network. You hear someone's leaving some job through the grapevine and if it's accompanied with positive feedback you hire this person. Or you're looking for a person and you ask your network for the guy who can do it.
That's how I got my current job.
Disclaimer: I'm friends with one of the cofounders.
For reference, here is what their main page advertised as what they seek: "We fund projects and startups built by ambitious outsiders... Apply with any type of project you need help with. It could be a company, physics research, journalism, or art..." The RFA is basically a message, "but really, this is what we want"
I guess it's easier to talk big than take risks with big money.
If I were a VC, I might prefer to solicit these kinds of solid, boring business ideas in an RFA and source moonshot ideas through my personal network. If I looked for moonshots from my open application process, I would probably end up wading through a lot of applications that would be time-consuming to vet.
The PG quote reformulated...
Still, many to go, but we have started to build better zendesk already.