A nice infographic from Forbes
One of the great things about Twitter is that the most innocent of posts can really trigger some thought provoking ideas. This was the case for me today when I read Jason Stampers stream about Progress buying Savvion.
Here’s the tweet really got me thinking:
“jasonstamper: CEO of Savvion (acq’d by Progress) tells me his BPM is enterprise but Lombardi, Metastorm et al are departmental http://bit.ly/8drk7t”
I’ve been a high tech marketer for over fifteen years and have seen this argument used thousands of times, but today was somehow different. I don’t know whether it was because I had time to thing about the meaning of the words, or because I’ve no agenda concerning the BPM space. Either way I couldn’t get the phase out of my mind.
That was until I concluded that the “enterprise vs departmental” debate is totally bogus, and here’s why:
- “We’re Enterprise” just sounds like patronizing sour grapes from the enterprise proponents.
- Thanks to Oracle, SAP and IBM we feel that enterprise now means EXPENSIVE, BLOATED, HUGE and LONG IMPLEMENTATIONS.
- Departmental means CHEAP, SMALL and QUICK to implement. However there’s a “no harm, no foul” feeling.
- Isn’t every enterprise made up of multiple departments? ergo Get enough departments to implement the solution and you have an enterprise solution by default.
- The enterprise protagonist assumes his statement is ONLY heard by HIS buyers (ie ENTERPRISE folks) so it’s derogatory and dismissive to the departmental folks. A disaster if you’re actually trying to “up-sell” departmental buyers.
- What’s wrong with departmental? It may have been the case years ago that departmental solutions were less secure or scalable, but there’s little evidence that’s the case today. Modern hardware is rocking and business software is hardly taxing. There’s also no evidence that you automatically make less money. Look at MS Sharepoint a a case in point. It’s a $1bn business.
- Consolidation means ENTERPRISES are getting bigger, fewer in numbers, and as a result IT support is generally getting worse. This drives MORE departments to look for workarounds and do their own thing.
So the the routes to market for software vendors are clear. Try and hook an enterprise big fish with very long sales cycle or go for the “quick hit” and get volume.
Either way you can’t alienate the “departmental” guy if you want to make sales.
I know I said in my last post that I would have updates during Startup Weekend Boston, but there simply wasn’t time. It was crazy, tiring, nerve wracking, exciting and fantastically satisfying. I highly recommend it. Anyhow I hope this post will capture what transpired when a group of 100 strangers got together and decided to build something in a weekend.
12/4 – The Friday Night Kick Off
So it all started at 6pm on Friday evening with folks milling around on the 11th floor of Microsoft’s N.E.R.D center. There were pleasantries, drinks and some networking. At this point no-one is really sure who is who (unless you brought a friend) and it’s all small talk.
After an hour or so we were seated and told how the evening would unfold. Anyone could pitch an idea and then we’d vote as a group on the ten “best” to be carried over. We also got a quick snapshot of the demographic. A show of hands to indicate developers, “business”, designers and all-of-the-above. It was evident that developers would be in short supply, but we were assured by the organizers that this wouldn’t affect the outcome.
Another show of hands, lead to numbering off and soon the pitching got underway. The pitches were supposed to be short and sweet. Explain who you were, your idea and what you needed (marketing folks, developers, testers, designers etc), in ninety seconds. Almost all the pitches ran over, but at the end thirty one ideas were pitched. After a short recess the thirty one were whittled down to the aforementioned ten.
Friday night rounded off with folks talking to the “founders” of the ten “new companies” and teams began forming. At this point many folks headed home, but a large group continued to discuss the next days activities as they were ushered out of the building at 11.30pm. Apparently the Microsoft office closes N.E.R.D at 11pm on Fridays!
Saturday – Heads Down
The Saturday session opened at 9 am with breakfast, but officially things got underway at 10. The atmosphere was pretty relaxed since you made your own schedule. This was very evident as people continued to drift in during the morning. No instructions were issued by the event organizers except “write what you need on the communal whiteboard and we will help facilitate a solution.”
Each team used the Saturday session to flesh out their idea and do the “plumbing”. By that I mean work on branding and marketing plans for the new companies. Also the teams did some market research and looked for available domain names. Work also began on presentations and demonstration outlines. The great thing about the session was that mentors were floating around to provide feedback and advice if needed. It was at this stage ideas started to solidify and for many groups the identities and brands shaped new directions.
I joined a team that was building a Twitter-based system to facilitate scheduling open office hours. The team founder had some trial names and we settled on Meetlie (pronounced MEET-LY). So while some of the team worked on sketching logos and developing a straw man business plan, others set up building a social media buzz with Twitter and Facebook. At this stage the missing link for team Meetlie was the absence of the key developer! A few tense hours passed, but he eventually showed and set to work, much to the relief of the small team.
As the session drew on you could feel a distinct change in the atmosphere. The early morning high changed noticeably as teams got stuck in for a long night.
Sunday and the Fail Whale!
As folks began to roll in on Sunday morning there was an odd feeling of tiredness mixed with a decent amount of panic because final presentations would begin in eight hours. So the Sunday mantra was “develop, test, practice”, then repeat. The process was regularly punctuated with good interruptions from mentors or press.
Time just flew by, but as the deadline loomed many groups saw their ideas rapidly take shape. Being a veteran at presentations my experience has told me NEVER DO ANYTHING LIVE (if you can help it). There’s just too many things that can go wrong and that was especially true in this case. The team were relative strangers, the software was less than forty eight hours old and the demo was shaky. However nothing could prepare us for what happened next.
At around 4pm Twitter decided to stop working. All we got was the fail whale featured below.
As you can imagine this was a big blow for the teams who were counting on Twitter to be the core of their demo. Worse still some teams, including us, were still a little distance away from finishing and we had no backup plan. We hadn’t taken a single screenshot and so we couldn’t even dance around slideware as a last resort. As you can imagine the needle on the stress-ometer was now off the chart. A tense thirty minutes later and Twitter resumed operations. So we buzzed into high gear for the final push.
In many ways the final presentations were a welcome sight. Every team was eager to see what the other teams had produced, and every team wanted to win. The exception, as it turned out, was Mac Cowell who wanted to use the weekend to meet some cool folks and learn the Rails Web language.
The format was pretty straight forward. A two minute pitch with the winners chosen by representatives from the main sponsors and VIP guests. By now there were nine teams and some very tired folks. Most teams did a quick PowerPoint of one or two slides followed by a quick walkthrough of their product. I’ve sat through a lot of presentations over the years, but everyone without exception did a great job. On the whole very professional and very short. Awesome!
So would I do it again? Yes, unreservedly. I met some great people, made some excellent connections and had a hand in a business that could flourish. Will I stay with “Team Meetlie”, I don’t know. However I encourage you to keep your eye on Meetlie.com because you never know what might happen. Would I recommend a Startup Weekend to friends? Absolutely, there is nothing to lose.
Finally I want to give a “shout out” to the team Meetlie members for all of their efforts. They are:
- Vadim Revzin
- Sergei Revzin
- Alex Hornstein
- Ray Crandell
- and … Jeffrey Vocell
Also here’s a quick list of some of the press from the weekend
- Scott Kirsner – Boston Globe – 9 New Ventures in 48 Hours
- Kyle Psaty – Boston Innovation – Meetlie: Building a Company Today
- Jennie White – Boston Innovation – What an Upset! Doodlebugging Takes 1st Place
- Matt Fellows – Boston Innovation – Startup Weekend Draws Diverse Crowd
- Jason Evanish – Greenhorn Connect – 9 Reasons to be at Startup Weekend
And finally the link to everything Startup Weekend Boston
At 6pm tonight Startup Weekend Boston will begin and I can’t wait. I’m participating for the first time, and am eager to make the most of this innovative event.
For those that are unfamiliar Startup Weekend, the concept is pretty simple. Get a bunch of motivated strangers in a room, brainstorm and build stuff. By Sunday evening there should be some new companies and at least a few decent prototypes. Cool eh?
So keep your eyes peeled as I will post updates as I go along.