Tag Archives: beta product

A comparison of business software review sites: Credii, ITCentral, G2Crowd, BestVendor and GetApp

There are an estimated 5K to 10K SaaS and enterprise software companies that provide solutions for small, mid-sized and enterprise companies.

The large IT analyst companies such as Gartner, Forrester, IDC, EMR and Burton Group have made a $billion business out of evaluating and ranking these vendors on a magic quadrant or waves.

Over the last few years a host of companies have tried to disrupt the evaluation, comparison, review and ranking portion of the business.

The companies, G2Crowd, Credii, ITCentralStation, BestVendor and GetApp all pretty much offer a similar service with a few twists. The ability for business users to review, evaluate and filter the software solution for the based on their custom need.

Given the explosion of startups (thanks to the lower cost of starting a company), there are tons of choices for any buyer of software and many deployment models as well – mobile app, mobile web, SaaS, etc.

I had a chance to look at all these companies, and the intent was to review them from the point of view of a buyer of technology. I was initially looking for the best Early stage private company database, and stumbled upon one of these websites and went to research and see if there were others as well providing Yelp-type reviews for startups in a “crowd sourced” way.

There are 3 different approaches taken by these companies. While G2Crowd, ITCentral station and Best Vendor are more crowdsourced platforms, where any user can write a review and rate the vendors, Credii is more like a “Analyst on Demand” or ” Analyst as a Service” solution. GetApp is a pure marketplace and seems to want to follow the App store model with some reviews, but more a listings website.

There were 3 things I was looking for when searching for a database of startups – first a good comprehensive listing of vendors, followed by analysis of their features and pricing, and finally reviews and recommendations by users like me.

Of the 5 solutions (none of who are comprehensive) I found Getapp to have the most listings – for other solutions than the one I was looking for. G2Crowd was a close second. The rest were pretty poor in the comprehensive nature of their coverage of a domain or the products within a domain.

In terms of analysis of features and pricing, company information, I found g2Crowd the best, but Credii very comprehensive. The limited nature of editorial reviews in the other sites, make them hard to take seriously.

Finally in terms of user reviews, getApp was the best by far with the most reviews. followed by G2Crowd. ItCentralStation was poor but definitely better than the other two.

If you are an SMB vendor with an interest in reviewing products and learning more about products before you start to shop, I’d be hard pressed to say an of them will truly meet your needs. They might be a starting point, but if you are expecting an Amazon like listing, with great reviews, multiple feature comparisons, you will be sadly disappointed.

P.S. I have been also informed (see the comments) about Capterra. Worth a look as well.

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Startup Idea validation: How many people; how long before your idea’s worth pursuing?

Lets say I have an idea. Actually 3 different ideas I want to pursue. My next step is to get validation of that idea. The top 5 questions that I am looking to answer are (not necessarily in order):

1. Is this a real problem? (Pain point validation)

2. Is what I am trying to do solving the problem? (Product – market fit validation)

3. How much of a problem is this for the person who I am providing this solution for? (Customer validation)

4. Will people pay to have this problem solved? If so how much? (Pricing validation)

5. Is the problem big enough that I can make a large company out of solving this problem? (Market size validation)?

So the question is how much do you have to get validation for these questions until you decide to pursue it?

One approach is to actually develop, have customers pay and let the market validate your idea.Which is what was suggested by a user at HN.

The approach I am going to suggest is more measured and less expensive than actually developing the solution before you figure out if that’s the right idea for you to pursue. It involves talking to customers / prospects or even putting together a simple SEM campaign to test the idea out. I think many might say that’s not a new idea, but I dont see over 80% of startups doing this.

That’s way cheaper than time or resources to build your idea to a real product. At some time you have to build a real product and there no denying that.

First I would make a target list of 20 people – 10 who are potential customers who have the same title of the person you believe has the problem you are trying to validate. If you are a consumer startup, that might be the target audience of users who might want the product / service you are building. If you are an B2B company, look for the right title of buyer.

The list should include 5 potential industry experts, who might understand the nuts and bolts better and 5 “laymen”,  or those that have not much of an idea about the intricacies.

Is the number 20 enough? Maybe, not, but its a start.

Then prepare a one paragraph elevator pitch explaining what the problem is, and how you are going to solve it. Email it to your list and track their feedback.

Then try and get prospect validation. This is because people who know you might either a) not want to discourage you, and so give invalid answers, or b) might not understand the solution well enough to provide valid feedback.

I would setup Google adwords campaign for the keywords you think people will most likely click on. If you buy a domain and hosting from Godaddy or some other providers you even get $100 adwords credit, so there’s no excuse.

Create 3 different pages with your multiple campaigns and call to actions, and have a signup sheet (this is your call to action) for each. Track and categorize results. In each of these pages, provide a screenshot of your product / service you are trying to develop.

Wait, you think, wont this give my idea away and attract more competition. Sure, I think it might, but more likely, there’s competition already and you are just not aware of it yet is my answer. Or if there’s no competition, is that not a signal anyway?

How much time should you give your startup space/industry before you move on?

I had an acquaintance who sent me a note a few days ago. He had built a beta product and we were customers along with a 2 others. After 3-4 months of working to get the product ready, and seeing some traction (limited I presume) he decided that the effort was not going to give him the “ROI” he desired and was not pivoting to a few other ideas that he was considering.

The new ideas were totally unrelated to what he was doing before. So an essential restart.

I see a lot more of these “projects” that developer-entrepreneurs take on, which they term as their idea / space, only to find that either the market they chose is not big enough or the traction they got was limited or they did not really care about the market or the product in the first place. Brings into question the entire passion and desire for the space and area they wanted to spend solving problems.

Side note: First thing that I would highly recommend is to find out why you want to be an entrepreneur and also what you want to do. Just saying I want be an entrepreneur because its fun (its actually not fun most of the time) or because I want to be my own boss does not suffice.

The rest of this post is mostly for those entrepreneurs who dont know a space fairly well or have worked in any industry for a long time. This is for those who decided to build a mobile app because its cool and the new thing to do after working at a medical equipment company (IT organization as a developer) for 5 years. Or the fresh out of college grad who wants to build an eCommerce company as an example.

I dont have a scientific reason to give you a number, just some experience from having done a few startups.

It takes 2 years for you to understand a space well.

That’s the minimum time you have to give it before you can make an impact.

For the first 3 months you are mostly trying to learn the landscape, understand which events to attend, who the key people are in the industry, and what are the white spaces or “major problem areas”. You may have some ideas, but validating them with these and other people takes time. Especially if they are at a big company, since they are mostly travelling and cant give you appointments for 2-3 weeks out.

The next 3-6 months pass by amazingly quickly. You are either building your product, talking to a lot of customers, or meeting suppliers (eCommerce needs a ton of patience BTW with vendors) or showing demos to potential prospects.This is also the time you are trying out how to position the product, trying out your elevator pitch, etc.

The next 3 months all you are doing is trying to make your alpha product a real beta or your beta product a version 1. Getting feedback from customers, acting on them, etc.

Real productivity hits you in year 2. And traction, momentum and impact only hit a year later.

So choose the space and industry carefully before you decided to jump into building a company, because if you decide to change the idea or space, the clock starts again. It will take you two years from that point to understand that new space and make an impact.

This however drops to a year if you already have worked for a company in that space before. E.g. You were at an eCommerce company selling toys online and you decide to start an eCommerce company after 2 years being at that company. Your new company will benefit from that experience, but I would now put the time required for you to get productive as 1 year. After all, it takes a long time to be an overnight success.