Passion. Opportunity. Innovation. These three prominent themes emerged throughout salesforce.com’s first-ever Business App Bootcamp, where a ‘standing room only’ crowd of more than 400 developers and entrepreneurs gathered this week to gain perspective on the business app revolution and learn how to build the next big enterprise app.
Exactly how big is this opportunity? A potential trillion dollar transfer in wealth from old-guard enterprise vendors to a new age of business app entrepreneurs, noted salesforce.com’s developer evangelist Adam Seligman as he kicked off the festivities, citing a recent post from ReadWrite’s Dan Lyons.
The disruptive forces driving this shift have been well-chronicled. Businesses are demanding better apps, better experiences and better value…opening the door for an entirely new generation of entrepreneurs to fill this void.
Salesforce customers are looking to the
AppExchange marketplace more than ever before. Just how large is the demand? A
customer now installs an AppExchange app every 40 seconds, and more than 70% of
the Fortune 100 are using AppExchange apps, Seligman noted.
With four of its top ten apps coming from companies with fewer than 25 employees, the AppExchange has been a catalyst for successful business app entrepreneurs and ISVs for more than seven years. Business App Bootcamp provided a balance of inspiring and grounded insights from entrepreneurs and investors on building successful business apps.
Salesforce.com design experts Charles Warren and Marcus Gosling, both IDEO alums, led a discussion on delivering a great user experience and applying the lean startup methodology to business app development. Both were candid about the importance of learning from failures and taking a data-driven approach to understanding what customers want and are willing to pay for. When asked for one key takeaway, Gosling advised entrepreneurs to “always be curious, keep thinking and testing, always ask why and never assume.”
Attendees also heard from a diverse panel of successful AppExchange partners. Operating from a basement, Bracket Labs co-founder Blakely Graham went from a napkin sketch to her first sale in four months. CloudAmp founder David Hecht took the considerable expertise he developed over ten years as a Salesforce Platform user and administrator, saw a market opportunity for more optimized analytics and dashboards, and launched CloudAmp in 2011 to address it. FinancialForce CEO Jeremy Roche scrapped initial plans to build his own platform, opting to kickstart his business as an AppExchange partner. ServiceMax’s Stacey Epstein discussed the time-to-market value of the cloud, and how her company deployed mobile apps to service technicians within two months. Their advice to the budding entrepreneurs:
- If you think you have talked to your customers enough, you haven’t. You need to keep iterating the experience.
- The Salesforce community is a very tight. Find mentors from other app developers.
- Focus on user experience, not just for your product, but how you do sales, marketing and support too.
Clearing a Path For Innovation
Entrepreneurs also came to Business App Bootcamp to understand how they too can put the Salesforce Platform and the AppExchange ecosystem to work for them. Reid Carlberg’s aptly titled presentation, “The Fastest Path from Idea to App,” urged the audience to focus the new user requirements – contextual, mobile and social functionality – that deliver leverage for apps, and let the Salesforce Platform manage what is now considered tablestakes – infrastructure, reliability, extensibility and identity. AppExchange guru Leyla Seka provided five tips for being successful in the marketplace, but not before reinforcing what AppExchange entrepreneurs stand to gain for following her keys to success – business apps make an average of $395,000 per app on the AppExchange while consumer apps take home an average of $6,900 per app on Apple’s AppStore.
Business App Bootcamp concluded with strong validation from leading technology venture capitalists from Andreesen-Horowitz, Emergence Capital, Foundation Capital and Sequoia Capital, who participated in a panel led by TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha. Each offered their perspectives around the re-emergence of enterprise innovation, advising entrepreneurs to stay true to their vision, keeping in mind that 1) the first to market doesn’t necessarily dictate who wins, and 2) the focus should always be on talking to potential customers (not investors) and creating solutions that alleviate business pain points and delight business users in the same ways that their consumer apps do.
As the afternoon wound down, two things were clear:
- Business users deserve apps that they love. Apps that are a seamless part of their jobs, that work the way they do. Apps, not applications. Not software that users ultimately have to work around to be successful.
- This revolution is well underway. Businesses are prepared to consider alternatives that are built on platforms they trust, and this market demand will continue to exceed supply. Business App Bootcamp’s goal was to clear a path for developers and entrepreneurs to seize this opportunity.