A column by Geoff McQueen of HiiveSystems published on TechCrunch in late August posited a challenge to the status quo of today’s startup ecosystem: though consumer web is an exciting marketplace, with the necessities of big money and a big market, it sucks to build products for consumers.
“In the United States, if you want to reach a million users in a consumer play, you need to convince one in 260 people to use your product,” McQueen wrote.
It’s something that is easy to miss between the headlines of TechCruch, that same publication that makes the startup environment seem so exciting.
The enterprise — the business-to-business marketplace for software — is gaining more and more attention. TechCrunch has devoted a section to enterprise news, and Technically Philly has done its fair share, like coverage of Emerging Technology for the Enterprise, an international conference dedicated to the space, which takes place right in our Old City backyard.
It’s a growing market. In June, Gartner reported that the industry is on pace to surpass $267 billion in international revenue in 2011.
And though Wayne’s HardMetrics isn’t rewriting the rules of enterprise software deployment, it’s a great example of the prowess of enterprise business and its Philadelphia impact.
The company helps call centers measure performance with sophisticated software.
For example, companies like Motorola and its consumer handheld division, one of HardMetric’s “cornerstone” clients outsource global help desk operations to third-party operators. Each day, as HardMetrics Chief Executive Officer Rob Winner tells it, “there’s an extremely huge mountain of data coming in.”
What HardMetrics customers want is real-time context for decision makers to analyze those third-party operators to see where performance is and isn’t, Winner says. With that kind of information, decision makers can move business away from inefficient partners.
And like many other enterprise providers, which were once typically housed behind internal company firewalls, more and more companies are moving to SaaS solutions, and offering attractive packaging, like HardMetrics’ recent web optimization for tablet computers like the iPad and Android devices.
“Maybe you have 1,000 people sitting in a call center making and taking calls. It enables somebody to get out on the floor with a tablet and make decisions immediately,” Winner says.
The company began as a startup in 2003. It took 18 months to build the technology and the product was first launched in 2005, Winner says. In 2006, the company raised $4 million from two early-stage venture capital firms, NextStage Capital and Osage Ventures.
Today, the company has about 20 staffers and is expected to grow this year. And Winner says the private company was driving profit in its first 12 months and is still turning quarter-on-quarter growth.
Winner, who was born and raised in South Jersey and lives in Doylestown, noted some of the company’s neighbors in Wayne.
Just down Swedesford Road, where HardMetrics is located, is Evolve IP, another successful business-results based enterprise service. As we wrote in a 2009 piece on that company, in 2007, Evolve received a $15.4 million investment from private entities that, then, was said to one of the largest information technology investments in Philadelphia in the last decade.
It’s a good block on which to be located. After all, let McQueen, the enterprise entrepreneur above, remind us: “Businesses Spend Money.”
Knowledge is power!
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