I ended up down a rabbit hole of research on Sapphire Ventures thanks to the Origins (Notation Capital) podcast on my flight home from Boston early this morning. Sapphire invests in Enterprise software companies. I got to thinking, if I were to analyze companies in that space with my Product Manager hat on, what would I look for?
These 5 areas came to mind.
1. How will the Product interoperate?
Ex: Zapier, BI fabric, Hybrid Cloud
Is the team thinking about how to move pieces of data around from their app to other apps, from their app to the Enterprise systems, between their Public Cloud and the Enterprise’s on-prem and Dedicated Clouds?
How will insights and raw data from their product be accessible to the Enterprise’s BI Fabric, Data Scientists, etc? How does that strengthen the value of the offering?
2. Where are Users interacting with the Product?
Ex: Mobile, APIs, Slackbots, Echo
Is their product enabling all types of Users to be engaged anywhere? Is extension of the product easy by a Customer Developer via APIs? Is there potential for an Ecosystem to organically grow around the product? Does it feel like a Platform? Is the pretty Mobile app for the on-the-go Sales person just as well thought out as the Developer API?
3. What are the Combinatorial Effects?
Ex: Exongenous Datasets, Data Network Effects
Is the team thinking about combining datasets together to create something new? Does the product have inherent data network efforts? As more people use this, will the value increase?
What two features used together accomlishing something really powerful?
4. What role does analytics play?
Ex: NLP, Computer Vision, Salesforce Einstein
Enterprise data is flowing through the product. How is that data being mined into features? How are signals being extracted using NLP, Computer Vision, Machine Learning, etc? Does the business analysis get smarter the more people use it? Does AI feel like a foundational part of their approach or do they think of it as gimmicky and a nice-to-have?
5. Talk about the Tech Stack
Ex: Microservices, Serverless
Is the team using technologies like AWS Lambda? Do they talk about Reference Architectures and Blueprints? Are they taking a Microservices-first approach?
A few more articles I came across while writing this post:
- Quora answer to “Which VCs have a stated focus on investing in enterprise software?”
- Werner Vogel’s blog on Serverless Reference Architectures with AWS Lambda
- Stevey’s Google Platforms Rant
- Selling or Funding A Startup? Tips On Surviving Technical Due Diligence
It’s fun to think this stuff through. I remember the days of meeting with investor after investor while in Techstars and how many of those conversations led to strategy and product improvements.