I have been meeting and interacting with lot of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, tech professionals, angel investors and venture capitalists in the last few days.
Here is a summary of learnings from discussions with key stakeholders in the ecosystem:
- Apart from the great weather, the cross section of intellectuals and go-getters from different cultures and ethnicity is a real asset for the Silicon Valley. Young entrepreneurs trying different ideas and approaches for solving problems energize the ecosystem.
- When you are raising money for a startup, your idea, founding team, vision and drive to succeed is the deciding factor in the seed round. For series A, demonstration of accomplishments in numbers compared to what the entrepreneur envisioned and what is achieved is the deciding factor.
- Companies are very bullish on possibilities with the Internet of things (IoT) in both consumer space and industrial internet. According to IDC's figures, despite close to 90 percent of all IoT devices being installed in the world's developed regions, the global IoT market is pegged at around $1.9 trillion and there is significant growth potential for IoT in the developing world. As per IDC predictions, the global IoT market would hit $7.1 trillion by 2020.
- Product and market fit is a very critical success factor for SaaS/Cloud product companies. I had the opportunity to listen to Sean Jacobsohn from Norwest Venture Partner who shared a simple checklist for entrepreneurs for evaluating their position. Following are some of the questions that entrepreneurs need to address:
- Diversity of customers: How many customers you have now that you did not know before starting your company?
- Engagement: How core is your product to your customers’ business? What is the impact on the customer business if your product is removed?
- Churn: What is the rate at which you are losing customers?
- Customer commitment level: What is the contract size? How long is the customer committed to work with you? How open is the customer for discussing his business plan and your contribution in the plan?
- What is the cost of new customer acquisition? How fast are you at acquiring new customers?
- Current Big Data technologies for managing structured and unstructured data such as Hana, NoSQL databases, Hadoop, MapReduce, Hive, Machine Learning etc. are becoming mainstream. The next stage is expected to focus more on deriving the meaning from the collected data by leveraging text analytics. There will be actual analysis by data scientists to dig out meaningful information for consumers and enterprises.
- There is a significant emphasis on mobile-first solutions for consumer as well as business applications. A lot of emphasis is still on consistent experience across multiple OS and device platforms. Responsive apps and native app frameworks are still evolving to support this criteria. Convergence of mobile, cloud, analytics, IoT will drive the next stage of growth for software product companies, enterprises and IT solution providers.