Disclaimer: I’m not preaching below, just an observation – I’m living through this and hoping to learn from others!
Over the past month, as a mentor at 500 Startups and while attending AppNation Enterprise, I’ve met a number of startups focused on enterprise mobility targeting the “prosumer.” A pretty consistent theme among these mobile apps is the focus on trying to achieve a direct-to-employee sales model. This makes absolute sense; investors are looking for the next Evernote or Dropbox where an app develops organically and is used by prosumers (whom have money) without the need of developing an expensive sales organization.
What I have fond ironic is that many of these startups are having to hire that “one” sales rep because their traction in a direct-to-employee model hasn’t panned out. This is the result of a multitude of reasons:
And the real bummer with all of this is the company keeps trying to add horizontal features to target the prosumer instead of doubling-down with vertical-specific features for the segment their app is succeeding within. They are doing this because because investors won’t invest unless they can get rid of that “sales rep,” ultimately putting the startup in a perpetual state of “straddling” where straddle = FAIL.
I’ve concluded that you can’t straddle between prosumer and enterprise. You either double-down on enterprise and choose a specific vertical or you actually target the consumer. I know that sounds completely left-field but the reality is that Dropbox and Evernote, being the representative prosumer success stories started as consumer apps that were widely adopted in the enterprise. Targeting the prosumer may be the ultimate goal but the aha moment for me was that the use cases need to appeal to the consumer.