I connected with a buddy who built an analytics platform for enterprise clients. (Think billions of dollars in annual revenue.) He mentioned that he’s about to roll out an update to the platform that has nothing to do with analytics. It’s to provide an administrative capability his enterprise clients are accustomed to seeing in other platforms they use. He wasn’t thrilled about using engineering resources for this versus enhancing analytics capabilities, but his enterprise clients have high standards.
When I was running my company, we were always on the lookout for tools that allowed us to do our jobs better. They weren’t always perfect and didn’t have all the bells and whistles, but they saved us time and helped us execute better. We focused on what the tools added to our productivity, not what they were missing. This approach meant that we became early customers of innovative companies building great tools. Over time, we saw some of them evolve into huge successes. As they grew, some of them went upmarket to enterprise customers. We benefited from being along for the ride. Our company was on the cutting edge of some things simply because we were loyal, patient early customers.
Founders who want to target enterprise customers straight out of the gate should be mindful that their product may have to be fully baked for these organizations to even consider trying it. They can be risk averse and less forgiving if the product still needs tweaking or has issues. Companies that plan to go after these large customers often need to spend more time developing the product before they begin selling it, which means they usually need more capital to survive longer without customer revenue. Enterprise customers can be great when you land them, but landing them can require a lot of upfront product development and capital.