Tuesday, February 23, 2016

$100 Million Startup Reveals Innovation Weaknesses At IBM And Oracle

A $2 billion market is small potatoes for a big publicly-traded company like IBM. But it can be a gold mine for a startup.

After all, if the startup can get a mere 5% of that market, its revenues will hit $100 million and that could make it a candidate for an initial public offering.

Moreover, by focusing all its efforts on winning new business from a market that big companies neglect, that startup can grow much faster than its rivals.

This comes to mind in considering the $2 billion to $3 billion (annual revenues) identity management software market – from which Austin, Texas-base SailPoint owes half its revenue to deals it says it has snagged from the likes of IBM, Oracle and CA Technologies.

How so? SailPoint is winning business because its product and customer service are better than rivals’ at enabling companies to grant and revoke employee, partner and supplier access to a company’s computer systems as they join, move, and leave.

In declining to comment Oracle cited its quiet period.

IBM believes that its security business is going well. According to IBM spokesperson, Ian Colley, “IBM’s innovation in the security market has propelled it to $2B in annual revenue and its position as the fastest growing enterprise security business in the world.”

With hackers costing CEOs their jobs — think Sony and Target, the seemingly mundane job of identity management can go a long way to making sure that only the right people can get access to a company’s systems and more importantly — the wrong people are blocked from such access.

The True Entrepreneur Is A Doer, Not A Dreamer

While the loss of identity management software market share is of little concern to investors in those tech giants, what it reveals about their inability to innovate is bad news for Warren Buffett and other owners of IBM stock. The same applies to investors in Oracle and CA Technologies.

SailPoint was founded in 2005 and it hibernated through the financial crisis. In a February 19 interview with Tivoli alumni, CEO Mark McClain and president Kevin Cunningham, explained that the company has taken ”nearly $50 million in business away from IBM, Oracle and CA Technologies through ‘rip and replace.’”

They told me that SailPoint is “highly profitable with over $100 million in revenues, 530 customers and 550 employees with plans to file an IPO in 2017. In August 2014 private equity firm, Thoma Bravo, bought out our original investors. They offer us excellent advice that helps us grow at 30% to 40% a year with 10% to 15% [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization]

What should be of concern to Oracle and IBM investors — where McClain and Cunningham worked after their companies were acquired (IBM bought Tivoli for $743 million in 1996 and their next startup, Waveset, was bought in 2003 by Sun Microsystems which Oracle acquired in 2009 for $7.4 billion) – is how difficult it is for these big companies to come up with new products that customers love.

Innovation for a successful startup means listening to customers and responding quickly with product improvements that help customers alleviate the real pain they are feeling.

When it comes to identity, companies needed a much less technically complex way to present the information so that high-level executives could make clear choices about which access to provide, change, or eliminate for which users, according to McClain and Cunningham.

They claim that it is very difficult for IBM and its peers to innovate in that way. “These big technology companies acquire companies that make point products. Their product managers focus on making the acquired products compatible with their other products such as database software and middleware. Their product managers don’t spend enough time listening to customers and if a customer wants new features, they struggle to get the engineering resources to respond.”

To be sure, these technology giants do have a major competitive advantage — long-standing relationships with senior client executives.

As McClain and Cunningham said, “A Gartner analyst estimates that 75% of the identity management deals are bundled into with much bigger contracts for database and other kinds of software and are not put for true competitive bids. In those deals, we will sometimes get asked to participate but our contribution is ‘column fodder’ — that is not seriously considered by the customer.”

In the 25% of identity management deals where SailPoint is seriously considered, it claims to win a whopping 80% to 90% of the time. “We have 530 customers and a 96% customer approval rating. Potential customers want to see a proof of concept and we welcome the opportunity to shine,” said McClain and Cunningham.

Disclaimer: Following article come from Forbes

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A startup accelerator for social good.

On a normal day I work with a variety of startups, especially in the fintech, enterprise technology and health tech spaces.

It is an amazing and exhilarating experience. But recently I had the pleasure to work as a mentor with Venturetec, mentoring a group of inspiring UNSW students from the Australian Graduate School of Management who are striving to win the Hult Prize.

The Hult Prize is a start-up accelerator with a major difference. It’s a startup accelerator for social good and it’s the world’s largest student competition.

From the 25,000 global applications received from 500 colleges and more than 150 countries this year, 300 will compete in five cities around the world for a chance to win one of six places to pitch in the finals to secure US$1 million in startup funding.

This is all about social entrepreneurship; bringing together college and university students from around the world to identify and launch disruptive and catalytic social ventures that aim to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

It’s a joint initiative by Hult University and the Clinton Global Institute. Bill Clinton set this year’s challenge to double the income of 10 million people living in crowded urban spaces and will be on stage to present the award.

The judging panel includes some heavy hitters, such as past Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus.

Speak Up, Believe in Yourselves, Take Risks.

Introducing Bobbin

Bobbin (formerly solarweavers), comprising Ben Pask, Shalendra Ranasinghe, Lisa Shannon and Dimitry Tran, are the AGSM (UNSW) Hult Prize Finalists that are on their way to London for the Regional Finals in March.

The objective of Bobbin is to connect women in urban slums to a source of sustainable income. There is technology involved in their social enterprise, but this is not your usual high tech.It includes a solar panel (low power), sewing machines (low tech) and a cell phone for connectivity.

Their solution includes micro-financing but they are also exploring micro peer-to-peer lending.

Bobbin’s customers will be able to sew clothes from raw materials sourced locally, with sales into existing marketplaces and a new online solution.

I asked Trey Zagante, Venturetec CEO, to comment on why he was working with Bobbin, which is a departure from his normal enterprisetech focus:

 "We chose to sponsor the Hult Prize @ UNSW to support social entrepreneurs who are driven to make a positive social impact that could potentially change the lives of tens millions people,” he said.

“The Bobbin team have really embraced the lean startup approach of Venturetec’s incubation program, and they’ll be going into the regional finals having rigorously tested and validated their business model”

A new online marketplace

This is about setting up a new marketplace in a country where online is not that commonplace.The product to be sold will be items of clothes. The phone’s camera will be used to snap the item, which will then be placed onto a new online marketplace.

Bobbin has partnered with technology provider Arcadier to develop their marketplace. At first I was surprised that Arcadier, which operates in advanced next-generation marketplaces, would be able to service outside of their comfort zone, but they are clearly comfortable in the social enterprise space, which can require less sophisticated technology.

Clearly there is a major assumption around when a tipping point that will see a move from 2G phones and increasing availability of smartphones. In developing world countries we are starting to see rapid adoption of cheap Android-based handsets.

Bobbin’s other partner is Barefoot Power, which deploys solar panels and has a great existing penetration of markets in countries like Kenya.They are also in talks with the Kenyan Federation of Women Entrepreneurs.

A startup empowering women

There is an underlying belief that education is the answer to breaking the poverty cycle.

The stated goal of Bobbin is to double the income of people living in crowded urban spaces. Bobbin is focused on helping women who are on home care duties with few prospects of working outside of the home to generate an income.

“Empowering women may be the single most poverty reducing factor in developing economies which can lead to significant macroeconomic gains.It is shown that women are also more likely than men to invest more of their income into their children’s education,” says Lisa Shannon.

The model is deliberately simple to ensure that it will work. They create a small craft industry for eight women to work in a sewing circle, with a leader to use phone to manage logistics and sell in the marketplace.

The provision of solar power to use the sewing machines also brings light and power for houses that would otherwise not have them. So the impact of this is remarkable.

The secret sauce

It’s not technology; in actual fact, Bobbin’s secret sauce is ‘care’.

The secret sauce is Bobbin’s connection with community to enable the skills that already exist within these communities.It is also anticipated that when community pride is harnessed the default on microfinance loans will be minimal.

With care and connection, these small steps to create new work will start to change the world one solar panel and sewing machine at a time.

Disclaimer: Following article come from CW

Monday, February 15, 2016

Small investors could be excluded from start-up tax offsets.

Small investors risk being locked out of the digital revolution, thanks to a government proposal to limit access to a 20 per cent tax offset for early-stage, start-up investments, to so-called sophisticated investors.

Restricting the tax incentive to investors with net assets of at least $2.5 million and annual incomes of more than $250,000 would help prevent inexperienced investors from being lured into risky investments.

"Investment in innovation companies is inherently risky. Many investments will lose money, while others have the potential to make large gains,"
The proposal has split the startup community, with some entrepreneurs arguing smart retail investors should have the chance to invest in young companies.

"Not all mum and dad (small) investors meet the sophisticated investor requirement, yet many are very intelligent and capable of understanding the risks," said Clare Hallam, acting general manager of Pollenizer, a company that helps build business incubator programs.

​"For Australia to become a truly innovative nation, we need to commence this education and not exclude mum and dad investors," she said.
Cautious response

Others erred on the side of caution, believing the incentive should be restricted to sophisticated investors.

Brosa co-founder Ivan Lim said limiting the offset to sophisticated investors would be a "double-edged sword".

"It's good because it ensures that capital is being invested in high-quality companies that have been assessed by sophisticated investors as having a strong chance of success," he said.

"Having said that, there is also an advantage for early-stage startups that need to raise money from friends and family to keep working on their business before they're ready to approach a venture capitalist – in circumstances like this the tax incentive could be helpful."

The 20 per cent tax offset was first flagged as part of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's lauded Innovation Statement in December last year.

But the offset will not be available to all start-ups, with the consultation paper proposing limiting it to "innovation companies" which were incorporated in Australia in the last three years, have assessable income of $200,000 or less in the prior income year, have expenditure of $1 million or less, and is not listed.

Keep Calm and Get Your Startup On

Treasury said in the consultation paper the option of using a "sophisticated investor" test would limit it to people that are "more likely to be able to evaluate offers of securities and other financial products without needing the protection of a disclosure document".
Ineffective tools

Trimantium Capital managing director Phillip Kingston said income and expenditure tests were not effective screening tools to uncover innovative companies.

"Similarly, building a business that will have a material impact on the future of the country will take a long time, so a three-year time limit is too restrictive. Five years would provide a better runway," he said.

"A set of principles that determine the definition of an innovation company make sense. Anything too prescriptive certainly won't incentivise innovation and may have the opposite effect."

Mr Kingston also took aim at the government's proposition of excluding companies in certain industries.

"Some of the exclusions floated in the government's consultation paper are alarming and should be removed.

"Innovation in fintech, B2B and agritech provide some of the greatest opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors to build the future of Australia."

These thoughts were echoed by Unlocked chief executive Matt Berriman who said the consultation paper's suggestions were too restrictive.

"It means investors would only get an incentive for investing in businesses that are really just at concept stage, continuing to over-index incubator and seed investment and widen the already existing problem of series A, B and growth round funding in Australia," he said.

"We're not going to grow another company like Atlassian if you cap the incentives at the levels being indicated."

Disclaimer: Following article come from FinancialReview

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Managing Your Startup In 2016: New Rules For A New Environment.

It’s a new environment for startups in 2016. Financing will get harder. Valuation inflation will dissipate. Profitability will be in vogue again. And old-fashioned business fundamentals will balance out the disruption frenzy of the past five years.

Given the new investment climate, what’s an entrepreneur to do? To answer that, let’s first examine the factors behind Silicon Valley’s climate change.

First, public market valuations for relatively young technology companies have been declining of late — especially for those that remain unprofitable. For example, we’ve seen valuation multiples for unprofitable SaaS companies drop by more than 60 percent from 2014 to today (see below). Valuation multiples for profitable SaaS companies, by contrast, have dropped by less than 30 percent.

Second, recent IPOs (Atlassian aside) have generated less than stellar returns for late-stage investors. Square, Box and Etsy are good examples of this trend, where early stage investors were rewarded with strong multiples on their long-term investments, while late-stage investors suffered mixed results. TechCrunch has referred to recent tech IPOs as the new down round.

Third, we’ve seen Fidelity and others publicly mark down their valuations of private company investments, from Dropbox and Snapchat to Zenefits and Dataminr.

In short, public and private investors aren’t simply discussing bubbles and valuation concerns like they were in early 2015 — they’re taking action.

Given that new world order, here’s my advice for early stage and late-stage entrepreneurs to navigate the shifting sands:

Old Ways Won't Open New Doors.

Accelerate profitability: Build a financial plan that gets the company to profitability on 50 percent as much capital as you may have wanted to raise six months ago. If you were planning to raise $100 million previously, build a plan that gets you to profitability on $50 million. If $50 million, then $25 million and so on. We’re already seeing the profitability premium kick in with public SaaS companies, as outlined above.

Prepare insiders to step up: Over the last two-three years, outside investors did not expect earlier inside investors to participate at any material level in later-stage financings. Early stage investors thus benefited from other firms’ capital in later rounds. In the new environment, I anticipate new investors will expect existing investors to contribute significantly to new rounds, providing up to one-third or one-half of the new funding.

Be willing to have multiple new investors in the round: Beyond valuations, the risk tolerance of late-stage investors is changing. New investors will want to write smaller checks to mitigate their risk and exposure — and to reserve capital if the company does need a new round (because external capital is not a given). As a result, entrepreneurs should be prepared to bring together multiple investors at the $10-$15 million level as opposed to finding one lead investor willing to put in $25-$50 million.

Adjust your expectations: Recognize that a clean deal at a flat valuation should be considered a “win” in this environment. Let’s consider a company that last raised at $200 million valuation on a $10 million run rate two years ago — and has now grown to a $30 million run rate (a super healthy tripling of ARR). Absent the new climate, the company might expect to raise a new round at 10x to 12x multiple for $300-$360 million valuation. However, if you factor in that public SaaS multiples have been cut in half or more, a price of $150-$180 million would more fairly reflect the market. Thus, a flat round at $200 million would be a win despite the company’s fast growth.

Prepare your employees: This may be the hardest challenge, given how actively some startups pursued unicorn status to accelerate recruiting efforts. Now, despite two years of massive progress and growth, you need to tell employees that the next round may be flat — and convince them the company isn’t losing market momentum. Professional investors understand all too well that external financings will fluctuate — two years ago, the price was probably too high; today, it may reflect market reality; in the future, it may be too low. It’s important that your employees understand the cost of capital will go up and down based on market dynamics (not just company performance).

The silver lining

The climate change in late-stage private markets will cause some challenges for entrepreneurs and their teams — and result in a higher cost of capital. However, history tells us there is a silver lining for the smart startups that adapt, focus on fundamentals and extend their runway.

That silver lining is a “flight to quality” that typically occurs during periods of multiple compression and financing downturns. As a result, the financing arms race will hopefully subside — and the best startups in each category can grow more efficiently knowing it will be tougher for the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 companies to raise capital.

Disclaimer: Following article come from TC