Will Enterprise Startups Ever Be Sexy?

Read the headlines of any reputable tech blog. You are probably going to hear some story about Groupon’s valuation, Twitter’s latest funding round, or how Facebook stole employees from Google. So, why do we constantly hear the stories of these attention-grabbing outliers? It is partially because they are in the consumer space and have found ways to appeal to everyone, beyond any sort of demographic, industry or interest. So what is to be said about those up-and-coming startups in the enterprise space?

A lot.

We are slowly beginning to see the shift of excitement from the consumer space to the enterprise space. Arguably, it started with Salesforce.com. After phenomenal growth (and an IPO), the company has seemed to stay in the headlines. Now, with other companies like Yammer, Box.net & Rypple (and eventually my company) emerging in the space, it appears that these companies are bringing sexy back.

How do we know this to be true? Beyond the growth of these companies in terms of user base, let’s look at the investment pouring into this space. Towards the end of 2010, Yammer grabbed up $25 million in new funding. In October of last year, Kliener Perkins’ announced its sFund of $250 million, which is dedicated to investing in social startups including those within the enterprise space.

Now, consider the user growth. If you have not yet heard of any of the aforementioned companies, there is a good chance that you will in the next 12 months (considering that you follow tech news). Triple-digit growth is becoming the norm. Investors are buzzing. Companies are realizing the value of enterprise products/services. The space is growing. For those of us who eat, breathe and sleep in the enterprise space, this is exciting!

If you are an enterprise startup and still have a negative or cynical outlook on things, change it. It is your job to continue putting out valuable products and services. It is also your job to create news and keep this space hot! The best way to become notable is by becoming successful. Eventually, people will notice.

Facebook and Groupon have become household names because people are using them on a regular basis and it is becoming part of their routine. As companies integrate innovative enterprise products, employees will become better versed on these products and will begin to use them in their work routine. It takes time. Sexy doesn’t happen overnight.

With all that being said, if you are in the consumer space, don’t worry too much, you are still the popular kid in class. But, there are countless startups working hard to change that. May the best space win.

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