Posts tagged B2B

Come meet our 9 Exceptional B2B Technology Startups on Nov 20

What is a startup accelerator and how can it help launch a technology idea into a market-ready business? Who is developing some of the best B2B and cloud-services technologies in the Pacific Northwest? Why is our region one of the best in the country for cloud and B2B startups? Our latest Milestone9 event will answer these questions, and introduce the 9 companies graduating from our program. Join us Thursday, November 20, from 2:00-6:00 p.m. at the Washington State Convention Center by registering at http://m9.9MileLabs.com.

The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the top enterprise and cloud services companies in the world, and should be a beacon to any enterprise startup. Concur is one such remarkable success story, and we’re excited to have its co-founder, COO and Chairman Rajeev Singh keynote the event. He’ll help welcome hundreds of business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, friends and family for great content, discussions, networking and demonstrations of some of the hottest technologies launching today!

This marks the third successful cohort of companies from the 9Mile Labs program and we can’t wait to help launch them into the community. And if you’re entrepreneurs interested in joining a B2B startup accelerator, our next program kicks off in January 2015 – application deadline December 4. Whether launching a startup out of college, from of an established career, or developing an idea on the side, entrepreneurs can apply to our program at any time here.

Register soon and we’ll see you there!

Meet the Accelerator —9Mile Labs partners presenting, judging and hosting this month

It’s October. Wow, already? But it’s a busy month with Cohort III at the midway point and serious work ahead! It’s also one of our favorite months at 9Mile Labs because of the bustle of B2B tech activity in the Northwest, much of which we look forward to participating in. Here’s a snapshot of where to find our team this month…

B2B Startup Meetup
October 8, 6:00-7:30 pm, 9Mile Labs Offices, 999 3rd Ave., Suite 700, Seattle

The Northwest’s first B2B tech startup Meetup kicks off October 8 in our offices. Sponsored by Altus Alliance, Summit Law Group and 9Mile Labs, the Meetup will launch important discussions about the most fundamental, yet essential tool every B2B company needs to know and understand: a winning B2B sales process. Effectively designed and executed, the sales funnel will determine your marketing needs, headcount, forecast, product roadmap, bottlenecks to close, how you compare to others in your industry, and a lot more. RSVP here.

DreamForce

October 15, 5:30-6:45 pm, The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square

9Mile Labs Partner Sanjay Puri will present on the panel “Meet the Catalysts – Advice from the Hottest Enterprise Accelerators.” Come to hear from the directors of some of the hottest enterprise Accelerators around, and find out if an Accelerator program is right for your business startup.

Startup Next

October 14 through November 12, Startup Hall, 1100 NE Campus Parkway University of Washington

9Mile Labs Partners Kevin Croy and Sanjay Puri are judging and advising young entrepreneurs at this awesome month-long event. Startup Next is the #1 startup pre-accelerator in the world, helping graduates get accepted into 9Mile Labs, Techstars, 500 Startups and many other top accelerators.

DubHacks

October 17-18, The Hub, University of Washington

DubHacks hosts the top college hackers in the northwest, and Kevin Croy will help judge the next generation of innovative software and hardware tech. This is a killer event for seeing the latest innovations coming out of UW, and every demo, app and idea reveal seems more impressive than the next.

 

And looking ahead to November, you’ll want to save the date for:

B2B Startup Weekend

November 7-9

After sponsoring the world’s first B2B Startup Weekend, the 9Mile Labs team is excited to sponsor another edition of this event. Sanjay and Kevin will judge and mentor another hot new pool of entrepreneurial talent at this year’s Startup Weekend. Don’t miss the event that is the drumroll to one of our biggest events of the year: Milestone9!

Milestone9

November 20, 2:00-6:00 pm, Washington State Convention Center

Our bi-annual event features the graduating companies from the current 4-month 9Mile program. We’re planning incredible speakers, content, technology demonstrations and an opportunity for startups and entrepreneurs — whether out of college or out of Microsoft and Amazon — to meet the investors, mentors and advisors that can help build their companies into hot market performers! Email us if you’d like an invite to this event.

M9 logo-Sanjay2

Cohort II Graduation | Cohort III Applications Open!

Last Friday, May 16th at Milestone9 we had the honor of graduating nine companies from our second cohort. This capstone event is a conclusion to an intensive four month-long program focused on mentorship, advising and coaching startup companies. Descriptions of companies at the close of this post.

We’re also announcing that applications are now open for our next round, Cohort III. All information on our application process can be found at apply.9milelabs.com. Here are the key dates:

- Monday, 6/2: Early Bird Application Deadline (midnight)
- Monday, 6/16: Final Application Deadline (midnight)

Want to connect with us face-to-face, learn about 9ML and applying to our cohort? Here are a handful of opportunities.

Open Coffee: One-on-one conversation with a 9ML partner

- Every Tuesday (5/20 – 6/10), 1PM – 4PM, Tully’s in Bellevue (10812 Main Street; Bellevue, WA 98004)
- Every Thursday (5/22 – 6/12), 1PM – 4PM, Tully’s in Seattle (2nd & Marion; Exchange Building, 821 – 2nd Avenue; Seattle, WA 98104)

Entrepreneur Town Halls: Learn more about 9Mile Labs and the application process

- Thursday, 5/29, 4PM – 6PM, Dice Cabana (Exchange Building, 821, 2nd Avenue, 4th Floor, Seattle)
- Tuesday, 6/10, 4PM – 6PM, Eastside venue TBD

Questions about applying to 9Mile Labs? Check out our Q&A page at 9MileLabs.com as well as earlier blog posts:

Are you ready for an accelerator?
Is my startup too late / too early for an accelerator?
How is a B2B startup different from a B2C startup (Part I)?

 Meet our graduated cohort!

- 3D Product Imaging (3dproductimaging.com):3D Product Imaging allows online brands and retailers to create photo-realistic, high-fidelity 3-dimensional images of products thereby helping to improve sales conversion rates and reduce returns.
- Angles Media (anglesmedia.co): Angles Media helps businesses close more sales by delivering the right content to the buyer with the highest likelihood of influencing the sale. Learn exactly how your landing pages, white papers, videos, and emails influence prospects during the sales cycle.
- Cloudadmin (cloudadmin.mx): Cloudadmin is a cloud-based inventory management and order management system specially designed for SMBs in Latin America.
- Connect Consignment (connectedconsignment.com): Cloud e-commerce software, enabling resale and consignment businesses to; Sell anything, to anyone, anywhere.
- Engineroom360 (engineroom360.com): Engineroom360 helps small and mid-size online retailers, utilizing hosted platforms, to create online promotions and improve discoverability of products on their websites.
- Ghostruck (ghostruck.com): Ghostruck is a ridesharing solution for moving trucks that connects moving trucks with consumers who need a truck for moving bulky items.
- GreenKrate (greenkrate.com): GreenKrate delivers grocery items to consumers and small businesses thereby saving them time.
- Pawzii (pawzii.com): Pawzii delivers automated software solutions for animal shelters to free up human capital, generate new types of revenue, and bring focus back to what’s most important: saving animal lives.
- Theme Dragon (themedragon.com): Theme Dragon helps marketers in SMB’s make smarter video marketing decisions through actionable recommendations and intelligent data. It supports them from planning and production to measuring results.

Keep up on 9Mile Labs news by signing up to our mailing list – Visit 9MileLabs.com to add your name to our mailing list.

How is a B2B startup different from a B2C startup (Part 1)?

We get asked about this all the time. Why and how is a B2B startup so different from a B2C company? While there are many differences, what stands out is the way in which B2B companies do marketing and sales to acquire customers. There’s no intent to imply that one is harder or simpler than the other, they’re just different. Let’s walk through a couple of examples to think through this.

B2C Example

Imagine the last time you purchased a $0.99 app. It probably took a herculean effort for the app developer to reach you through SEO, SEM, Facebook, TV/radio advertising, app review in a publication, app store, or one of the other myriad options. But once you discovered the app, read the description and browsed some reviews, you were able to make the decision about your purchase.

B2B Example

Now let’s examine a scenario where Acme Medical – a 20,000-person medical devices company – is ready to replace their existing open source CRM system with a new solution. NexGen CRM is a startup building the next generation CRM system. This potentially annual $200k+ deal could completely change the Series B funding conversations for NexGen. Here’s what happens in this sales cycle

Awareness: Someone at Acme, most likely an IT manager (say Jill), is assigned responsibility for the search. This is not trivial; Jill’s neck (and the CIO’s) is on the line if Acme picks the wrong product. To create a comprehensive consideration list, Jill casts a wide net including performing web searches, consulting with her industry peers, attending trade shows and reading industry publications. NexGen wants to show up where Jill is looking for her solution.

Education: Acme needs to ensure that it provides adequate stage-appropriate and role-specific assets to educate Jill. These include white papers, data sheets, explainer videos, customer testimonials, case studies, live webinars and competitive information to ensure that Jill doesn’t just understand NexGen’s product, she also understands why it’s better than the competition.

Consideration: Once Jill downloads a white paper or attends a live webinar, she enters the sales funnel for NexGen. She invites the NexGen sales team for a show-and-tell with IT. Before the face-to-face meeting happens, the NexGen sales lead asks Jill to answer few questions about her environment over the phone or over email so they can prepare for the critical first meeting.

When the NexGen sales team shows up, it includes the NexGen CEO (it’s a big freakin’ deal), a sales lead and a sales engineer (likely a developer) who can answer Jill’s initial questions about integration with her current tools, usability, data migration, deployment timeframes and pricing.

Engagement: Once Jill is satisfied with the first meeting, she must now invite other Acme stakeholders from sales operations, marketing, possibly finance and other departments to a follow-on meeting. The NexGen sales team must also start reaching out to the Acme stakeholders.

A general guideline is that a direct sales engagement must run at 3 levels – technical, business and executive. In addition, you also need to cultivate a champion who is espousing your cause inside Acme and forewarning about impending objections and roadblocks.

The sales lead must understand the motives and objectives of the influencers and decision-makers in this purchase process. This involves researching the organization, understanding the power centers, figuring out budgetary priorities, and understanding the key strategic initiatives at Acme.

Purchase: While this stage may seem like a no-brainer after everything that’s happened prior, it is not so. Decisions get overturned because the CEO of Acme happened to be college buddies with the CEO of a NexGen competitor, Acme may have a poor quarter, or macroeconomic conditions may change…the list goes on.

But What About…

Couple of things to call out here. First, we discussed the example of a direct sale with a large deal size that can take 6-12 months, sometimes longer if you’re dealing with a government agency. While the level of engagement and sales cycle will depend on the deal size, it is useful to understand all the levers you can turn in order to achieve desired outcomes.

Second, we haven’t even touched upon the channel sales model. In general, it is challenging for startups to execute a successful channel strategy. As a startup, you need to generate the demand yourself so the channel can fulfill it. Unless the channel partners see a clear and direct path to revenue, they’ll be happy to sign agreements but won’t do much with it. By definition, early on, a majority of your sales will end up being direct sales.

So Let’s Summarize the Differences

Sales Cycle: Yes, sales cycles are longer in B2B. Also, in B2C, marketing equals sales for the most part. In B2B, marketing is only the leading edge of a potentially longer sales cycle.

Purchasing Decision: In B2C, the purchasing decision is shorter and may be impulse and emotionally driven. Not so in a B2B situation where the purchasing decision must align with budgets, strategic priorities, technological platforms and many other considerations

Deal Size: Deal sizes are typically larger in B2B than B2C, which leads to higher level of due diligence. Of course, B2C businesses deal in much larger number of users than their B2B counterparts.

Switching Costs: One reason the due diligence is longer is that switching costs are much higher in a B2B environment vs a B2C setup. Integration with existing tools, training costs, data migration and deployment costs lead to a cautious and deliberate decision-making process.

Customer Segmentation: In B2C marketing, your messaging is focused on a persona, say females between 18 and 35 years old. In B2B, you must first understand and then target both generic segments (such as Technology Decision Makers, Business Decision Makers and others) and vertical- or domain-specific roles, such as the EDI Analyst within a healthcare insurance organization. One other thought, when you’re selling in B2B, you’re selling to experts; not so in a B2C sale.

Education & Awareness-building: Because of the need for targeting experts within many different roles in a business, the messaging contained within the marketing assets needs to be stage-appropriate and tailored to the roles you’re pitching to. Hence the need for specialized assets such as white papers, technical documentation, data sheets, case studies, ROI documentation and others in a B2B sales cycle.

Revenue vs. Traffic: Here’s another generalization. In B2C, you can run a business for a long time as long as you’re growing traffic, downloads and active users. In B2B, you cannot afford to be generous for too long for one simple reason – business users don’t attach value to freebies. If an organization believes that your product solves a real problem, they will willingly pay for it (probably a discount will help with the decision) and then will likely assign a resource (or part of a resource) to extract value from their purchase. If no one is accountable to make your product successful, it will likely sit on the shelf.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this post.