You might be shocked to think a Fortune 500 company and startups actually have anything in common…
Chris Mumford is the founder of JoeStartup and an adjunct professor at University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. He’s a great friend, mentor and colleague of mine who has distilled the art of the startup and design think into three manageable phases – Idea, Develop and Launch. Hopefully he doesn’t mind if I shamelessly steal a few of his concepts to help celebrate and explain how Salesforce accelerates innovation and startups.
Whether you’re building the next great enterprise app at your startup or developing a private app solely for your sales team, the Salesforce AppExchange is a lab, accelerator and launch pad available to anyone with an idea for how to improve managing the customer experience. Today, Salesforce celebrates 4 million installs on the AppExchange! The AppExchange is made up of business apps, so a single install could mean 100’s or 1000’s of users and available on 3 or 4 devices per person – the numbers get big quick, creating a recipe for startups to innovate, launch and fund their ideas with a built in customer base. It’s as if Salesforce took the JoeStartup playbook and virtualized it in the cloud with a built in ecosystem of customers, developers and partners.
When we hatched the idea for ZynBit back in 2014, there was no question where we were going to focus our energy first. We wanted to build an “invisible CRM” that lives inside of your email while offering customer teams and managers automated insights to help grow pipeline and increase close rates. We knew ZynBit was a great idea, but often the biggest challenge you face as a startup is accessing potential customers who can serve as both a funding source for future development and sometimes more importantly, a market focus group driving product pivots and adjustments that need to be made before you are truly ready to scale.
The single most important trick to managing a successful startup is being able to make enough mistakes before you run out of money.
You have to find your value added niche quick! The AppExchange can “de-risk” your idea because it’s a direct distribution channel to a captive audience who are all trying to work smarter, sell more and better service their customers. The AppExchange accelerates innovation and startups; streamlining the Idea, Develop and Launch phases.
All you need is a good one. Build your tech on the Force.com platform or your own. The developer tools and documentation are very mature. Don’t know how to code, just Google “Salesforce Developer” and you can’t miss. Or search the AppExchange; there is an entire section dedicated to developers and consultants who can help you bring your idea to market.
How will you develop your sales and marketing channels? Where will sustainable revenue come from to support your business? The AppExchange represents over one million eye balls, who are all eager to find the next great tool to make their professional lives a bit easier – everyone loves a new toy to play with at work!
Hello World! Salesforce announces your app and customers can install it instantly. You’re getting useful feedback immediately and customers are prompted to post online reviews 30 days later. Salesforce offers an array of premium marketing opportunities, but for less than your monthly Google Adwords budget, you can publish and maintain your product listing on the AppExchange.
It was this basic understanding of lean startup principles that led ZynBit to the AppExchange. Startups can fail before they ever get started by spending too much time or money on development and marketing. Our path wasn’t a cake walk, but we deeply appreciate the opportunities Salesforce and the AppExchange present. Within 18 months of launching on the AppExchange, ZynBit will be featured on the cover of CIO Review magazine and has 7,000 customer installs. Thank you Salesforce and congratulations to the AppExchange and the success it brings to entrepreneurs all over the world!