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Privacy concerns are making it hard to start an enterprise business from scratch
#business With a renewed focus on privacy, I'm learning how hard it is to start an enterprise venture.
I wrote a small web application years ago, that allowed my team members to ask questions and vote up items anonymously. The tool had a few other features, including the ability to summarize the meeting and post a plan before the gathering for the participants to review.
Over the years, I found myself deploying this application internally, and like other companies who’ve built similar solutions in-house (e.g., Google’s “Dory” tool), it has been immensely valuable.
I began to seriously invest in augmenting the tool as a side project about a year ago because I felt it would be useful for other people who manage teams. Now that I’m working on entrepreneurial activities full time, the endeavor is one of a few projects I focus on daily. The project is called Meeting Town.
The trouble is, I am running into resistance. While the tool does not store personally identifiable information (PII), conceivably, an employee could post information as PII in a question. Moreover, company-specific data, much like other SaaS solutions, is, by definition, stored in the platform.
While I have sought friends to try the tool out, the typical response is to connect me with their InfoSec teams immediately so we can discuss privacy policies and be the subject of a security audit. Alternatively, I field questions about whether or not we have the ability to deploy on-premise.
For an unestablished product, trying to get beta usage, the effort has turned out to be high and surprisingly exhausting. It makes me wonder whether or not we’re in a secular trend where fewer entrepreneurs will be able to start solutions targetted for the enterprise? My discovery may highlight why it appears that start-ups are building solutions for small businesses in increasing frequency. While the small business market is no doubt significant, I can’t help but wonder if the motivation also stems from how hard enterprise selling has become.
I think there may be a solution and it may be that containers are the answer. By packing the solution in a container-based delivery model, it may be possible to sell into the enterprise more efficiently without dealing with the compliance burden of SaaS software. Unlike in years past, such deployments should, in theory, be much easier to deploy and manage. I’m not ready to give up on building SaaS solutions for the enterprise yet since I’ve hardly started, but the journey to go from zero customers to one customer is surprisingly hard.