Monday, November 26, 2012

The Birth of TrustRadius

By Vinay Bhagat, CEO TrustRadius

In 1999, I founded a SAAS - "software as a service" - company called Convio. Over the next decade, we scaled the company, went public in 2010, and were subsequently acquired in May 2012 for $325m. During that time, I realized:

It’s really hard to get reliable information on enterprise technology
As our company grew from a 2 person start-up to a 450 person company, we bought many enterprise systems. Tapping our personal network for insights on systems was a good start but had limitations. It was often difficult to find people who had used the same system in a similar context. Trusting vendors’ sales representatives also proved problematic. In one instance, we bought an expensive HR system, only to find that key features promised by the sales representative did not work as required, rendering the product useless in our context. The poor implementation and customer service experience also never surfaced in interviews with vendor supplied customer references. Coincidentally, this HR product was rated highly by a leading technology analyst because of the vendor’s strong market presence.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pre-Beta Learnings – Part 1

By Vinay Bhagat, CEO TrustRadius

In preparation for our private beta launch, we interviewed 130 professionals who select, purchase, and administer enterprise software solutions. We spoke to a mixture of IT and line of business people ranging from senior executives to hands-on system administrators. The interviews provided key insights to help us refine our approach:

“I wish I knew then what I know now”.
We kept hearing variants of this expression again and again. In a few cases, professionals felt they had made the wrong product selection. The majority did not regret their selection, but would have picked a different implementation approach/partner, not bought all the modules just yet, approached configuration differently, adjusted internal expectations, negotiated differently, or lobbied for more staff etc.

Pre-Beta Learnings – Part 2

By Vinay Bhagat, CEO TrustRadius

Our pre-beta interviews led us to believe that applying a consumer like peer review model to enterprise technology purchasing has real potential, but there are significant differences to consider:

Robust authentication is critical
A bad restaurant selection or hotel stay is rarely catastrophic. The stakes for enterprise technology decisions are much higher. Therefore, ensuring that a person writing a review is a legitimate technology buyer/user and not a vendor reviewing its own products is critical. This led us to build a two-step authentication framework using email and LinkedIn to validate a TrustRadius user’s identity, and to block companies from reviewing their own products and those of their competition. Furthermore, all reviews are staged for review by our team before going live.