Etelos Marketplace for SaaS
Etelos is a newly public company operating a marketplace for [[Software as a service]], (SaaS) services, complements or extensions to existing, well-known SaaS environments. Founded in 1999 by Danny Kolke who as the CTO is the key architect having driven development of the company's unique technologies and the ecosystem, the company has 45 employees based in San Mateo CA and Renton WA.
I had a telephone interview with Danny a couple of weeks ago and discussed the technology, the company and the market acceptance of the solutions being offered by Etelos partners.
Danny explained that for any developer of Software-as-a-Service functionality the easy part is to develop the product. Much harder and oftentimes more expensive is the marketing, billing, account management and usage management issues. Having built a software product for business-to-business some years ago, I can testify that these issues were really big impediments to success.
The role of the Etelos MarketplaceTM is to address these issues for SaaS extensions developers and address these issues for enterprise users in a consistent and reliable way.
Application categories typically encompass Sales Force Automation applications, website management, office solutions for employee time management, accounting, payroll, project management and ecosystem collaboration services. Significantly, these applications can be integrated into a suite, with shared data across them as appropriate.
For developers, Etelos offers a licensing enforcement mechanism API and a network of some 5,000 accounts. Billing options available to the developer/partner typically include a free-to-user advertising-paid-for model, per user or a base-fee + usage depending on the specific account needs. Key partners include BT, the UK incumbent landline telephone/IP company, Apple, Google and Webex.
In contrast with the AppExchange of Salesforce.com, Etelos offers on-demand licensing, range of billing options, application on/offline access and cross-application synchronization. These features make it easy to test out the suite, grow the application within a workgroup or division and ultimately deploy it enterprise-wide with confidence.
By mid-July, the marketplace offers these services:
- Eventbrite – event management
- eTouch SamePage – wikis, blogs and forums for companies
- eXpresso – spreadsheet collaboration
- Sales NavigatorPro – sales playbook for complex sales processes
- Empressr – online management of visual stories and presentations
- Etelos ShareTM Beta – sharing documents online with coworkers and partners
- SMSdelivery hosted – managing the transmission of SMS
- Etelos CRMTM – an Etelos-developed service
- Etelos CRM for Google Apps – integrates the Etelos CRM into your personal Google page
- Etelos Hosting and Development Environment for BT Web21C SDK
- Etelos Project for Google Apps
- Etelos Apps on a Plane – the synchronization service
and on-demand hosting of several leading PHP-based applications – SugarCRM, MediaWiki, phpBB and WordPress.
I'd expect the portfolio to grow dramatically in the coming year, as the developer community grows and begins to deploy new applications for mobility and SaaS integration for example. Although Danny believes the biggest challenges to adoption is customer culture, I would say that the promotion of the service, the marketplace and the portfolio is about the firm's biggest challenges given the very broad target markets of SMB and workgroups.
I recommend narrowing the focus to zoom in on specific industry applications such as CRM for dental practices, or Collaboration for Accountants. In both of these cases, partnering with industry associations can help get the message out to these professionals who need the core service but aren't technically savvy enough to implement it themselves. This is where delivering focused value can extract a premium (relatively speaking) while enabling economies of scale in marketing investments.
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