After talking to a number of entrepreneurs over the years, the vast majority are focused on a building a technology product (e.g. a SaaS product or web site). Of course, there’s a natural bias since that’s what I focus on but nonetheless I talk to very few entrepreneurs trying to build technology-enabled business services startups. A technology-enabled business service is a business services company that uses proprietary technology to deliver something better/faster/cheaper than if you do it yourself or hire a traditional firm.
Here are a few examples:
- SecureWorks – an Atlanta-based managed security services provider that offers outsourced solutions to monitor and test for different security issues (as was recently acquired by Dell for a rumored $650 million)
- Liazon – a health care and benefits broker (e.g. you can buy your company health insurance through them) that differentiates itself with a proprietary portal that makes it easy for your startup employees to choose from a variety of plans and allocate a set budget (instead of having a single health insurance plan for all employees you can have several and let them pick and choose)
- SoftLayer – data center and hosting services that differentiates itself through a proprietary portal, provisioning process, and APIs that allow it to offer dedicated boxes provisioned much faster than most providers
- WebGreeter – an outsourced live chat service for web sites where the call center agents are provided a simple list of questions they can answer otherwise they collect the visitor’s information for follow-up by one of your own employees
Each of these examples is a successful business with proprietary technology that give it an edge in their market. My recommendation is for entrepreneurs to consider technology-enabled business services in addition to technology products.
What else? What are some other examples of successful technology-enabled business services?