Spotlight on Manuel Jaffrin - GetApp!

Stewart Townsend shot the Bull with 2010 Bully Award Winner, Manuel Jaffrin of GetApp.com. See what they're up to now!
 

Stewart Townsend/White Bull: First off, let's hear your 140-character pitch. What is GetApp?

Manuel Jaffrin/GetApp.com:
GetApp.com is building the largest global SaaS (Software as a Service) marketplace and recommendation platform. We focus on the long tail of SaaS buyers, i.e. SMBs and departments from larger enterprises.

ST:
Where do you see GetApp going over the next six months?

MJ:
GetApp.com has targeted the global market from its inception and has established relationships with more than 1,300 SaaS vendors serving over 75,000 prospective buyers monthly. We plan to serve over one million businesses by the end of 2011. We are currently evaluating a Round A of investment to reinforce main areas of the company and accelerate our growth. Growth has been around three key areas: Revenue (double digit growth month on month), Audience (business software buyers and vendors)  and Product (adding more services and features almost every week).

With funding in place we aim to grow the company in terms of staff as well. Like every startup,we need ambitious and talented people to help us, especially those that understand cloud applications and the whole SaaS ecosystem.

ST:
Who are the competitors and what makes you different ?

MJ:
Some of our competition comes from software directories started around the year 2000 -- a basic yellow pages of software. They mostly include traditional on-premise, client server software offerings. They clearly favor quantity not quality ... lots of listings of applications but no ones know if the content is up to date, relevant or even if the companies are still in business. They have no mechanism for feedback, interaction over content, or social reviews.

We see the new vendor-driven marketplaces more as potential partners than competitors. Those initiatives are really booming, creating demand awareness about the concept of a business software marketplace. These are marketplaces like Appexchange or the Google Apps Marketplace ... very vendor centric. We strongly believe we can partner rather than compete with them, as they don't give the larger picture, just a walled garden view.

One of the differences between the vendor-driven marketplace and getapp.com, is that they only focus on their own  ecosystems. They essentially act as a push to market for their application partners but they have relatively low value to the end users (no real recommendations). On the other hand, Getapp being a vendor neutral platform, is really built around the end user’s needs and experience to facilitate the discovery process of new business applications. GetApp.com´s market positioning is to be neutral and exhaustive. We want to serve the broader audience of vendors, channel partners and buyers. We build within our platform ecosystems of applications that integrate together, through open APIs, and /or with mainstream players. In other words, you can filter apps that integrate with Salesforce.com or Google Apps.

This is exactly why we can partner with those vendor ecosystems: to attract a user that is interested generically in for example CRM (customer relationship management) He would land on getapp.com, filter out solutions with its personal criteria, then, if there is a match, navigate to the salesforce marketplace for example to finalize the process.

Telco and mSPs, are starting to move in this direction as well, but their current legacy environment (business models, partners) is preventing them from moving as fast as an agile startup like GetApp.com. They need to figure out a new channel model which does not conflict with their existing one and at the same time empower their own sales force to understand how to sell business applications to SMBs. Again we can partner with them, as we already have relationships with thousands of SaaS vendors and a proven monetization model to help drive the sales through an online self service channel.

ST:
Now what was the process like to get to this next level of success? What were some of the milestones/challenges?

MJ:
During the last few years of my time at Sun, I worked very closely with many startups and entrepreneurs. I missed the first wave of the internet/.com at the end of the 90s, being focused on selling large servers for ERP system!

This time I really felt it was the real right time. Times of crisis and disruption are always great times to innovate. In the process of setting up a new venture, one of the key elements is meeting the right people. Synergy between individuals is the key when creating a startup, then finding the right business vision that you can execute rapidly. My business partner, Christophe Primault, and I clearly wanted to bootstrap and validate our model, validate it ourselves without any external funding, create a minimal viable product in an ultralight startup mode, then go for external funding to grow and scale. I do believe that it is more efficient to bootstrap. ... In a way money makes you less intelligent. If you have lots of cash, you may not be as creative. The less you have to start with, the more you need to make use of your energy and creativity!

Challenges are identifying the best moment to move from bootstrap to VC. When is the best time is a difficult question, as you need to move to the next level but also don't want to sacrifice too much of the company to jump there. Identify that time wisely, but also realise that time meeting investors and preparing and negotiating distracts from running the business and driving revenue, so make certain you have a stable organisation first.

Make revenue as soon as possible. It’s  a milestone gaining that first customer ...  a proof that your startup has value!

ST:
You were one of the Bully Award entrants last year. How did that help you?

MJ:
Our participation last year in the first Pathways to Exit event and actually being selected for an Award was really a great opportunity for our international exposure across the community of VCs and Angels. The timing was really good as well, as we were starting to generate our first significant revenue and getting on board with large customers.

ST:
Did you find the event itself different from others, did it help you as a startup?
 
MJ:
Both the location and the size of the event made it a very good occasion for constructive networking. A pleasant atmosphere is always the best way to nail down good partnerships, We got in front of some great contacts, grew our network and then went to the tech toursas well, meeting more interesting individuals whoare beneficial to us now and in the near future.

The workshop sessions with the mentors the day before, really helped to hone our pitch, not only for the event itself but also for the next few months when presenting to investors., It really helped us as an early stage startup get feedback from expert mentors.

ST:
How do you find the market across Europe at present for innovative startups like yourselves?

MJ:
Barcelona is actually a great place for an internet startup, as you can find plenty of good talent and experienced people especially in the e-commerce sector. The eco system is really growing fast. Unfortunately in terms of investment community there is still a major difference between Spain and UK/France who are leading in Europe, and still the gap with the US is very significant: not only in terms of valuation for an early stage startup but also in the process and hurdles to actually get the funding in place. The current economic situation in Spain is not really helping the local VC community to raise large funds.

ST:
Will you be entering the Bully Awards again this year ?

MJ:
Most certainly, as the timing will also be very good in terms of our development roadmap

ST:
What are you looking forward to at our Pathways to Exit summit this year?

MJ:
To open up discussions with new people, to create a wider buzz about the company, build awareness around what we are doing, as this year we are more advanced as a business, we have moved to a new stage of the business with increased revenues, but also traffic and adoption .