Hi @gavin, nice to meet you too!
Oh man, there were so many things… I will try to recollect. First of all, a little bit of background. Gapso develops optimisation software for logistics operations of big companies. Basically, we helped companies to do more, with less resources using mathematical models. As an example, we built an flight planning software for an Oil Company that helped them transport more people to their offshore operations, with less helicopter flights, saving them tens of millions every year. It seams a very clear value propostion, it should be easy to sell it, don’t you thing? Try sell it! Haaaard!!! Yearlong sales cycles, dozens of people involved, too many gatekeepers…
Well, almost every project we made, we tried to sell to other companies (the IP was always ours). The problem is that we have never been the expert in the market we served, we were always the expert in the tool, and learned from our clients. Each logistic operation was different and as we were not the experts in the operation, we didn’t know what was generic enough to be sold as a product. So, we lacked market expertise and that was all biggest problem in trying to create a product. Sometimes we thought we new enough, but when we tried to sell it, the market kept saying us that we didn’t know enough.
In the technical side, all the software we created was (and still is) on premise. The reason is that we needed what is called an optmization engine, a piece of software that solves mathematical models. The companies that make this components just haven’t figure out how to make it work in a SaaS model and therefore, all companies that develop software in this niche can’t migrate to a Saas model.
Looking in retrospect there were many things we could have done differently.
- Focus in process that were not our clients core. That seems strange, let me explain. All clients core competencies were in their logistics operations. That was were they had to be inventive to be better than their competition. Therefore, their operations were never the same. One client would bet in a strategy, other client in a different strategy, and that made their problems different. But maybe their not-core processes were not that different from each other. I don’t know, maybe that could work.
- We never though that we could focus in the market we were indeed experts. Software developers of optimisation models. There are thousands of companies, mainly small ones, with two, three, five PhDs that are experts in the mathematical modelling, but lack all the other competencies to make a great software. We were one of the biggest companies in this niche and learned how to do that. We could have developed components and frameworks for those companies.
- We were not persistent in one product. We tried a little and if it didn’t work, we tried another product. Well, product success takes time and we were always short in really good people. We need a kind of professional really difficult to find. We had to invest years in those developers. And it was difficult to allocate them in projects with no current revenue.
I am sure there was much more and some things are much more clear for me now as I am not in the heat of the moment.
Hope this helps And please, don’t hesitate to ask me more. I am glad to share.