For the last few years the Enterprise 2.0 conference has had a startup launchpad competition, which is unique for an enterprise focused conference. Part of the reason for that may be that Enterprise 2.0 has relied heavily on innovations from startups to help develop the industry as a whole since 2006. The Launchpad is always my favorite part of the conference.
There were four finalists this time, two of which were wikis, which surprised me a little bit in part because wikis were one of the first Enterprise 2.0 technologies, but they also remain some of the least social tools, remaining focused almost entirely on collaboration.
This winner this time was CubeTree, who had previously made a big splash with their launch in May 2009 and their SAP/Business Objects case study. CubeTree has maintained an impressive pace of development and they announced some pretty compelling new features which included collaboration capabilities for collaborating directly on individual cells inside a spreadsheet. There is obviously a fine line here between adding value and over-building the collaborative capabilities of the tool, but I am looking forward to watching CubeTree’s progress in the coming year. To date, CubeTree has raise $11.5million to build their business.
The Garland Group was the other finalist that really caught my eye. They have developed risk management and policy tools to help organizations provide manage ongoing risk compliance work using collaborative processes that engage employees directly and more evenly over time. By turning Risk Compliance in to an ongoing methodology, rather than an abrupt and occasional task, the overall costs of risk management to the organization will be lowered and predictable.
Twiki and xWiki were also finalists, Twiki in particular has been around for many years and continues to be one of the mainstays of the enterprise open source movement. Both Twiki and xWiki seem to be moving slowly towards being more of an enterprise application platform than simple wiki, which is a space that Mindtouch in particular has helped define.
It is important to point out that these weren’t the only four startups at the conference. There were many roaming the show floor and some exhibiting, including one interesting one called PartnerPedia. PartnerPedia has developed a trio of web-based tools for managing and engaging networks of partners.
Enterprise 2.0 startups are typically horizontal solutions focused on providing a wide array of content collaboration or communication tools, with some sort of social networking layer. My hope is that we will start to see more startups focused on leveraging existing social platforms and infrastructure that is becoming increasingly available inside the enterprise and which leverages other existing enterprise assets, rather than trying to re-create the wheel. For example, startups focused on leveraging Lotus Notes, Microsoft Sharepoint or any of SAPs platforms are extremely rare, yet there are huge opportunities to unlock value just in those 3 ecosystems.
I would be curious to hear who you think the most promising enterprise startups are right now.