The fertile enterprise startup field has created a space for customers seeking peer analysis of vendor offerings. VendorStack hopes to fill that space with a new service that Co-Founder David Cheng calls a Yelp plus Quora.
Like Yelp, VendorStack lets users rate and review vendors. And similar to Quora, the VendorStack community can ask and answer questions about a vendor or its products. Cheng said they have also used Mechanical Turk to scrape vendor customer lists. The company will triangulate the data from these different sources and analyze it to provide additional services, such as analytics or market research reports. VendorStack will also offer premium tools that vendors can use to set up their own profiles on the site in similar fashion to what Yelp does with its member merchants.
In private beta since the fall, VendorStack, finalizing seed funding, will sell its analytics as part of a freemium model to disrupt the traditional methods for how vendors get reviewed and the way the buyers get their analysis.
The analyst community is in many ways a byproduct of the success that enterprise software vendors have enjoyed over the past 20 years. Gartner Research has prospered by analyzing vendors in different market categories that it then ranks in what it calls a “magic quadrant.” The metric tool has been phenomenally successful but carries its own controversies that come from the power and influence that vendors have in the rankings. Critics, like Cheng, say the reviewing methods are arbitrary and based upon how close the vendor is to the analyst. It’s similar to the critiques that fall upon investment analysts. The people are too close to those they write about. Further, a research company like Gartner offers no visibility into the research process.
Data is the answer, Cheng says, with reports that can package ratings, reviews and the contextual analysis that comes in question and answers.
The challenge for VendorStack is like any community. It needs to scale the contributions that people make to the site.
VendorStack will also offer lead-generation services that it will value based upon the quality of people it hopes to attract, anchored with its identity verification with LinkedIn.
I like this service. Goodness knows we need more objective reviewing services of the vendor landscape. The credibility of the enterprise market depends on it.