The Veteran Team Behind G2 Crowd Looks To Build A “Yelp” For Enterprise Software

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It can be such a headache trying to figure out what internal collaboration tools a company should use. Even at TechCrunch, where we have a few dozen writers, product and sales people, we’ve switched tools many times and have gripes with all of them.

Imagine how it must be for a company with more than 1,000 people, or even 10,000. G2 Crowd is aiming to solve that with a site of user reviews on everything from CRM (customer relationship management) software to productivity tools.

Behind the company is an experienced team of founders that previously sold BigMachines, a company that specializes in cloud-based product configuration, pricing, quoting and proposal generation, to Vista Equity Partners and JMI Equity at a valuation of more than $100 million.

After some time off, co-founder Godard Abel started thinking about new problems to work on.

“We then founded G2 Crowd based on our frustration in selling business software,” he said. “We thought there had to be a better way.”

On G2 Crowd, people can submit reviews of services like Salesforce, Oracle’s PeopleSoft or SugarCRM and so on. The community is managed with contests and free iPad mini giveaways, and G2 Crowd also uses LinkedIn profiles to authenticate people and help encourage reviewers who actually have expertise in using these products.

Interestingly enough, G2 Crowd is not going down Yelp’s path of getting reviewed businesses to buy ads or premium placement in search results. Abel thinks that could distort the reviews or incentivize the company in the wrong way.

“We don’t want to do vendor advertising. We don’t want to sell leads. We think it makes you biased,” he said.

Instead, they’re going after Gartner. IT managers can spend thousands of dollars on reports from companies like Gartner that help them decide what vendor to use.

G2 Crowd will start its research in a lower price range of $99 and up. In those reports will be deeper data dives that will help you understand vendors that comparable companies use. Healthcare companies, for example, might want to know what software other healthcare organizations use.

“We believe the data we can get is better than what you would get from Gartner,” Abel said. “Plus, we can gather the content at a lower cost. We’d want to pass on that benefit to the buyer.”

Eventually, that one-off research-report business could transition into a subscription model.

While research businesses sometimes can have issues scaling depending on the size of their target market, Abel thinks the market for enterprise software reviews could be huge.

“We’re looking at $2.7 trillion being spent on enterprise IT, and we think we can make that process 10 percent more efficient,” he said.

The 10-person company is being bootstrapped out of Chicago with $2 million in funding from the founders.

They face a couple competitors, including VendorStack, which launched earlier this month, and BestVendor, which is backed by SoftBank and RRE Ventures.