The new collaboration economy

Technology is creating a new generation of companies that increasingly choose to collaborate as a coordinated ecosystem, even if they have overlapping or competitive offerings. This transparent way of doing business is transforming the way services are delivered and products are developed.

There are a number of factors propelling this new wave of collaboration, many of which are derived from the increasingly transient workforce where founders and staff no longer stay at the same company for life, rather choosing to move between companies and build networks along the way.

A seamless experience

Seamless customer experiences are no longer just a strategy, they’re now seen as mandatory. The next generation of companies have emerged from a world that values design and customer experiences.

Developing seamless customer experiences, even between overlapping products, is a goal these companies share. Customers are at the center of every decision, to the point where it’s their journey, both in and out of a product, that matters most.


Founder-led companies exhibit a unique DNA, especially the younger ones that are growing up in a business world where transparency, customer-centric design and collaboration are the cornerstones.

They are born with the confidence to partner, and compete — if required — through their user experience. Active founders like meeting other founders, and have a shared empathy for building businesses and genuinely enjoy helping others.

Software is quickly becoming the one thing that connects the world.

David Barrett, founder and CEO of Expensify, says the strength of marketplaces comes down to an open API framework that infiltrates a company’s entire culture. “The idea that individual software must be all-encompassing is a thing of the past; we live in an era where add-ons should be embraced instead of being seen as a threat,” Barrett says.

Open by default

Anyone building software in the last generation has seen the open-source movement and benefited from many open-source projects. They have seen that open almost always beats closed, and therefore default to open APIs and open approaches to partnering. This open philosophy is a mindset shift for incumbent companies that often take several attempts to become truly open.

Acquiring customers cost-effectively

For new companies, reducing Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) is paramount, so connecting solutions to existing platforms or applications with large user bases and channels is very attractive.

With this approach, many new companies entering the market can minimize marketing and sales costs by cleverly attaching to the marketing machines of more established vendors, as well as inexpensively gain access to an existing customer base. For peer companies, it’s very inexpensive to cross-market, where both companies win.

A global community

Many of the current SaaS founders are experienced entrepreneurs who seek a balanced lifestyle and a career with purpose — and seek experiences and contact with like-minded people. Social media and the internet mean that these people are in contact everyday; there is a sense of fellowship that underpins the industry. Frequent industry events allow face-to-face contact to build relations kept alive with Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

While political uncertainty rears its head around the world with Brexit and the upcoming U.S. election (just two of the many examples), software is quickly becoming the one thing that connects the world. It largely operates without borders, connecting cultures, countries and people on one platform.