Kobie Fuller, a partner at Upfront Ventures, had a notion that there are certain characteristics that every successful enterprise software company shares. You might think that’s not something that’s easily quantifiable or identifiable, maybe just something that any investor knows or senses when they see it. But Fuller decided to sit down and figure out what those elements were, and he has created a framework that he released today.
What Fuller came up with is called FABRIC, a way to measure and understand which enterprise software companies are most likely to be successful. “Fabric represents my overall thesis for how I think about software, and where I’ll be investing for the next decade plus,” Fuller told TechCrunch.
There are six components he thinks are important for companies to prioritize and stand out, including being fast, addictive, bold, rewarding, integrated and built on community.
He says, while it’s not necessary that every company has every one of these attributes out of the gate, it gives him a basis for thinking about enterprise software companies he’s investing in. “It is about boiling things down in just common language and I’m putting it out there what anyone who’s building the next generation of enterprise software companies should be thinking about — and using it as a guide about how they’re just forming their business in their companies.”
Fuller says with tens of thousands of SaaS companies out there now, and the number growing all the time, companies need to be thinking about how to stand out, and what makes buyers and users turn to one solution over another, and he believes that it has to be fast and fun to use, something users rely on and come back to.
He uses the term addictive, but what he means is that the software has to be designed in such a way as to be useful and so easy to use that you just keep coming back, that you’ve designed the software in such a way that it turns the industry on its head. That incorporates those first three elements of being fast, addictive and bold.
Beyond all of that, it has to give you payback, a reward; helping you complete a task faster means you’re getting your work done faster. It also has to integrate into your existing technology systems and your teams and workflows. Finally, there has to be this whole community around it that helps you and that you feel a part of because you use that software.
All of this may sound like common sense, but building software that does all that is no easy task. Once you do, and you begin selling it inside the enterprise, you make it incredibly difficult to stop using it or to switch to another vendor selling a similar service because your users have completely bought into the idea of this product, this company.
He says that one startup that really embodies this idea is Figma, the company that Adobe is trying to buy for $20 billion. “Figma embodies all these components of FABRIC — they’re fast, they’re addicting, they’re bold, they’re rewarding in terms of value. They’re deeply integrated, and they’ve done an incredible job and building community from day one,” he said.
It comes down to documenting something Fuller has learned over the years as he’s built a company and been an investor. Prior to joining Upfront Ventures, Fuller was chief marketing officer at Revolve, an LA fashion e-commerce company.
“We’re trying to apply some of these principles that we’ve learned across all facets of our overall background, experience, especially in the area of [working with] consumers and trying to distill it into something very simple, very, very potent, that anyone can get and then allow there to be a common language for creation of software,” Fuller said.