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Platform-independent Firms are the Need of the Hour
Hemant Taneja
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
The Cambridge, MA based General Catalyst Partners is a venture capital firm with a focus on early stage and XIR/growth investments.

Over the years, the industry has undergone a revolutionary development, following an array of influential trends, with the transformation of small enterprises being the most noteworthy among them. The 'bigger is better' concept has turned quite obsolete. Presently, there is a plethora of opportunities for small enterprises to leverage platforms for accessing cost-effective business services which were earlier restricted to large enterprises. Several companies such as Stripe, Zen payroll have effectively leveraged these benefits. These trends have given rise to the 'economies of unscale', which remains an area of immense focus for us.

Keeping Pace with Technology

The technological advent taking place in the industry has been quite impressive. The increasing reliability on Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile devices has made developing solutions easier by leveraging hardware end-points. In the light of these events, entrepreneurs are re-imagining several aspects of the industry including home automation, health and fitness. The upcoming innovations in IoT and mobile devices are closely followed besides latest application workflows. For instance, transformative results could be brought into the healthcare industry provided these devices are coupled with cloud software.

The Roadblocks

The increased accessibility to advanced platforms has been undoubtedly beneficial from the viewpoint of start-ups. Yet, these platforms are also capable of creating challenging situations. I have observed several commerce companies depending upon community platform to attract consumers. In reality, it is impractical to rely entirely on these platforms as start-ups achieve success as these platforms could apply pricing leverage and reduce the profit margins. I would advice entrepreneurs to work towards designing a firm capable of a platform-independent survival.

Leveraging Innovative Opportunities

Unlike past days, entrepreneurs are incorporating innovation into their approach towards start-ups, as they are blessed with the luxury of focusing entirely on identifying the right product market and take advantage of the 'economies of the upscale' associated with these platforms. Secondarily, the broad shift to mobile computing has enabled mainstream consumer use of software. This implies that many of the prejudices around building companies that target verticals like healthcare, education, manufacturing and others are no longer valid. For example, we used to say that getting physicians to adopt software is a fool's errand and today, many of the physicians utilize EMR software from the App Store to run their day to day operations.

Overall, the confluence of mobile and cloud resources along with the emerging platforms has made fundamental changes a reality in all verticals.

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