Android co-founder dumbfounded, Babson misses opportunity!
Babson had the honour of hosting Rich Miner this week as a speaker at the “In the First Person” seminar on Managing the Technology-Intensive Enterprise class taught by Prof. Anirudh Debhar. Rich Miner co-founded Android and is a pioneer in the mobile space. He leads Google Ventures’ East Coast investment team and is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Rich has over 25 years of experience growing businesses with innovative communications and interface-intensive applications.
What are the trends you foresee in the mobile enterprise space?
Application security monitoring, social and communication tools and application designing to eliminate constraints of adaptability to different cloud service providers. In the life science space, data analytics and informatics are going to have a big impact on drug discovery, genetics and understanding the genome.
From my standpoint on the mobile enterprise space, as an investor I am still absolutely dumbfounded at the overall lack of entrepreneurs that are building mobile enterprise applications. You can’t walk into a meeting without seeing every executive or employee having at least one smartphone or tablet if not two.
Those 2 or 3 devices combined have 2 or 3 times the computing power of the person’s laptop or computer. There are 1.5 billion mobile phones actively running android and the phone is always within a reach of 10 feet of any person. This is evidence enough of the ample opportunity present in this space.
What are the opportunities present in different verticals in the mobile enterprise space?
Prior to salesforce.com there were CRM systems but they all stored data on a global corporate database. All of a sudden salesforce.com is a multibillion-dollar company not really doing anything different for the user but that the data goes into the cloud making it accessible from anywhere in the world.
If you were a sales guy 10 years ago at the end of the day you would fill out some fields on the computer like who you met with, what you discussed and when you should follow up next. Today’s sales guy does the exact same thing; he opens a browser, fills out some fields and all that data just happens to get stored in the cloud. So, we had these huge multi billion-dollar businesses created with zero sort of improvement to the end users. If you notice, any sales guy making sales calls makes most of the calls from his mobile. This device is in their pocket when they walk into a meeting and the device knows if the sales person is 5-10 minutes late for the meeting. With the help of analytics, immediately there’s information to be gathered and aggregated into a repository. The sales executive can now look at this data and understand why one sales employee is closing more deals than another. The sales employee shows up 10-15 minutes late for every single one of those meetings and annoys the customer before he even starts to pitch, maybe that’s the problem.
In the construction industry they are always rolling blueprints. Blueprints have a life of a matter of days because blueprints become almost immediately obsolete, especially in a year’s worth of design projects. During discussions, markings are made on blueprints after which they are rolled up and the architect takes them home to make the final changes. Next week when everyone meets again all of a sudden everyone has blueprints that are not up to date. The construction industry in the United States is a trillion dollar industry out of which printing of blueprints is about 0.3% of every single project. Every time there is a large multibillion-dollar construction project 0.3% of that project, which is billions of dollars is just the printing of blueprints, which are almost immediately rolled up and thrown out. A certain company decided to grab this opportunity by making use of the tablet and airplay technology. So, if I have a big tablet with a projection I can project the blueprint on the screen and at the meeting there is no need to unroll blueprints and hover over them. The company came up with a nice cloud based tablet-based system wherein the architect updates the blueprint, presses a button and everybody involved who has a tablet or a phone immediately gets updated with the most recent version of the blueprint. If they’re in a construction meeting they can project the blueprint from this device to the big screen and take a look. Also, as you are walking around the site and you notice ‘oh look that roughing doesn’t look like it was done properly’ tap on the blueprint, map that location, take a photo and annotate it. With one simple idea those guys are going to easily build a multi hundred million – dollar company if not a multi billion – dollar business. One tiny little vertical and there are 100’s of ideas like that around mobile and enterprise.
Which regions outside US do you see tech entrepreneurship growing?
For a productive entrepreneurial start up environment you need smart people, investors, exit routes, mentors and coaches. Historically a lot of regions outside the United States did not have that. The hotbeds I now see are London, Berlin, Scandinavia, Israel, China and India.
How do you decide in which company to invest?
I look at a number of quantitative and qualitative things. If someone has been a successful entrepreneur before they have a likelihood of being a successful entrepreneur the second time around. Teams with co-founders are more likely to be successful than sole founders. I look for founding teams that have good backgrounds, strong technical skills or strong prototypes.
For those looking to get into the mobile enterprise space, listen up!