After spending years in the enterprise software industry, Tim Handorf, Godard Abel, Matt Gorniak, Michael Wheeler and Mark Myers saw glaring problems in how business technology was bought and sold. There was nowhere to turn for real, unbiased feedback or for advice from people who had actually implemented and used the software and related services.
G2 Crowd was launched to be a trusted source of business software reviews from real users. They launched the Beta version of the site in February 2013. Since then, they’ve collected nearly 20,000 reviews of products across several hundred categories, such as marketing automation, payroll software and business intelligence platforms, and more than half a million answers to the questions software buyers care about most.
BusinessInterviews.com: Why do you believe that the current approach to buying business technology is broken and how are you working to fix it?
Tim: After more than a decade in the business software industry, we saw the very inefficient and ineffective way software is purchased by companies both large and small. The bigger ones especially would spend months to build a shortlist and a year to make their selection – and even more time to implement it.
We all now rely on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp to help us make better purchase decisions in our personal lives; based on this, we figured there must be a more efficient way to software buyers to find the information they need to make quicker decisions. We believe G2 Crowd is part of the trend of consumerization in the enterprise.
BusinessInterviews.com: What challenges did you encounter while developing or launching G2 Crowd and how did you overcome them?
Tim: There are two challenges typical with any startup: how to gain user traction and how to grow monetarily.
G2 Crowd is a platform with user-generated content at its core, so we’re always looking for just that: more quality UGC. Since our launch, we’ve developed different ways to draw in new users to post reviews – whether through our reputation, our search engine visibility or our social channels. We’ve also developed better ways to communicate with our existing users, through email and other communication.
On the other hand, we’ve always had to find a balance between finding new ways to monetize and maintaining a clean, unbiased user experience. We decided early on that experience comes first; if software buyers feel good about coming to and navigating our site, and then the find the information they’re looking for, we’ll grow our credibility – and they’ll recommend us to their colleagues.
As we’ve grown since launch, more vendors have wanted to get involved with our community, and leverage our review data in their own marketing efforts. We make it easy for them to do just that.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about the advantages of working with a talented team that shares a great entrepreneurial spirit?
Tim: You experience many highs and lows in tech startups, and it’s important to celebrate the highs and figure out ways to come back from the lows – together.
Professionally, my team’s passion about what we’re doing makes my role as president much easier. I’ve had calls with several of the vendors that are listed on our site say they can feel our passion every time they meet or have a call with us.
Personally, working with a great team on a product – and mission – that excites them motivates me to come to work every day.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some insights you’ve gained when it comes to purchasing business software?
Tim: As with any type of purchase, the most trusted recommendations are from friends, colleagues and other people in your shoes. While many analysts and reporters might understand the software landscape as a whole, in most cases they don’t actually use the software they write about.
We’ve realized more each day that we offer a real service to software buyers, who use our insights to purchase the software that’s right for them, potentially making their lives easier and more fruitful in the long term
BusinessInterviews.com: How important is social media to your overall marketing strategy?
Tim: As our site is built on user-generated content, it’s important to find new channels and ways of communicating with our community and other potential reviewers. We use our social media channels for everything from identifying and communicating with potential reviewers, to promoting our reports once they’re out the door.
As we’ve grown to a platform with nearly 150,000 monthly visitors and 20,000 reviews, we’ve also found new ways to promote the community we’ve built. This includes our new Member Q&As to participating in Twitter chats, and everything in between.
BusinessInterviews.com: How would you like to see the G2 Crowd evolve in the coming years?
Tim: While our audience continues to grow each month, our goal is to become the first place business software purchases go when making a buying decision.
Conversely, our goal is to find new ways to inspire G2 Crowd members and non-members alike to share their thoughts with others on the site. You might be surprised at the passion people have about the software they use, as in many cases purchasing the right platforms can make someone’s life professional life easier – or a lot more difficult.
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