There is a whole category of b2b start-ups that, without working for a particular industry, offer technologies that radically improve the performance of an existing proven business in various directions. Starting from innovative communication systems created for the needs of a particular business up to integration within the client company of its internal business processes under IT platform — there is something to gain profit from.
While on the side of b2c-projects — resources of the Internet environment and its users that currently look now limitless, technology of processing the user’s big data and the beauty of new solutions for the end user which still amazing everyone, the b2b projects are distinguished by — no less corporate money and what is important enough — a qualified and sophisticated consumers. While the Internet service for the cats and dogs hotels could be a technically simple or relatively low-tech solution (most often successful start-ups in this area have a strong "social" idea in the background), the b2b service partners usually are well aware that the requirements placed for the suppliers of this service from any large company are high. It must simultaneously have a brilliant idea and be perfect in execution: such a start-up is doomed for high capitalization and a happy future. However, this is a sieve with a much smaller diameter of the cell — although it sifts the golden sand.
A private investor Alexander Rumyantsev become one of the partners of the start-up accelerator GenerationS. Within the framework of cooperation with GenerationS, one of the most active Russian business angels has already invested in five projects and is planning to invest in the other three projects in the near future. He calls projects that arouse his interest "technological IT projects." However, according to him, in those projects, which are aimed at new social networks, the creation of marketplaces and other competitors is too high to be the main "target". Medicine, sports, ecology and FinTech — this is more interesting. At the same time, with respect to the start-ups themselves, an investor acts as a classical b2b company — Rumiantsev, in his words, primarily offers smart money for the start-up team to concentrate on finalizing the product and refining the sales strategy. This implies that in addition to the funds provided, he "solves" back office problems — from lawyers and financiers to finding the right contacts and business connections. Surely, the start-up itself could figure out how it all works, but, as a rule, management in the newly formed company has no extensive experience of routine management; therefore, outsourcing organizational issues, which, in fact, is an intangible credit granted by Rumiantsev to the future company.
The start-ups themselves in the form of "high-tech IT solutions" sell not so much a "substance" in the form of a software code, servers, protocols that provide the business-consumer with the service he needs, but rather provide outsourcing of some business processes within consumer companies. Moreover, this is clear evidence of the inevitability of the revolution, which will bring a change of conventional models of management and business development, transition to ecosystem solutions.
Another partner of the GenerationS accelerator is a communication operator for the Gars Telecom corporate sector. Focused on the search for ideas to extend the range of B2B services — Gars Telecom — is a good example of how the evolution of approaches to IT business may look like in the future, and in general the role of b2b companies in business ecosystems of the near future. Gars Telecom is a subsidiary of the MegaFon group of companies, a special unit designed for working with corporate clients and implementing non-standard solutions to work in the B2B segment. From the formal point of view, this is, first of all, fixed communication specializing in working with commercial real estate and servicing tenants in office centres. At the same time, Gars Telecom has been implementing a solution for combining fixed and mobile communications since 2003, in effect acting as a virtual mobile operator for the corporate sector. Nonetheless, the website of the company has much more interesting information. The list of services provided by Gars Telecom includes e. g. management of captive telecom-assets and in general management of the telecom budget, "corporate mobile communication using client templates", "cloud" solutions — SaaS (software rental), BaaS (backup as Service) and IaaS (rent of computing power), services on the SIP protocol, and much more.
What can a start-up company teach that can be considered as a telecom operator for offices in the first approximation, but in which, after more detailed consideration, a b2b telecom holding of the broadest profile is detected? First of all, the fact that such a business is possible and, moreover, is successful. What does Gars Telecom look for in start-ups? Actually, opportunities for development which can be seen from the inside not always as successful as for start-ups from the outside. For a b2b start-up, it is always extremely important to understand how the company’s business must operate, which simultaneously implemented the SMS2Wi-Fi project (authorization of users of public Wi-Fi networks) and GarsExchange (connection of customers to the Moscow stock exchange), should be arranged.
However, the availability of consulting in the Gars Telecom product line confirms once again that the b2b market sells management and organizational ideas in the first place. Yes, they are enclosed in an IT shell. Nevertheless, this does not change the basic principle: as for any strong b2c-project is backed by a strong idea, every b2b-startup must contain a strong idea in the area of management. B2b start-ups, apparently, are created by especially enthusiastic people, yet you need to be very confident in your idea to come to LUKOIL, for example, and tell them that you can manage part of the business processes of the oil company better than their subordinates can.
However, the goal is very tempting: such a business will eventually transform the current business world into something new, still unknown, but certainly more interesting than in 2017. In addition, it will be earn as much money as would be the cost of a service for the world transformation.
By Dmitry Butrin