Here I am on the last day of BEA Participate awarding a Video iPod to Niren Patel, who accepted the winning iPod on behalf of his coworker Karl Cepull. Congratulations!
Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by former Plumtreevian and soon-to-be-graduate of MIT’s Sloan School of Management, John Osborne. Following the interview, he submitted this great write-up, which I have posted below. Enjoy!
Chris Bucchere grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and studied computer science at Stanford University. After graduating from college, he spent five years working for Plumtree Software as a developer and implementation consultant focusing on integration and customization projects at customer sites. In 2002, he founded Bucchere Development Group (BDG), an independent consulting organization focused on helping Plumtree customers with implementation, integration, and training. BDG operates out of the DC Metro Area and San Francisco. This past week, I talked with Chris about how he identified his market and got his company running.
How did you identify the market? And get your first customer?
Chris commented that he didn’t put forth a lot of thought toward identifying the market. He had just quit his job and was moving to Washington, DC. He started calling all customer contacts he had worked with while at Plumtree. Since Plumtree had more consulting work than it could manage, a number of customers asked Chris to fill in the gaps. Chris signed on to do a six month engagement at Merck in the UK.
How did you fund BDG?
Chris leveraged the money he earned consulting for Merck to get BDG officially up and running. He structured the firm as an LLC, hired an operations manager and another consultant. Since that time, BDG has generally been able to fund itself through revenue. In times of greater financing need, Chris has turned to credit cards which—when exploited properly—can offer a low 1% interest rate.
Chris also noted that customer funding is emerging as an interesting source of capital. At the moment, one of his customers is providing the funding for a custom add-on. The customer wants the add-on themselves, but also wants BDG to be able to resell the product to other customers.
What do you do to ensure continued growth?
One of Chris’ major growth opportunities came serendipitously when BEA Systems acquired Plumtree Software. Chris quickly ramped-up on the BEA suite and became a consulting partner. Being a BEA partner opened up more potential customers and projects. Now BDG is a value-added reseller for BEA, a position that provides BDG a new channel for income. At the moment, BDG employs seven full-time staff to meet it customer obligations.
How do you drive new business?
BDG has released a number of small products as open source. This strategy has help generate new consulting engagements and get the firm name out. BDG is also considering developing more closed source add-ons which it can sell to existing customers.
What were the biggest challenges, and what would you do differently now?
Chris identified staffing as his single biggest challenge. He commented, “For me, staffing is harder than selling new business.” Chris struggled to find seasoned consultants. He therefore turned to college campuses. BDG recruits new college graduates and then runs them through its own six month training program, leveraging the same training materials it sells to customers.
Generally, what characteristics make entrepreneurs different?
Chris echoed the conventional wisdom about entrepreneurship. In short, folks who want to start new enterprises need to be self-confident and passionate about their work. And, above all, they need to be willing to take risks.
I already held Mark Carges in very high esteem — but my respect for him grew immensely this morning when I found out that he wrote the source for Tuxedo some 23 years ago while he was a student at NYU! Very cool . . . .
Mark opened by talking about the reasons that BEA is hosting this conference. Mostly it was a response to the lukewarm feedback about BEA World from ex-Plumtree and ex-Fuego customers who wanted “something more.” (You can read some of this feedback on an earlier post on my blog.)
The focus of Participate is three-fold: Portals, BPM and “Social Computing.” Clearly that maps to ALUI, ALBPM and PEP (Pages, Ensemble and Pathways), the new AquaLogic product initiatives.
Before getting into the meat of his talk, Mark gave some background on BEA’s overall corporate strategy. Their vision entails facilitating the migration from “traditional” applications to “situational” applications. This message is nothing new, but for the benefit of those who are new to the message, I summarized the difference between these two types of application development below:
- traditional vs. situational
- permanence vs. constant change
- silos vs. dynamic, connected solutions
- tightly coupled vs. loosely coupled
- application function vs. business process
- no collaboration vs. built for collaboration
- homogeneous vertical integration vs. heterogeneous horizontal integration
Mark then went into a short aside about the way long-tail or “rogue” applications have sprung up throughout the enterprise, facilitated by applications like Lotus Notes, Excel and E-mail/IM. My ears perked up a bit because bdg has identified that e-mail distribution of Excel spreadsheets (and other office documents) is one “business process” that prevails in the enterprise and the one thing upon which we could improve drastically with the right web-based, ECM-driven collaborative tool. Project Excelerator, which is something under active development at bdg, attempts to address this problem in a novel way. You’ll be hearing much more about this product as we get closer to a ship date.
More on Mark’s description of the overall strategy of BEA: he commented that BEA’s focus on business innovation, business and IT agility and technology optimization brings a strong competitive advantage to all of their customers. He gave four examples of this:
- AflacAnywhere (highlighting their mobile portal and podcasts)
- Goldsmith Williams Solicitors
- USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure
- The Babcock & Wilcox Company (highlighting ordering parts, project management and using BPM to support the sales process)
At this point, Mark shifted gears and started a segment called “Bringing Web 2.0 to the Enterprise.” He highlighted the gap between what you can do at home (consumer web) vs. the enterprise. He then gave several examples of consumer web sites that have compelling use cases for the enterprise. Those examples included digg.com, del.icio.us, Redfin and wikipedia. I’m sure most of you already know what those sites do, so I’ll skip right to the part about how, at least thematically, they could be applied to the enterprise.
The culture of collaboration and participation started by digg could be used to rank the best sales tools or the best content and the rest of the enterprise community could benefit from this ranking. del.icio.us highlights the power in implicit connections and makes research about different topics much easier, including finding content and people. At work, you could use a del.icio.us-like tool to view content by group/experts, create organic groups of business organizations and leverage the wisdom of the crowd. The concepts implemented by Redfin, a slick real-estate mashup started by Plumtree founder Glenn Kelman, could be used to show a single view of the customer (where info is stored in different systems) including purchased products, support incidents, account team, etc. Lastly, the “long-tail” economics proven to work beautifully in the world of encyclopedias (with Wikipedia) could be used to track the competition, collectively write about competitors and share competitive knowledge, add RSS feeds, add anecdotes and edit everything collaboratively.
Mark closed his keynote with a brief introduction to BEA’s three new products: Pages, Ensemble and Pathways. You’ll be hearing much more about these great initiatives as the conference continues, so stay tuned!
Comments are listed in date ascending order (oldest first)
- Not to jump ahead, but here is a good site to get an introduction to Pages, Ensemble and Pathways (PEP for short). The site was recently updated to have online demos of Pages and Ensemble.http://en.terpri.se/
- BEA Idol: who is the biggest rock star in the Participate speaker lineup?
- Alex Toussaint: BEA’s most traveled Product Manager? He is a famous alumnus of WLP, which makes him a popular choice in Boulder Colorado.
- David Phipps: a long time ALUI engineer, at an ALUI technical conference. Could be a winner….
- Or…Mariano Benitez: newest member of the BEA family of the three. A born speaker if there ever was one. I hear he likes to sing during his presentations.
Answer? Count the number of sessions given by each here: Participate Session List
- But it is an honor to receive this award!! But I don’t know if the user community would really embrace my singing career!! Next year I will do the opening song!
- Mariano – opening song? What, like Gloria Estevan or something like that? Is that popular in Argentina? OK, Steve Ballmer made it work:Video: STEVE BALLMER is a yelling freak
- hey, I am in better shape than Steve!! Anyway,I would only sing if I get the opening act at BEA World with these other guys! WHAT ABOUT THIS OPENING FOR THE NEXT BEA PARTICIPATE?? I think they are pretty liquid thinkers 🙂