Key lessons for tiny startups in a market full of giants


Every business starts somewhere, even under the dark shade of industry giants. Sensibill Inc. is one such startup, offering business-level billing and receipt management services for banks. In the land of giants in the digital transformation, what lessons did Sensibill learn to compete in this market?

“We built our system bank tough,” said Jamie Alexander (pictured), chief technical officer and co-founder at Sensibill.

Alexander spoke to John Furrier (@furrier) and Dave Vellante (@dvellante), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s mobile live-streaming studio, during the IBM InterConnect 2017 conference in Las Vegas, NV.  (*Disclosure below.)

During the interview, Alexander discussed how startups need to enter the market with a mature product, emphasizing that customers have to trust a product, and without a solid, reliable offering, that trust won’t happen.

Building trust

One thing startups don’t have is brand loyalty. To customers, a brand is just another name in a crowded market. Waiting for customers to discover one’s products is no way to make a name, so Sensibill went straight to financial institution partners, Alexander explained. Establishing these relationships has been essential.

Of course, there have been lessons learned along the way. For a company providing a technical product, it’s not enough to shake hands with the suits. It’s the tech folks in the trenches who will be dealing with the details, and their experiences can make or break the whole deal.

To help those people, Sensibill invested in what Alexander called the “white-glove treatment.” This meant building tools that were easy to install and use to aid with integrating its products into the customer’s systems.

“We could come in and say, ‘Here, have it right away,'” Alexander said.

Another thing startups should watch for is the culture shift between the old guard and the younger generation.

“We’ve spent a bit too long paying lip service to innovation, but now it’s coming to fruition,” Alexander said.

For the millennials coming up, the idea of innovation has been fused into their being. Beyond that, they’re concerned with social awareness and ethical uses of data, he said. A company that can align its business interests with millennial passion will feel the results. So too will one that doesn’t.

“People have to feel good about the work they do,” Alexander said.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of IBM InterConnect 2017. (*Disclosure: SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE is a media partner at InterConnect. Neither IBM nor other conference sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE