The title of entrepreneur is a relatively vague one, encompassing a broad range of professions, interests, skills and journeys. As entrepreneurs, we embody many roles – thinker, investor, creator, advisor, mentor, and so on.
As a result, it's fitting that the industries we find ourselves in rapidly evolve alongside us.
Take for example, the SaaS sector, which has experienced unprecedented levels of growth over the past seven years and is projected to be valued at over $195.2 billion by the end of 2023.
Beginning: A problem solver
Let’s take a moment to consider how we can maintain the course in an industry that changes like the weather, all the while embracing and inventing the next big thing.
I've always held the philosophy that you should strive to be the solution to your problems, and not just wait for someone else to fix them for you. This is how I found myself pioneering innovations in the SaaS sector.
When I first started, I was working at car manufacturing company Porsche, as part of the data analytics team. It struck me that, despite the advancements I saw all around me, and the cutting-edge technology available at that time, I was having serious trouble communicating with my co-workers.
Frontline and deskless workers largely operate in an analogue fashion and therefore regular updates and the sharing of relevant information became a tedious and often inefficient process.
The mid-to-late noughties was a decade of digital revolution, yet somehow, deskless employees were pushed to the wayside, to the extent that the 80% of non-computer-based employees had only 1% of the world’s software designed with them in mind.
Having considered the situation, I recognized I had an opportunity to solve an issue plaguing both the industry and myself since the digital revolution first began.
Before long, I was spending my evenings and weekends designing, developing, coding and testing a platform for disenfranchised frontline workers.
Beginning by working on the first prototype, I ended up rewriting it four times before I was content with the quality of the application. After six months, I brought the finalized version to Porsche and in December 2018, Flip was born as a company, with Porsche onboarding as our very first client.
Throughout this time, I and my co-founder Giacomo were aided by a steady stream of mentors, who were instrumental in guiding us through what can often be a very difficult period.
When you decide to embark upon any new venture, it can be wrought with anxieties and challenges that seem insurmountable, but with the right people supporting you, what you find is: The business model was founded on the wisdom of others.
For this reason, I often take part in mentorship programmes, particularly in my native Germany, to give others the stability Giacomo and I received in the early days of our startup.
The point I am highlighting here is that you can have an idea like ours, unique in the SaaS sphere, with the potential to advance the industry, but you'll always need the guidance of the entrepreneurs who came before you.
Similarly, if you have the opportunity to help others benefit from your newfound confidence and expertise, then you should do so.
None of us would get to where we are without the backing of the people who believe in our ideas and vision for the future. As entrepreneurs, we must never forget this.
Of course, it’s never all plain sailing, and you have to prepare yourself for the trials and tribulations that will undoubtedly arise. One of our first obstacles stemmed from one of our initial successes.
Early in our journey, we lost Porsche as a client, but instead of giving up, we went back to the drawing board, slightly rejigged our offering, and won them back as a client within six short months.
The SaaS industry can be a difficult sector to innovate within as the technology is always advancing, and the goalposts are constantly moving. As we did with Porsche, it's important sometimes to take a step back, identify what is no longer working, and modify where necessary.
If I could give one piece of advice to entrepreneurs beginning their journey, it would be this…be brave, smartly innovate and don’t blinker yourself by refusing to adapt.
It's important to note that Porsche remains our client to this day, so even failure can present an opportunity to exceed your own expectations, and ultimately outdo yourself.
When I look to the future of the SaaS industry, I think the core focus should be on the inclusion of everyone, not just desk-based employees. COVID-19 made clear the need for organised, skilled and efficient frontline workers, as huge percentages of companies closed down, and the floor staff essentially kept the world running.
Despite this, however, innovations for deskless workers have still not been prioritised. Even to this day, a significant portion of the world's in-office employees work from home and still, the vast majority of software is centred around their professional needs.
Looking to the Future of SaaS
The world of entrepreneurship and SaaS are deeply intertwined and the journey, traversing both, has been a whirlwind, with glorious successes and opportunistic challenges.
My advice to others operating within this sphere, is to make the most of it. Believe in your ideas, accept support, be brave, be smart, be adaptable and above all, be adventurous.
I sometimes worry that the day will come when I have achieved all of my professional goals, because where do you go from there?
High expectations and personal ambitions are very important to me and that is how I feel about Flip and its potential to change how deskless workers engage with corporations, both personally and professionally.
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