Is Appfloat similar to Amazon RDS?
Cofounder Aditya clarifies “ Actually there is no similarity between us and Amazon RDS. In fact we use Amazon RDS services to host our underlying databases for our customers. Appfloat users build applications using Appfloat’s platform without writing a single line of code. Just by using a simple user interface of Appfloat they can create a fully functional application for example a user can create their custom CRM solution in a matter of minutes. They will then be able to launch this newly created application of theirs and use it without having to worry about where there database is stored and how the security and backups and all the
rest is being managed. You can think of Appfloat as the platform that links Users to the underlying infrastructure – i.e. Amazon RDS. The way the “aaS” (as-a-Service) stack works is Software (SaaS) sits on top of platform (PaaS) which sits on top of Infrastructure (IaaS). Which translates to SaaS>PaaS>IaaS stack.”
In terms of monetization model, Appfloat’s pricing is based on the number of records (i.e. the no of rows of data) they store in the database. There will be a flat fee of $1 for every 1,000 records of an online application and $1 for every 10,000 records for an offline/suspended application. The number of records is calculated based on average daily records in their database. There is complete transparency of the charges applied; users can review their estimated bill for current month and historical bills in great details.
The target segment, as is obvious is US and here is a quick QnA with the Appfloat team.
How do you plan to tap the US market?
We demographically categorise our market in 2 segments i.e. ISVs (Independent software vendors) and Corporates. We plan to tap the US market differently for both segments.
ISV Market Segment
As recession rolls on and IT budgets get persistently scrutinized, new sales deals are tough to come by for traditional ISVs. SaaS companies are benefiting in this environment thanks to the low-cost subscription model. The key tenet for selling a SaaS solution is that the sales cycles are small and customer acquisition costs (CAC) are kept low. In order for Appfloat to appeal to such SaaS ISVs the marketing strategy should reflect the ISVs own market strategy which will in-turn help ISVs make money. Some of the strategies are:
a) Pay-as-you-go pricing: The key difference in the sales model is the structure and focus for the sales team. Sales teams in traditional software companies are used to pursuing large deals (with large upfront license + on-going maintenance contracts), but in SaaS everything that is charged to a customer is rolled into a monthly subscription fee. Appfloat’s pricing will reflect the same and the ISVs will be charged on a subscription basis and the subscription fee will depend on the plan.
b) Low upfront sales cost and high velocity: Closing as many sales deals as possible in the least possible time for the least possible cost will be the mandate for our sales team.
c) Online marketing: Given that Appfloat operates entirely online, large part of the sales and marketing should too. We expect majority of our leads to come through the online channels. To make our online presence strong we will focus on
- Engaging website: We will build an engaging website. The longer we can engage someone on our website the better the chances of our funneling that interest into an opportunity.
- Reachability: We will provide multiple ways for visitors/prospects to reach us from our website. Telephone, chats and blogs all encourage prospects to reach out. For this we will have to setup a 24/7 technical support staff.
- Qualify: It is cheaper to generate leads online with SEO/SEM than the traditional lead generation process. So we want to spend our resources to generate quality leads. Once the leads come in we will develop a well-defined process to score and rank leads so sales finds the leads warm for close; in turn keeping sales cycle to a minimum.
d) Blogs, webinars and workshops: We will start a blog to articulate our understanding of the ISVs business and make a compelling case for why Appfloat offering hits the mark. In future we want to host demonstrations to the industry experts or expert industry bloggers and get them to write independent opinions about Appfloat.
e) Try-before-you-buy: Evaluation versions are always great way to eliminate the initial hurdle. Customers love to try the software before they make the commitment – reducing the risk for them. We will further supplement that with videos, demos to guide in their evaluation process.
f) Trust building with local presence: If the financials support us in future we want to have a local office in US so that we can have local sales staff who can better understand the ISVs needs, provide instantaneous support and therefore serve them better. This way we will be able to establish a long-term trust and enhance our sales.
Corporate Market Segment
Everything applicable to the ISV market is applicable to the corporate market segment as well. However, in case of the corporates local presence becomes essential. With local sales staff present in the US we will be able to host one-on-one demonstrations at the corporate offices. It will help us know the companies better as well as share our vision and value proposition.
3. Future plans?
Despite all the enthusiasm we are getting from industry experts around Appfloat PaaS, we are aware that customers will only choose us if we provide them with better services every-day. To make our offerings even more compelling we are determined to continuously work towards providing:
- Increased flexibility: The high level of flexibility and the ability to reduce costs while developing, testing and deploying new applications. We atAppfloat are continuously improving our offerings so that developers can achieve greatest flexibility in developing their apps.
- Multi-platform support: Smaller vendors are not able to rewrite their existing application in a new programming language or to re-create an existing database without reusing existing SQL schema. Currently Appfloat provides developers with .Net framework stack so that .Net developers can download the source and extent the apps they have made. In future we want to support more than just one language stack.
- Remove platform lock-in: The deployment of a SaaS application on a specific PaaS platform is a lifetime bet in most cases. However, it can be quite a big bet for customers. Appfloat applications are currently hosted on Amazon servers. In future Appfloat will be supporting private cloud deployment and interoperability between other infrastructure providers.
- Help ISVs make money: Appfloat website will be designed to further support ISVs bring their apps to the market with an app store and many other horizontal PaaS services like billing and SLA management.
According to Frost & Sullivan the Asia-Pacific PaaS market had revenues of $43.2 million in 2010 and will reach $523 million in 2016. The growing developer community, with an increasing number of small/part-time developers, is also creating a strong opportunity for the market. Appfloat will provide them access to a scalable IT infrastructure and the tools required to develop and test their applications, on a pay-as-you-go basis.
In short term our plan is to move aggressively in the ISV market segment in India. Once there is some cash-flow to support our operations we want to start our marketing efforts towards Indian corporates and international ISVs.