Friday, February 15, 2008

The Web-Based Software Revolution

We were honored when we first found out that CatalystWeb was invited to participate in DEMO2008. For those of you who have never heard of DEMO, it is an invitation-only event where new technology products and services are launched; Google unveiled its now famous search engine at DEMO many years ago. It is attended by the top technology journalists in the country along with dozens of venture capitalists. As part of the program, I got to give a six-minute demo of our flagship service CatalystOffice. You can view it on the DEMO Website. We also got a lot of favorable press. In fact, Michael Miller from PC Magazine picked us as one of his top-10 favorite products. You can read his blog here.

We were happy to see that both the press and participants from the show validated our Software-as-a-Service (“SaaS”) or Web-based software delivery method. Several companies who were presenting at the show even signed up as customers. This doesn’t surprise me since many of them were startups and the founders were often in different locations. As startups, they also liked the fact that our introductory plan was not only totally free but also had all the features of our paid plans.

With Web-based software services, users don’t have to install anything or worry about upgrades. In the case of CatalystOffice, users can access their email and documents over the Internet from anywhere, anytime; all they need is the Firefox browser. They typically don’t have an IT department and they don’t have the resources to buy and maintain servers. Most importantly, they don’t have the time to worry about technology when they need to focus on their business. No wonder that America's 25 million small businesses are leading the Web-based software revolution.

CatalystOffice's unlimited-user license also resonated with reporters and participants at DEMO2008. I was often met with a quick look of surprise and then acknowledgment whenever I explained it to someone. Our model simplifies traditional software pricing that is often based on the number of users but also tends to be complicated and confusing to most small businesses. It also makes sense since most businesses have both heavy and light users and it is really hard to separate personal space from shared space.

The week after DEMO, I went to two tradeshows for small businesses. The first one was held in Ft. Worth, Texas and sponsored by the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center. The second was sponsored by and held in New York City. The interest in our service from small business owners at these two shows was phenomenal. They also gave us a lot of valuable feedback. I will talk about these shows in my next entry.

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