App stores have made finding best-of-breed consumer software a snap. But where are entrepreneurs supposed to turn for software-as-a-service (SaaS) products?
One obvious answer is Google. Just don't expect to find the right fit, according to Ori Manor, founder and CEO of Chekkt. The answer, as is the case in most areas of tech, is a community that is invested in improving their market.
While big enterprises typically have IT experts on-hand or on-call in the form of consultants, entrepreneurs and small business owners are largely left to their own devices in the business-to-business software realm. Trouble arises when they begin evaluating their choices among an overwhelming number of cloud-based software and services providers. They can make bad decisions, and the cloud-based products that were supposed to improve small business IT act as a productivity-sapping anchor instead.
Manor's Chekkt.com aims to solve this problem by making the right cloud services as easy to find as iPhone or Android apps. "We're trying to consumerize the B2B SaaS world," he told Small Business Computing.
Chekkt, the Israel-based startup behind self-branded, newly-launched online marketplace for cloud-based apps, has already registered more than 1,200 SaaS vendors with the service. According to Manor, Chekkt fills a big void in the B2B cloud software and services market.
"When you're looking for new services, unlike the B2C [business-to-consumer] world, you don't have a built-in destination," Manor said. IPad owners can load up their tablets at Apple's App Store, for instance. Likewise, owners of Android mobile can shop at Google Play while the Windows Store serves up apps for Windows devices and smartphones.
All of the aforementioned app marketplaces are organized into categories and provide customer ratings and up-to-date product descriptions, guiding consumers to apps that best fit their needs at an acceptable level of quality. Chekkt provides the same experience to cloud buyers.
A Marketplace for Cloud-based Business Apps
Chekkt provides crowdsourced, community-driven guidance on practically every type of cloud service required to start, run and grow a business. A clean, user-friendly layout ushers you into categories that include customer relationship management (CRM), IT and infrastructure, human resources, finance, marketing and collaboration, to name a few.
Visitors can explore even deeper—like the marketing automation and email marketing subsections under the main marketing category, for example—for their specific needs. Each product features a details page, review section and a rating. Only verified Chekkt users can leave reviews or rankings based on a five-star scale. An "Alternatives" tab helps small businesses weigh their options and comparison shop within product categories.
The end result is an online marketplace that Manor wishes he had when the serial entrepreneur and Valueshine Ventures founding partner got his start.
Chekkt was inspired by his first-hand experiences in finding and managing cloud service subscriptions. "We changed the CRM and project management [plans] twice, but we forgot to cancel," he said. The idea dawned on him to create a unified destination that entrepreneurs can use to discover, compare and ultimately manage their cloud services.
While there are no shortage of review hubs and other cloud-related sites, "today's business owners deserve a more intuitive and efficient process for purchasing software to help their businesses succeed," said Manor in prepared remarks. To that end, Manor and his team plan to bulk up Chekkt in the coming months.
Manor revealed that in addition to discounts and promotions, Chekkt plans to provide curated bundles, which allow entrepreneurs to hit the ground running with cloud services tailored for their type of business. Also in the works is a payment system and one-stop cloud billing options. Those options are designed to allow Chekkt community members to buy and manage their SaaS and cloud services plans from a single place. Forgetting to cancel retired cloud subscriptions will be a thing of the past.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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