Noah Eisner, a co-founder at Coupa was kind enough to spend some time with me on Tuesday, introducing me to Coupa and giving me a full demo of the Enterprise Edition of their product.
One of the first things that struck me was how crisp and clean the product is. Everything seems so intuitive, straightforward, and easy, which is actually not that common for small OSS startups that are less than a year old. I have to attribute most of that to the fact that the founders, Noah and Dave Stephens, were both Executives at Oracle, heading up their eProcurement group. Not only do they intimately know what the product needs today to be successful, they have great ideas on where it needs to go in the future.
Being small and OSS gives a company like Coupa a large operating advantage over companies like Oracle or Ariba for customers. They have the ability to add product functionality in months that would take years, if ever, for their larger counterparts. I’ve written about this many times before as being one of the key attributes of OSS companies that I find compelling. When a product gets on the constant improvement curve, it becomes very compelling for the end user community.
I’m sure that once the enterprise customers discover these folks, find out who they are and what the product can do, they will move over quickly. As with most OSS, the cost savings will be a no brainer, but the real upside for the enterprise folks will be their ability to rapidly influence enhancements either through funding or market influence.
For the SMB folks, Coupa is affordable enough that they will be able to get on board, either through a hosted service or internal deployment and support by the folks at Coupa. Either way, this is an entire market that hasn’t been served by the larger enterprise competitors. This has to be exciting for Coupa because they are addressing an entire unserved market. We don’t know how big that is today, but I’ve read blogs at Alfresco suggesting they were quite happily surprised at the size of their SMB market. Same with SugarCRM.
The product has collaborative features that are pretty cool, like the ability to attach product reviews to a catalog item, similar to what you see at Amazon and others. When this type of information is available behind the firewall, it can be a big time saver for the users from a research perspective. Further it opens the door for vendor and product management.
The product offers all of the work rules, approvals, and workflow that one would expect from a product like this. It is implemented in a straightforward way and interfaces nicely with existing email systems. They have features like buying templates, tagging, and buying lists, which again makes the user experience collaborative and cost effective while at the same time leaving management with the appropriate controls and cost savings.
I like the standard reports that they generate as part of the enterprise package. Understanding that customers will always want something more from reports, you can easily download the data to a spreadsheet and create more if you so desire.
You can test drive the OSS version of the product here. I was able to download it and run it on my laptop in just a few minutes. Again, clean and straightforward.