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Salesforce.com offers €5 million in Cloud success story challenge

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3rd May 2013
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Is there a European Cloud success story waiting out there in the market? If there is, Salesforce.com wants to find it and help fund it. 

The US Cloud giant has announced the creation of a €5 million Innovation Challenge to help spur new startups to create new tools and apps leveraging Salesforce’s platform.
The winning companies will have a chance to be funded by Salesforce and at least one of the participating venture capital firms including Notion Capital, Octopus Investments, MMC Ventures, Charlotte Street Capital, and Point Nine.
Interested start ups can register online for a chance to present their product or hack in one of several European pitch events that will be taking place between September through November 2013.
In the end, those chosen as finalists will be able to negotiate seed funding or Series A investment from participating VCs. 
The winning Salesforce-powered apps will also be distributed on Salesforce’s AppExchange, the business app marketplace.
“The European enterprise app market has reached a tipping point and we see the Salesforce Platform as a key enabler for start-ups with a great idea to build a revenue-generating business in record time,” said Chris Tottman, Partner, Notion Capital. 
“This is a unique opportunity for innovative start-ups in the enterprise app market here in Europe to receive commercial support to allow them to compete on a global stage,” added Luke Hakes, Principal, Octopus Investments.
A few terms and conditions apply. Start ups have an existing product that is either in beta or later. Other criteria these companies must show include:
  • Demonstration of traction, customer success and user adoption
  • Market opportunity & go-to-market strategy
  • Track record and passion of the entrepreneurial team
  • Planned or existing adoption and innovative utilisation of the Salesforce Platform
  • Competitors
  • Financial plan
The Salesforce.com AppExchange has more than 1,700 Salesforce partner-built apps and 3 million customer-built apps on it, with 1.7 million installs. 
The ServiceMax example
The European initiative mirrors an earlier US-centric Million Dollar Challenge run by Salesforce. The winner on that occasion was field service market leader ServiceMax, whose CMO Stacey Epstein told BusinessCloud9 that without that funding it's entirely possibly that the firm would never have gotten off the ground. 
"I don't know that if we would even have been funded without that," she said. "It was three developers from India who had built the app on the Force.com platform and they entered it into the Challenge. They wouldn't have known where to go to get funding.
"In the end, Emergence Capital [the VC involved in the US competition] gave them $2 million rather than $1 million and they found Dave Yarnold to be our CEO. We went on the AppExchange a few months after that."
ServiceMax is now a major success story, a Cloud-based field service offering that's pushing into a market that had been the domain of the likes of SAP in the past and with flagship customers which include the likes of Pitney Bowes and Coca Cola. 
The fizzy drinks giant is rolling out iPad and iPhone instances of the ServiceMax apps to its technicians, who service and fix vending machines.
The apps are used to to dispatch technicians to service calls, give them detailed customer information at their fingertips, automatically update rosters of service parts stored in their vans and transfer information to the billing department.
That said, the Coca Cola use case is in some respects an unusual one - or at least unexpected. 
"The sweet spot in the market for us is medical devices," explained Epstein. "And hi-tech manufacturing is big for us. Then you get random ones like Coca Cola bottler and suddenly we're in the CPG market. Proctor & Gamble are customers - they use us when sending technicians out to fix the dispensers in bathrooms."
Such is ServiceMax's confidence that it's now aggressively expanding into Europe with grand ambitions to go where many applications firms fear to tread - Germany, homeland to SAP and a notoriously difficult market to crack for outsiders. 
"There is just so much opportunity there, we're most bullish about that market," said Epstein. "There are things that we can do that SAP just can't."
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