At its core, G2 Crowd is about building a trusted source of business technology reviews through the use of crowdsourcing… sort of a Yelp for business reviews. More than this, co-founder Matt Gorniak wants to disrupt the Gartner quadrant model for the dissemination of high quality, unbiased research and data to buyers and investors in business technology.
I spoke to Matt, who is a tech professional and has experience with startups, about how they came to the idea for G2 Crowd. He said that the genesis of the idea for G2 Crowd came from a long history in and frustration with the way enterprise software is bought and sold today.
The contrast between how we can now easily purchase consumer goods and services online as compared to buying enterprise software is stark. It was this frustration that got him to think that there must be a better approach.
When Matt sold BigMachines software (its previous software product) to large corporations, the likes of GE and Symantec, he saw first hand how much these organizations struggled to select the best technology. It took 3+ months to simply pull together a short list, and 12 months to get through the entirety of the procurement cycle.
Although it was purchased by committee, organizations still lacked confidence in their ultimate decision and, according to Matt, most enterprise IT projects still go bad due to poorly set expectations.
Contrast this arduous process with how we, in our consumer lives, rely on sites like Amazon, Yelp and TripAdvisor that feature peer reviews to help us make quick, easy purchase decisions. The key for Matt was the peer review in the role of trusted adviser, which plays well in this situation.
According to Matt, we trust the information because it is from peers who actually have experience with the product that we are considering, and had the same choices and know what is at stake and the pressure we are under. For Matt, enterprise software procurement seems to be stuck in the 1990s and he wants to bring it to 2013.
Additionally, Matt believes that G2 Crowd is part of the trend of consumerization of the enterprise. Especially newer employees, even in large companies, now expect a more consumer-like online research and buying experience.
Again, the G2 Crowd model is a unique, trusted business model which doesn't rely on vendors for revenue. More like Consumer Reports, they generate revenue by selling high quality, unbiased research and data to buyers and investors in business technology. They believe vendors will also buy the data to benchmark their performance against their peers. All of G2 Crowd's customers will be aligned with the desire to have good, unbiased data.
G2 Crowd is moving fast, with several thousand users since the beta release in December. But thus far they have only reached out through their personal networks, and expect their community to grow quickly.
Like many new sites there is a gamification component as a way to give incentive for users to provide their expertise. The difference between G2 Crowd and other gamified sites is that rather than making you the "Mayor" of the house, as in Foursquare, you are rewarded with money, gift cards, and iPads.
Matt broke down the gamification into three components:
The fist is a contest component, which allows top contributors to win iPad Minis and Amazon Gift Cards by sharing quality content — adding reviews, comments, etc. The community also values the content, which plays into the point system by voting on its quality. Matt is looking for, "High quality, public, balanced and detailed content that is rewarded by the point system and encourages the community to contribute this type of content."
Second is a basic rewards system for users who don't see themselves in the contest scenario, or only know a few systems. For these folks, G2 Crowd offers $20 Amazon Gift Certificates for eligible business Applications.
Lastly, a points system, whereby users are rewarded on a "quantification of expertise." “The point system also allows our users to showcase their expertise from a category down to a specific product level,” according to Matt.
When I asked Matt what keeps him up at night, he gave me the most interesting answer to date: “Acceleration of the disruption.”