August 20, 2014

One Startup That Focuses on Channel Development for IT Companies

channel development

By the year 2010, Clark Richter, the founder of Fossa LLC, had spent over 15 years in sales management and marketing roles at IT companies like Check Point Software, Citrix Systems and Websense.

He found it frustrating that there were very few reliable, comprehensive and updated information sources focusing on the IT channel partner market. Professionals like him had to depend on multiple tools and information databases coupled with extensive primary research to zero in on the right channel partner.

Traditional databases were out-dated, used out-dated classification systems and profiled companies incorporated years ago with perhaps different business models. The IT industry had transformed significantly over the past two decades but these databases hadn’t kept up with the changes in the industry. Sales intelligence tools at that point had good data on end users but there was a gap in the market for data specifically on channel companies (i.e. resellers, service providers, system integrators, etc.)

Although emerging vendors such as Rain King and DiscoverOrg did provide up-to-date and relevant contact lists and profiles for IT companies, their focus was on IT buyers at Fortune 2000 companies. On the other hand, broader databases like InsideView, NetProspex, and Jigsaw/Salesforce were crowd-sourced, with a lot of contacts but very few details.

The Birth of Fossa

So, to plug these gaps in the market and to make the life of sales and marketing professionals like him easier, Clark worked toward building a comprehensive and up-to-date database of IT channel companies with relevant terminology and vendor relationships.

After working on it for two years, he resigned from his job and launched Channel Navigator in February 2012. A demo is provided in the video below:

Clark founded Fossa LLC with an aim to save customers time and money in executing their channel strategy by providing up-to-date, relevant business profiles, and contacts for IT channel companies. Its database covers 25,000 companies, 80% of which have less than 20 employees.

A majority of its customers are channel sales and marketing organizations that subscribe to its database and online tools. Some of its customers are early stage companies that do not have a channel team yet but want the data. Companies selling SMB solutions, security, cloud services and solutions targeted at managed service providers are its top IT industry target segments.

Specialization in the channel and a smaller or niche target segment allows Fossa to provide superior quality data. Its databases are researched and updated manually after verifying the contacts and company information. Since it deals with only 25,000 companies rather than 40 million, is easier to verify and update the data and be more precise.

Participation in trade shows and Clark’s relationships in the channel helped in gaining initial traction. Currently, the company has close to 35 active customers, including Alcatel-Lucent, McAfee, Discoverorg, VAR Staffing, Shuttle and Meru Networks. It was on track to achieve revenue of $100,000 in 2013.

The IT channel space is constantly changing – vendor relationships, employee turnover and industry buzz words evolve constantly. Therefore exists a constant need for updated information that will enrich a company’s CRM and help make the sales process more efficient.

Research firm Gartner, in its latest IT spending outlook, projects worldwide IT spending to grow 3.1% from 2013 to reach $3.8 trillion in 2014. Companies like Fossa LLC can help IT vendors tap efficiently into this $3.8 trillion market.

Tuning In Photo via Shutterstock

2 Comments ▼

Sramana Mitra


Sramana Mitra Sramana Mitra is the founder of One Million by One Million (1M/1M) initiative, a virtual incubator that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategist who writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy.

2 Reactions

  1. This just goes to show that if you have an amazing idea and you are willing to help a significant part of the market, then you can expect to make some pretty decent profits. Sometimes, it is not just about the type of business that you plunged into, it is also about the idea that started the business.

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