The State of Tech: Vertical vs. Horizontal

I wanted to take a moment and discuss a topic that is largely being ignored, or at the very least underappreciated with respect to technology, startups, business, venture capital, and the overall system.  First allow me to clarify what I mean by “vertical” and “horizontal”, not that it’s rocket science.  Vertical refers a technology solutions, often times in the form of a tech start up that solves one particular issue or “pain point”.  Their mission is to be the most innovative answer to that problem.  I know what you are thinking, hell yeah, thats exciting.  Now let’s examine the other side of that coin.  The people who need that solution more likely than not work at companies.  Big shock I know. Companies have multiple issues they face, marketing, customer acquisition, employee recruiting.  But, they do not have an endless supply of workforce and time to find, evaluate, implement, and iterate new technologies.  The task is absolutely daunting.  

Why is it like this?

Well, think about it.  If you are an entreprenuer with experience in an industry, you have an idea for a product that crushes anything else available.  You Google “what do VCs look for in an in investment?” and follow the advice to a “T”.  Laser focus on solving that issue and be certain not to “boil the ocean”.  If they can do this, and well, then their liklihood of getting investment money and the remote possibiility of getting acquired (Gasp!) goes dramatically up.  Vertical mindset.  This is great, it means that the best solution will developed.  We all win. But, is that all there is to the story?  What’s not spoken about a lot is the business end.  Who do you sell the product to? What price? The many meetings and lunches where you want so badly want them to see your vision, but they just try to punch holes in everything you say.  The discouragement.  However, they are being mean just to be mean.  They are not educated on why you are better.  They are stretched for time, money and resources.  Hence the unspoken conundrum of the tech startup world.  At least when thinking about the B2B world.  

What’s the answer?

Let’s call it Web 3.0.  The next paradigm shift where tech adoption is at an all time high, and the barrier to entry for product development is at an all time low.  This is where the role of the subject matter expert as an intermediary will play an infinitely more important role.  Someone who knows tech and the industry being served.  The inherent efficiencies realized immediately should be enough to get CTOs, marketing managers, CEOs weak in the knees.  Let me say that another way.  So, instead of having an internal person spending countless man hours and money finding new tech and trying to implement into their system at extremely high fail rates, a SME can design a custom application in half the time and for considerably less investment.   Because there aren’t resources (time and money) wasted on discovery, finding the right tech, iteration, etc.  There is also one point of contact.  Again, the efficiency allows for a mind blowing level of innovation on both the product and business side.  If these statements don’t get you so excited, then you are not in CRE or tech or shouldn’t be if you are.  


I want to continue this conversation.  We are on the cusp of a the next wave of innovation. You can drop in and hang on, or sit out and be left behind.

You can always get me at: or @MikeFoundos


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Photo Credit: Transworld Surf

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