With the explosion of the Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery model, companies are increasingly finding it difficult to keep track of how much money they actually spend on software and how much of that software they actually use.
The relatively small monthly or annual cost of an individual SaaS solution means that departments and individual employees often maintain personalized suites of services tailored around their particular needs, forgoing some company-wide solutions altogether. But all those extra little subscriptions add up, and they can seriously affect a company’s bottom line.
“We think there’s a really big opportunity to help organizations run their businesses better with all of these subscription services by having better visibility,” said Eric Christopher, Co-founder and CEO of Zylo, a Mint-like service for tracking SaaS subscriptions.
The service works by integrating with accounting software, company credit cards and employee reimbursement solutions to build a complete picture of a company’s SaaS spend. Customers can track the number of users, monthly logins and renewal dates for each service and make notes about how and why different services are used.
Drawing on those notes and the platform’s machine learning algorithm, managers can figure out which subscriptions are redundant on a company- or team-wide basis. By the time of its official launch this fall, Zylo hopes to also be able to track these redundancies down to the individual employee level.
A former senior vice president of sales at Sprout Social, Christopher said the idea for the company was born out of his own experience buying and selling software in the SaaS space.
“Even in my department, I had a dozen plus solutions that were pretty meaningful investments that we were using, and I was constantly having a hard time,” he said. “I might reach out to my team and see if we’re even using things anymore. There’s a lot of chaos around that as a buyer.”
With an official launch slated for sometime this fall, Zylo is currently in private beta, working with major Chicago tech companies likeCareerBuilder, Jellyvision and PowerReviews. Starting off with major clients like these is important, Christopher said, because the platform’s understanding of how services differ from each other will improve as the volume of subscriptions tracked increases.
Christopher said conversations with early customers suggest that companies spend a lot more on software than they think. As part of the onboarding process, they go over questions like how many applications a client subscribes to and how much money they’re spending on software.
“We knew that everyone is underestimating, because I’ve done that myself while just managing one department,” he said. “They’ve often underestimated by 40 to 50 percent because there’s just no way to get a full view of it.”
Backed by High Alpha, an Indiana-based venture studio with a particular focus on cloud companies, the Zylo team is split between Chicago and Indianapolis. In Christopher’s view, the balance of talent, resources and affordability in the Midwest is hard to beat for a company with global ambitions.
“There’s such a rich talent pool in Chicago,” said Christopher. “And with investors and proximity to some of those executives as well, we think we can get the benefits of low cost and of building a business in the Midwest, but have the power and arsenal of VC connections and things like that so we can compete on a global scale.”