Channel technologies, Channel markets, IT management, Small business, Security Staff Acquisition & Development

Rise of Solopreneur Business Apps

Generally speaking, most small business software and cloud companies eventually try to move upstream -- reaching out to midmarket and larger customers to win bigger deals. But a growing number of app developers and cloud companies are heading in the opposite direction -- serving so-called micropreneurs, microbusinesses and solopreneurs.

For example: 17hats has raised $1.25 million in seed funding to expand its business automation application for solopreneurs. The platform, which costs $13 to $29 per month depending on length of commitment, allows solopreneurs to manage:

  • business contacts
  • projects
  • sales quotes
  • contracts
  • invoices
  • bookkeeping
  • time tracking
  • and plenty more

This (Sort of) Sounds Familiar

Read between the lines, and 17hats is offering an alternative to ConnectWise, Autotask, Intuit, Quosal, QuoteWerks and Salesforce -- but at the very, very low end of the market, where single-person businesses typically struggle to juggle so many different tasks.

17hats CEO Donovan Janus launched the company in October 2014. He is targeting a range of solopreneur types -- including photographers, event planners, designers, consultants, one-person law firms, electricians, plumbers and more. We've reached out to Janus for additional views on the past, present and future of 17hats.

Seed investors include Wavemaker Partners, an early stage investment group that serves southern California and Asia Pacific markets. Wavemaker typically invests $100,000 to $500,000 in a startup, and grows the stake to about $1 million over time. The company has invested in more than 130 companies -- and co-invested with roughly 120 angels and early stage funders.

Customer Churn?

Of course, financial backing doesn't guarantee long-term success. While the solopreneur wave is real, I believe 17hats could face customer turnover and retention challenges.

After all, single-employee companies come and go very rapidly. Plenty of "entrepreneurs" lose the startup itch pretty rapidly and go running back to a corporate job. Others simply can't make the finances work.

To mitigate that churn, 17hats' promotes a discounted two-year platform commitment that's far less expensive than its monthly commitment fee.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.