The Backstory for the Enterprise Tech 30

Rajeev Chand | February 26, 2021

I have led a research team focused on startups and venture capital since 2001. At my prior firm, Rutberg & Company, we were charged with identifying the 100 most influential startups in mobile each year. Our research process involved building a candidate list and then sharing that list with 50+ venture capitalists to get their perspectives. After those meetings, I—as an investment banking analyst—had a great sense for which mobile startups were doing well. And, in particular, I paid closest attention to venture capitalists’ comments on companies outside of their portfolio.

That’s why when, three years ago, Peter Wagner came to me with a kernel of an idea—to create a definitive, institutionally-backed list of startups driving innovation for enterprises—I was convinced on the potential impact such a list might have. Peter's idea had three main points:

1) In enterprise tech, it is near-impossible to discern which startups are the highest quality, i.e. which companies are doing well and have the greatest real momentum. The metrics for enterprise startups are opaque, unlike the engagement/monetization metrics often available for consumer startups due to longer sales cycles, contract requirements, etc.

2) Venture capitalists are at the center of discernment for startups. They are in the business of knowing which companies (theirs and others) are doing well and not, and they have exclusive access to their companies’ financials and to a private network of diligence sources.

3) In collegiate sports, the coaches are the center of discernment for sports teams, and the Coaches Poll is a benchmark ranking based on their collective intelligence. Similarly, could we create an investors poll for enterprise tech startups—with the common mission of identifying the highest quality startups?

This kernel of an idea has now grown into a platform, the Enterprise Tech 30. The Enterprise Tech 30 is the annual list of the most promising private companies in enterprise technology, as determined by an institutional research and survey process with 103 leading venture capitalists, who are themselves participants on an invitation-only basis.

The invitation-only panel of investors is very important. Investors are selected based not only on Wing’s experience and judgment but also on unbiased analyses of enterprise tech returns, board members, and investors. The panel selection and analyses are revisited and reassessed annually.

Importantly, the list is not about venture capitalists promoting their own companies. It is the opposite! The candidate list is built by Wing’s research team, which combined four different sources for this year’s candidate list of 15,000+ companies. The voting process is designed with mechanisms to remove self-promotion bias. We only permit 3 of every 10 votes to be for companies within investors’ own portfolios. As such, 70% of the data signals are unbiased, and the other 30% are focused on the highest-performing due to the restriction.

Wing is privileged to be the host of and present the Enterprise Tech 30. To see who made the list, I encourage you to visit the website at: www.enterprisetech30.com.

Beyond the list itself, this year’s research uncovered some deeply interesting trends and findings. Key insights for this year include:

1) An astonishing 80% of the companies on this year’s list are based on Product-Led Growth business models. PLG, a trend even prior to the pandemic, has accelerated with the shift to remote work and is here to stay.

2) Three sectors represent over 70% of the sectors in the ET30: Enterprise Data, Productivity & Collaboration, and Security. The first two are the largest and most significant at approximately 30% each.

3) 100% of the top 10 companies identified by corporate development teams are on the Enterprise Tech 30. Further, 97% of the companies in the Enterprise Tech 30 would be the exact same if only outside-portfolio votes were counted. In short, the process works.

4) 68% of the CEOs in this year’s ET30 are millennials, with the median age of 36 for early- and mid-stages and 41 for late-stage.

5) Patrick Collison is the most frequent angel investor in this year’s ET30 with 13% of the companies, according to PitchBook data. Avichal Garg and Elad Gil are next at 10% each.

For detailed insights and additional information on the ET30 companies, please check out: www.enterprisetech30.com.

And, most importantly, we look forward to hearing from you! Subscribe to the ET30 newsletter here, and I welcome your thoughts. Email me at rajeev@wing.vc.

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