Welcome to the age of "shadow IT," where small groups in big organizations route around enterprise barriers to buy modern Web services.
Doshi added, that until last year, 90% of Mixpanel's customers were self-service customers who signed up with a credit card. He predicted that over time enterprises will inevitably implement a software-as-a-service (SaaS) policy that empowers corporate groups to sign up with credit cards rather than the more bureaucratic enterprise procurement model.
In short, the panelists suggested, developer-driven startups needn't focus on the enterprise market. If you make a product that's good enough, you'll get enterprise customers without the extra overhead.
To Doshi, rejecting the traditional approach to enterprise business is a point of differentiation. "Our biggest competitor, Omniture, makes a business of charging its customers to learn how to use its product," he said. "Our approach is the opposite."
For those looking to try on the developer crown, Preston-Werner advises focusing on open-source technology. "I think open source is one of the greatest things that happened to the world in general," he said, comparing it to free timber or electricity for a construction project. "You don't have to start from scratch every time."
If you have the skills but lack ideas for a killer product, Preston-Werner advises keeping a journal. "Write down everything that's a pain in the ass," he said.
Cirne urges just solving a problem and not getting hung up on market size.
Just make sure you choose the right tools for the task.
"Tools definitely matter and they matter in a way that's silent," said Collison. If your company is suffering because of the tools it chose, whether that means the wrong programming language or the wrong kind of database, your website may not meet a catastrophic end, but it is likely to accrue technical debt that slowly strangles your business. "Tools tend to really fail people in a way that's really hard to see," he said.
Developers can be kings (or queens), but heavy is the head that wears the crown.