An interesting trend that has been gaining steam in the SaaS space is the rise of what we like to call “In-a-Box” startups. These are companies building software on a subscription model to provide all of the solutions necessary to run a “Fill in the Blank” business In-a-Box. As SaaS continue to grab larger and larger market share, these new and specialized companies are coming out aimed an enabling others to start, mange, and grow their own business.
A prominent example of this is Shopify, a simplified version of their value prop, eCommerce-in-a-Box. They provide a suite of tools that includes everything you would need to start your own eCommerce business. The SaaS model then empowers you to start small with only the tools/features you want, and then add and grow that list as your business grows and new tools are needed to help run it. Another example of this is Squire, their tagline, “The Most Successful Barbershops Run on Squire”. Similar to Shopify, they have built a software solution to allow small-business barbershop owners to run and manage their business easily, enabling them to focus on a great haircut, not keeping the books or managing clients. Just how hot are startups that build “In-a-Box” solutions, Squire has raised a $27M Series B back in June lead by CRV. A third example is Dockwa, they built a solution to help Marina’s manage their business and allow boaters to easily book dock space, it’s a “Marina-in-a-Box” solution to help empower marina owners to run and grow their business.
It is an empowering business model which helps small businesses owners manage their “back office” so they can focus on building an amazing business and brand. Like an iceberg, most businesses back offices are rarely seen, things like keeping the books, managing customers, or in the case of Shopify, managing inventory and shipping, yet, they are a crucial function for any business to survive. The rise of the “Box” Economy as we will call it, will help provide access to back office solutions at price points that are affordable to small business owners. Most single store barbershop owners can’t afford to have an accountant on staff, but they can afford the $100/month entry price that Squire charges.
Over the next decade it will be interesting to see which businesses get “Boxed” by savvy entrepreneurs. I think we will see a wave of business owners and entrepreneurs who through their own experience in running these businesses, figure out a way to build that “In-a-Box'‘ solution for their industry. Landscaping? Dealerships? Brick and Mortar Retail? there are a vast number of industries that are primed for this kind of innovation.