Meet the young founders who are taking on the enterprise

Sharing photos is cool and all that, but enterprise tech? That’s where the really sexy stuff is.

Most people might not think so. But enterprise tech companies are wrangling with unwieldy databases, complex security challenges, reluctant customers, compliance issues, and many other problems. As Quid CEO Sean Gourley describes it, “We get to push the envelope and deal with the most challenging technical issues … the really sci-fi stuff.”

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They might not get a movie made about their lives (The CRM Network, anyone?), but the young founders on this list are hot in a different way. They’re building challenging — and potentially profitable — enterprise-focused technologies.

To compile this list of young founders, I spoke with enterprise-focused investors from sources such as General Catalyst, Blumberg Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Data Collective. Some of them are from companies you may know (Box, Hearsay Social, and Huddle), but we’ve got some newcomers, too (MemSQL, Locu). You’ll notice that the entrepreneurs that made the cut are predominantly male. I have to admit, it has not been an easy task finding young female CEOs tackling “big data” and SaaS. I implore you, ladies: Embrace the cloud.

These young CEOs reveal the billion-dollar opportunities they’re pursuing in the enterprise, how they won customers and raised funds, their advice for fellow entrepreneurs, and the obstacles overcame in those all-important first months. No jargon allowed!

[View as a list here]

Andy McLoughlin, founder, Huddle

McLoughlin, 33, is the British-born cofounder of Huddle, a big data startup that recently pulled in a whopping $24 million in funding. The San Francisco-based company is little-known outside of the enterprise world, but it operates its “SharePoint alternative in the cloud” in enterprises in over 180 countries. 

VentureBeat: What was your greatest challenge in the first six months?

Andy McLoughlin: On a micro-level, it was finding great technical people to help us build out our vision. Macro, it was convincing companies to trust their data to a small startup with virtually no track record.

VentureBeat: Is the enterprise a “sexy” space?

McLoughlin: We can thank big companies like Microsoft and Oracle for creating a perception that enterprise isn’t sexy or innovative. Truth is, new technology designed for the enterprise is the most innovative technology being created — in fact, it’s so innovative that many users don’t even know they are using cutting-edge technology because it works intuitively and fits seamlessly into their workflow.

VentureBeat: Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

McLoughlin: Because I believed I could build something that would generate cash and users would love. I also liked the idea of wearing jeans to work every day.