10 enterprise software companies to watch

Every vendor has a sales pitch - here are 10 worth watching

2. Coupa Software

Founded: February 2006

Location: Foster City, California, U.S.

What does the company offer? Coupa eProcurement Express, which came out in March and is an open source e-procurement system for midsize businesses. Coupa also plans a software-as-a-service version, and offers an enterprise version in beta that is expected to become available generally in the next couple of months. The enterprise version will cost less than US$50,000 to US$60,000 for companies with 300 to 500 employees, Coupa says.

Why is it worth watching? Coupa's founders are Oracle veterans Dave Stephens and Noah Eisner, who played key roles in developing Oracle's procurement applications. Stephens, Coupa's CEO, spent nearly 10 years building enterprise applications at Oracle but found they were too complex for midsize businesses. With eProcurement Express, Coupa aims to simplify the purchasing process with Amazon.com-like features that make the product "easier to use than avoid," in Stephens' words. As an open source tool, Coupa's software may appeal to businesses looking for a less-expensive alternative to established products. "What I saw [working at Oracle] was that purchasing systems were working for Fortune 100 companies and maybe to some extent for Fortune 500 companies," Stephens says. "There never was a solution that had the right ingredients to go mainstream. . . . These software packages came out and cost millions of dollars. You'd better be spending billions of dollars to get any return on investment."

How did the company get its start? The founders saw that many enterprise employees do not use e-procurement applications because of their complexity, and decided to build a simple-to-use version that would appeal to "average Joe's."

How did the company get its name? Coupa is the name of a coffee shop where Stephens and Eisner did some of the work developing the application. In addition, Coupa sounds like "couper," the French word for "cut" -- as in cutting expenses through more efficient procurement.

CEO and background: Stephens became a vice president at Oracle in 2002, leading the procurement applications group, where he stayed until founding Coupa.

Funding: Less than $2 million from private investors and the venture capital firm BlueRun Ventures.

Who's using the product? The open source product has been downloaded more than 4,000 times since becoming available in beta last July, Coupa says. The beta release of the enterprise version has three or four customers in service industries.

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