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Licenseware is building the first open app ecosystem for IT asset management. In 2020, Alexandru Cojocaru joined Licenseware as co-founder and CEO with a mission to make software asset management a commodity.
Hi Alex, you are the founder and CEO of Licenseware today, but we are curious about your background. What experiences led you to become a tech startup entrepreneur?
Yes, I am one of three co-founders. Speaking for myself, but so is the founding team: we have been in the software licensing industry since the beginning of our careers. I started in 2011 as one of the first employees of a Dutch consulting company, which was later acquired by a large software reseller. After working in a startup for almost eight years, I tried the corporate world for about a year, working for one of the big four companies. Over the years, I held various positions in software asset management, data analytics and software development. I stepped into the roles of analyst, auditor, consultant, and software engineer, and was involved in the development of SAM tools and other data-oriented projects.
Since I started my career, I have always wanted to express myself more through my work. From working in a startup to a founder role, it was a natural progression driven by my passion for technology and data.
What's the story behind Licenseware's garage story? How did you come up with the idea and how did you find the right people to be there from the beginning?
Ciprian, our CTO, contacted me in early 2020 to pitch a hobby project. The idea of commoditizing IT asset management tools in a high price point market stuck with me, and the more I thought about it, the more I felt like I should be there. It was the tool we wanted to use when we were consultants. We both felt the timing was right. We had the skills and the industry experience, and from a technology perspective, it had never been easier to get the resources you need to develop a technical product.
Once we had an MVP, we were excited to see what others would think of our little project. We attended a local startup event where we debuted and won the "Best Innovation" award. This put us on the map for other startup programs and local VCs. A short time later, we received our first round of funding.
With some seed money, the ability to work remotely, and an exciting product, we were a magnet for nerds like us from all over the world.
We don't have a proper garage story, because we have been working remotely from day one. But maybe it's funny to mention that for a few months I worked in a shed in my garden, where I created a quiet little man cave for myself
What's the most important lesson you have learned since starting Licenseware? Did you have to revise your original idea?
We have made some changes under the hood, but the product and value proposition have not changed significantly. The product has already proven itself and we are in the process of scaling it.
My biggest lesson has been to evolve into a new role as CEO and become what the company wants me to be. I stopped coding and learned how to build a team and raise money so we could last long enough to achieve our vision.
What problem does Licenseware solve and how would you say it alleviates your customers' problems?
Licenseware helps companies reduce the cost, risk and complexity associated with software licensing. Our app ecosystem acts as a toolbox from which customers can select the apps with the features they need, when they need them
The insights they gain from using our apps help them make informed decisions, identify accidental usage and overconsumption, and fix problems before they become real issues. We have saved our customers millions in software costs and compliance fees, and we are just getting started.
What's happening in the industry you are in? What are the key trends?
While everyone is still pushing for the cloud, we are now seeing some back-and-forth. By now, the vast majority of companies have realized that the cloud is not a silver bullet and that their operating costs tend to stay the same. We have published and are working on tools that help companies estimate the cost of moving to the cloud or back to on-premise
Software in general is eating up the world as the market approaches an estimated $900 billion in value.When software reaches $900 billion, the actual value it brings to humanity is exponential. And we see adoption responding and accelerating to major global events like pandemics and wars.
Like a society, the use and distribution of software is subject to complex and fluid rules. Software asset management is becoming increasingly important as software becomes essential to the operation of any business.
In your opinion, which characteristics are important in software asset management in order to be successful?
For a SAM to be successful, it must provide a quantifiable net benefit to the company. Usually this involves cost savings, but other benefits of SAM include increased security, increased productivity and improved asset visibility.
A great SAM program is not a costly niche solution. It's a commodity.
What does the competitive landscape look like? Who are your competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
The competitive landscape is currently dominated by monolithic, one-stop solutions sold at a premium price. Traditionally, companies pay a premium for additional features that they never or rarely use
Since SAM is still used seasonally by most companies, we can meet this need better than anyone else. Our modular applications can be used in various combinations, on a pay-as-you-go or subscription basis, depending on the budget and scope of the SAM program.
Some new players like SamBox seem to have a similar idea of how SAM tools should be used and priced.
What makes Licenseware so special? Why should investors choose you?
Licenseware has developed a product that addresses a global market that is critical to the daily operations of our companies. This market continues to grow and is expected to grow even faster.
As the market for SAM solutions continues to grow and evolve, Licenseware's value proposition is likely to become even more attractive to potential customers. This is because the company's product addresses a critical need for organizations of all sizes and industries.
Licenseware, winner of How to Web’s Spotlight prize in 2022, is raising a €1,075,000 Late Seed round on SeedBlink to help enterprises reduce software licensing costs.
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