Location Counts, Even in the Cloud

What are the three most important things for start-up companies? We’ve all heard it a million times, “location, location, location”. It makes sense for any company that has a physical product or service they are offering. It wouldn’t make sense for someone to open an auto body shop in an Amish town or offer snow removal service in Florida. The idea is to reach your customers where they are, so how does the old saying apply to Cloud companies? What does it matter where you are located when your products or services are available to anyone with an internet connection?

Physical Location

What’s the difference if CATS Software, Inc. is located in a suburb, downtown or if everyone worked from home? For us, it’s all about propinquity (I never get to use that word!). In fact, we recently moved from the ‘burbs to the big city just for that reason; not because our customers are here, or because we need more exposure, but to have a great space where all our departments can work close together. We all rely on each other to keep everything flowing and we need to be able to communicate openly. We wanted to be closer to the servers that run our software, too. The datacenter that holds our servers (and our customer’s data) is located downtown. When we were in the suburbs, anytime our Sys Admin needed to make some adjustments, he was gone for most of an afternoon. Now it’s just around the corner!

Another reason we chose to be located downtown Minneapolis is for the energy of our environment. We had a great office in Edina, MN but it was too partitioned and there wasn’t that great “buzz” of the city. We need to be engulfed in the latest and greatest, the cutting edge, where things happen. I love coming to work downtown. A quick train ride takes me past the Metrodome (not so domed now) and drops me off just a block away from beautiful Target Field (go Twins!). The beat of the city gets my feet moving and inspires and energizes me for another day.

Web Location

Where we come to work is very important to us. Having an environment that keeps us excited and focused and working together is great, but what does our physical location matter to our customers? They don’t find out about us by driving by and seeing a sign that says “Free 30 day trial! Stop in and sign up now!”. Web-based software isn’t pedaled on a street corner, it’s online! So that is where our potential customers go, and we want them to see us first. Back in the day, companies would try and be at the top of the Yellow Pages, now it’s all about being indexed by Google as the most relevant, but how do you accomplish that? It’s not as easy as starting the name of your company with “AAA”. You have to know what your customers are going to be searching for and make sure you have the content to be recognized; content being the keyword there. SEO and meta-tags will get you on the list but you have to have the content to back it, appropriate landing pages, calls to action, etc. The consumer of today is extremely well educated and knows what they are looking for and how to find it, and we need to make sure we are there to greet them.

What are some other ideas about Cloud/SaaS companies and location? Where does social media fit in?