How 3 Colorado companies found their sweet spots in niche markets

August 11, 2014
The niches many Colorado companies have carved out for themselves will make you think harder about targeting your business' products and services. Here's three local companies that have laser-focused their business plans to find their true niches:

Rally Software

Pictured above: Rally Software's Denver Office expansion
The speed of software innovation is so quick these days that it is becoming more and more difficult for developers to keep up. The market, the latest technologies and developers are moving so fast that software development teams need something to coordinate efforts. This is where Rally Software enters the picture.
To thrive in this fast-paced environment more and more software development teams are relying on platforms like Rally, a cloud-based software that allows developers to coordinate and receive feedback on their work. Rally works similarly to the way helps sales representatives coordinate their efforts with each other and with their marketing teams for maximum effectiveness.
Specially designed around the agile development process, a process of software development that is iterative, customer feedback focused and driven by incremental progress, the software is “a different way to create and collect all the data as far as who’s working on what, are their any dependencies that are preventing this team from completing their work,” said Chase Doelling, growth hacker at Rally Software.
Rally’s software represents a trend that is sweeping to the far corners of software development. Long gone are the days when software development was dominated by the so-called waterfall process, a method of planning out software development step-by-step. Today software developers need to be nimble, as the agile development process’ name suggests, allowing for faster communication and being up to date on the status of software under development all at once and across teams.
“You now have the ability to understand where the business is at and you are now able to adapt to market changes much faster,” said Doelling. “And you’re able to complete work in iterations. We play best in that area where software can be easily changed.” 
That means Rally works better on pure software projects than projects that are heavily influenced by hardware. Doelling said there are some exceptions to this like John Deere, who uses some of Rally’s software to manage development on their satellite guided self-driving tractors, but generally because hardware is much more rigid and expensive to develop, Rally’s software (and agile development) is used in more software heavy environments.
The platform even allows a team to benchmark themselves against other Rally software users. Though the performance benchmarking is all-anonymous, development teams can gage their development efficiency against that of the market at large.  
This approach to helping developers manage their work has been good to Rally; the company is continuing to expand. Recently Rally moved into a new Denver office and is expanding their Boulder offices too. The company currently has 10 open positions in Colorado.


Pictured above: The hobbyDB team
When hobbyDB operated in Europe as an eBay business it had a gross merchandise value of over $18 million. So why it chose to re-launch in the United States may seem confusing, but to its founder and CEO it made perfect sense.
“Nobody collects more than Americans,” said Christian Braun co-founder and CEO of hobbyDB. “This is the mother country if you would like.” 
According to Braun, two-thirds of the collectors market is in the United States. And hobbyDB is banking on the belief that backed by American enthusiasm for collecting and a new proprietary e-commerce website, they can improve the online buying, selling and documenting of collectibles.
“Our business, we are attempting to catalog every collectible ever made,” said Braun. That ambitious plan includes any type of collectibles from toy cars, to seashells to cuckoo clocks. 
“The main benefit of our site is that it's a whole ecosystem for collectors. They'll be able to use it to carry out all their online activities; research, collection management, buying and selling,” said Andrew Adamides, co-founder and product owner.
“We're attuned to collectors' needs so we've designed out the pain points that existing sites have, like pro-buyer dispute-resolution policies and feedback, search policies that favor high-volume sellers of new merchandise,” said Adamides.
“The site will offer information free of charge, very much like Wikipedia, but will charge a final value fee like Amazon does for sales, said Braun. "There are other business models such as insurance on demand or print on demand.”
As hobbyDB re-launches itself in America, it has found there is no better place to settle than Boulder. Braun has been particularly pleased with how supportive the entrepreneurial community has been. The company has been in meeting after meeting with local entrepreneurs willing to give their advice. “We are excited to be in Boulder,” said Braun.


Pictured above: Rebit CEO Paul Guerin
Rebit has been described as Apple Time Machine software for PCs. The company, which makes software to automatically back up PCs, thinks the comparison isn’t far off. Everything Rebit does is to simplify and secure the backing up process.
That came out of the realization that PC backup systems were generally too complicated for the average consumer. “When we first started the business we noticed a lot of consumers weren’t backing up. It was too hard too decide what to backup, how often to backup,” said CEO Paul Guerin.
“Rebit provides hybrid backup, sync and share services for consumers, small businesses and even enterprise companies,” said Guerin. “Effectively what Rebit does, is every 30 second we look at changes in your system and we back it up. And also we take point of time snapshots.” 
The software does a full system recovering in the event of a hard drive failure or malware infection, and has become quite popular. Between OEM and direct sales over 500,000 people use Rebit to backup their computers.
But more than just being an easy to use backup. Rebit realized because of cloud computing security concerns that computer backups were best served by a local-cloud hybrid. Using Rebit data can be backed up locally and can be backed up in the cloud. The software gives IT professionals a lot of security and control without losing ease of use. 
“We’re a service similar to Carbonite but with one difference: we don’t just backup your data to the cloud we also backup your data locally,” said Guerin.
Customers want security and control,” said Guerin. “But there’s a lot of data enterprises don’t feel comfortable putting in the cloud. So we’re always looking for ways to take advantage of cloud architecture without losing security.”
Rebit also allows for document sharing between users, similar to Box or Dropbox. However, Geurin said the service offers additional security because IT managers were asking for a Dropbox like solution, but behind their firewall. 
“They want to be able to run on premises, to BYOC (Bring Your Own Cloud),” said Geurin. Rebit can deploy on company servers while still having the advantages of a service like Dropbox.
By providing ease-of-use while straddling the local computing and cloud computing ages Rebit has carved out a solid niche for itself.  The company has 26 employees.
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