Top 3 Takeaways From Our Twitter Chat With Appature’s Kabir Shahani

11/4/11Follow @gthuang

In advance of his appearance at Xconomy’s “6×6: Six Cities, Six Big Tech Ideas” conference on Dec. 1 in Boston, I did a live tweet chat with Kabir Shahani, the co-founder and CEO of Seattle-based Appature, yesterday. Thanks to all who tuned in and sent us their thoughts; we had a great audience.

Appature is a four-year-old startup that makes Web software tools to help healthcare, pharma, and medical device companies reach hospitals and doctors and build important relationships with them. The big idea, as I see it, is to allow brands to drill down into a huge customer relationship database and quickly target the right people to sell to—and for the right reasons, namely, patient health. Yes, it’s big data, analytics, cloud, marketing, and healthcare, all wrapped up in one.

Which is why I think Boston-area tech companies like HubSpot, Buzzient, Constant Contact, SocMetrics, Kyruus, Ginger.io, Athenahealth, and others should be interested. And young entrepreneurs, who can really relate to Shahani. Plus I hear there are a few pharma and medical device companies (and hospitals) around town…

While some things don’t necessarily come across in tweets (like Shahani’s youthful charisma and CEO hair), other things do. Here are my top takeaways from the chat:

1. Appature knows more about Boston than Boston knows about Appature. “There are some incredible companies in Boston,” Shahani tweeted. “We have customers there and I absolutely love being out there to spend time with them.” Sure, Appature has customers and partners around town (and soon, employees—see below), but the general Boston tech and health-IT community doesn’t talk about this company very much. I’m telling you to pay attention, because Shahani and his crew are potentially on to something big. Whether they’ll execute and take full advantage, we’ll see.

2. The cutting edge of marketing tech for niches like healthcare is moving fast. “The dynamic has changed dramatically in the past 12-18 months,” Shahani wrote. He was talking about pharma companies trying new ways to reach and target customers, rather than just pursuing traditional approaches with their sales reps. It’s no surprise that cloud-based analytics and social technologies are transforming the way most industries work.

3. Growth is challenging for any startup, especially one based on relationships. Shahani, who bootstrapped Appature to profitability before taking a venture round, tweeted that his biggest mistake was “not getting an [East] coast office sooner.” (The company has employees around the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border, presumably to work with lots of pharma customers. It also has people in San Francisco, San Diego, and Chicago.) And here’s a news flash on its expansion: “Stay tuned on news about a Boston team in [January],” he wrote.

For the record, here’s the full live chat stream, via Storify (thanks to my colleague Lilly O’Flaherty for this).

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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