The technology companies that founders use to build innovative start-ups can tell investors a lot about where the market is going long term. Tools that make start-ups easier to run can eventually reach thousands of business customers, and even move up the stack to larger companies.
For new businesses starting with an online presence, there's no better place to begin than Shopify. The company has the tools to build a store, accept payments, integrate inventory and shipping, and even market to new customers.
What's great about Shopify's experience is that it's integrated with all the tools a small business needs. No need to cobble together different systems, which can be a hassle for running any business.
As Shopify becomes a bigger player in small business, it has moved upmarket to large businesses as well. Hasbro, Kraft Heinz, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Tesla are just a few of the examples of big brands using Shopify with their stores. Shopify could be the go-to place for online shopping a decade from now, and its business begins with enabling small start-ups to get off the ground.
Tools for customer relationship management (or CRM) are extremely valuable for any size business, but they can be crucial for small businesses. It's hard to keep track of inbound contacts and orders with tools built for large companies, as with salesforce.com, so HubSpot has become a go-to option for smaller companies.
The ability to scale up the offerings as a company grows and to add services like email marketing and customer service for existing customers also keeps growing a business owner's reliance on the HubSpot platform. You can see below that it's driven tremendous growth and high profit margins as well.
The next step for HubSpot is translating growth into earnings, which software companies like this do as they reach scale and their customer base matures. And when earnings begin to improve, this could be a stock that is a great value because of the long-term relationship it has with small-business customers.
Small businesses rely on Apple in a big way. The company makes the iPads and iPhones that are crucial to taking mobile payments, and it's the most valuable app store in the world. Whether it's an Apple device in your pocket or in your store, the tech giant likely plays a big role.
Where Apple can be a crucial cog in a small business' operation is reaching a broader range of customers through the App Store. Through apps like Shopify, HubSpot, Square, Stripe, banking apps, email, and dozens of other apps used every day, it's possible to run your business from an Apple device.
I think Apple will continue to be the go-to device for small businesses. And as long as that's the case, it'll be a great enabler of small companies. It may seem counterintuitive that one of the largest companies in the world is extremely valuable to the smallest companies in the world, but that's true with Apple.
The companies that enable others to innovate and start new businesses can build a very valuable place in the market. And it's small businesses that grow into behemoths that will keep the share prices of Shopify, HubSpot, and Apple moving higher.