For a founder who spent the last 14 years building a $2 billion company in enterprise commerce, Christian Lanng lacks faith in enterprise software as it is today. He feels that it has vastly overpromised and underdelivered.
“In the last 14 years, the promise of [software as a service], cloud computing, and enterprise software was always to make things simpler, easier, and to optimize things, make them smarter. But the reality is every company in the world now has much more enterprise software than they had before,” he stated in a tech.eu interview.
At Tradeshift, Christian helped revolutionize the supply chain marketplace by challenging the source-to-pay dynamic and other norms of supply chain management, becoming the largest company of its kind in the world.
With over 10 years in the mobile space and service-oriented infrastructure, it’s not surprising that Lanng would use this experience to create a new startup after the success of Tradeshift.
In August 2023, Beyond Work raised $2.5 million in pre-seed funding from Moonfire Ventures and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-affiliated E14 fund, with these funds dedicated to research and development. Lanng has assembled a founding team from Uber, Stack Overflow, and Tradeshift alumni.
“Most enterprise software does not make life better for its users,” says Lanng. “In fact, it makes most people miserable. It’s also very doubtful that it’s actually delivered on a lot of the value that’s been promised.”
Lanng believes that a “fake digitalization” took place in the business world, that jobs were created solely to get big vendors like Microsoft to sell more user seats. In what could only be described as a great irony, while whole sales force installations were once managed by one person, today it requires a team of 10 to 20 people.
Christian Lanng: ‘As Humans, We Are Social Beings’
Getting rid of dull and pointless jobs operating enterprise software is a key ambition for Christian. “As humans, we are social beings,” says Lanng. “I think if we could maybe stop creating jobs where we have to act like robots, maybe put more humans in jobs where we can be humans, I think that would be really great for everyone.”
In addition to the software becoming redundant and creating equally redundant jobs, Lanng feels that pricing models are an important and unaddressed part of the enterprise software revolution. Not only has the user experience been lost, so has the notion of the customers’ needs.
“A lot of the alignment right now in software is not there because salespeople are incentivized to sell many years ahead. That means you end up with worse software because the enterprise windows, they don’t prioritize what the customers need,” Lanng explains. Building a great product and then iterating it as quickly as possible is the current priority.
AI has become a buzzword in recent times. Lanng focuses on real-world use cases instead of jumping on the hype train. The goal is to deliver value to a specific set of B2B customers laden with inefficiencies from using more enterprise software than ever.
It doesn’t just save the company money by eliminating redundant positions and cutting down on their software bills once they see how little some solutions wound up delivering. By giving ordinary end users a power tool that makes their daily lives easier, it liberates mental energy for more valuable purposes.
It may feel like a contradiction to see an AI company taking a humanity-first approach. Lanng believes that by giving tedious “human calculator”-type jobs to AI, it frees up potential for the human brain.
His human-centric way of thinking and approach to business make sense when you consider his background in sociology. As he specializes in emergent complex systems and taking these skills to Denmark’s public sector, supply chains became a system he wanted to improve.
This led to the founding of Tradeshift. In his next venture, Lanng’s entrepreneurial journey comes full circle to his sociologist roots.