How Healthy is the SaaS IPO Market?

Salesforce’s initial public offering in 2003 demarcated the beginning of a new era, the era of Software as a Service. In the 13 years that followed, many startups have followed their path to build innovative software that has transformed their respective industries and sectors. The shift has been revolutionary both in software delivery as well as sales. It’s not an understatement to say everything has changed. More than 15% of all software revenue is now generated by software as a service companies, and there are more than 50 publicly traded SaaS companies today. After more than a decade of reinvention, I was curious how healthy the IPO market is for SaaS companies. According to the data, 2016 has the potential to be the worst SaaS IPO year in six. The chart above plots the number of SaaS IPOs. In 2003, Salesforce kicked things off. By 2007 there were five IPOs
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Friday Q&A: How to Collect More Customer Feedback

Every Friday, we’re answering your questions about business, startups, customer success and more. Happy Friday! This week’s question comes from Mark E., who asks: I’ve made no secret that talking to customers is a huge priority at Groove. It’s how we grow our business. But it hasn’t always been that way. In fact, the reason we’re so adamant about it these days is because of some colossal mistakes in our early days. We spent six months and $50,000 building a product that was based entirely on our assumptions of what customers wanted and how they wanted their problems solved. It wasn’t until we launched in private beta that we started getting feedback from customers, and that was when we learned that the product that we built was clunky, overwhelming, and frankly suffered from the same problem we were hoping to solve (that of over-complicated help desk software). That was Continue reading "Friday Q&A: How to Collect More Customer Feedback"

David Cancel (Drift/Hubspot) & Hiten Shah (Quick Sprout/KISSmetrics) Discuss Illusion and Reality in Product/Market Fit (Video + Transcript)

In anticipation of the upcoming SaaStr Annual 2017, we’ll be releasing the full series of transcripts and videos from all the awesome 2016 sessions. In this chat led by Alison Wagonfeld of Emergence Capital, we tap into the combined wisdom of serial entrepreneurs and formal rivals David Cancel, Founder & CEO of Drift, and Hiten Shah, Co-founder of Quick Sprout, on the rocky journey towards product/market fit. As product-focused founders and previous competitors, David and Hiten share their painful lessons, often with differing perspectives, in the pursuit of the illusive product/market fit. As repeat founders, is it better to fundraise before or after finding product/market fit?  How do you know when you’re there, and what are the key indicators that the market has evolved to threaten that fit?  Early on, is it better to keep hiring on the product team or should you build up your sales and marketing teams sooner?  David and Hiten do, however,
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6 SaaS Marketing Trends from Hyde Park’s Tim Kopp

Editor’s Note: These 6 SaaS marketing trends are the final installment in a three-part interview featuring Tim Kopp. In the first installment, Kopp provided some expert advice on how SaaS companies should rethink the analyst model. In part two, he identified three trends that are driving massive movements in contemporary marketing. As the former CMO of ExactTarget, sought after advisor, board member, and General Partner at Hyde Park Venture Partners, Tim Kopp has earned (and continues to expand) a uniquely broad perspective that few others can claim. From his days in leadership roles at consumer giants like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola to his six years at ExactTarget, Kopp has led world-class teams to outstanding successes. At ExactTarget, he helped increase revenue dramatically from $47 million to well over $400 million, growth that ultimately resulted in one of the largest SaaS IPOs on record and the 2013 acquisition of
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4 Game-Changing Lessons Learned From Working With a Business Coach

We’ve been working with a growth coach for two quarters now. Here’s what we’ve learned. If you’ve been following along, then you know that six months ago, we hired a business coach. We’ve been working with Kris Kaplan in the hopes of making our entire team more focused, productive and effective. It’s a significant investment, and one that not every startup can make (yet). And so, with the hopes of helping others learn the same things we’re learning, and do the same things we’re doing, we’ve been sharing our coaching journey. We’ve gotten a lot of great results from our short time working with Kris so far (more on that here), and last week, we had our third planning session with him.
For three days, four of us—Jordan, Lesley, Len and me—traveled to Boston to spend time looking back on Q2, thinking about where we are, and planning our
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Around Year 5, You’ll Have to Build Your Third Management Team

For 90% of us, one of the toughest adjustment to being CEOs of SaaS companies is having to constantly recruit.  Once you have Initial Traction at least, you’re going to have to spend at least 20% of your time recruiting.  More on that here.  And really, 50% would be even better.  Stop being an individual contributor as soon as you can.  Stop being a functional VP-as-well-as-CEO as soon as you can.  Let it go.  Hire those folks instead, as soon as you can afford it, and have Initial Traction. lastshipteamBut it’s even more than that.  It’s more than just recruiting a management team.  Because once you finally get your first management team in place, some of them will be wrong, or just only a good fit for Very Early, or better as directors or team leads, but not VPs, in the long-term.  So you’ll be lucky if half of the management
Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 9.46.41 AM
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The Official SaaStr Podcast #030: Harry Glaser, Co-Founder @ Periscope Data On Building & Training a Non-technical Sales Team


Welcome to Episode 30! I am delighted to welcome my first ever Harry to the show today in the form of Harry Glaser, Co-Founder & CEO Periscope Data, the worlds fast analysis suite providing data analysts with the tools they need to improve their analysis by over 150X,  and an astonishing fact here–they have doubled their revenue every 3 months ever since launch. Periscope’s investors include Ellen Pao, Matt Ocko @ Data Collective, Chad Byers @ Susa Ventures, Wes Chan @ Felicis, Benjamin Ling at Khosla and many more. Also in the show today, we mention Jason Lemkin and Aaron Ross’s new book From Impossible to Inevitable: How Hypergrowth Companies Create Predictable Revenue and if you have not read that, that is a must and can be found here!Harry_Glaser

In today’s episode with Harry we discuss:
How Harry came to be the founder of Periscope Data and what the a-ha moment Continue reading "The Official SaaStr Podcast #030: Harry Glaser, Co-Founder @ Periscope Data On Building & Training a Non-technical Sales Team"

Your Product Is Your Go-to-Market Strategy. Here’s Why.

Get the product right, and it will sell itself — or your customers will help you sell it. Tech product marketing has evolved through several dramatic phases in the past few decades. But the most recent transformation may be the most dramatic shift yet, bringing us into an era where some companies can do without a sales team at all. Atlassian, a maker of tools that help software developers collaborate with each other, grew from nothing to $100 million in revenue without ever hiring a salesperson. How? With a product that essentially sold itself. This is the 4th stage in the evolution of tech sales. Let’s take a look at how we got here.

The Evolution of Tech Marketing

Field sales: The first marketing strategy that the tech industry pursued was an approach drawn from other industries: The field sales model. Oracle mastered this in the 1980s and 1990s, with an enormous,
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Jason Lemkin: How far in advance should you build a relationship with potential M&A advisors for a SaaS startup that is targeting a ~$50-$75M exit?

1 day after you get an offer. Really, M&A advisors in tech at least almost never ever actually get you an offer to sell your company. Ever. Yes, if you are doing $15m ARR with $3m in EBITDA, they can sell the company. But that’s not a SaaS start-up. Not usually. Instead, what a good M&A advisor does is get the price up. They usually do this by either getting another offer, or more often, by getting an Almost Offer, that creates enough uncertainty that the prospective acquirer ups the price. But usually you don’t need that help until you have an actual offer, or at least, soft offer or pre-offer, a BigCo telling you an offer is coming. More here: If You Sell Your Company, Use a Banker View original question on quora

Why would a VC firm invest in another (perhaps fledgling) VC firm?

Yes, this is quietly very common in top new emerging manager funds. I have some of the very best VCs firms as investors in my fund. In fact, in one fashion or another, all the VCs I’ve had the most success co-investing with in the past are also LPs in my fund. Bigger funds have strong incentives to help their best “one stage earlier” VC friends be successful. That can mean different things with different VCs. But early stage VCs need later-stage VCs they can draw on to write the bigger checks. And later stage VCs can get a lot of help not just in dealflow, but in deep analysis of a prospective investment, if someone they trust has led an earlier round. Getting the band back together works well in VC syndicates just as it does with founder teams. The biggest risk in VC is not knowing what you Continue reading "Why would a VC firm invest in another (perhaps fledgling) VC firm?"