Will VC invest in a venture that can be a competitor to the venture that they already funded?

The larger the check, the less likely a VC will invest in a direct competitor. If you are 500 Startups or Ycombinator, you kind of can’t help it. You invest so early, sometimes it’s not totally even clear what the company will really do. By contrast, if you do Series D investing with $50m+-$100m+ checks, and put the whole fund at risk on that deal … it’s very rare you’d do a competitive investment. In between, most VCs try not to do competitive deals on purpose. Founders don’t like it, it creates perceived (if not actual) confidentiality issues, and it creates “mental” conflict as the partners share details around their companies. But, the reality is, things change and companies tilt. You can often end up with 2 semi-competitive companies this way. And markets change. Sometimes VCs invest in companies that would have been competitive, but for time. A CRM today Continue reading "Will VC invest in a venture that can be a competitor to the venture that they already funded?"

Mitigating Myopia in SaaS Marketing

As a SaaS startup scales from finding initial product market fit to building its go to market organization, one of the most important goals in building that go to market organization is developing a multifaceted marketing team. Marketing’s role in SaaS sales has expanded to the success of SaaS companies as customers prefer to educate themselves more than they have in the past. Many early-stage management teams perceive marketing to be limited to two functions: demand generation and brand building.

Mitigating Myopia in SaaS Marketing

As a SaaS startup scales from finding initial product market fit to building its go to market organization, one of the most important goals in building that go to market organization is developing a multifaceted marketing team. Marketing’s role in SaaS sales has expanded to the success of SaaS companies as customers prefer to educate themselves more than they have in the past. Many early-stage management teams perceive marketing to be limited to two functions: demand generation and brand building. But that is a myopic perspective which fails to appreciate the complexity of the subject. Bill Macaitis, former CMO at Zendesk and current CMO at Slack, counts nine different marketing disciplines: content marketing, paid acquisition, evangelism, communications, customer lifecycle marketing, product marketing, website conversion optimization, analytics and international expansion. There might even be a few more including analyst relations, events and channel. That’s quite a lot of expertise required Continue reading "Mitigating Myopia in SaaS Marketing"

The Only 5 Content Marketing Tools You Need to Get Started

There’s a big secret about content marketing tools: most of them don’t matter. Most of us have known someone—a friend, a coworker, a classmate—that’s all about the gear. One of my coworkers at my first job was particularly guilty of this. He’d develop a fast interest in a new hobby, and one of his very first steps, before taking lessons, talking to others or even dabbling too much in the basics, was to load up on gear. The nicest road bike (with a professional cycling suit to match)? Check. A high-end photography setup? Check. A tennis racket made for professionals? Check. And if you know someone like this, you know how the story usually ends: he’d spend some time with his new hobby, playing with his new toys, and soon enough when things got difficult, he’d quit. Interestingly enough, I see similar scenarios in content marketing. People want to
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Why The LinkedIn Acquisition is So Important to SaaS

So, Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $25.6 billion dollars.  That headline shocked all of us the other day.  But if you step back, it’s not that impressive, the raw number itself. After all, as a public company, LinkedIn was worth $32 billion just a few months earlier, and had been on one heck of a run through the end of 2015: Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 9.25.24 AM   Viewed this way, $25.6 billion isn’t really all that exciting.  Because it’s not like LinkedIn was some private company before that, like WhatsApp.  That $20 billion acquisition (by the time of closing) was just as shocking, but we didn’t already have years of public company market cap to compare it to. So why does it matter?  Because the $25,600,000,000 was in cold, hard cash. It matters because until LinkedIn, M&A liquidity has not been impressive in SaaS.  Now, in ’16, maybe for the first time,
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The Official SaaStr Podcast #025: Anthony Kennada, VP of Marketing @ Gainsight On Why Events Are So Important for Startup Marketing

podcast-featured-25-kennada Welcome to Episode 25! I am delighted to present Part 2 of our feature of Gainsight. Joining me today I have Anthony Kennada, the founding VP of Marketing at Gainsight, where he is responsible for managing the company’s global marketing strategy, from demand generation to brand marketing, and is credited with creating the “Pulse” community of Customer Success leaders. Anthony began his career as an early employee at Box. He later joined LiveOffice and managed their OEM partnership with Symantec from contract signature to acquisition for $115M. Prior to joining Gainsight, Anthony led the Emerging Cloud Products division at Symantec, and was responsible for the first organic product development effort that spanned both consumer and enterprise market segments. In today’s show with Anthony we discuss:Anthony_Kennada How Anthony came to be VP of Marketing at one of the hottest startups in the valley. Being the founding VP of Marketing, how did Anthony Continue reading "The Official SaaStr Podcast #025: Anthony Kennada, VP of Marketing @ Gainsight On Why Events Are So Important for Startup Marketing"

How to Build the Right Sales Playbook for Your Team

The difference between a high-performing sales team and a sales team that struggles to meet its numbers is process. With only 46% of forecasted deals closing, the importance of a trackable and repeatable sales process is paramount. Teams with a clear and consistent process are more likely to move deals through the pipeline consistently and close them cleanly. A successful sales playbook is a living document that serves as a roadmap for sales leaders and teams throughout the sales process. It’s also a valuable tool for onboarding new salespeople, a central repository for ongoing training, and a guide for handing off new customers to post-sale teams. Deciding which sections to add to a sales playbook is critical, and there are five subjects that every playbook must contain: a company’s sales process, discovery call details, standardized messaging, an ideal customer profile and call cadence. Each of these subjects is foundational
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Is it normal for a startup to not disclose burn rate and other details to its employees?

I’m on the fence here. I’m 100.00% in favor of transparency in general. And specifically, I believe employees should generally know at least as much as you share in board meetings. But … on burn rates … and in particular, Zero Cash Dates (when you run out of money) … I’m on the fence unless you carefully and thoughtfully provide context. I do think employees should know how much you are burning each month, with the proper context. That way they can understand if they are overspending, if we are overhiring, etc. But in terms of Zero Cash Date, the day you will run out of money. The thing is, companies almost run out of money all the time. And they run the gas tank down to Almost Empty. I do think you should share your Zero Cash Date as well as your burn rate. But. Employees get confused. Continue reading "Is it normal for a startup to not disclose burn rate and other details to its employees?"

The Official SaaStr Podcast #024: Nick Mehta, Gainsight CEO On Why Customer Success Is the New Sales

podcast-twitter-24-mehta   Welcome to Episode 24! This week on SaaStr we are celebrating the rise of Gainsight with a special feature week dedicated to Gainsight, and joining me today we have Gainsight CEO, Nick Mehta. Since Nick has been at the helm of Gainsight, it has experienced a meteoric rise to the top of the world of SaaS, having practically created the category of customer success and revolutionizing business work processes in doing so. Due to this, Gainsight has raised funding from the likes of Battery Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Bessemer Venture Partners. In today’s show with Nick we discuss:Nick_Mehta What were the solutions before Gainsight? Why were these inefficient and what was the market opportunity for Gainsight? Why has the power shifted from the hands of the vendor to the hands of the customer? What can vendors to do optimize this shift? Is the proliferation of available tools and the Continue reading "The Official SaaStr Podcast #024: Nick Mehta, Gainsight CEO On Why Customer Success Is the New Sales"