Top Hack: Keeping a “Stub” Source of Capital in Your Back Pocket

One of the wonderful things that has changed in the years since I was running my own SaaS company is the rise of “stub” sources of capital.  Investors that, for a variety of reasons, are OK buying fewer shares than the average investor, and often, outside of the timing of traditional venture rounds. The most visceral example is how the top startups out of YCombinator Demo Day raise money.  For the top YC companies, there is always more investors than room to invest, and the startups are often fairly capital efficient.  This combo means they can leverage Demo Days to fine tune the exact amount of capital they want to raise. I wish I had had that luxury.  I didn’t have trouble raising traditional venture rounds.  But the gap in between rounds was tougher. When EchoSign was at about $6m in ARR and growing nicely, and cash flow positive,
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Top Hack: Keeping a “Stub” Source of Capital in Your Back Pocket

One of the wonderful things that has changed in the years since I was running my own SaaS company is the rise of “stub” sources of capital.  Investors that, for a variety of reasons, are OK buying fewer shares than the average investor, and often, outside of the timing of traditional venture rounds. The most visceral example is how the top startups out of YCombinator Demo Day raise money.  For the top YC companies, there is always more investors than room to invest, and the startups are often fairly capital efficient.  This combo means they can leverage Demo Days to fine tune the exact amount of capital they want to raise. I wish I had had that luxury.  I didn’t have trouble raising traditional venture rounds.  But the gap in between rounds was tougher. When EchoSign was at about $6m in ARR and growing nicely, and cash flow positive,
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5 Advantages To Working With a New VC

We’re all attracted to brands.  We want Google and Salesforce and Amazon as our customers.  We want to be in the Cloud 100 and on TechCrunch every week.  We want to be on stage at the SaaStr Annual ? Brands do matter.  They are a proxy, albeit an imperfect one, for quality.  They at least help guide us on what vendors and products to pick, especially if we don’t have time to do the diligence ourselves. The same is true in venture capital, when you go to raise money.  There are good reasons to take money from the Top Brands in VC.  Their brand will accrete to your brand.  They likely have better networks.  And maybe even most importantly, later stage VCs all want to write bigger checks into startups funded by the VCs with the best brand at each preceding stage (pre-seed, seed, A, B, C, etc.).   Look Continue reading "5 Advantages To Working With a New VC"

John Somojai (Salesforce), Mark Suster (Upfront Ventures): Top Lessons Learned after 200+ SaaS Investments (Video + Transcript)

Mark Suster, Partner at Upfront Ventures, chats with John Somorjai, EVP Corporate Development at Salesforce, about the dos and don’ts of M&As. After 20 years in the business and more than 200 investments in SaaS companies, John can certainly teach us a thing or two. Furthermore, these two gentlemen have worked together in the past, which allows them to provide some unique insights into how the M&A between their companies worked out. One of the first things to keep in mind when you get into an M&A partnership with someone is that you shouldn’t make it all about money. That will cause a slew of problems in the long run and you’re only going to hurt yourself in the end. Focus on finding the right partner that will have the company’s best interest in mind. When you’re looking to get acquired, you’re like going to be talking to multiple buyers
Continue reading "John Somojai (Salesforce), Mark Suster (Upfront Ventures): Top Lessons Learned after 200+ SaaS Investments (Video + Transcript)"

John Somojai (Salesforce), Mark Suster (Upfront Ventures): Top Lessons Learned after 200+ SaaS Investments (Video + Transcript)

Mark Suster, Partner at Upfront Ventures, chats with John Somorjai, EVP Corporate Development at Salesforce, about the dos and don’ts of M&As. After 20 years in the business and more than 200 investments in SaaS companies, John can certainly teach us a thing or two. Furthermore, these two gentlemen have worked together in the past, which allows them to provide some unique insights into how the M&A between their companies worked out. One of the first things to keep in mind when you get into an M&A partnership with someone is that you shouldn’t make it all about money. That will cause a slew of problems in the long run and you’re only going to hurt yourself in the end. Focus on finding the right partner that will have the company’s best interest in mind. When you’re looking to get acquired, you’re like going to be talking to multiple buyers
Continue reading "John Somojai (Salesforce), Mark Suster (Upfront Ventures): Top Lessons Learned after 200+ SaaS Investments (Video + Transcript)"

European Founders: A Fundraising Primer with Front, Automile, and Algolia (Video + Transcript)

Being an American founder in the Valley is difficult enough, but as a European founder, what unique concerns do you have to think about while running a company and trying to scale it? Teddie Wardi, Partner at Atomico, leads this session with Mathilde Collin, CEO of Front App; Jens Nylander, CEO of Automile.com; and Nicolas Dessaigne, CEO of Algolia, to discuss the challenges they went through in raising their first venture rounds in Europe, how they sought out Silicon Valley VCs when the time was right, the importance of pitch decks and the major difference between European and American pitching styles. And if you haven’t heard: SaaStr Annual will be back in 2018, bigger and better than ever! Join 10,000 fellow founders, investors and execs for 3 days of unparalleled networking and epic learnings from SaaS legends like Jyoti Bansal, Aaron Levie, Josh James, and Dustin
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Algolia: From Impossible to Inevitable

Before I ever made a single investment, I was 100% heads down running my own SaaS company.  I remember asking Jason Green of Emergence Capital (my 2x investor), back in the day, how pre-IPO Successfactors was doing, where he was also on the board. Successfactors later went on to a very successful IPO and then a huge sale to SAP for $3.4 billion. His answer:  “I’m buying every share I can” I didn’t really get what he meant. Fast forward to today, I haven’t really been investing all that long, but man have I learned a lot.  I’ve raised $90m for two SaaStr Funds, been part of another $195m fundraise, and made about 30 total investments of various sizes.  The first batch is doing pretty well, and now we can go back and see what we’ve learned. One of the first investments I made when I actually figured out my
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