What are some of the “ultimate sins” when it comes to marketing and/or sales in early stage companies?

My list of some bad ones: Sales:
  • Hiring any reps you wouldn’t buy from. This never works out in the early days. Later, once you have a strong VP of Sales, it’s fine though.
  • Hiring a “VP” of Sales before you have 2 scaled reps and a repeating process. Never works out.
  • Crazy quotas. You can’t set folks up to fail 100% for sure. Especially the first few months, maybe even make their quota simply equal to their salary. Your sales reps need to eat.
  • Expecting a closer / in-bound rep to do out-bound. They can’t. You have to hand in-bound folks leads. They are no good at generating them.
  • Expecting an SDR to close. Hire stretch reps if you want, but someone without any closing experience likely can’t close at your startup no one has ever heard of. Unless the product is very cheap and the prospect is close Continue reading "What are some of the “ultimate sins” when it comes to marketing and/or sales in early stage companies?"

What should be the priorities of SaaS founders during the early stages?

Some ideas:
  1. Find a truly great co-founder. Slow down. There is too much to do in SaaS — sales, customer success, product, engineering, demand gen, etc. If you don’t have a great co-founder, slow down and find one.
  2. Get those First 10 Customers — However and Whenever. We all get the first customers differently, based on who we are and what our app does. Outbound? Events? PR? Content Marketing? Try it all — and lean in on what you are good at. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure where the Next 10 will come from. Just get the First 10 however, whenever, wherever.
  3. Understand the Market Better. Most founders don’t understand their markets well enough in the beginning. They don’t do enough interviews, meet enough potential customers, do enough work, etc. They shoot from the hip too much, and assume too much from their own experiences and what they read Continue reading "What should be the priorities of SaaS founders during the early stages?"

How does Jason M. Lemkin balance empathically helping SaaS founders/the larger SaaS community while also protecting his limited time?

It’s really tough now. The biggest challenge has been the overall growth of SaaStr “Inc” (media-events-etc) from $0m to $10m in 18 months. While a great way to refresh learnings and do great things, it’s been a lot of change and presenting huge operational challenges. Add a 17,000 sq ft. CoSelling Space to the mix, plus a $90m set of funds, and it’s a lot going on. The hope is to do more things that are scaleable (SaaStr Annual + events, SaaStr Pro – check it out!, content like Quora, SaaStr podcast, etc.). Coffee meetings and 1–on-1s are tough. The best way to do those is to work out of the SaaStr CoSellingSpace.com View original question on quora The post How does Jason M. Lemkin balance empathically helping SaaS founders/the larger SaaS community while also protecting his limited time? appeared first on SaaStr.

If you were to start a SaaS company right now, would you focus on an niched product with quick adoption, or a complex product with fewer, larger customers?

Do what you know how to do. Perhaps the #1 mistake I see in seasoned executives in SaaS that start companies is Grass is Greener Syndrome. I see in particular seasoned Oracle execs wanting to do freemium because it’s so much “easier” and “the sales cycles are so much shorter”. They don’t see the high churn and the total mismatch for their skill sets. We all get to the first $1m in ARR differently. The fastest, best way to get there is to do what you know. Enterprise folks doing enterprise. SMB folks doing SMB. Etc. You don’t have to. But if you don’t, you’ll setting aside domain expertise and possibly a superpower. That’s a few strikes against you that you don’t need to have. View original question on quora The post If you were to start a SaaS company right now, would you focus on an niched product with Continue reading "If you were to start a SaaS company right now, would you focus on an niched product with quick adoption, or a complex product with fewer, larger customers?"

As an investor, how do you feel about startups that aren’t necessarily aiming to become 1B+, but have incredible traction and trajectory?

I think it’s OK — in the early-ish days. If you have incredible traction and trajectory, say growing > 15% MoM at $1m in ARR or growing > 25%-30% MoM after $100k in ARR … you are onto something great. If you can’t quite see $1b at that phase, it’s OK. Most of us, if we are honest, can’t, especially in B2B/SaaS where we lack network effects and a pool of free users to draw on. You can figure out what you look like as a Unicorn a little later. You’ll know by $4m-$5m in ARR. But if by then you can’t see it … then I don’t think you’ll achieve it. There are too many people to hire, too many VPs to convince to join, too many jets to get on, too many competitors that will see your progress. And want to take you down. View original question on Continue reading "As an investor, how do you feel about startups that aren’t necessarily aiming to become 1B+, but have incredible traction and trajectory?"

What is uncalled capital?

This is worth understanding as a founder. In any venture fund of a material size (even $50m+), the vast majority of the fund is not used for initial checks into startups. Here’s how it breaks down:
  • First, fees will consume ~20% of most funds. Fees are 2%-2.5% annually in most funds. This declines in later years, but over the 10 year lifetime of a fund, fees typically eat up 20%-25% of the fund. “Recycling” can be used to recapture some of this, in essence (i.e., reinvesting some gains), but let’s put that important nuance aside. Recycling is optional and often doesn’t happen.
  • And Second, often $2 is “reserved” for each $1 initially invested. Most mid-sized and larger firms keep $2 for second and third checks for each $1 they invest in initial checks. It often is a bit lower ($1:$1) for smaller funds, but usually is $2:$1 Continue reading "What is uncalled capital?"

How do you price a SaaS product in a new B2B market?

I’ve lived it. The simplest answer is usually to copy the pricing from the closest public company you can find that is vaguely similar. It’s OK you are doing something different. But someone else out there is selling a product to at least similar buyers. Or at least, that is providing a similar amount of value. Copying that pricing. Salesforce, Hubspot, Box, Evernote, Twilio, Slack, Atlassian, etc. etc. … these folks have figured out good pricing models. Don’t reinvent the wheel on pricing. Even if you are actually reinventing the wheel. View original question on quora The post How do you price a SaaS product in a new B2B market? appeared first on SaaStr.