Tomasz Tunguz is partner at Redpoint
. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the
book, Winning with Data
. Join more than 20,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.
What are the attributes of the ideal SMB SaaS company, an entrepreneur asked me recently. It's a good question. There are product, marketing, and sales attributes to that ideal company that successful SaaS business have exemplified in the past.
Recently, we examined the comparative efficiency of bottoms-up and top-down businesses. Today, we'll dig into valuation metrics to see if there's any systematic bias in the investor community for SMB, Mid-Market and Enterprise SaaS companies.
How fast could a SaaS business grow on paid acquisition? If the business decided today to sprint and acquire as many customers as possible?
When an SMB SaaS startup is young with quickly growing revenues, more of the same works. A $1M ARR SaaS startup with an average selling price of $600 per year needs to add 1,333 each year on average to double. Fast-forward two years when the company is at $5M in ARR and the business needs to be adding 13,333 customers each year. At $25M in ARR, suddenly the 100% growth figure demands 33,333 customers.
Like many others, English is my second language. As I learned over time, there's a particular way of ordering adjectives in English to make yourself understood. Opinion. Size. Shape. Condition. Age. Color. Pattern. Origin. Material. Purpose. Noun. That's the order most of the time.
If I made a word cloud of the terms in 2016 that dominated Startupland, burn would be among them and perhaps the largest. On the contrary, burn would be absent from the 2015 list, replaced by unicorn. Starting in the end of 2015, Public companies have markedly shifted the way they manage their businesses pushing toward cash flow positive and net income positive. In parallel, startup founders and CEOs have markedly shifted the way they communicate and manage their businesses.
In Startups are Risk Bundles, Leo Polovets outlines the risks startups face as they grow. In particular, Leo identifies common mistakes when addressing that parcel of peril. Addressing minor risk by spending time and effort on low priority or low impact risk a common failure mode for companies. The business isn't focused on the most critical issues.
Creating and optimizing a sales plan for an early stage SaaS company is a challenging task. There are lots of different variables to manage and the truth is it's always a work in progress even for massively successful businesses. But at the very earliest days, where do you start?
If your SaaS startup were to trade in the public markets today, what would it be worth? The true answer is we don't know, but we can approximate it by comparing it to the other publicly traded SaaS companies and benchmarking the business by its growth rate.
Jeff Wiss has managed demand generation and corporate marketing for some iconic software companies. MySQL, the most valuable open-source acquisition; Zendesk, the $3B leader in customer support software; DataStax, The business commercializing Cassandra; and most recently Duo Security, an Ann Arbor-based trusted access company that has some of the most sensational SaaS metrics I’ve ever seen.