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Over the last year, the amount of series A investment in US startups has fallen by nearly 33% from a high of $6 billion to about $4 billion in Q2 2016. Later stage investments have followed a similar path. Curiously, the series B/Expansion stage market has witnessed remarkable resilience, continuing to increase despite volatility.
The last time I learned a new programming language was 2004. I had been writing in Java for about four years, and then I heard whispers of a new framework called Rails that allowed engineers to write web applications in one-tenth the time of a Java web application. Over the course of a few weeks, I bought an armful of paper books, read them, and worked through the examples. A few weeks later, I built my first Rails application and brought it to work at Google.
In addition to increasing labor costs, startups in San Francisco are facing monotonically increasing real estate prices. JLL the real estate broker shared their data on the average asking rent in San Francisco from 2007 two 2016, year to date. In 2009, the average asking rent was $31.37. In 2016 that number has more than doubled to $73.05, for an average annual increase of just about 13%.
The next big shift in SaaS is an evolution from software as a service as a displacer to a disruptor. Displacement technologies compete with incumbents on the same buying parameters. Disruptive companies change the way a buyer thinks about solving their need. Most SaaS products today are displacers.
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.
On the prospects list of every SaaS startup, you will find a list of company names and next to them a projected dollar amount projecting the potential revenue from closing the deal. Each line item might represent a sale to team, department or the entire company. Regardless, there is a single champion advocating internally for the company to invest in this software product. If the project succeeds, that person will be promoted.
I've been reading Robert Greene's book Mastery. Greene has amassed biographies of tens of great people from Henry Ford to Paul Graham, from Alexander the Great to Larry Page. Across many of them, he identifies two common paths to mastery, mentorship and grit.
LinkedIn. Twitter. Facebook. Asana. RelateIQ. Slack. 3 Email Accounts. Each of those is an inbox, an implicit or explicit to do list. If I count the feed and the messaging products as separate inboxes, I have a grand total of 12 inboxes for work. 12 things to check first thing and last thing. How many do you have?
The rate of new software company formation seems to have declined materially in the past few years. In 2011-2013, about 1450 software companies were founded each year on average. In 2014, that figure fell to 1186 and in 2015, we count 481.
What is the optimal pricing strategy for my start up? That depends. It depends on at least three other variables - the product, the placement, the positioning. Combined with price, these are the four 4Ps of marketing created by Dr. E. Jerome McCarthy, former professor of marketing at Michigan State and Notre Dame. Also called the marketing mix, these four variables need to be aligned when determining pricing for your startup.