"What is the one equation that describes our business?" asked Scott, our new director at Google, during one of our first meetings. I had been there only for a few quarters, so I was startled when he asked. I had never viewed our business this way, but after he asked the question, I wondered why I hadn't. It seemed obvious in retrospect.
Today, 70% of startups in the US that raise a Series A have raised a seed round. That's up from 50% ten years ago. In the same period, the amount of seed capital invested in the US has increased about 10x from $200M per year to $2B. What does this imply for early stage founders?
SaaS Enabled Marketplaces benefit from a unique advantage in their go-to-market. They have a panoptic view of their market place, which over time provides them an unassailable competitive advantage.
In 1977, a British polymath named Christopher Alexander, who studied Math and Architecture at Cambridge and was awarded Harvard's first PhD in architecture, published a book titled A Pattern Language - Towns, Buildings, Construction. This book would transform the architecture world, and more surprisingly, forever influence the way computer scientists write software.
One of the most powerful levers for SaaS companies to master is payback period. Payback period is the number of months a company requires to payback its cost of customer acquisition. The median SaaS startup has a payback period of 15 months. A short payback period confers two massive advantage to a startups - smaller working capital requirements and a consequent ability to grow much faster.
When writing the post Vertical SaaS Startups Require Different Go To Market Than Horizontal SaaS Companies, I realized that there is a perception on my part and perhaps more broadly that vertical SaaS companies enjoy greater sales efficiencies than horizontal SaaS companies.After all, vertical SaaS companies target a smaller number of potential buyers. The marketing team concentrates their media buys to target this audience, the sales team focuses on a smaller lead list. Does the data support this notion?
Vertical SaaS requires a different go-to-market than horizontal SaaS companies. Vertical software companies, a recent important trend in SaaS startups, pursue customers only in a particular industry. They trade a more narrow customer base and consequent reduction in market size for a competitive advantage in that market segment.
During fundraising process, founders often tell me "I'd really like to get back to building the business." I'm certain it's true. Every founder surely would certainly rather be building their product and company than fundraising. Nevertheless, a founder skilled in fundraising can create enormous leverage for their business and develop unassailable competitive advantages. This is why it's critical for early stage founders to invest time to perfect their pitches.
Much has been written about the consumerization of IT, the movement fueling many SaaS startup's growth by targeting individuals in a target customer called B2C2B, rather than selling top down. But until yesterday, I hadn't found anyone who had quantified the size of the movement.