What are your top three priorities in your job right now? If I asked you that question, I suspect within a minute or two you could articulate them. Is the software you are selling at your SaaS startup solving one of those three needs for your target customer? And, if it is, does your software meaningfully differentiate along one of the key competitive axes that your customer cares about?
Clay Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, asserted in a recent interview that we understand only half of the marketing puzzle - the marketing science involved in a competitive ecosystem, when consumers are buying millions of products. In these markets, concepts like Westendorp Price Sensitivity and conjoint analyses work. But to incite disruption requires a different set of marketing skills.
At work, we're thirsty for data to guide and inform decisions and we bring with us similar expectations of technology's ability to answer questions instantly. As chat becomes an increasingly important user interface in the workplace, there's a big opportunity for startups to enrich conversations with answers to questions that pop-up in Slack and elsewhere.
Numi is a little calculator with a twist. Unlike most calculators, it understands English and other languages. I've used many different types of calculators - from the Texas Instruments TI-89 graphing calculator to a HP 12C with its Polish notation, to software calculators Excel and R. All of them employ similar user interfaces. There's a syntax to translate the user's desires into something the calculator can understand.
The value of all public technology companies exceeds $10.7T. At the beginning of 2016, that figure touched an all time high of $11T. It’s taken more than a decade for public technology companies to replicate/recreate the market cap observed in the dot-com era, even when adjusting for inflation.
What do you look for in SaaS companies? It's hard to answer this question concisely because there are so many different ways of building a great software business. The best way I've found to describe it is a technology innovation leading to a go-to-market advantage. That's how I answered the question in the 20Minute VC podcast with Harry Stebbings.
We all recognize great leadership when we see it. But what characterizes great leadership? Is it an inspirational speaker articulating a goosebump-inducing vision? Or an executive with the five universally praised characteristics Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeiffer identified - modesty, authenticity, truthfulness, trustworthiness and selflessness? Or is it a great manager of people, someone who understands the aspirations of each report, charts a career path, assigns meaningful work along that path, and champions their promotion? Or perhaps leadership means having the courage to make the hard, but right decision?
As a SaaS startup grows, recurring revenue begins to fuel the company. Not too far into the future, the existing customer base begins to contribute more of the startup's revenue than new customers and bookings. Each startup will observe this revenue composition transition at a different point in its evolution because it's a function of growth rate and churn rate.
The startup fundraising market in 2016 has been difficult to characterize. Punctuated by a concentrated decline in public tech stocks, the sentiment in Startupland has changed from resolute ebullience to a calmness approaching caution. Two months in, we can analyze January and February data. This posts analyses US headquartered information technology companies which VC-led investment rounds.
In "How People Learn to Become Resilient" Maria Konnikova retells the story of Norman Garmezy and George Bonnano, the first developmental psychologists to study grit and resilience.