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.
The SaaS ecosystem has been evolving incredibly quickly. Most of the time, the changes in the ecosystem are embodied in one particular company which grows exceptionally quickly. Focusing on these fast-growers, the macro shifts can be hard to discern. Last week, Okta released a report Business at Work sweeps across SaaS to reveal these recent evolutions. These are the points that I found most interesting.
Over dinner, a veteran product manager argued most SaaS products' onboarding practices miss a crucial step: create value for the user in the first session. After that conversation, I signed up for many brand-name SaaS products pretending it was for the first time, and I couldn't help but agree with him.
The public markets are down more than 10% from their highs in the last few months. Public SaaS companies have been particularly hard hit. The chart above shows the enterprise value of publicly traded SaaS companies. Many of them are down substantially more than 10%. Let's dig in a bit more.
I've been to many YC Demo Days and I always look forward to them. This year was no exception. There are so many wonderful ideas and companies founded by terrific entrepreneurs. In addition to the pitches themselves, the types of companies presenting forbear trends in the startup world more broadly.
The most potent weapon in sales is understanding a buyer's perception of time. As Mark Roberge wrote, "At HubSpot, this lacking sense of urgency is the number one objection we face in the sales funnel." To succeed, SaaS startups' sales teams must consistently create urgency in the sales process.
While culture may seem an ambiguous and fuzzy concept, strong cultures are the best way for leaders to manage their companies throughout their evolution. One founder/CEO described his company's rapid growth to several hundred employees in just a few years this way. First, I was one of a few founders. As we grew, I became a manager of people. Then a manager of managers. And now I'm a manager of managers of managers. At this scale, CEOs can't be in every room opining on each choice, but they can influence how each decision in those rooms is made.
In a book called The Outsiders - Eight Unconventional CEOs and their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success, the author William Thorndike asks the question, who have been the best CEOs ever? And what metric should be used to gauge them?