One of the single most effective tools SaaS companies can use in order to grow faster isn't tweaking the product in a particular way or implementing an AB optimization framework or adopting new marketing tactic. Rather, it's financial judo for structuring contracts and cash collection.
At an Internet of Things conference last week, I took part in a panel in which we discussed the future of connected devices. Will simple products win or will complex products dominate in the IoT?, we were asked. I think the question misses the point and raises another problem about the Internet of Things more broadly. It's not about Things. It's about Services. Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service.
Fenwick's report on the state of the venture market and I came across these three data points that summarise one facet of the market in Silicon Valley succinctly.
In this week's New Yorker, Jill Lepore reviews Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, a book whose author asks the question, what is the work place of the future?
Yesterday, I spoke on a panel at the Gainsight Pulse conference with Aaron Ross, the author of Predictable Revenue, Jason Lemkin of Storm Ventures who authors SaaStr, and Brian Stafford, a customer success expert from McKinsey. It was great fun to be on the panel and discuss how customer success is transforming SaaS companies by increasing revenue growth, decreasing capital needs, building better products and consequently retaining more customers. Many customer success leaders were present and I had a great time chatting with a few to understand the state of the market. To summarize the zeitgeist, customer success leaders in the session and throughout the conference voiced four challenges/problem/questions they face today: education, justification, attribution, and team structure.
Startups are in a state of perpetual change. During a startup's first few years of establishing product market and winning the first set of customers, this state of change is obvious. But as a startup scales, the company must adapt by learning and reinventing. Whether it's building the processes to grow the team, creating new sales and marketing initiatives to pursue adjacent customers, developing customer success teams or handling an unforseen crisis, this process of reacting to the market and evolving the company happens at every level in each function. How does a startup team steel itself to persevere through the ups and downs?
Is there an optimal time of year to raise a seed round? The chart above shows the number of seed rounds by quarter of the year from 2009-2013. At first blush, it would seem that the first quarter of the year is the most attractive period to raise a seed round. But that's a faulty conclusion.
Some of the best content to be found about startups is locked in books. Thomas Kjemperud asked me yesterday for a 140 character recommendation of one book for founders. Reducing my list to just one and condensing an argument for why founders ought to read it in just 117 characters was just too great a challenge for me. Instead I've written a blog post about the nine favorite books I've read over the last five years have helped me understand startups and the processes that make them successful. They range from written 70 years ago to written in the past 3 years. They have been written by salespeople, CTOs, speechwriters, consultants and magnates. These are the books I go back to, time and again, when I have a question or I'm looking for an insight. If they weren't all e-books, they would be dog-eared and foxed.
Last week, we reviewed the state of the public SaaS market and observed the average company had lost 33% of its value from their highs. How have newly public consumer companies fared in the same environment and what does that mean for the tech industry broadly?