Hi, I'm a partner at Redpoint. I invest in Series A and B SaaS companies. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 18,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.

The Defining Characteristics of Successful SMB SaaS Startups

At first glance, SMB SaaS companies, those who sell Software-as-a-Service to small to medium businesses, may seem like any other software company. But they are quite a different breed.

Successful SMB SaaS companies have reinvented their businesses eschewing the expensive enterprise sales model in favor of end-user centric marketing, support and product development. These businesses often look more like consumer startups than enterprise startups. It’s all because of the nature of the market.

Market Dynamics

SMB SaaS companies sell to a highly fragmented market. See the table below comparing the ...

Read More...


The Two Key Ingredients in Great Connected Consumer Products

ElectricIMP-WiFi.jpg

We’ve all had a great idea for a product that would solve a pain we feel directly. It used to be impossible to convey that insight to anyone who might be in a position to act upon it. But that’s all changing because of the Internet.

Of late, it’s becoming increasingly easier for consumers to share their ideas for great products and bring them to market. One great example of this is a company called Quirky which solicits ideas from a community of people ...

Read More...


Founders, Equip Your Champions

carabiners.jpg

As a founder, you’re always selling. You’re selling yourself, your team, your product, your company. But your pitch is likely missing one of two key components.

A pitch needs to accomplish two goals to be effective. Most pitches solve the first, but omit the second. First, the pitch must convince the audience who might be investors, employees, recruits, or customers of some premise. Second, the pitch has to equip your champions, now convinced of your argument, to sell on your behalf.

No enterprise software is ever ...

Read More...


Here’s to the Grinders

brick.jpg

Sitting on a bench overlooking the South Beach marina, I asked an entrepreneur how he had been since he founded his company. He replied with a conundrum:

Looking back I can’t believe it’s only been a year but if I think about every day, it’s taken forever.

That’s a really succinct way of communicating how it feels to grind. Cementing each brick, each hire, each line of code, each product feature seems like just an incremental step, just another day. But taking ...

Read More...


How To Price and Sell Your Startup’s Product

old_cash_register.jpg

Every SaaS business must decide how to charge for the service. Pricing plans are some of the most difficult decisions to make. Equally important to the price is determining the point at which the customer pays - the conversion point.

There are four different models that I’ve experienced: up front payment, freemium, limited free trials, money back guarantee. Picking the right one depends on a number of different factors. Below is a table that summarizes these four approaches.

Pricing ...

Read More...


Startup Judo - The Secret You Should Know Before Starting a Company

judo.jpg

In his Stanford GSB lectures, Peter Thiel spoke about secrets. But he defined secrets for startups in a different way than one might expect.

A secret is not an unknown. Rather, it’s something just not widely believed to be achievable or feasible. In other words, it’s an insight, a thesis that isn’t widely held. Exploiting that secret should be the aim of every entrepreneur. Leveraging the secret means disruption and ultimately success.

Before you start a company, find this kind of secret - an insight ...

Read More...


A Startup’s Three Visions

Ice-Climbing-on-Mount-Aco-008.jpg

There are three types of vision that a successful startup needs: product vision, business vision and team vision.

Product vision is the dream. It’s how your company changes the world. It’s the problem that you’re solving and the solution to that problem. Product visions don’t end on launch day. They extend for years through the company’s growth. A product vision isn’t a certain feature or even a completed product. It’s the state of having solved a problem for a user or providing an experience for a ...

Read More...


The Power of Team Work in Startups

ScreenCapture at Fri Mar 29 06:36:41 PDT 2013.png

When the core teams of a startup work in harmony, they create tremendous leverage for a business. I saw this last week with one startup I work with, Axial, a New York based company enabling private companies to access debt, equity capital and strategic acquirers.

First, the marketing team created a powerful blog post and infographic, just top-notch content marketing. This campaign creates awareness among potential target customers who become curious about the service.

Next, the product ...

Read More...


Anatomy of a Reference Check

reference.jpg

Reference checks are part and parcel of the VC diligence process and most hiring processes. They are also one of the two most important analyses in hiring, next to the interview. Below, I’ve outlined my standard question set. I’m curious to hear feedback on what other questions or techniques might work.

Types of References

I find it’s valuable to speak to references who have worked with the candidate in different roles. Below is a list of typical roles in rank order.

  • Peers ...

Read More...


What I’ve Learned about Blogging in 3 Years

typewriter.jpg

I have been writing for three years now and it’s been a ton of fun. I hope to continue to write for many more. Along the way so far, I’ve learned a few lessons on frequency, content type, idea generation, voice, titles and distribution.

Frequency

There are two schools of thought on blogging frequency: high frequency vs high quality. At this point, it’s unclear to me which is better for building an audience because both work. Each camp has its exemplars of success.

In ...

Read More...


Index