Skip to content
The first wave of SaaS is 20 years old. Today, the SaaS model dominates. But we’re seeing the emergence of a different type of next-generation software company. A new wave of companies that is responding to the changing needs of customers by innovating their architecture. Very simply, they liberate the database from the application.
In license software, the database ran alongside the application on-prem. In SaaS, the database runs next to the application in the cloud.
As you start to go to market, there are two things to prioritize from early customers that matter more than cash. Feedback and marketing rights.
The feedback matters for obvious reasons. The product is early; customer feedback will help you hew the raw granite of your initial product into shape.
The second may not be so obvious. Every prospect championing a software purchase will be asked by the opponents of the sale and decision-makers: “Who else is using the software?
Late last year, my colleague Pat Chase and I announced the Redpoint Free Trial SaaS Survey. Over the course of a few weeks, we received roughly 600 responses from SaaS startups who use these marketing techniques. They span companies from $1M in ARR to more than $100M. The respondents sold into every key function of a business and at all different price points. On February 5 at 10am, I’ll be sharing the top 10 learnings from the survey at [Saastr]().
It’s very difficult question to answer. How do you judge a leader? Is it financial success? The loyalty they engender? Their ability to inspire? There are war-time leaders and peace-time leaders. Leaders may be understated or zealous. I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to say definitively what constitutes a great leader. Regardless, we all want to improve our ability to lead, whether it’s a small team or a Fortune 500.
Over the weekend, the NY Times interviewed a classmate of mine from Dartmouth and fellow oarsman on the freshman crew team, Cal Newport, about his book and his idea, Deep Work. Here’s the crux of the idea:
Deep work is my term for the activity of focusing without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It describes, in other words, when you’re really locked into doing something hard with your mind…In order for a session to count as deep work there must be zero distractions.
Your startup is growing quickly. To hit next year’s target, you may need to hire many people. Where do you start? Bottoms up or top down? Both are viable strategies, but hiring a strong management team at every level provides some key benefits. First, they help you hire more effectively. Second, they will guide new additions to the team to success. Third, they will reduce unnecessary turnover.
As you grow, your company well need to interview and hire large numbers of new people.
How much can a customer success manager manage? I’d heard the wisdom of $1-2M in ARR per year and around 80 accounts. But I hadn’t come across any data. Last summer, Gainsight posted the results of their survey on the topic. The truth is most CSMs manage between $2-5M in ARR and somewhere between 10-500 accounts. But it varies by segment.
The charts above display Gainsight’s data. I’ve reformatted them to compare segments side-by-side.
Last year, I talked wrote 1% of Salesforce’s Revenue Makes a Unicorn.The post talked about the potential in the SaaS ecosystem for startups to identify underserved customers in existing installed bases of incumbents and build big companies serving them better. Kustomer is a customer support software business based in New York that is doing just that. And today they’re announcing two milestones for the business: their $35M Series C and 5x annual growth.
In the car yesterday, I listened to an interview with Eugene Wei, who described the dynamics of consumer technology as if they were plain as day. It’s rare to hear someone lucidly describe complex topics like the reasons for Twitter’s success and struggles. Eugene wrote many of his ideas in this post though there are some ideas that I found only in the podcast.
Eugene was an early PM at Amazon, SVP of Product and Marketing at Hulu, Head of Product at Flipboard, and Head of Video at Oculus.
I’m thrilled to welcome Travis Bryant as an entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) to Redpoint. I first heard Travis speak at a technology conference a few years ago. I noticed then that his thinking on go-to-market strategy is among the most modern in Startupland because it combines all of the key aspects of SaaS go-to-market in novel ways.
Travis started his career in technology as an Oracle database administrator but moved into sales. He became VP of Commercial Sales at Salesforce, then SVP Sales at Optimizely and helped them grow from single digits to tens of millions of ARR.