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The Official SaaStr Podcast: SaaS | Founders | Investors

The Official SaaStr Podcast is the latest and greatest from the world of SaaStr, interviewing the most prominent operators and investors to discover their tips, tactics and strategies to attain success in the fiercely competitive world of SaaS. On the side of the operators, we center around getting from $0 to $100m ARR faster, what it takes to scale successfully and what are the core elements of hiring. As for the investors, we learn what metrics they hone in on when examining SaaS business, what type of metrics excites them and what they look for in SaaS founders.
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Now displaying: 2017
Jun 26, 2017

Jens Nylander is the Founder and CEO @ Automile, the startup that makes fleet and asset management much much easier. They have backing from some of the best in the business including Godfather of SaaS himself Jason Lemkin, the wonderful team at Point Nine, Justin Kan and Dawn Capital in London. As for Jens, he really is a serial entrepreneur with past endeavours including creating Sweden’s largest music player and founding Jays, the manufacturer and developer of innovative headphones that went public and is listed on the NASDAQ.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How did Jens make his way into the world of SaaS and come to found Automile?
  • How does Jens look to build a repeatable scalable sales process with Automile? What are the core infrastructure requirements needed to make the process as automated as possible?
  • How does Jens evaluate selling into the SMB market? How does Jens look to optimise the onboarding process to maximise conversion? How does Jens look to minimise churn with a market as potentially unstable as SMB’s?
  • Why does Jens prefer technology minded sales teams? What benefits do they bring in terms of process to the sales cycle? What should founders look for in potential new engineering led sales teams?  
  • Jens is increasing transparent, posting numerous figures on Twitter, what are the benefits of such transparency? How does that help the team to achieve the wider goal? Are there any cases, such as fundraising or exits, where transparency has negative consequences?

60 Second SaaStr

  • What was the hardest element of leaving Europe to go big in the US?
  • What does Jens know now that he wishes he had known at the beginning?
  • What hires does Jens wish he had made earlier?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Jens Nylander

Jun 19, 2017

Steve Loughlin is a Partner @ Accel in San Francisco, one of the leading funds with prior investments in the likes of Facebook, Dropbox, Atlassian, Slack and many more incredible companies. Prior to Accel, Steve was the CEO and co-founder of RelateIQ, later named SalesforceIQ following the acquisition of the company by Salesforce in 2014 for $390 million. Steve was also president and CEO of Affinity Circles, a professional social network that connected more than 18 million professionals. Steve has also advised or invested in the likes of Palantir Technologies, Addepar, and Roam Analytics.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Steve made his way into the world of SaaS with the founding of RelateIQ and then came to be a Partner at Accel on the other side of the table?
  • Why does Steve believe the hardest balance a founder has to consider is the balance between building for the future and building for the present? How can this short to long term dichotomy be considered effectively by the team?
  • RelateIQ was early to the AI/ML landscape, what does Steve think they did so right with RelateIQ? Does Steve agree that for an enterprise ML play to be interesting it must fundamentally change the go to market strategy?
  • What were the key learnings from working so closely with Marc Benioff on the Salesforce exec team? What is it about the internal structure and operations of Salesforce that make it the massively profitable behemoth that it is today?  
  • Having been a founder himself and now a VC, how does Steve look to help founders specifically? Where has Steve found that early stage founders need the most help? Where do VCs proclaim to help the most but really do not at all? 

60 Second SaaStr

  1. What is the worst advice Steve often hears being given?
  2. What is something that Steve has changed his mind radically on over the last few years?
  3. What is Steve’s favourite SaaS reading material?
  4. What does Steve know now that he wishes he had known at the beginning?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Steve Loughlin

Jun 16, 2017

May Habib is the Founder & CEO @ Qordoba, the best platform for building truly localized products across apps, websites and marketing content. It is the fastest, most scalable way to grow from one market to many. We do also want to say a big congratulations to May for recently raising a fantastic Series with the likes of Upfront Ventures and Rincon Partners leading the round. Prior to founding Qordoba, May was Director of M&A at Mubadala and an investment banker at Lehmann Brothers and Barclays in New York. May has also been named to the 30 Under 30 and CEO of the Year award.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How May made her way from North Lebanon to founding one of the hottest early stage SaaS companies on the West Coast?
  • May has quadrupled her MRR growth since last year through ‘turning her SDR’s into the smartest people in the space’. What does this mean? How can this be done and replicated? What “SDR best practices did May follow that damaged her?
  • May has a unique approach to scaling prospect search, how does this play out Does May agree with Mark Suster with regards to always calling high on customer outbound? Why does May think there is only value in outbound to seriously qualified leads?
  • Why does May believe that startups are wrong to think that they have to start at SMB and then move up to enterprise? How can startups immediately start with enterprise? What advice does May have in terms of asking for those big ACV’s as a small startup?
  • What advice did May receive during her fundraising that she found particularly jarring? What other than funds does May believe fundraising can be particularly good for? 

60 Second SaaStr

  1. What does May know now that she wishes she had known at the beginning?
  2. What is May’s favourite SaaS reading material?
  3. Hardest moment in the journey with Qordoba?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

May Habib

Jun 12, 2017

Nicolas Dessaigne is the Founder & CEO @ Algolia, the most reliable platform for building search into your business. Just last week they raised $53m in funding led by Accel with participation from Jason Lemkin @ SaaStr, Point Nine Capital, AppDynamic’s Jyoti Bansal, Intercom’s Des Traynor and InVision’s Clark Valberg and more incredible investors.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Nicolas made his way to YC and came to found Algolia?
  • What are the key things that change when you cross the 10m in ARR milestone? What have been the fundamental learnings in the march to $10m in ARR?
  • Jason Lemkin has said before that ‘the first 10 unaffiliated customers you get is the first sign of pre-success’. Does Nicolas agree with him here? When are the first signs of pre-success for Nicolas?
  • Does Nicolas agree with Jason that $1m-$2m in ARR is always the hardest for a scaling SaaS startup? Which element did Nicolas find most challenging? How has Nicolas seen himself change and develop as a leader with these inflection points?
  • What are the fundamental to building a successful developer community? What have Algolia done to do this so successfully? What mistakes do other startups normally make in their pursuit of this? 

60 Second SaaStr

  1. What hires does Nicolas wish he had made earlier?
  2. What does success look like for Nicolas with Algolia?
  3. What does Nicolas know now that he wishes he had known at the beginning?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Nicolas Dessaigne

Jun 5, 2017

Ryan Carson is the Founder & CEO @ Treehouse the startup that teaches you to code and learn the skills needed to launch a new career. They have backing from some of the best investors in the business including the likes of Social Capital, Greylock Partners and then notable individuals such as Reid Hoffman, Josh Elman and Mark Suster just to name a few. As for Ryan, prior to Treehouse he was the creator of famous The Future of Web Apps Conference, showing his unparalleled access to the top tier of West Coast founders. Due to the success of the conference, Ryan later sold the event to another events company.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Ryan made his way into the world of startups and came to found Treehouse?
  • How does Ryan think all founders can build a truly diversified pipeline for developer talent? How does Ryan detect the seeds of potential in young engineers? How does he nurture them to grow and fit the desired role?
  • How does Ryan approach regrettable and non-regrettable churn? What is the dunning process? Why is it so important to instantly increase retention and reduce churn?
  • Does Ryan agree with Jason Lemkin that the hardest element of SaaS scaling is the $1-2m phase? Does Ryan agree with Jason in suggesting that your first 10 unaffiliated customers is the first sign of product market fit?
  • Ryan has previously said, ‘as a founder, there is one thing you need, otherwise you will quit’. What is the one thing? Why is it so important?

60 Second SaaStr

  1. Why does Ryan know now that he wishes he had known when he started?
  2. What is Ryan’s favourite SaaS reading material?
  3. Freemium in SaaS: What are the pros and cons?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Ryan Carson

May 29, 2017

Jeetu Patel is Senior Vice President of Platform and Chief Strategy Officer of Box where he leads the Box Platform organization, driving the strategy of the platform business and developer relations. He also oversees the corporate strategy and development organization for Box. Before joining the company, Patel was General Manager and Chief Executive of EMC's Syncplicity business unit. Prior to EMC, Patel was president of Doculabs, a research and advisory firm focused on collaboration and content management across a range of industries.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Jeetu made his way into the world of SaaS and came to be one of the key executives at Box?
  • What are Jeetu’s 3 tips to startup founders looking to build high performing teams? Why does Jeetu believe that team sizes must always remain small? What are the inflection points in team size when dynamics change?
  • What does Jeetu argue that founders must pursue really hard problems? What are the benefits of this when hiring new people to the team? How does Jeetu balance between visionary hard problems and unrealistic?
  • What does Jeetu mean when he says, ‘do things that do not scale so you can do things that sustainably scale? What are some examples of how this has been done effectively? Where do most startups go wrong in scaling sustainably?

60 Second SaaStr

  1. What does Jeetu believe that most around him do not?
  2. Fave SaaS reading material?
  3. Why businesses will find the rules of the future very different to the rules of the past?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Jeetu Patel

May 26, 2017

Laura Bilazarian is the Founder & CEO @ Teamable, the startup that allows you to recruit the best talent from your network. They have raised funding from some stellar investors including the likes of True Ventures and SaaStr. As for Laura, she started out her career on Wall St before making forays into the world of Vietnamese hotel building and being a National Rugby Champion. Laura has also spent time with the likes of Fairmount Partners where she worked on dozens of M&A transactions to large public companies.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How did Laura make her way from Wall St to rugby captain to founder of SaaS startup, Teamable?
  • Why does Laura believe that “you should always be premium”? What are the benefits to this? How does this affect how Laura views both freemium versions of products and free trials?
  • Why does Laura believe that you have to “create an outbound sales culture as early as possible”? Why is this? Does this change according to the differing customer profiles?
  • How can SaaS businesses aid in the closing of their clients? What can they do to make this process as seamless and easy as possible? What are the requirements for this process?
  • Why does Laura believe there are only ‘2 ways to hire’? What are those 2 ways? What methods of inbound applications must be ignored? How can founders ensure continued quality when hiring at scale?

60 Second SaaStr

  1. What does Laura know now that she wishes she had known at the beginning?
  2. What is Laura’s fave SaaS reading materials?
  3. Competitive advantages of being a female CEO?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Laura Bilazarian

May 22, 2017

Mark Suster is Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures which he joined in 2007, having previously worked with Upfront for nearly 8 years as a two-time entrepreneur. Before joining Upfront Mark was Vice President, Product Management at Salesforce.com following its acquisition of Koral, where Mark was Founder and CEO. Prior to Koral, Mark was Founder and CEO of BuildOnline, a European SaaS company that was acquired by SWORD Group. Mark is also the writer of one of my favourite VC blogs, Both Sides Of The Table which is a centre piece to the whole VC community and is a must read for all interested in entrepreneurship and VC.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Mark made his way into the world of startups and came to invest in SaaS with Upfront today?
  • What are 4 reasons why startups should prioritise professional services in the early days? Why do most VCs disagree with this? How did Salesforce do this right in their period of hyper-growth?
  • How should early stage startups approach the topic of pricing? How can they evaluate whether to call high or low? What are the pros and cons of doing both?
  • Mark has previously discussed the importance of finding your champion in the buying process. How can startups determine whether your champion is a decision-maker? What questions can you ask to find this out?
  • What changes as a SaaS business scales? What are the key inflection points of company development? How does Mark view the amount B2B startups are raising today? How does Mark evaluate responsible and right spend?

60 Second SaaStr

  1. What should your first sales reps be really good at?
  2. How has Mark seen early stage SaaS startups go wrong most often?
  3. IPO markets, frothy or fantastic?
  4. What does Mark know now that he wishes he had known before?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Mark Suster

May 19, 2017

Today’s show is centred around The Top 10 VP of Sales Lessons Learned In Scaling To $100M ARR. Leading this conversation is Aaron Ross, author of best selling book, Predictable Revenue, providing the framework for the outbound process & sales team Aaron created for Salesforce.com. During his time at Salesforce as Director of Corporate Development and Acquisitions, Aaron added an extra $100 million in revenue in just a few years. Joining Aaron from the sales perspective we have Andrew Bothwell, VP of Sales @ TalkDesk and Aaron Schilke, VP Enterprise Sales @ Talkdesk, one of the fastest growing SaaS startups today. Providing insight from the other side of the table we have Josh Stein, Partner @ DFJ where his current board responsibilities include Box (NYSE: BOX), Chartbeat, LaunchDarkly, LendKey, SugarCRM, and previous guest with me on SaaStr in Talkdesk. But enough from me so without further ado I am going to hand over the reigns to Aaron Ross.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • What does Josh Stein believe is the toughest growth stage in SaaS? Which stage separates the men from the boys?
  • Why is growing to 100 a case of simple maths? How does this maths affect how you should think about your sales hiring pipeline? How does this maths affect your view of forecasting?
  • How do TalkDesk look to build a repeatable and scalable sales process? What have been their major learnings? Where do most startups make mistakes and falter?
  • How should VPs of sales approach feedback with their reps? Why has a VP failed if a rep is blindsided by a particular piece of feedback?

 

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

May 15, 2017

Edith Harbaugh is the Founder & CEO @ LaunchDarkly, the startup that allows you to fearlessly and swiftly release software by separating feature rollout from code deployment. They have raised over $10m in funding from many previous guests of The Twenty Minute VC including Andy McLoughlin @ SoftTech, Josh Stein @ DFJ and the wonderful team at Bloomberg Beta. As for Edith, prior to LaunchDarkly, she was a Director of Product @ Tripit and Concur. Edith also holds two patents in deployment from her time in engineering at Vignette.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Edith made her way into the world of SaaS and came to found LaunchDarkly?
  • Does Edith agree with Jason Lemkin that the hardest element is the 1-10 customer phase? How has Edith navigated this process with her differing companies?
  • How does Edith look to structure her sales team to successfully close Fortune 500 deals? What is the fundamental difference in selling to enterprise rather than SMB?
  • What can founders do to make NPS a more intelligent metric? How can NPS be analysed effectively to tell you more about the state of your business?
  • What are the signs of a truly great sales person? How do they aid not only their company but the customer they are serving? What is their required knowledge base?

60 Second SaaStr

  1. What is Edith’s fave SaaS resource?
  2. What does Edith know now that she wishes she had known before?
  3. Oakland Office: Why not SF? What are the benefits?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Edith Harbaugh

 

May 12, 2017

Lauren Vacarrello is VP of Marketing @ Box, one of the leading enterprise B2B brands today. At Box, Lauren leads a 50 person team that involves demand generation, global campaigns, events and more. Prior to Box, Lauren was VP of Marketing @ Adroll, where she built and scaled a 25 person global marketing team from the ground up. If that was not enough, Lauren is also the Co-Author of “The Retargeting Playbook” and “Complete B2B Online Marketing”.   

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How does Lauren view the relationship between sales and marketing? Why does Lauren believe the ARR pipeline is not just the responsibility of the sales team?
  • Why is lead nurturing not just about email? What are the other core components to ensure successful progression of leads through the funnel?
  • How does Lauren view successful lead segmentation? Why does Lauren like to segment leads into 3 distinct buckets? How does this strategy play out at different ends of the market?
  • What is the role of marketing post-purchase? How has Lauren seen this change since the early days of her career? How does this differ when comparing SMB to enterprise?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Lauren Vaccarello




May 8, 2017

Aaref Hilaly is a Partner @ Sequoia Capital, one of the world’s most successful VC funds with investments in the likes of Apple, Google, Paypal, Whatsapp and LinkedIn just to name a few. As for Aaref he came to the valley with 2 suitcases and the ambition to start a company. That he did and had 2 companies that were Sequoia backed, first CenterRun and then ClearWell Systems where Aaref was instrumental in the company’s growth from 0 to a $100m revenue run rate in just 4 years, prior to their $410m acquisition by Symantec. Today Aaref draws on this incredible operational success to illustrate how to manage up and have a very happy board.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • Why does Aaref advocate for founders not to manage the board but to engage them? How can this be done effectively?
  • What does Aaref state are the dangers of focussing on metrics with your board? Why should you focus on product instead? How does this shift change the dialogue with the board?
  • When things do go wrong and the company misses a quarter, how should the founder react? Why does Aaref suggest that founders need to own the miss? How should they structure these conversations? What should they not do when they miss a quarter?
  • How can founders most effectively put their board to work? How should this be communicated and then followed up on by the founder? Where has Aaref found the board can provide the most value?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Aaref Hilaly

May 5, 2017

Mark Roberge is a Senior Lecturer @ Harvard Business School where he teaches entrepreneurial sales and marketing. Prior to his role with HBS, Mark was the Chief Revenue Officer @ Hubspot where he increased revenue over 6,000% and expanded the team from 1 to 450 employees. As a result, Mark has been named Forbes' Top 30 Social Sellers in the World and awarded the 2010 Salesperson of the Year by MIT.

Michele Law is an investor and advisor specialising in building and executing on go to market strategies, creating new revenue models and the operations to support them. Michelle has sat on both sides of the table having been a Principal at Greylock for 8 years before moving to be COO at OpenDNS where she led the sales and customer success team growing enterprise revenue from $0 to $20M ARR in 4 years, prior to the company’s acquisition by Cisco for $635m. Michele then moved to Castlight Health where she grew revenue from $13 to $75m.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • Why it is fundamentally dangerous to prematurely focus on growth? How can founders know when is the right time to focus on growth? What does the path to growth phase look like?
  • How should founders assess and structure the core components: customer success, unit economics and growth? In which order should they be prioritised? What does the funnel look like?
  • What should the profile of your first sales hire be? How can founders understand who and when to hire? From Hubspot days, when has Mark seen the transition from generalist to specialist?
  • What should your sales compensation plan look like in the early days of the company? Why does Mark believe that churn is rooted in the sales compensation plan?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

May 1, 2017

Todd Olson is the Founder & CEO @ Pendo, the startup that allows you to capture all user behaviour, gather feedback and then provide contextual support.  They have raised over $30m in VC funding from some of the very best in the business including Neeraj @ Battery Ventures, Megan @ Spark and Matt @ Salesforce Ventures just to name a few. As for Todd, prior to Pendo he held various different roles in product as well as co-founding 2 prior startups.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How did Todd make his way into the world of SaaS and come to found Pendo?
  • Why does Todd believe that there is inherent tension between customer success and product teams? How has this changed from sales and marketing team tension? What does Todd suggest to mitigate this tension?
  • How does Todd evaluate his hiring process? At what stage does one become a specialist vs a jack of all trades? Why does Todd always believe that you should hire ahead of where you are?
  • Todd has previously said that ‘money is not all the same’. How does Todd look to select his investors? What value adds are most desired for Todd? What do the best investors do that make them so?

60 Second SaaStr

  1. What does Todd know now that he wishes he had known in the beginning?
  2. What is Todd’s favourite SaaS reading material: Mattermark Daily, Tom Tunguz
  3. Creating a startup culture for adults?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Todd Olson

Apr 28, 2017

Amit Agarwal is the Chief Product Officer @ Datadog, the startup that provides cloud scale monitoring that tracks your dynamic infrastructure and applications. They have raised over $140m in VC funding from some of the best in the business including Index Ventures, IA Ventures, OpenView and RRE just to name a few. As for Amit, before Datadog, Amit was the Director of Product Management at Quest Software (now Dell), where he led the team responsible for application performance monitoring. Previously, Amit held product management roles at Datamirror (now IBM) and Embarcadero Technologies.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How did Amit make his way into the world of SaaS and come to be Chief Product Officer @ Datadog?
  • Why did Datadog not have a marketing strategy for the early days? What would Amit advise early stage founders with regards to optimising their marketing in the early days?
  • Obviously a multi-product line is crucial for a SaaS startup to be successful, what is Amit’s take on how, when and why to launch a second product? What have been his big learnings on this from Datadog?
  • Amit has said before that it is tough to sell to large enterprises in the early days, does that mean startups should always start with SME’s? At what price point does it become a challenge? Does Amit agree that if you are between 25K-100K you are in the valley of death price wise?

60 Second SaaStr

  1. What does Amit know now that he wishes he had known in the beginning?
  2. What is Amit’s favourite SaaS reading material?
  3. When is the right time to hire a CPO and why?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Amit Agarwal

Apr 24, 2017

Tim Eades is the CEO @ at vArmour, the industry's first distributed security system that provides application-aware micro-segmentation. Tim joined vArmour as CEO in October, 2013. Prior to that, he was the CEO at Silver Tail Systems until the company was acquired by RSA, the security division of EMC in late 2012. Prior to leading Silver Tail Systems, Tim was CEO of Everyone.net, an SMB focused SaaS company that was acquired by Proofpoint. Tim has also held sales and marketing executive leadership positions at BEA Systems, Sana Security, Phoenix Technologies and IBM.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How did Tim make his way from punk rock fan in the UK to leading Silicon Valley CEO?
  • Why does Tim believe Incremental Account Opportunity (IAO) is one of the most important metrics for a growing startup?
  • Why does Tim believe that most founders are far too late to ship their second product? How can they identify adjacent markets? When exactly is the right time to know when to ship your second product?
  • What does it take in terms of sales team structure to successfully orchestrate the 7 figure deals that Tim does? What does that look like in terms of sales team compensation?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Tim Eades

Apr 21, 2017

David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital, a leading digital agency that was acquired by Harte Hanks in 2015. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including Rentals.com (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up.

Loretta Jones is the vice president of marketing at Delighted, the fastest way to gather customer feedback and put it into the hands of those who can act on it.  Prior to Delighted, Loretta's marketing programs grew Insightly, a CRM for small business, from 100,000 users to over 1.2 million users. Prior to Insightly, Loretta worked at Adobe Sign (formerly Adobe EchoSign) and grew the EchoSign brand to $25 million.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • Should all companies invest in SEM?
  • How does SEM differ for SaaS SMB businesses vs enterprise SaaS businesses?
  • How much of a role should iterating and testing play with regards to SEM? What are the strategies that can be used to ensure for maximal dollar efficiency?
  • David has said before that ‘no demand channel is an island’. How does SEM work together with the other channels (SEO, display ads etc) to form a cohesive marketing strategy?
  • As LTV takes a considerable time to figure out and can be inaccurate, should startups focus on their CPA (cost per acquisition) more than any other metric?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

David Rodnitzsky

Apr 17, 2017

Tom Tunguz is a Partner at Redpoint Ventures and one of the pre-eminent thought leaders in the rise of SaaS. Tom has made investments in the likes of Demio, Axial, Chorus.ai and more incredible companies. Tomasz is also the co-author of Winning with Data: which explores the cultural changes big data brings to business, and shows you how to adapt your organization to leverage data to maximum effect. Before joining Redpoint, Tomasz was the product manager for Google’s AdSense social-media products and AdSense internationalization. If you have not checked out Tom’s blog that is a must and can be found here.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • What are the 4 dominant ways startups are incorporating machine learning into their feature set? Why does Tom not believe in AI and discuss prefers to discuss machine learning?
  • What 3 things have caused the rise of machine learning? Why now will machine learning happen in core categories in SaaS? What role does deep learning play in this rise?
  • What are the 5 precepts of the type of companies that Tom wants to invest in using ML in SaaS? Why should startups discuss their value proposition over their technology?
  • How does Tom advise startups can gain access to proprietary datasets? How would Tom like to see data access change in the coming years?
  • How does Tom approach the aspect of building out a team of experts in machine learning for your startup? What should founders look for?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Tomasz Tunguz

Apr 14, 2017

Dan Adika is the Founder and CEO @ Walkme, the cloud-based service designed to help professionals guide and engage prospects and customers, and complete online tasks. They have raised over $90m in VC funding from some of the greats of the industry such as Rory O’Driscoll @ Scale Venture Partners and the team at Insight Venture Partners. As for Dan, prior to Walkme, he spent time at HP as a software engineer and before that spent 5 years in The Israeli Army’s elite computing unit.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How did Dan made his way from the elite computing unit of the Israeli army to San Francisco to found Walkme?
  • What does Dan believe are the most important metrics to assess the growth and potential of a SaaS startup? What does Dan believe is a good customer payback period?
  • What does Dan consider a good retention rate? How does Dan calculate sales rep productivity? What metric would suggest a successful rep and at what level should one be concerned?
  • What is the KPI that Dan uses to measure customer success? When is the right time to hear your first CS rep?

60 Second SaaStr

  1. What does Dan know now that he wishes he had known at the beginning?
  2. Fave SaaS reading material?
  3. When is the right time for startups to look to acquire other startups?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Dan Adika

Apr 10, 2017

Brad Feld is one of the world’s leading VCs having Co-Founded Foundry Group, Brad has made investments in the likes of Zynga, Makerbot and Fitbit, just to name a few. Brad is also Co-Founder of Techstars, one of the world’s most prominent startup accelerators, whose portfolio companies have raised over $1.3bn in funding. If that wasn’t enough Brad is also a best selling author having co-authoured Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and VC and Startup Communities: Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your Community.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Brad made his way into the world of VC and came to found Foundry Group?
  • Brad has previously stated that companies can be segmented into 3 different core components? What does he mean by this? How can startups be structured internally for scalability?
  • Why does Brad hate the word culture? How should culture be viewed and approach internally within startups?
  • How has Brad seen his personal development with regards to being a board member? What has he got better at? What does he believe makes a great board member?
  • Why is CAC the easiest metric to game in SaaS? How should the CAC/LTV ratio be approached? How can entrepreneurs use this to attract VC investment?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Brad Feld

Apr 7, 2017

Dan Burkhart is the Founder & CEO @ Recurly, the startup powering much of the subscription success, trusted by the likes of Twitch, CBS Interactive and Hubspot just to name a few. They have raised over $20m in VC funding from leading investors including Greycroft, Freestyle, Harrison Metal and more. As for Dan, his background spans 14 years with the likes of eBay and NBC Internet in the marketing, business development and strategic partnership realm.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How did Dan make his way into the world of SaaS and come to found Recurly?
  • How does Dan perceive a good CAC/LTV ratio? Does he agree with the hallowed 3:1 often cited by founders and investors?
  • How does Dan manage and measure customer churn? How does he approach regrettable and non-regrettable customer churn?
  • What is the post-mortem analysis of customer churn? How does Dan insert an element of accountability without creating a sense of churn?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Dan Burkhart

Apr 3, 2017

Scott Friend is a Managing Director @ Bain Capital Ventures where he has made investments in the likes of Jet and Rent The Runway. Scott joined Bain Capital Ventures in 2006 after selling the company he co-founded, ProfitLogic, to Oracle. At ProfitLogic, Scott saw the immense scaling of the company from its initial three founders to a 300 person global software and solutions business serving the retail industry. As a result, in 2005, Scott was named a winner of the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year Award”.  Following the acquisition, Scott was Chairman of the Executive Advisory Board and VP of Marketing and Science for Oracle Retail.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How did Scott make the transition from building a 300 man SaaS startup, ProfitLogic to being a VC with Bain Capital Ventures?
  • What are the 3 fundamental ways SaaS has changed over the last decade? What does this mean for SaaS founders and investors today?
  • What is the single most important metric for Scott when evaluating a SaaS investment opportunity? Why is this and how has that thought process changed?
  • How can startups optimise for sales efficiency? Where does Scott see most startups make mistakes in this field?
  • When is the right time to hire your first customer success rep? Does it have to be embedded within the founding team? How can startups look to scale this and analyse risk over time?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Scott Friend



Mar 31, 2017

Mat Ellis is the Founder & CEO @ Cloudability, the startup that provides cloud cost efficiency at scale and they have raised close to $40m in VC funding including from our good friends at Foundry Group and Data Collective. As for Mat, prior to Cloudability, Mat held executive positions with four startups, and key technology roles at Frito-Lay, Pepsi Cola and Goldman Sachs and he currently sits on the boards of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network and the Technology Association of Oregon.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How did Mat make the move from the UK to SaaS startup founder in Portland, Oregon?
  • How has Mat seen elements change within the business when moving through the stages of company growth? What were the challenges when going through these strategic inflection points?
  • At present, many SaaS founders are looking to hire COOs, what does Mat believe about this hire? When is the right time to make the hire? What should one look for in their first COO?
  • How does Mat assess the balance of sustainability and growth? How does Mat balance between this tough line? What are the inherent challenges?
  • What are Mat’s thought on culture maintenance when startup move into hypergrowth? What is core to retain this startup culture with the scaling through stages?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Mat Ellis

Mar 27, 2017

Peter Gassner is the Founder & CEO @ Veeva Systems, the industry cloud for life science systems. With just $4m in capital raised, Peter has taken Veeva to almost $500m in ARR and a prominent force in the rising tide of enterprise SaaS. As for Peter, prior to Veeva, Peter was a Senior Vice President of Technology at Salesforce where he experienced the successful IPO of the company and their rise into the most successful SaaS platform in the industry. Before Salesforce, Peter was with PeopleSoft for 9 years where he led a team of 450 professionals to support PeopleSoft’s technology platform. I do also want to say a big thank you to Jason Lemkin for the intro to Peter today without which the episode would not have been possible.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How did Peter make the move from Salesforce to founding one of the leaders in SaaS, Veeva?
  • Why did Peter not want to be CEO in the beginning? What was the catalyst for his changing mindset? How has view of CEOship evolved over the Veeva journey?
  • How does Peter assess the attractiveness of a market? What are the 2 questions Peter asks before going into a market? Is it wrong to move into smaller adjacent markets?
  • How does Peter assess the suitability of potential board members? What does he mean when he says all founders should use the ‘grocery store rule’?  
  • What is required to close 7 figure enterprise deals? How can sales teams look to build this relationship with large co’s in a natural and non-transactional way?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Mar 24, 2017

Daniel Ruch is the Founder and CEO @ Rocketrip, the startup that reduces travel spend by rewarding employees to save. They have backing from some incredible investors including the likes of Bessemer Venture Partners, Canaan Partners and Y Combinator. Prior to Rocketrip, Dan was a VP in Europe for Tremor Video and before that he held several director and managerial level positions at TACODA until TACODA’s sale to AOL.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

  • How did Dan make his way into the world of SaaS and come to found Rocketrip?
  • How important is accountability for the founder and CEO? How do you convey this commitment and responsibility to the team? Are there any downsides?
  • At what stage does Dan believe the generalist transitions to the specialist? How has Dan seen his team evolve from stage to stage? What have been the challenges within each stage?
  • How does Dan approach hiring strategy? How does he look to determine people/company fit? Dan has said before that he ‘would not hire without a track record’, why is this?  
  • How does Dan view internal budgets? What are the fundamentals to cost saving within the business? How does Dan think one can cut cost without lowering morale?

60 Second SaaStr

  1. What is Dan’s fave SaaS reading material?
  2. What does Dan know now that he wishes he had known at the beginning?
  3. Carrot or stick, what does Dan prefer to implement?

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin

Harry Stebbings

SaaStr

Dan Ruch

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