The SaaStr Annual Conference, held in Silicon Valley, is one of the biggest names in the Cloud and SaaS ecosystem, and therefore of the most prolific tech conferences in the world. Today I will be sharing some key insights from the three day-long conference, providing you with a glimpse of what was discussed at the event “Where the Cloud Meets”.
The Five Questions CEOs Struggle With
It’s undeniable that CEOs have a lot to deal with; after all, it is their job to keep things running smoothly. SaaStr’s own former CEO spoke about the five questions he was always asking himself when he still had the job. These are worth thinking over and applying to your own venture.
IPO and Negative Churn
During the chat with Qualtrics’ former co-founder and CEO, he explained that Qualtrics started out with very limited external funding and bootstrapped for a long period of time. This in turn gave them a very strong position as they could grow organically without worries of external funding. He spoke of the benefits of going public and preparing your company’s IPO, as, according to him, that is the only way of truly controlling and influencing your company’s growth. While the risk of acquisition is real, it’s worth it. Also, another noteworthy concept was Negative Churn, that is, setting your customer base up so that referrals are generated. If you’re winning more business than you’re losing, then you’re in negative churn. This is the mechanism that allows you to build a self-sustaining machine that grows on its own without the need for you to do additional sales. This is how they sold Qualtrics for nine billion dollars with 45% equity.
Bessamer Venture’s Grid Score System
This session was mostly about the metrics through which you can keep track of your company’s well being and success, a grid score developed by Bessamer Ventures. The metrics are as follows:
These metrics, when combined, give you a sort of grid score that, along with your yearly growth, allow you to determine where you stand in terms of company quality.
Brex’s Henrique Dubugras on Self-Awareness
The young CEO underscored the importance of self-discovery. Find out what you’re great at, and then hire people to cover your weaknesses. Through this understanding, you can build a team that complements itself. This is the ultimate key to success; without a stable, dynamic team, success will be difficult to reach.
Key Points with Aaron Ross
Aaron Ross, co-author of From Impossible to Inevitable, spoke about the importance of doing interviews. Doing customer interviews allows you to really understand them, the market you’re working in, and helping you choose where to specialize and what to focus on. Ross also emphasized the importance of setting a Minimum Deal Size. If you are going to be making deals, they need to be worth it. Anything below the MDS should not be considered.
Michael Seibel on Learning from Failure
The main takeaway from this talk was Michael’s Top Ten Learnings from Failure, of which I will highlight a piece. Regarding hiring people, he said that if someone is not an essential employee after three months, then they probably aren’t right for the job and you made a wrong hire. Try to build a strong, essential team before expanding. Otherwise you will unbalance the team’s dynamic and hurt the company overall.
Capital: Bootstrap or Raise it?
Regarding this subject, it should be noted that bootstrapping is becoming increasingly more popular among entrepreneurs and startups, so much so that it could become a trend in the future. In addition, I would like to point out that bootstrapping allows a safer development curve, protecting your company from the possibility of a crash, especially since if one does occur, and you are relying on outside investment, you may find that your funds dry up rather quickly.