3 Takeaways from SaaStr Annual 2017 #saastr



I’ve enjoyed Jason Lemkin‘s thoughts and content from afar for a while including his annual SaaStr event bringing together those who are in the software as a service (SaaS) universe.

Having previously been the CEO of a SaaS company (LoopFuse) and worked in many over the years in various roles, I know up close and personal the challenges and aspirations to start a company, grow it to $1M in annual recurring revenue (ARR), get to $10M ARR, and then shoot for $100M ARR.  It’s a hard path to get the product right, the pricing nailed down, and the customer retention/renewal dialed in among many, many other variables.

So, I decided to attend this year’s event. In addition to my work here at Heinz Marketing where I have many projects helping SaaS companies with their pipeline performance, I am an advisor to SaaS company LeadMethod who makes a distributor relationship management platform so I definitely count myself as one within the “SaaS universe.”

I was not disappointed (other than the rain) at SaaStr 2017.  Like many events, the value is in who you meet and I found that to be the case here.  What was great was how open and interested people were to make new connections and have great conversations.  It was also a great place to see people I hadn’t seen in a while.

On the flight back to Seattle, I wrote out my 3 key takeaways from this event as follows:

  1. Scale – back to the aforementioned $1M=>$10M=>$100M trajectory. Getting there is not just about revenue, it is about who you hire when, what you focus on when including building a funnel that generates a repeatable, dependable, and predictable customer acquisition process so you know with each additional sales hire and marketing dollar spent what you can expect in revenue.  This was an optimistic theme meaning it was about taking what has been built and becoming the next Twilio or AppDynamics.
  2. Machine Learning – the VC sessions were heavily attended and very focused on “machine learning” as a core investment thesis. I agree that there is huge need + opportunity to make software smarter – using vast stores of data to help anticipate next steps, orchestrate processes, and provide deeper insight to power businesses forward.
  3. Perspective – great events always deliver something unexpected and this year I summarized this as “perspective.”  Hearing Dustin Moskovitz, a Facebook co-founder, discuss balance in work as well as the core themes he is supporting as a philanthropist was really interesting. Naval Ravikant of AngelList shared the amazing story of building this platform and its impact on delivering funding to early stage companies but most memorable to me was his discussion of his post “American Spring” from a year ago anticipating our most recent Presidential election results.

I met great new people from Loopio, Samanage, TrenDemon, Replex, Coconut Calendar, and WeWork in addition to re-connecting with friends at companies like Boomerang and PipelineDeals. I will be back to this one and you should strongly consider it if you are a SaaS business or help them grow.

On a final note, Bessemer Venture Partners did a nice job on their “State of the Cloud 2017” report and I have dropped those slides below.