Lessons from SaaStr #1: agility and scalability
by Martin Kåver, on Jun 19, 2019
We at Younium often tout the benefits of devoting more time and resources to developing the activities that actually lead to better growth and business agility, rather than tedious administrative tasks. After spending two packed-schedule days in Paris last week, I left SaaStr Europa '19 feeling re-inspired, but also encouraged that we are helping our SaaS customers focus on the right priorities for their businesses. Here's some of my best takeaways from Europe's biggest SaaS-specific conference:
The rules you can break, and the ones you can't
In one of the best talks of the conference, Tradeshift CEO and Co-founder, Christian Lanng spoke on common mistakes that many SaaS companies make in early days and growth phase.
Destroying misconceptions about what it means to launch and grow a SaaS product the "right" way, Christian emphasized that you don't necessarily need an immediate commercial traction in order to build value for your customers, and you also don't need to only exist in a massive market. Identifying and solving real problems for real people, is what will make your SaaS business successful.
Switching pace a bit, he underscored the importance of growth to be the underlying value in all that you do in business. However this isn't necessarily about new sales, but encouraging your customers to care and be engaged. When we can focus on developing customer relationships, we can devote more time and resources to securing better customer lifetime values and reducing customer churn, rather than using all our time focused on sales or administration. At Younium, this means helping our customers to automate more of their subscription activities and financial reporting, so that they can get back to the tasks that truly matter for growth.
5 Dos and Don'ts from the Bootstrapping perspective
Echoing similar sentiments, Andrew Filev, CEO and Founder of Wirke, described how SaaS companies can make sure all efforts are scalable. He argued that while customization and personalization are nice, it's better to build capabilities that help every business. Andrew also said that new and growing businesses shouldn't be chasing marketplace integrations or partnerships, but instead should be developing a great core product that speaks for itself.
In a moment most interesting for me and our customers, Andrew also made a case against freemium models, saying "Freemium is great but… if your product delivers value to the customers, then they will be willing to pay for it." This can be especially important to remember as our customers look to develop their own pricing tiers and evaluate the value drivers that affect their own customer contracts.
He also addressed a common challenge we see in growth phase SaaS: knowing when and how to hire. While it can be a catch-22 situation for subscription businesses who wish to onboard new customers rapidly, but may not have the manpower to do so, cash flow isn't maybe as great a concern as some may think. Investing in good recruitment decisions will pay off in dividends later on, Andrew argued, and subscription businesses benefit from the advantage of having more accurate forecasting due to contract terms and/or recurring payment financial models.
The SaaStr Europa conference this year lended invaluable insights for us in the world of SaaS, but also underscored some of the important values and challenges we already see our customers facing. When you can prioritize the activities that lead to a more agile company, you can more easily nail and scale your business model.