We’re not “True SaaS”

A few people have recently referenced a term I use when describing our business, saying that we’re not true SaaS. In my mind, we’re not, in fact in many areas we’re probably doing the opposite of what the playbook would tell you to. So I thought I’d just elaborate on what I mean for the sake of at least writing something once in a while.

I’m the CEO of a SaaS business that works in the Education sector called Gecko Labs — we make the process of connecting students with Universities more efficient through a range of software.

One of the reasons I’m writing about this, other than just needing to distract myself for 20 minutes, is that I read a lot on how you should run your SaaS business, and I feel that we’re pretty different. So for the sake of variety I thought I’d offer up an alternative.

So, first of all what do you mean by “True SaaS”?

Well for me, a true SaaS company does the following:

  • billing is self-service, meaning I can go to your website, sign up and punch in my credit card details and pay you money
  • there’s very little by way of a legal process, such as signing terms of service, negotiating on terms — and other faffing around.
  • you’ve almost always got a trial offering, or something resembling a freemium offer to get people hooked
  • you’re charging monthly, usually on a per user basis, and most definitely at levels that are designed for volume (£x per user, per month)

Our process doesn’t resemble the above

I feel like we’re doing the opposite on almost every trend I see in SaaS, not that we’re necessarily right in doing so, but here’s a comparison to how we work:

  • You can’t sign up on our website
  • In order to buy you have to go though a sales process (3+ months)
  • We don’t do trials, ever.
  • Our billing is based on purchasing up front, paying annually, and usually on a multi-year deal that costs well above £10k
  • You will need to sign our terms of service, and that will likely go through your legal team, and they’ll redline it — ugh!

Our process really has to take customers on a journey, one that we’re pretty darn good at too, after all, it has to make them feel comfortable parting with a five figure sum without ever having used the product.

I’d be interested in other companies who have the same approach as us, would love to swap stories and hear of optimisations that can be made, it feels like it’s unusual based on my news sources, but I’m sure it’s not.

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