Enterprise & Deep Tech Weekly
Issue #124: For the week ended December 7, 2021
Overcoming “customer-built” software’s learning curve
In the last month, I’ve had conversations with go-to-market leaders at Notion, Miro, Bubble and Webflow. Topics ranged from growth tactics (when and how might it actually make sense to invest in billboards?) to team structure (should we build an education team, and if so, where should it live?) to sales incentives (when does it make sense to set quotas, and across which customer segments?). But there was one topic that popped up in every single conversation: the challenge of user activation.
This was interesting to me because it’s one of those topics that’s constantly discussed behind closed doors, but is relatively under-discussed in public. I think there’s a belief that onboarding and activation are largely “solved” problems in SaaS. Which is to say, as long as there’s product-market fit, onboarding and activation best practices are well understood and can be executed on by any number of growth product experts.
While that may be true for vertical SaaS companies, for no/low code (a.k.a. “customer-built”) software companies, that’s not the case at all. With vertical SaaS, you can instrument the experience to decrease time-to-value. But what do you do when the “value” isn’t created by your product, but by the end users building with the primitives you’ve designed? Even category leaders are desperately trying to figure this out.
I’m not sure what the answer is (though I’ve written up some more detailed thoughts on this conundrum here — give it a read!). But if customer-built products want to evolve from being products for power users to the mass-market platforms for software creation they aspire to be…they’ll need to figure it out. Let’s see who can crack it first.
Dec 8 / Building your Marketing Engine: Where do you Start?
Leigh Moore, VP of Marketing, Snyk
FROM THE BLOG
How to Overcome “Customer-Built” Software’s Learning Curve
“Customer-built” companies and the challenge of user activation.
The Long Road to Creating a Category:
Category creation strategy, with a little inspiration from Apple.
Three Methods of Venture Capital:
A guide to navigating a manic market as a venture capitalist (part 1).
Back to Basics — My VC Manifesto:
A guide to navigating a manic market as a venture capitalist (part 2).
EUROPE & ISRAEL FUNDING NEWS
UK/Automation. Blue Prism has been acquired for $1.24B by SS&C Technologies for its enterprise robotic process automation software.
Israel/DevOps. Cycode raised $56M for its platform helps businesses secure their DevOps pipelines and software supply chains.
Sweden/Workforce Management. Quinyx raised $50M for its workforce management software, a platform for gig work scheduling and time reporting.
Spain/ESG Finance. Clarity AI raised $50M for its financial platform that is an end-to-end technology solution that optimizes the societal impact of investment portfolios.
Spain/SME Finance. Abacum raised $25M for its SME financial planning and analysis tools.
Israel/IT Infrastructure. Frontegg raised $25M for its software that provides SaaS companies with the core user management tools they need to build their own service.
UK/SW Development. Raycast raised $15M for its developer productivity tool.
Israel/Payments. Anchor raised $15M for its end-to-end billing and payments solution that covers vendor and client agreements while managing the invoicing, payment and reconciliation steps.
Portugal/Fleet Management. Statio raised $12M for its AI-based predictive fleet maintenance designed to prevent things like public transportation delays or postponed/late arrival of deliveries.
SaaS Selloff. While the private markets are still seemingly riding high, last week saw sharp valuation declines for public tech companies: “we are not only seeing software stocks flirt with bear-market territory in technical terms, but also a pretty notable pullback in the value of even the fastest-growing technology companies. This means that public valuation multiples — key indicators for yet-private unicorns and younger startups — are shrinking.” Most notably, DocuSign lost more than 40% of its worth on Friday. Now investors are left wondering, is the big correction finally here, or is this just another blip?
Go, Airtable, go! It is no secret that we at Angular love Airtable: we’ve built most of our fund’s infrastructure on it and our new partner, David Peterson, previously led their Growth & Partnerships teams. Thus, we are thrilled that Airtable’s valuation is set to double to $11.7B, with a fresh $700M in funding.
Web3. Stephen Diehl shared a thought provoking essay on why he believes web3 is “bullshit”… “At its core web3 is a vapid marketing campaign that attempts to reframe the public’s negative associations of crypto assets into a false narrative about disruption of legacy tech company hegemony. It is a distraction in the pursuit of selling more coins and continuing the gravy train of evading securities regulation. We see this manifest in the circularity in which the crypto and web3 movement talks about itself. It’s not about solving real consumer problems. The only problem to be solved by web3 is how to post-hoc rationalize its own existence.”
HOW TO STARTUP
$1M+ Seed Rounds. Crunchbase data indicates that raising a large seed round of $1M or more “significantly improves a startup’s chance of subsequent funding”. Based off funding data in the US from 2011 to 2018, “an average of 1 in 3 startups went on to raise either a Series A or later-stage funding rounds in any subsequent year.” However, for startups that had raised $1M or more in their seed round, on average, more than half went on to raise subsequently.
Self Serve GTM. Adam Gross, most recently the CEO of Heroku, shares some fascinating insights on building self serve go-to-market. The video in its entirety is worth watching, but the section where Adam covers his 1–2–3 Framework is especially worth a look: “What’s really interesting and what I look for both as somebody creating products or as an investor, is how you do that transition up from free to team and then ultimately from enterprise. What’s most fascinating for me is looking at that nonlinear value proposition change as you go from free to team. When you have that, it’s almost like there are two product-market fit or customer discovery cycles that need to happen.”
Drowning in Capital. At Fortune’s recent Brainstorm Tech conference, startup founders came together and discussed how the rapid influx of VC money is creating some considerable challenges for burgeoning companies. From scaling teams at an unprecedented pace, to rising exit expectations from investors, founders have considerable challenges ahead as they build their companies.
HOW TO VENTURE
VCs & Pricing Discipline. Two of the brightest minds in venture, Frank Rotman and Keith Rabois, discussed how they have adapted to a world where price discipline no longer exists in venture capital in this must listen to podcast episode.
30U30 VCs. It’s that time of the year again, meet the new Forbes 30 Under 30 venture capitalists.
Datos Health partnered with Redox to make asynchronous remote patient care more accessible.
Innovid went public and is now trading on the NYSE under symbol “CTV”.
JFrog and AWS unveiled a hybrid solution for boosting DevOps pipelines on kubernetes infrastructures.