Learnings from SaaS and startup events in Europe

Go Nakakomi
Jun 19 · 26 min read

※日本語版は、英語版の下にあります。(Japanese version is below English version.)

Hello, everyone. This is Go Nakakomi, the managing director of HENNGE Taiwan, Inc. I hope you are having good HENNGE days.

The meaning of HENNGE is to challenge for the change. And, we would like to provide B2B SaaS solution which can change the way a company work or the way a company do their business. In order to do so, we constantly need to learn how other SaaS companies or startup companies are doing. As a person who is pursuing global business development, I had a chance to visit Startup Grind Europe 2019 and SaaStr Europa 2019 which were held in June of 2019. In this blog, I would like to share how I felt by attending to those two events and I would like to share some of sessions which impacted me.

By the way, I would like to point out about our company’s culture that if one have a passion to learn and a passion to challenge for the future, our company will invest. In fact in this business trip, there was a newly graduate colleague who just joined last year. Regardless of working experience, he was passionate enough to be with us. In our culture statement (HENNGE Way), we state “Help passionate HENNGE people”. In this case, our company gave an opportunity to a passionate employee.

Newly graduate colleague asking questions to Andrew Filev, Founder and CEO of Wrike

Where Europe based SaaS and startup companies do business?

The one of the biggest question I wanted to get answer in this business trip is to know where are the target markets for SaaS/startup companies in Europe. We already know that there is a big SaaS market in US. However, there are a lot of startups established in European area. Therefore, I had a question whether European startups focus on European market? Or, do European startups try to focus on US market from the beginning even they are located in Europe. HENNGE as a Japan based company which doesn’t have an US branch, is in similar situation as those European startups. Because of this, I thought, answer to this question will provide us some insights for our future global expansion. This was the question that I couldn’t get an answer in SaaStr in San Francisco.

Of course, different companies have different visions so that there is no correct or wrong answer. As I digest and summarize from what I heard from multiple sessions, I found out the answer was simple. It depends on the vision of a company. If the vision of a company is to provide a solution to solve problems in certain location, that company would not go for global market.

In general, when we think about the reason why most of SaaS/startup companies exists, those companies exist to provide solutions for success of their customers. And, it is easily assumed that those SaaS/startup companies would have more meaning of existence if those companies can reach as much as customers they can. Which means, to become more meaningful companies, it is better to go for bigger market. As a result, many of European startup companies would try to go for US market.

I remember many of speakers answered when they were asked question why they went to US market, most of them answered that they just followed the customers. If the solution is not location oriented and good enough to be adopted in different locations, companies in different locations will find that solution and ask to provide that solution. And if the number of customers grow, more customers should be in bigger market. As a result, no matter whether the company wants to go for bigger market or not, the company will end up doing business in bigger market. Of course, I believe there need to be a lot of word of mouse influences or marketing in order to be like that.

Again, as a conclusion, if the solution is good enough and if the solution is not location oriented, the company eventually should end up being in a bigger market.

Tips to grow the company

Now, I would like to pick up one of sessions from Startup Grind. The one which impacted me the most is the session by Emilie Colker who is Managing Director of IDEO. In her session “Creative Leadership for Continued Innovation”, she pointed out 3 tips to grow company.

First tip was to “Learn to let go”. If the company is small, or if the company is in early startup stage, co-founders are only members or the company so that co-founders need to do everything. And, as the company grow, the company will hire more people and tries to do more things. But, if the co-founders try to manage everything, co-founders will be the bottle neck to make decision and will slow down the company’s action. That’s why it is important to let others do.

In order to make employees do with passion, co-founders will need to “Move from motivating yourself to motivating others”. This was second tip. In order to scale, one person can not do everything so that it is necessary to ask for others to do it. And, it would be important that the one to ask has a high motivation. I really agree with this idea but it is not easy to motivate others.

The last tip was to “Actively focus on culture”. The culture is the statements which employees rely on when they make decisions. If the company become big, it is impossible for co-founders to check or watch whether decisions each individuals made are appropriate or not. That’s why company needs to state cultures so that each employees can make decisions in the way company prefers. Therefore, focusing on culture become important when the company scales.

I felt, this session summarized well on how mind set of managers should be. And, reminded me the things I should focus on as a manager.

Success for SaaS is to gain trust from customers

Most impressing session for me in SaaStr Europa was the session by Roger Scott who is Chief Customer Officer at New Relic. He talked about 7 tips and tricks to having happy customer at scale.

7 tips and tricks he presented are these:

  1. Build your team with an eye toward the future.
  2. Develop a joint vision of success.
  3. Slow down to go fast.
  4. Define the customer journeys.
  5. Create a customer health discipline.
  6. Develop lifelong customer advocates.
  7. Establish trust above all else.

His first tip is to build a team which each individuals have a same vision for the future. Not only this session but through out many sessions, presenters emphasize on building strong team who have a motivation towards company’s vision. I believe this is the most important key factor to scale company. But at the same time, motivating others is the one of the most difficult things to do.

From second tip to last seventh tip, he emphasize on building good relationship with customers. The second tip is to align the success vision with customers. And, forth tip is to state how customers will gain success. As customers realize the success from the solution, eventually, those customers will become advocates as shared in sixth tip. In order to do so, the trust is the most important factor as he said as seventh tip.

In fact, SaaS is a business model which will accumulate profit by long-term use of the solution. Usually, SaaS price model will not make any profit if a customer terminate its use in short period of time. That is the reason why long-term relationship with customers is important and he emphasized it by expressing the trust is the most important above all else.

What I learned by attending SaaS/startup events

As a person in SaaS business world, most of the tips or facts presented in the sessions are not that new idea. Moreover, those are basic factors which SaaS companies should know. However, every sessions summarized those tips or facts in to simple words so that it helped me understand in more structured or organized way.

Plus, as the business environment constantly changes, it is good to be assured that the things we are doing is correct by listening to those sessions.

Fail fast and learn

Robert Vis who is co-founder&CEO of Messagebird said this in his session. In our culture (HENNGE Way), it is divided in to two parts but we have “Ignite changes to make mistakes early” and “Stay curious, be a learnaholic” which are quite similar. By knowing similarity between company of presenter and us will make us more confident that what we are doing is not wrong.

The biggest assurance that I got by visiting these two events is that there is no easy and magical way for the success. We just need to improve our business process day by day and proceed step by step. I was amazed to see how fast growing companies are executing things. And this provided me a good pressure to move faster on what I’m doing. Anyway, if we would like to be a world class IT company, we need to be a company which can execute and challenge a lot.

Thank you for reading and wish you to have great HENNGE days.


皆さま、こんにちは。HENNGE Taiwan, Inc. にて、董事総経理をやっております、中込剛です。皆様は、どんなHENNGEの日々をお過ごしでしょうか?

HENNGEとは、変化のための挑戦という意味を持っています。そして、私たちは、企業の働き方やビジネスのやり方を変えるようなB2B SaaSソリューションを提供したいと考えています。そのためには、私たちは、他のSaaSやスタートアップ企業がどのようにしているかを常に学ぶ必要があると考えています。この度、海外事業開発を行なっている人間として、2019年6月に開催されたGrind Europe 2019SaaStr Europa 2019に参加する機会がありました。そこで、このブログにて、これらイベントに参加し感じたこと、そして、印象に残ったセッションについてご紹介したいと思います。

ちなみにではございますが、一点私たちの会社のカルチャーだと思ったことをご紹介したいと思います。私たちの会社において、学ぶ情熱および将来に向けたチャレンジをする情熱があれば、それに対して投資をするということです。今回の出張においても、去年弊社に入社したばかりの新入社員が同行しました。経験に関係なく、彼は私たちと一緒に同行するだけの情熱を持っていたのです。私たちの企業カルチャー(HENNGE Way)には、“Help passionate HENNGE people”と言うものがあります。今回のケースでは、弊社が情熱のある従業員に対し、機会を与えたと捉えることができます。

Wrike のFounder and CEOであるAndrew Filev氏に質問する新入社員








さて、それでは、Startup Grindで聞いた一つのセッションをご紹介したいと思います。一番印象に残ったセッションはIDEOのManaging DirectorであるEmilie Colker氏のセッションでした。彼女のセッション“Creative Leadership for Continued Innovation”にて、彼女は企業成長に必要な3つのコツを紹介しました。

最初のコツは“Learn to let go”(手放すことを学ぶ)でした。もし、会社がまだ小さかった場合、もしくは、スタートアップの初期段階であった場合、ほぼ創業者たちのみが会社の構成員となります。そのため、創業者たちが全てを行わなければいけません。そして、会社が成長するとより多くの人を雇用しより多くのことに挑戦し始めます。しかし、もし創業者たちが全てを管理しようとすると創業者たちが決断のボトルネックとなり、会社のスピードを遅くしてしまうことになります。だからこそ、手放し、他の人にお願いするということが重要になります。

そして、従業員が情熱をもって物事にあったってもらうために、創業者は、“Move from motivating yourself to motivating others”(自分をやる気にさせることから他をやる気にさせること)にシフトしなければいけません。これが二つ目のコツでした。高度に成長する時に、一人の人間が全てを行うことはできません。だからこそ、他の人にお願いすることが必要となり、その際に、できるだけやる気がある人にお願いすることが重要になります。たしかに、この通りではあるのですが、なかなか、他のやる気を高めることは簡単ではありません。

最後のコツは“Actively focus on culture”(積極的に企業文化に集中する)でした。企業文化は、従業員が決断を下す際に拠り所とする規範です。会社が大きくなれば、創業者がそれぞれ個人が決断した内容が正しいかどうかの確認や把握することは不可能となります。だからこそ、会社はそれぞれの従業員が会社にとって好ましい判断ができるよう企業文化を規定する必要があります。よって、会社の成長時に企業文化に集中することが重要となります。



SaaStr Europaにおいて、一番印象に残ったセッションは、New RelicにてChief Customer OfficerのRoger Scott氏によるセッションでした。彼は、成長時に満足したお客様を獲得するための7つのコツと小技について講演しました。


  1. Build your team with an eye toward the future.
  2. Develop a joint vision of success.
  3. Slow down to go fast.
  4. Define the customer journeys.
  5. Create a customer health discipline.
  6. Develop lifelong customer advocates.
  7. Establish trust above all else.




SaaS /スタートアップイベントに参加して学んだこと



Fail fast and learn(早く失敗し学べ)

Messagebird のco-founder&CEOであるRobert Vis氏は、彼のセッションの中で、このように言いました。私たちの企業文化(HENNGE Way)にも、二つに分かれてはいますが、“Ignite changes to make mistakes early”と“Stay curious, be a learnaholic”といった似たようなものがあります。講演者の会社と私たちの会社の間で似ている部分を見つけることは、私たちが行なっていることが間違っていないことに、より確信を持つことに繋がります。

これら2つのイベントを通じて、はっきりと分かったことは、成功するために簡単もしくは魔法的な方法はないということでした。私たちは、日々ビジネスのやり方をより良くし、一歩一歩進むしかないのです。ただ、成長している企業が色々なことを素早く実施していることに驚きました。そして、その事実は、今行なっていることを、もっと早くやらなければならないという良い意味でのプレッシャーを私に与えてくれました。いずれにせよ、私たちが world class IT companyになるためには、より多くのことを実施しチャレンジする必要があると感じました。



Here we learn and share through writing. From us, the people of HENNGE.

Go Nakakomi

Written by

Managing Director of HENNGE Taiwan, Inc. (HDE Taiwan, Inc. )


Here we learn and share through writing. From us, the people of HENNGE.