As an entrepreneur, you tend to attend quite a few Startup events and maybe organize a few as well. But the ones that really bring a fundamental shift in your thought process are few and far between.
About ten days ago, I was lucky enough to be part of one such event. You know you have hit a jackpot of knowledge when:
- Tracking Strong Fundamentals — You get to listen and learn from a venture capitalist and an entrepreneur talking about the basics of enterprise SaaS business building from their varied experiences and perspectives. Sometimes these quite opposing views lead to the same goals but use different paths. They discussed the framework of running a sound SaaS business with examples to help you understand how the framework is applied. The fundamental business terms for scaling SaaS business like, Sales Velocity, Product Market Fit (PMF), Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Gross Margin, and Net Expansion are elucidated as specific scenarios are discussed. You begin to think in terms of these practical KPIs as opposed to just winging it and learn that managing these KPIs is both an art and a science.
- Understanding your Customers — As you begin to hone your Product Market Fit (PMF) by asking questions such as “How well do you know your market?”, “What market you are in?”, “Is the market crowded or not crowded?”, “Do your potential Customers know what they want?”, “Are they aware of their needs”, etc., you begin to start think about the size of the market and where your product’s sweet spot could be. The more people you talk to, the better your information, and the better the definition of the problem that you are trying to solve. Couple this a with the map of the customer journey end to end Customer journey, to provide the mission critical, scalable product your customer needs. That is, more value for lower TOC (Total Ownership Cost). You can then build your platform to address multiple use cases and to form a network of third party providers, leading to an ecosystem model.
- Importance of Sales Process — Another fundamental business metric is your sales velocity. Focusing on this to achieve 6.5% to 10.5% month over month growth can double or triple your revenue. Start focusing not only on TOFU, MOFU and BOFU, but also the expansion of your product usage once the Customer has started using your product. With each enterprise deal you begin to map the dynamics by asking “How many decision makers are there?”and “Who’s the influencer and who are the users?”. But more importantly, you begin sowing the seeds much before the sales conversation even begins. Meeting folks at breakfasts, conferences and other social gatherings ensures the process of creating brand and product awareness is not limited to just sales and marketing cycles but an ‘ALWAYS ON’ activity. As these conversations continue it helps in defining your Customer segments based on potential product usage, payment appetite, etc.
- Getting the Marketing Mojo — By getting exposed to this tried and tested storytelling approach which is a mix of finding an adversary, standing out in the crowd and discovering a trend, you will find yourself obsessing over every minute detail of marketing aspects. You then focus on improving the product by thoroughly understanding the user journey, the problems that users face now and the challenges they may face later as their businesses continue to evolve.
- Experiences and Stories from the Trenches — You get to hear all of the above from a very diverse set of entrepreneurs who enrich your experience by telling you ups and downs of their journeys, how they reached their PMF, the time it took and the thought process that evolved to get there. You get to learn about the challenges in scaling up the business not only from Product terms but from an organization perspective, while caring about your people and integrity. You really feel part of an ecosystem of entrepreneurs and VCs who go above and beyond to grow the SaaS ecosystem in India. You get to share their vision of India as the SaaS capital of the world and understand how you can contribute to it.
Lastly, when you thank the folks and tell them you learnt so much from them, all they expect from you is that you apply what you have learnt so that you can be a positive impact! That’s when you know that you are in an ecosystem that truly believes in paying it forward!
And this was just tip of the iceberg of what I learnt at this event — SaaSBooMi 2019