Fueling SaaS rockets: Introducing the Rocket Fuel stage10 min read

SaaStock 2017 - Day Two

This overview is part of a series of track spotlights we are doing. You can read up on SaaS.CityGrowth, and Scale.

Funding, especially at the early stages of a SaaS company, is always a topic high up on the minds of founders. While we have always made sure we have keynotes and panels covering the subject, this year we are designating an entire stage to it.

Yes, it is that important and vital to success.

On the second day of SaaStock, we are transforming the Traction Stage into Rocket Fuel. Devoted to the topic of funding, Rocket Fuel is a one-day track featuring leading European and US-based Early Stage VCs who will be delivering tactical keynotes for those SaaS Founders looking to raise Seed or Series A funding rounds.

We will start at the beginning – how do you prep for that VC meeting you landed after the warm intro? We have the best person to answer that – a VC that sees 15 pitches a week, rounding to over 1500 in her career.

We will pay special attention to the one key thing that VCs look for at this stage – product-market fit.

You will get guidance on how to put together a diverse and strong board, whose members you will never want to buy out.

Then we will help you understand how VCs make decisions so you can address all the details they are after.

We will demystify some often seen and heard phrases and will deconstruct them for you: What makes a team great and what is measure everything supposed to mean.

And if at the end of that actionable day, you still have pressing questions, you can ask to your heart’s content during a special AMA.

Below is a roundup of the brilliant VCs we have gathered for you, outlining their talks. Grab a ticket for SaaStock18 now and save €200 before October 1st.

Evgenia Plotnikova

Evgenia is responsible for sourcing, due diligence and execution of investments in B2B software and FinTech across Europe. Prior to joining Dawn, Evgenia was a VC at Atomico, where she helped spearhead the firm’s efforts in France. Before joining the world of VC, Evgenia was an investor at TPG Capital, leading US private equity fund, and worked at J.P. Morgan in London and Dubai.

Talk: 101 board preparation

The textbooks tell you that Board Nirvana is a perfect mix of diversity, a balance of experienced independents and engaged investors, with a rockstar Chairman to keep it all humming. So how did you end up with an all-male board made up entirely of investors, many of which the business has outgrown? And this is the body that takes the most important decisions, including you keeping your job… So where is the path back to Board Nirvana? Evgenia will help you navigate your life after the investment. Key questions will include:

  • Why managing your Board is a job and how do you excel at it?
  • How do you “hire” your Board Members and can you fire them?
  • Why are you dependent on your “independent” Director?
  • Is a female Board member a unicorn and can you find one?
  • Can you make preparing for your Board meetings pain-free?

Blake Bartlett

Blake is a Partner at OpenView, the expansion stage software VC. He has led the firm’s investments in Expensify, Calendly, Logikcull, Zipwhip and Pantheon. Prior to OpenView, he was at Battery Ventures where he helped lead investments in Optimizely, Glassdoor, Wayfair, Q2eBanking and others.

Talk: The #1 Requirement for Your Series A

You are a SaaS founder. You want to raise a Series A. You know there are a lot of things VCs care about, but which one matters most? Two and a half words: product-market fit. You’ve heard the term before, but what does it even mean? How do you know if you’ve got it? What can you do to improve it? In this talk, Blake will answer all your questions about product-market fit. Key topics will include:

  • Defining product-market fit in SaaS vs. other markets
  • How to test if your company has product-market fit, and what you can do to strengthen it
  • Case studies from Blake’s investments in Glassdoor, Optimizely, Expensify and Calendly.

Louis Coppey

As the 2nd trained engineer at Point Nine, Louis loves companies that want to reshape industries by using data and machine learning. He was also an early Bitcoin HODLer and shares Pawel’s passion for the coming blockchain revolution. Louis discovered the VC world at Alven Capital in Paris, and Berlin startups as an EiR at OptioPay, making him a big supporter of Franco-German alliances. Finally, he holds 3 Masters from MIT, HEC Paris and Telecom ParisTech.

Talk: Understanding VC’s decision-making frameworks

For entrepreneurs, the decision-making process of VC firms can sometimes appear complex and/or blurry. Understanding it is nonetheless the key to assessing their chances of raising VC money. The goal of this presentation consists in combining a few investment frameworks we have built at Point Nine with others that reputable VC firms have published online in order to shed light on the 5 most important categories driving Venture Capital investment decisions.

Videesha Böckle

Videesha Böckle has over a decade of work experience in the areas of business/product development, sales, finance, and venture capital. As a Founding/Managing Partner at signals VC, she invests in enterprise technologies looking to automate back-end processes at the late seed and series A stage. Before moving to Berlin, she worked for London-based Venture Capital fund PROfounders Capital. Formerly she was an Entrepreneur in Residence for FTSE 250 Telco TalkTalk Plc working on strategic corporate innovation and data-driven customer relationship management. At the start of her career, she worked as a credit analyst for Lehman Brothers.

Talk: “We invest in great teams”: What do VCs mean?

You’ve probably heard it on panels and in discussions with other founders that VCs always back “great” teams – what does that mean and what makes a kick-ass founding team? As a founding team you’re probably passionate, ambitious and driven to build the best company you can but will you make the cut. By analyzing data from some of the most buy viagra online in us successful founding teams in European Tech we look at the attributes that made these teams “great”. Was there any correlation between these founders or is this just a case of investor hindsight bias that great companies i.e. those that scale and show traction must be built by phenomenal founding teams.

Stephanie Opdam

An Associate in Notion, Stephanie was born in the Netherlands to two travel startup entrepreneurs. After studying International Business, she set up a non-profit NGO together with a friend, which shut down after 2 years due to difficulties in further scaling operations. In 2015, Stephanie started working at Columbia Lake Partners, where she screened SaaS companies after raising the first institutional money. Stephanie was introduced to multiple Notion portfolio companies during these years which led to a co-investment in Brightpearl and deep admiration for the operational expertise of the Notion team. In 2018, Notion finally adopted her into their community of hard-working and fun colleagues. Stephanie’s role is to find disruptive tech companies in the UK, Ireland, Benelux and DACH regions across B2B verticals.

Talk: Fundraising: An insider view from the other side of the table

You arranged a (warm!) intro to a VC. You have a meeting lined up. Now it’s time to prep. Stephanie, who has processed 1,500+ SaaS pitches and sees 15 start-ups per week – will go behind the scenes of fundraising. This talk will cover the questions you must ask and the trickiest questions you will face when meeting Notion and other VCs. Learn to avoid traps like the hairy-deal-experience, the too-early-excuse and a VC that ghosts you.

Chris Kobylecki

Chris takes care of Innovation Nest’s deal flow activities and makes sure that people know about Innovation Nest. He runs an invite-only SaaS Meetup, which gathers together B2B SaaS Companies, Founders, Mentors and Investors. Previously he was taking care of marketing for a Board of European Students of Technology, addressing 32 countries and over 90 universities.

Talk: “Measure everything” what does that really mean?

When raising your first round you are asked for a lot of data and why exactly investors want to see that data? How should you get ready to present that data in the digestible form and how this data will allow you to see the bigger picture of your business. In this talk, Chris will go into designing your first data room, finding out how the process and decision making looks from the other side (investors perspective), as well as present case studies from companies that Innovation Nest works with.

Andy Leaver

Partner at Crane Venture Partners, for the last 15 years Andy has placed himself at the intersection of the tectonic shifts in the software industry. He has built global teams from scratch in Cloud, Big Data, Mobile and Social businesses. Andy’s passion for technology and leadership has helped him create explosive growth at Ariba, SuccessFactors, Bazaarvoice, Workday and Hortonworks – all starting from humble beginnings and resulting in world-leading public companies. These are the deep learnings he draws upon to help scale the new emerging leaders of Intelligent Computing.

Talk: The VC Roadshow: how not to turn into the 75%

About 100 enterprise SaaS-type companies raise Seed money every year in Europe and there are roughly 25 enterprise SaaS deals a year that raise Series A rounds between $5-15m. So roughly 75% of Seed companies either fail, bootstrap the rest of their way to exit or find another way to survive without VC $. Only 25% go on to raise an A.

Connor Murphy

Serving as Managing Director of TechStars is the latest outpost for Irishman Conor Murphy. After spending six years in management consulting, Connor found Datahug, a platform that uses data science to master networking between people. He raised funding from Salesforce, DFJ, Oyster, and Ron Conway, and then led the company to exit to Nasdaq. In TechStars, Connor invests in machine learning and B2B SaaS startups.

Talk: How B2B SaaS Startups are leveraging the explosion in “Corporate Innovation” to “Do More Faster”

In this talk, we will quickly highlight what this means for Seed and Series A B2B SaaS Startups and how they can quickly succeed with Corporates to drive revenues, credibility, capital and valuations at a much earlier stage than ever before. Key Topics will include:

  • What is driving this growth from the Corporate perspective
  • How Startups can think about and engage with a wide variety of ‘Corporate Innovation’ initiatives.

Will McQuillan

William is a Partner at Frontline Ventures. He was the Co-Founder and CEO of Osmoda.com, an online sales platform targeting some of Europe’s top emerging fashion brands. Prior to this, he was one of the founding employees of Ondra Partners, a start-up investment-banking boutique. Will is passionate about entrepreneurship and currently is the London Ambassador for the Sandbox Network, for which he has organised over 40 events in the last 2 years. He is also a mentor for Springboard and Imperial Incubators in London and is a Startup Leadership Program Fellow.

Talk: Ask a VC Anything

Building a global software company is really hard and learning at the speed of experience is no longer going to cut it for 21st-century founders. At Frontline, we believe that we have a central role to play in helping our early-stage B2B SaaS founders beat the knowledge curve. We see over 1,500 entrepreneurs each year and we pride ourselves on adding value to the founders we bring onboard – as well as providing genuine feedback and guidance to those exceptional entrepreneurs we decide not to back. In this session, William will open up the floor to any and all questions on starting, funding and scaling your business. As a former founding employee and founder himself, William has the first-hand experience with the entrepreneurial journey. And, as a board member to 9+ companies, he has unique insight into what makes a VC tick – and how you can set yourself up for success.

 

Ready for lift off? Then join us for SaaStock for three days of learning, networking and bonding with founders, executives and investors on the same path as you. Get your ticket before October 1st and save €200 euros.

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