Ah, growth stage; the difficult second album of the business world. You’ve developed and thoroughly tested a viable concept, obtained seed funding and got the whole operation off the ground. It’s been a colossal effort, but now it’s time to really dig into your energy reserves, preparing to scale successfully, maintaining momentum and sidestepping the common pitfalls and pain-points that you know you will be coming down the line towards you.

Location within a thriving SaaS hub, such as the West Coast, is typically seen as a huge boon in these circumstances. You’re surrounded by supportive infrastructure, a switched on network, an enviable local talent pool, and inspirational neighbors. While the good undoubtedly outweighs the bad here, it’s still crucial to be alert to the double-edged sword that establishment in such an area can prove to be. Yes, talent is drawn to the area, but you’re vying for attention with a host of other staff-hungry recruiters. Investors are plentiful, but being pursued from all angles. Being located within a saturated market means it’s not enough to be merely watertight, you need to be pretty remarkable.

After research, SaaStock has identified that three specific areas of differentiation can make a huge impact to companies looking to fully capitalize on their location at the heart of industry action. The three key considerations are:

  1. People – Nailing Hiring & Culture as you grow
  2. Business – Tackling the struggles of scaling up
  3. Product – Getting the product right for long-term customer success

This article explores forty West Coast SaaS companies crushing these three core areas, offering not only exceptional products, but going above and beyond to create truly unique propositions, and opportunities that stand up to the challenge of stiff competition.


Drawbridge (Acquired by Linkedin): The Masters Of Timing 

Differentiator: Business

Drawbridge have spent the last few years helping companies gain a deeper understanding of their customers via machine learning, even being awarded the industry’s earliest patent for identity resolution. Their smart move; perfectly positioning themselves for acquisition by Linkedin in May of this year. Driven by well-known industry executive Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, the company’s investment had tapered off in recent rounds, so the move to integrate with Linkedin’s marketing solutions is suggestive of well-judged leadership and insight; knowing when to pass on the baton and relinquish independence to enable your tech to rise up to the next level.


Finn AI: The Financial Frontrunners

Differentiator: Product

Finn AI is an award-winning, AI-powered virtual assistant, ready to disrupt the future of personal banking and finance. In this case, their product is what sets them apart in the field; personalizing the control that customers have over their banking options via natural-feeling conversational interaction. Their crack team of data scientists, engineers, and financial industry experts assist both banks and credit unions to transform customer engagement, increasing financial literacy and confidence, at the same time as bringing the convenience and efficiencies of a digital-first experience. It’s taken a while for these levels of innovation to penetrate the somewhat cozy world of banking, but Finn AI are poised on the forefront of the charge to bring huge benefits, as customer demand and regulatory freedom start to take off.


Vonigo: The Service Provider for Service Providers

Differentiator: Product

Vonigo, who provide cloud-based enterprise software for service companies, enabling online booking, scheduled estimates and more, stand out as a result of first-hand experience in their own target market. The product grew from their own frustrating quest to find a management solution which met their needs when running their own service-based businesses, and today, this first-hand experience of the industry that they serve is further leveraged by their Growth Program, a flagship one-on-one scheme which helps service companies committed to accelerating growth, and keeping abreast of ever-changing technology, processes, and industry best practices.


BasicGov Systems: The Niche Narrowers

Differentiator: Product

With a history dating back to the 1980s, you could be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at BasicGov’s growth stage status. What makes them stand out in relation to this list’s curation is their gradual evolution over time, starting life beneath parent company Municipal Solutions Group and then gradually gaining both more independence and a better defined, narrower niche in terms of their product. Splitting away to become a standalone, 100% SaaS-based company in the mid-2000s, today they provide modules for Licensing, Inspections, Planning, Permitting and more, empowering Government to serve more efficiently.


CloudApp: The Impactful Individuals

Differentiator: People

CloudApp is a video and media sharing platform which empowers organizations to quickly create, upload and manage visual content. As you’d expect from a company dedicated to finding effective, succinct methods of delivery and communication, their attitude to scaling in terms of team has been similarly optimized. Numbering less than twenty staff, CloudApp leverage their own software to accelerate and ease the onboarding process, and hire for proactive, sleeves-rolled-up attitude, as all staff are empowered to have considerable individual impact.


Harness: The Very Special Delivery

Differentiator: Product

Harness stand out by way of their crystal clear mission: to simplify the entire software delivery process, so that engineering teams can get things shipped speedily and easily, without sleepless nights over the fear of breaking things. Their solution is an industry first – a “Continuous Delivery-as-a-Service” platform. Using Machine Learning to simplify the whole process of delivering code from artifact into production, they offer a raft of features such as a Pipeline Builder, Workflow Wizard, Continuous Verification and Automated Roll Back, to ensure that their value proposition stands out.


Agari: The Specialist Security Solution

Differentiator: Product

Agari stands out by way of their highly specialist and impressively comprehensive security offering. As the only SaaS email security solution to uses predictive AI to stop advanced email attacks such as spear-phishing, account takeover and business email compromise, they have a unique offering that has so far proved immensely appealing across multiple industries. Their solutions are trusted and relied upon by many of the world’s best-known companies, including six of leading banks, top five social networks, multiple cloud providers, and key government agencies.


eSUB Construction Software: The Builders’ Builders

Differentiator: Product

eSUB Construction Software are all about their niche, honing a well-designed and multi-faceted product to a highly specific construction industry vertical: subcontractors. Whilst construction software is generally targeted to the needs of General Contractors and Owners, this company stands out for its dedicated specialism, and mission to increase standardization, accountability and productivity across the enterprise for the subcontractors that they faithfully serve.


Ridecell: The Fleets Of The Future

Differentiator: Product

Ridecell are making a strong play for the new mobility market, with their offering targeted at automakers, auto clubs, automotive dealerships, and mobility startups alike. Their platform provides everything required to run a standalone ride sharing or car sharing operation — or even a hybrid service that combines both. What’s truly impressive about their technology, and conceivably responsible for much of their success to date, is the sheer automated comprehensivity of the product. Onboarding new riders, checking IDs, dynamic pricing, driver-rider matching, ride scheduling, payment processing, demand-supply balancing, personalized settings, and even referral programs and promotions — the list is exhaustive.


Indio: The Insurance Innovators

Differentiator: Product

Indio display a keen eye for an essential industry currently being let down by a lack of innovative tech offerings. The importance of insurance is unquestionable, but customer experience can still be cumbersome, slow and expensive. Indio use their team’s considerable industry-insider experience to provide a solution that transforms insurance workflows, streamlining many internal and administrative tasks to start to bring things into line with the expectations of today’s modern customer. The result: faster, easier, cheaper application processes which engage customers, convert at higher rates and keep relationships strong.


Signal Sciences

Differentiator: Product

Signal Sciences represent another company who came into being as the result of frustrated practitioners’ quest for a solution that did not yet exist. Today providing next-gen web application firewall (WAF) and runtime application self-protection (RASP), Signal Sciences’ founders originally ran security at Etsy. Frustrated with existing legacy technology that inhibited the need for flexible development needs and failed to provide illuminating attack data, they built their own solution, which became their own product. It’s this attitude that continues to distinguish the business; there’s a lasting attitude of “practitioners first, and vendors second.” This empathetic and deeply immersed approach to product development really sets them apart in the field.


Algolia: The Culture Club

Differentiator: People

Voted as the number one private cloud company to work for by Glassdoor and Battery Ventures, it’s culture that Algolia are really nailing. In addition to being recognized as one of Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces, Algolia, who provide products to help accelerate search and discovery experiences across any device and platform, subscribe to the “culture eats strategy for breakfast” ethos, seeing it as a top priority and crucial Growth Driver. In the words of co-founder Nicolas Dessaigne, “It’s impossible to anticipate every challenge but it’s possible to intentionally design your culture and build the right muscles to address them.” Their growth stage strategy is simple: to build a company they want to work for today, tomorrow and in the many years to come.


Prodigy: The Driving Seat

Differentiator: Product

Prodigy are on the scene to save customer satisfaction within the trillion dollar automotive retail industry. Car purchase is consistently ranked the number one worst consumer experience in America, with less than 1% of buyers currently satisfied by the end of the process. Thankfully, in today’s modern age, a digital-first experience is on offer to remedy those woeful stats. Promising to supercharge existing sales processes, Prodigy have identified a gap in the market that shows clear room for improvement, and are taking proactive steps to bring their remedy to the masses, with over $2 billion dollars worth of cars sold through their solution to date.


OpenGov: The Municipal Masters

Differentiator: Product

With over 2,000 public agencies in 48 states using their software to access better budgeting, improved operational intelligence, and comprehensive open data, OpenGov have established themselves as the best, and indeed, only integrated cloud solution for public sector budgeting, performance, communications, and reporting. Their standout offering is the promise of an exceptionally safe and secure toolkit that unlocks new levels of efficiency and better informed decision making. Couple this with the ability to streamline reporting, accounting expertise and customized connectors to over 100 commonly used by government systems, and it’s easy to see why OpenGov’s product makes them leaders in the field.


HoloBuilder: The Construction Collaborators

Differentiator: Product

HoloBuilder’s technology enables 360 degree 3D replication of building sites, to improve workflow, collaboration, and transparency of how projects are progressing. Their software and camera-based hardware combine to help managers track progress at every stage and reduce their documentation time by more than 50%. Providing a single “source of truth” for everyone involved in a build, it’s unsurprising that buy in has been impressive to date.  Almost 60% of the Top 100 General Contractors, as ranked by leading industry magazine, the Engineering News-Record, already use HoloBuilder.


AppZen: The Friends In High Places

Differentiator: Business

AppZen help modern finance teams lead the way with artificial intelligence. In terms of standout success, they appear to excel at getting big players buy in at a global scale, creating an impressive client list that instills considerable confidence. 1,200 enterprises from 40 different countries, including a quarter of the Fortune 500 are currently using their platform to benefit from computer vision, deep learning, and semantic analysis.


DroneDeploy: The High Flyers

Differentiator: People

Players in a hot new market, DroneDeploy take a refreshingly ethical approach to business. Stating that “profit shouldn’t take priority over progress,” they strive to ensure that their products benefit organizations that are having a positive impact on people’s health, habits and future opportunities — providing them with the data they need to make informed decisions. Their “Drones For Good” Flylanthropy program, with its goal of supporting nonprofits with powerful software and community outreach, really sets them apart.


HoneyBook: The Empathetic Imitators

Differentiator: Business

As a business which supports and enables creative entrepreneurs to run slick, streamlined business operations from a single platform, HoneyBook, who count their homebase in San Francisco, but otherwise employ a globally distributed team, wisely embraces remote working amongst its own staff. In doing so, essential understanding for and empathy with much of their creative customer base (many of whom will also be working in similar remote conditions) is created.


PatientPop: The Team Builders

Differentiator: People

PatientPop, a complete practice growth solution for healthcare providers, has certainly seen exceedingly healthy numbers of new hires in the three years since it’s genesis. With 400 staff, the guiding strategy has been to recruit for diversity of thought. The current team is comprised of experienced healthcare executives as well as technological innovators. The approach to team building appears to be working well for PatientPop, which has is able to provide a dedicated staff that leads new clients through each and every step of a carefully considered collaborative process, from implementation to last success with the platform.


CareerArc: The Human Touch

Differentiator: Business

As you’d expect from a company that claims to “put the human in human capital,” CareerArc, an HR technology company that helps business leaders recruit and transition the modern workforce, make a point of ensuring exceptional customer service. This customer-first approach has seen their well-trained Client Success Managers received a 91% Overall Customer Satisfaction Rating and a reputation for a strong focus on service has seen their social recruiting and modern outplacement solutions being utilized by established enterprises in the Fortune 500 and growing companies alike.


Aera Technology: The Self-Driving Solution

Differentiator: Product

Believing that the leap from transactional to cognitive automation is imminent, and certain of the fact it will forever transform the way we work, Aera Technology is positioned to reimagine how organizations operate. They delivery a cognitive operating system, which connects owners with their businesses, autonomously orchestrating operations via IA. On a quest to make businesses “smarter, digital, dynamic, and wildly successful,” Aera leverages considerable expertise in the realms of machine learning, natural language processing, data and domain expertise to bring a powerful and patented solution to market.


15Five: The Review Rebels

Differentiator: People

Cue wild cheering: 15Five promises to make the Annual Performance Review a thing of the past. Offering a continuous suite that allows companies a full 360 approach to performance management, 15Five practise what they preach, creating a powerful “employees first” company culture that underpins the authenticity and success of their product. This freedom centred culture sees their modest team outperform others twice their size.


AskNicely: The Feedback Finessers

Differentiator: Product

AskNicely are making their mark within growth stage by tapping into the “experience economy.” Congnisant of the seismic shift we’re witnessing in today’s marketing, with a move away from direct product messaging and towards happy customers becoming repeat purchases and brand advocates, AskNicely help businesses to improve their customer experience and drive retention, revenue expansion and referrals via their Real-time NPS® TV Dashboard. Increased and more easily interpreted insights empower teams of all kinds to take powerful, positive action.


NuORDER: The Partnership Power Players

Differentiator: Business

NuORDER, as the name suggests, offers a disruptive technology revolutionizing how wholesale business is conducted. In addition to providing brands and retailers with a central hub to browse wholesale products and catalogs, access real time inventory data and place orders from a computer or mobile app, it’s interesting to see the powerful alliances that they’ve constructed with industry giants such as Nordstrom. In the notoriously clunky, outdated and analogue B2B industry, NuORDER offers the promise of real innovation and opportunity.


CrowdStreet: The Investment Innovators

Differentiator: People

Created from the ashes of the Great Recession’s economic crisis, CrowdStree was born of a desire to remove, or at least reduce, people’s overreliance on Wall Street for their investment opportunities. With the goal of combining commercial real estate investment expertise with technology, to enable direct access to a range of vetted investment opportunities, CrowdStreet stand out by way of their hiring strategy, having employed a team with more than 120 years of collective experience in commercial real estate, software, and marketing.


LiquidPlanner: The Helping Hands

Differentiator: People

In a highly appropriate move from a company dedicated to intelligent, resource-driven scheduling technology, LiquidPlanner’s staff also appear to have a strong sense of time well spent, as the company has clocked up 1600+ community volunteering to date. This impressive accolade underpins a company culture structured around innovation, collaboration and data-informed improvement.


Cordial: The Respectful Rebels

Differentiator: People

Plying their trade under the #becordial banner, Cordial are a company that truly appear to take their name to heart. The company was created to challenge the status quo of legacy marketing technology, putting power back into the hands of the marketer, and Cordial’s intention is to ensure that their own culture of accountability and authenticity, represented by their carefully considered choice of name, is recognised by their clients, and in turn, passed on to their customers.


LogiNext: The Individual Innovators

Differentiator: Business

LogiNext is the fastest growing SaaS company within field workforce and logistics optimization. Extending its global market with a presence in 10 countries, while they think big in terms of their common goal and company mission, they abhor  micromanagement and as such have a relatively flat hierarchy in terms of internal structure. Offering a broad range of logistic management products, team members are encouraged to innovate individually as well as pulling together.


Acumatica: The Marketplace Masters

Differentiator: Business

Acumatic offers cloud business management software to empowers small and mid-size businesses across a broad range of industries. Their point of differentiation comes in the form of their integrated Solutions Marketplace, offering additional third party function to their owned products. This growing partner ecosysteme offers an appealing additional amount of business and industry expertise to business customers looking to benefit from additional integrations.


RiskLens: The Thought Leaders

Differentiator: Business

RiskLens are on a mission to revolutionize and become the standard way in which large enterprises and government organizations measure, manage and articulate information and operational risk. Their unique proposition: RiskLens is the only cyber risk management software purpose-built on FAIR (Factor Analysis of Information Risk) principles. RiskLens truly are authorities in this field, serving as technical advisors to the FAIR Institute; a community of thought leaders is a non-profit organization comprised of forward-thinking risk officers, cybersecurity leaders and business executives.


SirionLabs: The Same But Different

Differentiator: People

SironLabs are on a mission to innovate in the sphere of contract lifecycle management, lifting the process from a passive, routine function to a critical driver of success for enterprises. On looking at their team structure and company culture, the ethos of diversity bound together by a common theme or purpose is a notable and repeated theme throughout the company. Geographically diverse (the team is spread across New York, Toronto, London, Frankfurt and New Delhi), staff are united by shared working practise and company-wide purpose. Similarly, Siron hire from a diverse range of backgrounds (lawyers, statisticians, auditors, analysts, data scientists, information systems engineers, product cowboys, musicians, entrepreneurs…) united by a common vision and bringing complementary skill sets to the table.


KittyHawk: The Pragmatic Pilots

Differentiator: Product

Another drone-focused business model, KittyHawk transparently focuses on the problems, as well as solutions, offered by drones, and gives companies the chance to get a headstart on their fleet management. A suite of well-designed tools ensures efficient operations and compliant practise, crucial at a time when, if current trends continue, the skies are going to become much busier, more complex spaces. Acting as a kind of air traffic control, as well as a home for all flight data and logs, KittyHawk offers a practical, honest solution that doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges that can and will be associated with the ever-increasing drone use of the future.


Polly: The Slack Surveyors

Differentiator: Product

With Slack a now ubiquitous element of most office existences, Polly offers a leading survey solution for the platform. What’s great about their standout offering is the rich and robust API enabling users to create new, custom workflows, as well as weave automated feedback into their existing flows. Surveys can be fully customized, then delivered at the right moment, to the right people, and integrations with plenty of key players (Zapier, Google Calendar, Salesforce and more) offer additional functionality.


Resilinc: The Fortune Flippers

Differentiator: Product

Resilinc offer the chance to turn potential disruptions into a competitive advantage by proactively managing them via their flagship Supply Chain Risk Management Software Solutions. Aiming to deliver the fastest time-to-value, while ensuring the lowest resource impact, Resilinc provides the world’s largest repository of supplier and part intelligence by leveraging the power of our “LinkedIn” supplier community.


BeyondPricing: The Rentals Revolutionaries

Differentiator: Product

Beyond Pricing offers a world first – an automated dynamic pricing solution for vacation rentals. Boasting increased revenues of up to 40% with data-driven pricing, real-time market data is utilized to ensure price recommendations maximize revenue and occupancy for hosts. The genius of the product lies in its automation and simple, quick set up. Once an account has been connected, the software goes to work, analysing the health of the listing against the market, and making pricing suggestions that are continually assessed by algorithms to ensure maximum profit and occupancy from vacation rental lettings.


Beckon: The Skill Selectors

Differentiator: People

Built by marketers for marketers (and fine tuned in partnership with mentors from Pepsi, Citibank, Levi’s, Visa, Disney and more) Beckon aims to become “The Source of Truth for Marketing™.” This means clean data, dependable insight, omnichannel visibility, and all the tools and guidance marketers need to accurately assess their impact on the business. Once again, hiring strategy appears to be key to success here; Beckon are looking to connect data brains with marketing souls to create a marriage of skills, experience and attitudes, unlocking the power of data to reveal the insights that drive growth.


Sureify: The Experience Improvers

Differentiator: Product

Another innovator within the insurance space, Sureify’s founders identified a virtually complete absence of digital strategy development within the industry and set about trying to change that. Their Lifetime Platform is a set of cloud-based software applications which empower insurers to digitally engage with their policyholders via various channels, helping to raise the bar for customer engagement and ushering in what they see as the age of “Insurance 2.0” – a time when the industry can compete with the levels of service and engagement currently enjoyed (and increasingly expected) by the customers of Amazon, Uber etc.


SellBrite: The Impact Excelerators

Differentiator: Business

SellBrite, the top-rated multi-channel solution for small brands and retailers, has long offered a way to list and sell products on the world’s largest online market places. With one click integrations to the likes of Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Etsy and many more, they offer a painless route to the exceptional benefits that multi-channel strategy can bring. A recent partnership with GoDaddy has given the company the chance to really accelerate their scaling, and SellBrite refers to the joining of their forces as bringing the opportunity to “expand our impact faster and more effectively and do more than we could accomplish on our own.”


Karbon: The Contextual Collaborators

Differentiator: Product

Karbon offers a suite of tools that promise to vastly improve team collaboration, workflows and all round productivity. By enhancing email with an array of action features, email is broken out of silos and into your team’s workflow, “so everyone has visibility to discuss, assign and action.” By enabling task allocation within collaborative conversation, Karbon centralizes knowledge. Its real selling point is the amount of time its sleek automation can buy, with an average of 10 hours gained back by each employee per week – a full additional working day of productivity.


Zapproved: The Legal Eagles

Differentiator: Product

Based out of Portland, Oregon, pioneering e-discovery leaders, Zapproved, live up to their home city’s reputation for individualism. Over the last decade they’ve grown an incredibly robust and well-respected business around their capacity to understand each customer’s unique mission, delivering a truly personal and bespoke service that has its roots in their extensive software experience. 


As we’ve seen from this rundown of West Coast companies dealing well with positing in a saturated SaaS market, carefully considered differentiation is the name of the game when it comes to growth stage success. SaaStock West, coming up this September, identifies and answers the core challenges of SaaS founders, executives and investors with practical, actionable advice, ensuring that companies ready to bump revenue up past the $1M-10M ARR bracket, are doing so not only successfully, but exceptionally – making the most out of all the fantastic market opportunities that the rich seam of the West Coast offers.