This year, for the first time, SaaStock is running its own SaaS Startup Program, catering specifically to early-stage SaaS startups. But before I get to the why and how I want to tell you a story. The story of TravelPerk.

TravelPerk joined us at SaaStock17 as a startup partner. At the time, they were a few dozen people based in Barcelona, building a SaaS product that eases booking business travel. Gidi Pridor, VP Marketing, JC Taunay Bucalo, VP Sales & Customer Success and a few team members came to Dublin to showcase the product to what he would later coin as their sweet spot customers: other SaaS companies. They had been mostly showcasing the product at travel expos up to this point, where usually they got lost in the sea of airlines, resorts, walking tours and swimming pools.

At SaaStock17 they stood out. So much so that they managed to add 20 deals to the pipeline, all of which came to fruition in the months after SaaStock. Our company was one of them. TravelPerk is now our official travel partner. You will use them as you book your stay in Dublin through our website.

Fast forward to this year and TravelPerk are now the fastest growing SaaS company in Europe according to both Gartner and G2 Crowd. They are joining us as Silver Partner. We would love to say that it was solely because of their partnership with us but that would be an obvious overstatement.

What were the elements of that growth? What was our role in it and what more could we do? We tried to dissect their journey so far and trace back the vital ingredients.

Six months before SaaStock17, TravelPerk had won The Next Web pitch competition. Mentors had taught them how to pitch better, workshops had helped them become a better business. The pitch and the selling proposition got better and better. It’s that refined pitch that they would masterfully give at their SaaStock17 booth, gaining the interest of their future customers. However, during SaaStock they also met investors and people ahead of them on the journey that too helped them in various ways. They sat in on actionable sessions by the likes of David Skok, Bill Macaitis, David Darmanin, and many others.

All these little steps combined played a pivotal role in getting TravelPerk to where they are now.

It dawned on us: we could package all that together and help others like them to get on the same trajectory during the three days of the conference.

Not only that, but we could also revolutionize how programs and pitch competitions for startups are organised and run. Previously we had been helping companies at a growth and scaling stage by providing them with educational content and meaningful and lasting connections within the community.

Seeing TravelPerk succeed as it did and knowing that we had been part of it and could easily have had an even more significant impact, was a case in point why we had to pay attention to startups too.

In a SaaS context, no one was better positioned to create a meaningful difference to a young startup than we were.

The Program

Enter the SaaStock18 Startup Program, build specifically for SaaS startups to get the best chance at high growth. The program is divided into several parts — a Global Pitch competition seeking to find the best SaaS Startup of 2018, a day devoted to Startup Program participants, and a platform to showcase products and foster key 1-on-1 meetings with investors and other stakeholders. For all this, we are looking to have 100 SaaS startup contenders. Let’s take each and explain:

Global Pitch Competition

We are taking on the challenge to find and bet on the best SaaS Startup of 2018. We believe that there is so much SaaS talent in the making, it deserves a platform that fundamentally understands SaaS to recognise and celebrate it. No better place than our very own community of trail blazers. We have involved our partners in this hunt and together we will give the recognition and support to those that we believe are extremely promising.

We are officially launching our call for applicants next week so stay tuned or better even send an email to [email protected] to be notified first. The main prize will be €25k but you can also expect free annual subscriptions provided by our partners, PR opportunities, coaching sessions and most importantly, the recognition on our main stage.

The Startup Programme Day

On October 15th, we will gather 200 attendees for a day of learning and networking, away from the crowds. We looked for the best partner to help us on the journey of building the best Startup Program and we chose Zendesk. No bigger supporter of startups and their ambitions. The day will take place at their brand new offices in Dublin.

The highlight of the day will be a unique growth bootcamp led by Dan Martelland Michael Litt. A serial entrepreneur with 5 companies, 3 exits and 39 angel investments, including Intercom, Dan Martell has paved a road filled with frameworks and processes, which he will openly share. Michael Litt, on the other hand, has not only built an incredibly successful company but has made it fitting for all demographics and has remained humble on the way. Between the two, they carry a myriad of experience and secrets. The two Canadians will roll up their sleeves and tactically train participants in the Startup Programme Day.

Other things you can expect on the day are meetings with many of our partners, coaching sessions with the likes of Gidi and his team at TravelPerk, feedback sessions for your pitch, office hours and many others. We will conclude the day with various networking opportunities, pub crawls and an opening party. Apply to be part of this incredible day.

Startups during SaaStock

The Pitch Competition, will be running during the conference where selected startups will pitch in front of a panel of judges, refining their pitches and competing on the big SaaStock Stage.

While all that is happening, participating startups will be exhibiting to 3000 SaaS leaders with a designated booth in the expo area.

You will demo your product, get valuable feedback and acquire new customers from what TravelPerk defines as any SaaS company’s sweet spot user base. And because connecting and matchmaking investors with the new kids on the block have always been a core value and function of SaaStock, you can expect valuable meetings with investors who speak SaaS. We have a designated Huckletree Lounge, which will act as the meeting spot. We are working on a system to facilitate connections.