This year we’ve fast-tracked into a new way of working, globally. One thing the world has learned this year is that SaaS companies are a key component to helping employees work remotely during the pandemic, and beyond.
Unsurprisingly, this was one of the key themes that ran through all the keynotes on the main stage at SaaStock EMEA. Our keynote speakers shared a common idea – embracing the changing world and finding new opportunities from it, and overcoming the unprecedented hurdles that these changes have thrown up.
Read on for a summary of our keynotes from SaaStock EMEA. We’ve grouped them into seven categories – click to jump to the section most relevant to you.
- European SaaS industry benchmarking
- Expanding into new markets
- Company culture
- SaaS sales best practices
- Marketing and growth
- Product and positioning
- Pricing and monetisation
Missed the conference, but want to watch the keynotes (and fireside chats, and panels) in full? Check out SaaStock.tv
European SaaS Industry Benchmarking
Philippe Botteri and Varun Purandare (Accel) – Accel 2020 Euroscape: Decacorn Unleashed
At SaaStock EMEA, Accel’s Philippe Botteri and Varun Purandare launched the Accel Euroscape 2020. This year, in addition to unveiling their list of top 100 Cloud companies started in Europe and Israel and their Champions League (the high-growth unicorns from the region), they also unveiled the Accel Euroscape Public Index: the index of the European and Israeli-born public cloud companies, and its performance.
Philippe shared 5 trends he’s expecting will generate the next SaaS leaders in Europe.
- Remote work
- Digitisation of healthcare
- The rise of the citizen developer
- Fintech stack moving to the cloud
Alex Ferrara and Dhruv Jain (Bessemer Venture Partners) – State of Cloud 2020: The Rise of Europe
Alex Ferrara and Dhruv Jain (Bessemer Venture Partners) presented their State of Cloud 2020: The Rise of Europe, sharing the latest trends driving the European cloud ecosystem. Venture capital investment in the region is steadily rising, with startups raising a record amount of investment in 2019. Plus they’re seeing exponential growth in $1bn exits – with a strong pipeline of future European unicorns.
They shared their top five predictions for SaaS in 2021 and beyond:
- Product led growth wins – regardless of your location
- Privacy debt will be as important to manage as technical debt
- We’re entering the age of ‘automation at scale’
- Sustainable innovation going mainstream
- Fintech becomes ubiquitous
Jos White (Notion Capital) – SaaS is Having a Moment: Market Findings & Monumental Opportunities
In this keynote, Jos White, General Partner at Notion Capital shared why the subscription model has become the market leading form factor, what this means for the industry and forecast which sub-sectors will succeed – now and in the future.
He revealed that covid had a short-term impact on SaaS but is looking like it will be a long-term accelerator. Additionally, the impact of covid on SaaS companies hasn’t been as severe as expected, with many SaaS companies outperforming their revised 2020 targets. For the industry as a whole, global lockdowns look set to have been a tipping point, accelerating the SaaS market much faster than anticipated.
He shared 6 considerations as SaaS becomes market leader:
- Why SaaS? Remember that the original benefits of SaaS (vs on-prem) are more important than ever before.
- Customer expectations will increase
- AI is key. Makes software more intelligent & increases market size
- Beware the big guys. We’ll see the big companies investing more in SaaS & getting more aggressive on pricing
- GTM – customers will focus more on ROI, buying process will centralise.
- Enabling tech – importance of developer-led tech for a more joined up customer experience.
Expanding into new markets
Ari Helgason (Index Ventures) – Land, Expand, and Explode: How 275 European Startups Mastered the US Market
The US is the biggest tech market in the world. So how can European startups ‘make it’ across the pond?
Ari Helgason, Principal at Index Ventures explored the global expansion strategies of 275 European startups, as he shared key findings from Index Ventures’ Destination USA report.
The biggest questions it answers:
- As a founder, do you have to move to the US as you expand?
- When should you raise money from US investors? Is it a natural part of expanding to the US?
- Who do you need in your ‘landing team’? Product? Marketing? What are the key leadership roles?
- Where should you set up your US hub?
Check out the full Destination USA report from Index.
Jonno Southam (AWS) and Matthew O’Riordan (Ably) – Platforms & Partnerships: Your Go-to Global Expansion Strategy
Jonno Southam (AWS) shared the specific skills needed from your first sales leader (often hired after PMF and your first round of funding): domain experience, relevant and interesting examples from previous experience to share with prospects, and a player-coach mentality. When it comes to scaling up sales, nothing is more important than building out a repeatable sales process.
Matthew O’Riordan shares how Ably has built out their global expansion strategy (with AWS as a partner). He shares a global readiness checklist, to help you understand if your SaaS is ready to expand internationally: are you solving a global problem; is there a global pull; are you a product-led repeatable business in all markets; and do you need feet on the ground or professional services to complete the sales process? He also shares how Ably’s partnership with AWS has helped them accelerate their expansion strategy and specific benefits of working with a partner like AWS.
Christoph Janz (Point Nine Capital) and Ida Aalen (Confrere) – Uncharted Territory: The Steps to Mastering New Markets
The global pandemic challenged the way we were used to living our lives. And tech has come to aid traditional sectors in ‘new’ ways.
Christoph Janz, Managing Partner at Point Nine Capital sat down with Ida Aalen, Co-founder & CPO, Confrere to discuss Confrere’s growth story.
Confrere is a video calling solution for healthcare providers & saw 100x growth in 2 weeks at the start of the covid pandemic.
Pre-pandemic, they’d been doing lots of things that didn’t scale. They’d invested heavily in user research and developed a deep understanding of their customers and their customer needs.
When the pandemic hit & there was a real (urgent) need for their product, they were ready to scale. Their early conversations helped them understand potential blockers and encourage adoption. Now 96% of video calls in the Norwegian health care sector go through their platform.
Key takeaway: real user testing and a deep understanding of your customers is essential.
Christian Owens (Paddle) – Think Glocal: Set Yourself up for Sustainable Growth in New Markets
Christian Owens, CEO of Paddle, shares expert advice of how to set yourself up for expansion into new markets. Internationalisation unlocks new revenue growth opportunities, but there are several things you need to do and understand when expanding into new markets. Internationalisation is a real growth opportunity – but it comes at a cost.
Biggest challenges/things to consider:
- How to accept international and cross-border payments
- Regional cultural differences
- Language and currency differences: should you translate key pages on your marketing website?
- Tax liabilities and regional regulations.
Key takeaway: Think local when going global: currencies, language, financial spending habits – all of these vary by country and region, so it’s worth investing the time to set your infrastructure and operations up to deal with all of these before jumping in and starting to sell in new markets.
Andrey Khusid (Miro) and Robin Wauters (Tech EU) – Out of Office: Forever or Just Now?
Andrey Khusid (Miro) joined Robin Wauters (Tech EU) to talk about the future of the office and distributed workforces at SaaStock EMEA. He shared some of the biggest business challenges Miro experiences as a remote company compared with a co-located one (timezones, mental health and wellbeing, building personal relationships with distributed colleagues, impact on company culture). He also shared some of his predictions and trends he’s seen in the future of work, from hybrid working to true digital nomad approaches.
Dylan Field (Figma) and Andrew Reed (Sequoia Capital) – Building a High-Growth Culture: Lessons from the Latest SaaS Unicorn
Scaling a business comes with numerous challenges and inflection points. Moving through those tough moments is deeply tied to, and also helps define, the culture of your organisation. In this fireside chat, Dylan Field, Co-founder and CEO of Figma and Andrew Reed, Partner at Sequoia Capital, discussed the art and science of crafting a company-wide culture of growth.
Wise words from Dylan – worth keeping in mind as your SaaS company grows:
“High growth feels different for different people at different times… in the early days of Figma growing to 10 people felt high growth for me.”
Paul Adams (Intercom) – Build a Stable Product Strategy in Unstable Times
Paul Adams from Intercom delivered a keynote sharing the secrets behind Intercom’s product strategy – and why stability is key.
In unstable times like these, our tolerance of chaos has dropped to zero. Our resilience has been eroded by everything going on in the outside world so our resilience at work is much less. In a low resilience environment you need high stability to create predictability, to make it easier to navigate all the change that’s going on in the world.
But the big question is: How can you have a stable company environment but also be fast-growing and constantly evolving?
The solution: By being a principle-based company, and building systems for how to work. Principles and systems bring stability and reduce chaos, by providing guidance for decision-making.
SaaS sales best practices
Håvard Haukeland (Spacemaker AI) and Michiel Kotting (Northzone) – Names not Numbers: Scaling an Out-of-this-World Sales Machine
Spacemaker CEO Håvard Haukeland joined Michiel Kotting, General Partner at Northzone for a fireside chat. Håvard shared some of his key learnings from building and scaling the sales process at Spacemaker AI.
In your business and vertical, do you know who’s the user and who’s the buyer? Understanding the different roles of different people and roles within the buying process is so important. Ways to overcome resistance in the buying process (and also product adoption): help people feel in control. How to sell to large enterprises: invest time really understanding the decision maker structure. And the importance of an internal customer champion: a bottom-up pull from a user as well as a top-down pull from a senior decision maker.
Henry Schuck (ZoomInfo) – Hit Your Number: How To Fast Track Your Outbound Sales and Marketing in Europe
Even with new privacy laws like GDPR, outbound B2B prospecting is possible in Europe, if you’re taking the right steps.
ZoomInfo founder and CEO, Henry Schuck, gave a GDPR masterclass during his keynote. It covered:
- How current regulations play into business strategy.
- How future changes with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will affect go-to-market motions.
- And best practices for going to market across Europe.
Check out this blog post from the ZoomInfo team going into more detail about Henry’s talk, and outbound sales in Europe.
Marketing and Growth
Sean Ellis (Go Practice) – Scale Up & Stay Profitable: Build a Sustainable Growth Strategy
SaaS growth rockstar Sean Ellis gave a masterclass on scaling SaaS businesses in a profitable, sustainable way. He recommended SaaS companies focus on retention cohorts rather than overall monthly churn, to get a true understanding of your users. He emphasised the importance of testing and learning to improve value delivery for customers, and why you need to find your North Star Metric.
Your key drivers of sustainable growth are profitable marketing and an acceptable payback period (where LTV>CAC).
Sean joined Alex Theuma on The SaaS Revolution Show to talk about how to rapidly scale growth. Listen now.
Product and Positioning
Rahul Vohra (Superhuman) – Work Should be Play: Designing Products for Fun
Rahul Vohra (founder and CEO of Superhuman) shared how effective it can be to apply the principles of game design to business software. Most SaaS solutions focus on what users want or need: the bread and butter. There’s some value in this – everyone needs the fundamentals.
By contrast, at Superhuman, they practice an altogether different kind of product development philosophy: making products like games. Whilst nobody needs games to exist per se – they delight users by tapping into their intrinsic feelings and emotions. Rahul shared how using principles of game design in your products can create next-level user experiences, and why successful products are designed for ‘fun’, not ‘need’.
Jan Arendtsz and Matt Graney (Celigo) – Automation for Growth: Using Integration as a Competitive Advantage
Jan Arendtsz and Matt Graney from Celigo gave an in-depth look at integrations and why they’re so important for scaling SaaS businesses.
Today, businesses use 100-300 SaaS applications day-to-day. Best-of-breed, established SaaS apps are the standard: having specific best-of-breed apps for specific business processes and needs.
But business processes often span multiple SaaS apps – particularly in the enterprise. As companies add more apps, information and data gets fragmented across different apps. To deal with this fragmentation companies develop automation processes to pull data back together.
Fragmentation impacts a company’s scalability and growth. If you’re selling to the Enterprise, integration with best-in-breed SaaS apps can be a real competitive advantage.
Key question for startups: what’s your automation strategy? 5 key considerations:
- Get an idea of the app landscape
- Understand the cost of fragmentation
- Have an integration roadmap
- Leverage out-of-the-box solutions
- Use an integration platform to provide a common way to approach integration
Tien Tzuo (Zuora) and Richard Waters (Financial Times) – Certainty Amidst Uncertainty: The Subscription Model’s Resilience in the “Next” Normal
Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo and Richard Waters (Financial Times) dove into the subscription model’s resilience in the ‘next normal’. They reflected on the past 6 months and forecast the opportunities that lie ahead for SaaS leaders.
Tien believes that there’s an inherent resilience to the recurring business model. The companies that have fared best during covid are ones that are agile. Where your business is now is your ‘new normal’: the ‘covid bump’ is a permanent bump.
He predicts we’ll soon see rapid growth in companies where face-to-face selling was big. Now that we’re all remote it’s easier to schedule meetings and accelerate selling. Additionally, pricing is more important than ever. Pricing in the new normal is the lifetime customer value. The more value they get, the more they’ll pay for you.
Tien joined Alex Theuma on The SaaS Revolution Show the week before the event. Listen to the episode in full:
Pricing and monetisation
Patrick Campbell (Profitwell) – Time to Get Tactical: Monetisation Strategy for a Volatile Market
Profitwell CEO Patrick Campbell gave a deep dive into data, unpacking what he’s extracted from over 18,000 recurring revenue companies over the past 12 months, covering industry trends, willingness to pay, value metrics and freemium.
He shared real tactics to help SaaS companies work on both their offence and defence going into 2021. On the defence, it’s all about keeping hold of as many customers as possible: developing an offboarding process and tips for discounts. On the offence, it’s about identifying your ICPs (this might’ve changed during covid) and making sure your value prop aligns with them. It’s also time to re-think freemium: is it the right fit for your business?
For more, check out this Twitter thread from Patrick, giving more detail on how covid has affected B2B SaaS.
Peter McKay (Snyk) and Alex Kayyal (Salesforce Ventures) – Building Unicorns: CEO & VC Perspectives to Hyper-Growth
Snyk CEO Peter McKay joined Alex Kayyal, Head of Salesforce Ventures, for a fireside chat to discuss Snyk’s journey to becoming a hyper-growth company.
Peter talks in-depth about Snyk’s growth: how they built and scaled their sales process. They’ve been following the trend of digital transformation (accelerated by covid) – as companies become more tech & data-driven, their need for companies like Snyk grows. Snyk started with bottoms-up adoption: freemium, building content and building a community. They started with product-led growth and then moved to upsell.
Peter also talked about the role of funding in Snyk’s journey and shared his key bit of advice for other CEOs: to raise funding before you need it, as doing so at the point you need it is so much harder.
Missed the conference, but want to watch the keynotes (and fireside chats, and panels) in full? Check out SaaStock.tv