Meet the Speakers of SaaStock Australasia12 min read

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In just a couple of weeks we’re bringing back SaaStock Australasia: the ONLY event exclusively serving the SaaS community in Australasia. 

For many of you, this will be your last conference of the year (no wait, the DECADE). That means it’s time to bid a fond farewell to the 2010s. Because in 2020 you’re going to kick SaaS. And to help you prep for that, we’re bringing dozens of kick-ass speakers down under.

I’m so excited to share with you this list of 10 incredible speakers who will be taking to the stage next month. They’ll be sharing practical, actionable tips to help your SaaS company gain traction, grow, and scale.

(And make sure you check out the full speaker line-up to see all the amazing SaaS experts we’re bringing with us. I wanted to include them all in this list but my boss said it’s too long.)

Don’t miss out! See the full speaker line-up and book your tickets here.

Ben Thompson @EmploymentHero

Who they are:

Ben is the founder and CEO of Employment Hero, Australia’s first all-in-one HR and employee benefits platform.

Why we’re excited to hear from them:

Ben’s big goal is: “To permanently improve the way employment is managed by making it easier and more rewarding.”

In 2002 he started an employment law firm, and over the past 17 years that business has grown into an international group of companies that contribute to that goal.  These companies include Employment Innovations, Power2Motivate, Global Reward Solutions, Keypay and Employment Hero (named one of LinkedIn’s Top 25 Startups 2018). 

We asked, they answered:

What will you be speaking on and why is it important?

How companies can be more capital efficient when distributing and scaling their product. Many startups get caught in the trap of focusing their attention on a few areas of business performance whilst ignoring others. 

For long-term growth, it’s important to get the foundations right. Failure to do so will mean cracks further down the line. To get the basics right, you’ve got to ask the right questions; is the cost of acquiring a customer worth what they bring in long-term? Are we growing at a sustainable rate? What is the rate at which customers and employees churn? 

What is the biggest lesson learnt from your SaaS journey?

I always say that people are the foundation of businesses; if you can get them to perform at the top of their game, the results are outstanding. But the foundation for that is trust and trust comes from compliance, so invest in compliance. 

I don’t believe you can make a better investment than being compliant or building off a bedrock of trust – and technology is a great way to do that. It’s one of the reasons I founded Employment Hero; as an employment lawyer for nearly 20 years, I saw first hand the devastation non-compliance can bring to a business. You just have to turn on the news. 

What’s the #1 reason why people would get value from attending SaaStock Australasia?

SaaStock is a great place for Australian startup professionals to find inspiration and make connections.  

Michael Carden @joyoushq

Who they are:

Michael is the CEO of Joyous, the feedback tool for large employers of non-desk staff.

Why we’re excited to hear from them:

Mike is an experienced founder and CEO who already has two exits under his belt. In 2006 Mike founded Sonar6, a revolutionary Human Resources Software as a Service business. In 2012 Sonar6 was acquired by Cornerstone OnDemand. He then became Chairman at Promapp, until it was acquired by Nintex.

Currently CEO of Joyous, he also holds board and advisory board roles in various technology companies ranging from investor led early stage through to established public companies.

We asked, they answered:

What will you be speaking on, and why is it important?
SaaS businesses rely on the internet to get to market. But the internet is becoming a less appealing place everyday. Something’s going to have to change…

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your SaaS journey to date?

Stuff changes so quickly that basically you know shit. Stop pretending you do. 

Why will people get value from coming to SaaStock?

The period of “put an on premise process in the cloud” and “follow the play book” finished this year. This is the year you need to start approaching things differently. SaaStock is the place to start that new approach. 

And finally, tell us an interesting fact about you.

I crashed a plane into the sea.

Nicole Reid @Xero

Who they are:

Nicole is Chief People Officer at Xero, one of the breakaway SaaS successes hailing from Australasia.

Why we’re excited to hear from them:

Xero is one of the companies that put Australasia’s SaaS community on the map. Nicole leads the global people experience function at Xero, and will be talking specifically about hiring for Australasian SaaS teams. 

She’s a leader in the human resources space, with more than 20 years’ experience. She’s worked across the financial services, technology and telecommunications industries for companies including AMP and Microsoft.

We asked, they answered:

What will you be speaking on and why is it important?

I’ll be talking about the Xero journey from a startup to a global SaaS business and the strategies we have used to recruit people with the right skills and cultural fit to support the growth of the company

When you are expanding and growing as rapidly as Xero, finding the right people to drive the demand and market momentum is critically important to the long term success of the company.

I’ll share my tips on hiring strategies and the importance of putting purpose and people at the heart of your business strategy.

What is the biggest lesson learnt from your SaaS journey?

At Xero we have grown from an ‘idea’ of putting accounting software on the cloud, to a global company with nearly 3000 employees in just over 12 years. While being focused on the market opportunity has bolstered our growth and financial results, we now have an opportunity to stop, reassess and put more emphasis on our people development. We’ll transform the PX function at Xero, by building on the extraordinary work that has been put in place and taking our strategy to the next level. This is critical if we are to continue to grow and scale and allow our people to do the best work of their lives. At Xero, the best is yet to come.

What’s the #1 reason why people would get value from attending SaaStock Australasia?

SaaStock Australasia is the only event of its kind in the country and gives all those that attend the opportunity to learn and share insights with people who are going through the same challenges and opportunities. This is an excellent opportunity to connect and join a network of people who are in the industry and focused on the future of SaaS.  

LB Harvey @intercom

Who they are:

LB is SVP Sales at Intercom, the world’s first customer messaging platform for business growth.

Why we’re excited to hear from them:

LB is a seasoned sales professional with a wealth of experience at all levels. She started as a frontline sales manager at LinkedIn before making her way to director, vice president, and finally, her current role as SVP at Intercom.

She’s going to be sharing her sales know-how on a panel called ‘What to Do that Sells – Lead Magnets for Demand Generation’

Nigel Watson @googlecloud

Who they are:

Nigel is the JAPAC Regional Leader – Technology Partners at Google Cloud

Why we’re excited to hear from them:

Nigel leads the team responsible for growing the Google Cloud Technology Partner ecosystem in the JAPAC region. His team works with Global and JAPAC technology partners to help them build and deliver solutions that leverage and enhance Google’s diverse cloud platform.

He’ll be joining our panel on demand generation, covering all the essential elements of a successful demand gen program: managing warm leads, mastering lead response time, and identifying the best strategy or channel to entice your target audience.

Chloe Sesta Jacobs @deputyapp

Who they are:

Chloe is Head of People & Culture APAC at Deputy, an employee management platform that helps companies streamline their operations and allow their teams to function more productively.

Why we’re excited to hear from them:

Chloe is a self-confessed ‘people geek’. People – and by extension, people ops – are her passion. Before stepping into her current role at Deputy, she was Head of People & Culture at Rotor Studios.

We asked, they answered:

What will you be speaking on and why is it important?

I will be speaking on the roles of wellness and inclusivity and company culture. They’re so important in the world of work as, in their absence, you can spend a lot of time and energy on not being yourself and this means you’re not able to focus on the work in front of you and truly thrive. You hear a lot about diversity in the workplace; diversity without inclusion costs money but diversity with inclusion delivers higher engagement, innovation, improved problem solving and profit. 

What’s the #1 reason why people would get value from attending SaaStock Australasia?

The #1 reason why people would get value from attending SaaStock Australasia is from all the brilliant minds in the room! Every single person in attendance will be able to learn as well as teach someone else something and that’s pretty special. 

And finally, tell us an interesting fact about you.

An interesting fact about me is that I have over 70 tattoos on my body, including ’empathy has ROI’, a quote I heard at this year’s Culture First conference. As soon as those words left Oshoke Pamela Abalu’s mouth, I wrote them down knowing I would get them on my body. I love the way they blend the human and business words so effortlessly.

Iman Ghodosi @Zuora

Who they are:

Iman is the VP and General Manager, APAC, at Zuora.

Why we’re excited to hear from them:

Iman is responsible for accelerating Zuora’s presence across the Asia Pacific Region. He is a critical driver in helping companies in this region transform and succeed within the subscription economy.

He’ll be helping SaaS companies tackle the key challenges involved in creating an actionable demand generation strategy: managing warm leads, mastering lead response time, and identifying the best strategy or channel to entice your target audience.

Nathan Latka @NathanLatka

Who they are:

Nathan is founder of SaaS database GetLatka.com and host of the B2B SaaS CEO podcast ‘The Top Entrepreneurs’. 

Why we’re excited to hear from them:

We’re big fans of Nathan and his approach to life, podcasting and SaaS. Nathan has interviewed over 1,000 private B2B SaaS CEOs on his mission to identify the next SaaS unicorn – and made all that data available on GetLatka.com. 

He’ll be looking into the state of SaaS in 2019, sharing fascinating insights to help the rest of us to benchmark, and looking forward to 2020 to predict who may get acquired, raise, or IPO next.

We asked, they answered:

What will you be speaking on and why is it important?

I’ll be showcasing benchmark data of SaaS companies from Australia and Asia. This data helps first time founders know where they should focus to improve, grow valuation, and grow their companies.

What’s the #1 reason why people would get value from attending SaaStock Australasia?

The people. Anytime you get the chance to talk to others in SaaS you pick up details and tactics that just don’t get published online.

And finally, tell us an interesting fact about you.

I’ve had the same breakfast for the past 3 years.

Robert Keith @SalesforceVC

Who they are:

Robert Keith is Principal and Head of Australia on the Salesforce Ventures team, Salesforce’s strategic investment arm.

Why we’re excited to hear from them:

Salesforce Ventures—Salesforce’s corporate investment group—invests in the next generation of enterprise cloud technology, with more than 240 companies in the portfolio globally. Their portfolio boasts some impressive names such as Stripe, Vidyard and Automatic. 

Earlier this year Salesforce Ventures announced a $50 million Australia Trailblazer Fund to empower Australian startups and invest in innovation to create next-generation technology. Robert relocated to Sydney to lead their investment efforts across Australia & New Zealand.

Annie Slattery @ConXjobs

Who they are:

Annie is Co-Founder & CEO of ConX, the network that businesses and individuals in the construction industry are using to build trust, relationships and credibility.

Why we’re excited to hear from them:

Annie has been the driving force behind ConX right from the beginning. Her goal is for ConX to be the digital toolbox in the pocket of construction contractors around the world. She recently won Australia’s top award for women in tech start-ups – a pitch competition at Hopper Down Under.

We asked, they answered:

What will you be speaking on and why is it important?

I’ll be on the panel discussing the topic of “Addressing Global Markets as a Remote, Distributed or Office-Based SaaS”. 

This is a really important topic for Australian based companies looking to scale their business, access new markets and work with top talent. The ConX engineering team has been based in Nepal since 2015, a function of marketing is ran from Dublin, Ireland whilst admin and ops tasks are ran from the Philippines. We’re in the process of launching into the US and will hire Sales & Ops on the ground there in early 2020. 

Operating this way is becoming easier and easier thanks to tools like Slack and Zoom, however, a well documented and executed systems and processes are critical to the success of running a distributed team.

What is the biggest lesson learnt from your SaaS journey?

We began as a marketplace and quickly wanted to evolve into a SaaS play. It took time and a lot of testing to nail down the value proposition for a SaaS business model. Now that we’ve found it, we’re growing faster than ever. 

The lesson learnt is that you can’t decide on a SaaS business model in whiteboard sessions, but you can start to build use cases to bring to your customers to test price sensitivity and learn what features are really valuable and what are “nice to have”.

What’s the #1 reason why people would get value from attending SaaStock Australasia?

They say “Growth is out, Profitability is in”. Attending SaaStock Australasia will be full of wisdom on building a scalable, profitable, SaaS business.

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