Since the first SaaStock conference in 2016, I have often gravitated towards glorifying founders; their successes and lifestyles. I have not been alone in this. Founders achieve hero status in our culture for the effort they put in building and growing their companies. Yet it is becoming increasingly clear to me, and the industry as a whole, that in a lot of cases, the life of the founder is anything but spectacular. Their struggles are often unspoken and largely remain a personal ordeal. The toll those take on the founders’ lives can be significant.
I heard this first hand in the last two months during both of our SaaSociety founders’ retreats, which we hosted after SaaStock LatAm and SaaStock Asia. Operating on two opposite ends of the planet, these two brilliant groups of game-changing SaaS founders, shared a strikingly similar challenge that transcends borders, markets, genders, verticals or belief systems – the emotional cost of being a founder. The journey never gets easy; the struggle never goes away.
I used to believe that we should focus on the fun and positive part of the founding experience. But as I see how every bit of the startup life and the constant grind chips away at a founder’s life, I am increasingly shifting my perspective.
A safe space to talk
To each SaaSociety attendee, coming to our founder retreat has been instrumental to their mental and emotional well-being. It has been therapeutic. They each found SaaSociety a warm space where they could discuss their ordeal openly and shamelessly and were met with understanding, compassion, and shared vulnerability, instead of a need to perform. They saw first-hand they are not alone in the struggle, which is a priceless gift.
Time and time again, we heard how lonely the founder journey is. The long days and nights of meeting expectations and pushing forward, with no headspace to open up and share what is truly going on, add up. Going home is rarely a relief from that. Friends and family members still can’t grasp the downward mental spiral.
Does this sound familiar?
We’ve all heard the phrase “fake it till you make it,” which is better known by experts as impression management. It’s the go-to method for many entrepreneurs instead of showing vulnerability. I can confidently tell you, this doesn’t work.
You need to open up about how you feel
Here at SaaStock, we discovered that the best medicine is to open up to other founders going through the same thing – this is the real purpose of our founders’ retreats. There is a cost to suppressing feelings and, believe me, you are not ready to pay it. By gathering a group of founders going through the same thing, we want you to reset the unhealthy expectations you put on yourself and know that there is a tribe of friends on the other side who want to ride this journey with you. We want to change the stigma behind suppressing weakness and eradicate the shame of being human.
Increasingly, I find myself wanting to be real about this. Acknowledge it and do something about it. Can you handle this shit on your own? I don’t think so, and that is fine.
Up until now, it might have taken time to find the right network or group for you. Not every network is likely to work for everyone. That’s why we created SaaSociety with the criteria that founders have to be exceeding $3M in ARR and is completely closed off to investors. The event maintains strict confidentiality, so you can feel comfortable sharing what’s really going on in, not only in your professional life but in your personal one as well.
The candid conversations about the experience of growing and scaling a SaaS company in Latin America and Asia were a highlight of each SaaSociety, and we will bring those to SaaSociety East Coast, taking place next month.
“I’ve attended many industry events but no other like SaaSociety, for its unique combination of the super interesting people attending and the trust-based open and relaxed environment you’ve managed to create.” – Andres Snitcofsky, Cliengo
We will be whisking away founders to the Mayflower Inn and Spa in Connecticut for 24 hours of recalibration, learning, networking, and honest chats. Unwinding in beautiful surroundings and connecting with peers through immersive experiences such as content sessions, networking dinners, drinks receptions, and outdoor activities, you will get the much-needed headspace, away from the grind.
The agenda for SaaSociety East Coast
Founders exchange stories about their journeys, the triumphs, failures, and the challenges of scaling a SaaS business.
As soon as SaaStock East Coast concludes on June 5th, we will depart to an exquisite country retreat in Washington, CT, on a private 24 seater bus. Once we arrive, we will enjoy some pre-dinner drinks and networking and will then move onto a 3-course Gala dinner.
On the following day, we will start the morning off with a special treat – mindfulness meditation session led by one of our very own founders, Matthew Bellows. We have decided to start this way because we now know that meditation decreases anxiety, and naturally boosts resilience and performance under stress.
We will then enjoy breakfast, followed by roundtable style sessions lead by Nathan Latka, Patrick Campbell, Michael Litt, and Matthew Bellows. However, our roundtable sessions are designed for all founders to get involved, and every attendee will have a chance to critically discuss the daily challenges they face in scaling their business and share their journey with the rest. We will follow those discussions with more opportunities to connect and chat.
We will bring everyone together to bond over either an unwinding archery session or a wine and cheese tasting created for wine lovers at any level. Over lunch, you then have one final opportunity to foster those relationships further before heading home.
SaaSociety is more than a singular experience. Our goal is to create a place for founders to forge meaningful relationships across the world, connections that transcend each event. We will hope to welcome you back to any of the other SaaSociety’s we host, and you will gain access to an exclusive network after the event, to nurture and maintain conversations and relationships.
“SaaSociety was a great way to meet other accomplished founders and exchange some hard challenges and best practices. The chance to spend the night at the hotel and meet with them in a more social and relaxed way also was helpful to break the ice and really open up for some great exchanges”. – Marcel Lotufo, Kenoby
Apply for SaaSociety East Coast to make sure you are one of the 20 founders that will reap the benefits of the best SaaS founder-only retreat.