Under The Influence: 15 West Coast SaaS Names To Know9 min read
In the fast-paced world of SaaS, it pays to know who the runners and riders are within your niche. Whether it’s investment, mentorship or new employment prospects, you never know what a chance encounter may lead to, so it’s worth keeping well-versed with regards to the influencers making waves in your areas of interest, or immediate locale.
To help with your next trip out West to Silicon Valley, we’ve compiled this handy list of fifteen faces and names to memorize; you might just want to introduce yourself should you find yourself reaching for the same electric scooter! You will be able to meet some of these incredible humans of SaaS at SaaStock West Coast, taking place in San Francisco on September 10 and 11. Grab a ticket now.
Aka: The B2B VIP
Co-Founder of predictive lead scoring experts MadKudu, Francis Brero is a well-known face in the West Coast SaaS game and someone who you definitely want to be speaking to about all things B2B. With a specialism in the automation of the inbound pipeline process, he’s on a mission to help streamline and optimize the high-cost, low-leverage grind of lead qualification – something the vast majority of us can appreciate and relate to! An experienced and engaging speaker, you may well have already seen Francis take the stage at any one of a number of industry events, where he delves into topics such as product-led onboarding and data-based revenue acceleration.
Aka: The Maven Of Mindshare
If your public relations strategy is more “wing and a prayer” than tactically-sought mindshare, Shira Abel, is the person you needed to be speaking to yesterday. CEO and Founder of Hunter & Bard, an award-winning public relations and design agency that helps bring business from rough diamond phase through to fully gleaming thought leaders. In addition to being a regular on the corporate speaking circuit, Shira serves as a mentor at 500 Startups, and helps underdeveloped nations build their entrepreneurship through her extensive philanthropy work.
Aka: The Young Companies’ Yoda
After 7 years and an IPO at Marketo, Ray Carroll now sits as Vice President Sales at ABM Automation Platform, Engagio. What sets him apart is his coalface experience of helping young startups, typically A/B stage and earlier, see impressive yet sustainable growth. With a track record bringing companies from $1M to $10M to $100M+ in ARR, it’s not hard to see why his favor as an investor and advisor is keenly sought out across the Valley and beyond. His active investments include People.Ai, Chorus.ai, and Turing, and he was an early advisor at Sendoso. If you’re a younger company on a mission and serious about being destined for great things, get Ray on your radar.
Aka: The Queen Of Cross Device
With a background in prestigious data research at Stanford University, as well as time spent with AdMob and Google, it was perhaps inevitable that Kamakshi would make waves as a disruptive founder in the SaaS marketing space. Founding Drawbridge almost a decade ago in 2010, today it is the leading anonymized cross-device identity company, constantly innovating to extend a brand’s presence across the entire consumer journey. In May of this year, Drawbridge was acquired by LinkedIn. Kamakshi’s deep understanding of (and expertise in designing) quantitative algorithms truly sets her apart in her field.
Aka: The Sergeant Of Scale
Combat veteran turned business development leading light, Steven Broudy heads up Sales as the Vice President of Bevy. A transition from active service in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a Special Operations sniper team leader, to the world of SaaS is arguably not the most typical of career paths within our industry, and what Steven brings to the sector is equally exceptional; known for his impact and leadership, as well as his experience in galvanising growth for companies ready to undergo transformational scaling. An engaging writer, we highly recommend diving into some of his articles, especially those focused on the lessons that the corporate world could learn from military principles.
Aka: The Pitch Perfector
Tech entrepreneur turned startup investor, Elizabeth Yin is a woman on a mission to transform the way in which Silicon Valley funds its startups, via her co-founded Hustle Fund. With over 20K startup pitches from across the globe reviewed, time spent as a partner at 500 Startups and experience running the Mountain View accelerator, what Elizabeth doesn’t know about setting up for a successful funding round, frankly, isn’t worth knowing. Her work and writing on startup fundraising has been featured in numerous publications including TechCrunch, Forbes, Huffington Post, BetaKit, and more.
Aka: The Sales Hacker’s Hacker
Founder of Sendoso, the world’s first sending platform, here to revolutionize the way that companies “do swag” and much more, Kris is well known for his valuable insights into the world of sales, what works and why. Ultimately he’s an expert in human connection, and well worth seeking out online if your travels don’t take you West anytime soon, as his Twitter feed is full of helpful content to keep you fully briefed in the world of Sales, such as this recent podcast guest appearance, shedding like on improving conversion rate by integrating direct marketing.
Aka: The Workflow Wizard
An Y Combinator-backed entrepreneur, Rutika Muchhala originally hails from Bombay, making the move out to the Bay Area to follow her first love, technology. Today she is a technical product leader, with many years of experience building VC-backed, B2B and B2C businesses. As Founder and CEO of Scribe, which aims to automate all rote work, so that people can focus on doing what they love, she has a deep understanding of the sales process, as well as the intricacies of getting a newly minted startup off the ground.
Aka: The Lead Gen Genius
Currently Head Of Demand Generation with people management wizards, Lattice, Charlie has an impressive past pedigree with roles at Heap, Engagio and BigPanda. A professional poker player in a former life, Charlie today lends his people-reading expertise to the world of inbound marketing. His specialism comes in the form of boosting ARR, growing impressive customer bases and finessing pipeline to spend ratio for companies ready to undergo serious growth. Gain some top networking and interview tips from a recent podcast feature here.
Aka: The Inbox Innovator
Heading up business at Front, Mathilde Collin flexes considerable experience within the world of entrepreneurship and strategy to bring revolution to the way we collaborate via email. Previously appearing on the Forbes 30 under 30 for Enterprise Tech, Mathilde has achieved an impressive amount since launching, with $15 million raised to date (from investors such as Social Capital, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, and Path cofounder David Morin) and partnerships struck with more than 20 companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and Instagram. Another alumnus of Y Combinator, she has first-hand experience and resultant empathy with the grind of early-stage startup life.
Aka: The Sales Development Don
With over a decade of sales and marketing experience within the sector, Matt Amundson’s expertise is currently leveraged as VP Sales Development & Field Marketing with EverString. Holding an advisory role with SalesLoft, he’s well known for his deep marketing automation and sales operations knowledge. Recognised in Marketo’s Fearless 50, as well as SLMA’s Top 40 Sales and Marketing Leaders.
Aka: The Hiring Hot Shot
There’s something incredibly inspiring about seeing a person excel in a role which they know to be their true calling. When Sarah Nahm founded recruitment platform, Lever, she did exactly that, believing passionately in the need to connect human potential to meaningful work. Recently named one of Glassdoor’s top CEOs based on employee feedback, Sarah is leading the charge for better, modern recruiting practices that lead to richer, more diverse and happier workforces. Having built Lever from the ground up, her deep understanding of what makes a balanced, well-appointed and high function team is second to none.
Aka: The Industrial Influencer
With two companies founded and a successful exit under her belt, today Kim Taylor heads up Cluster, an online marketplace that helps industrial tech companies hire experienced talent. A former gymnast and NBA dancer, Kim made the switch to the world of startups and never looked back, with her natural ability being proven time and time again. Her first company, Ranku, was acquired for $25 million, and Mark Cuban has come on board as an investor for her ventures, not once but twice.
Aka: The Continuous Delivery Doyenne
Co-Founder and CEO of LaunchDarkly, a feature-rich management platform for the modern enterprise, Edith Harbaugh’s background is packed with product-focused experience. In addition to heading up ops at LaunchDarkly, she co-hosts the To Be Continuous podcast, covering “all things continuous delivery,” and finds time to act as a startup mentor at both the Alchemist Accelerator, and the Mudd Incubator, HMC INQ. And, because she apparently doesn’t require sleep, you’ll also find her regularly contributing to online magazine ReadWrite!
Aka: The Legal Eagle
CEO of the pioneering e-discovery leaders, Zapproved, Monica Enand brings extensive management experience and software expertise. Driven by the mission to improve the efficiency, costs and workflow of corporate legal teams by leveraging the power of the cloud, in 2018 Monica accepted the Sam Blackman Award for Civic Engagement at an inaugural awards ceremony at TechfestNW. Beyond her work with Zapproved, Monica is a board chair for Girls Inc. and is a champion for her home city, having served on committees for Business for Better Portland and the Oregon Growth Board.
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The products and services that our industry seeks to create are governed by a deep understanding of humans, their habits, preferences, and needs, and so it follows that strong human connections are of equal importance when it comes to building out your network of trusted voices, advisors and inspirations. We hope this rundown has given you some inspiration to start booking your next trip out West, or at the very least to have hit up a few fresh follows across your social media. Here’s to a better connected, collaborative community. You will be able to meet some of these incredible humans of SaaS at SaaStock West Coast, taking place in San Francisco on September 10 and 11. Grab a ticket now.
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