Ryan Smith: Tips to building a SaaS Unicorn

  • “The cool thing about being a founder is that you get to write your own story”
  • “As a founder… you’ve got to be the fastest learner in the building”
  • “Do you need a cofounder?”This is the most lonely job. If Ididn’t have a battle partner, I don’t know.”
  • “I want people who are totally comfortable tearing down what got them there.”
  • “Where are you in pecking order when 50% of budgets are cut.”
  • “On VCs “If you’re ever raising money, find the group that can write the 2nd and 3rd check instead of just the 1st check.”
  • “Optimize for optionality not valuation”

David Skok: The SaaS Founder’s Journey:

Slides bellow:

More content can be found here: https://www.forentrepreneurs.com/saastock-2017/

Bill Macaitis: Unicorn growth secrets. GTM strategies of Slack, Zendesk & Salesforce.

  • Be customer centric. Forget the old, boring B2B jargon. Understand your NPS scores and act accordingly. What are the reasons your customers recommend you? Why they don’t?
  • “The modern marketing stack has changed.”
  • Content marketing was core for Zendesk: Don’t talk about your company. Understand what top of the funnel is. Example: “10 interview questions for hiring great customer service reps” this is focused on the problem, not the company.
  • Price based on value. Price based on your NPS and run tests.
  • At Slack, frictionless trials were very successful. Users paid after they got real value. You could trial a 10k people organization.
  • “If Lead Gen is about your brand in the short term, brand campaigns about your brand in the Long Term.”
  • “Optimize everything you do for word of mouth”


Mark Organ: How to Build a $B Category King and Not Get f*’d”

  • Built Eloqua, sold for U$1b to Oracle;
  • Made a lot of mistakes;
  • “I never loose, I either win or learn”;
  • Developing a category is an Everest climb. The first rule is not to talk about yourself and evangelize the category;
  • Category creation does not come from technology. It comes from a bet on the underserved hero and their transformation. 3 steps:
  1. Underserved here;
  2. Underlying trends levitate the hero;
  3. The hero becomes mainstream. Category wins!
  • Eloqua’s category: Demand Generation: People needed to generate demand for their businesess, SaaS and cloud technologies became a trend that gave them power. That’s the rise of the Demand gen people;
  • Influitive is creating the “Advocate Marketing” category. Underlying trends are the age of the social web, the rise of case studies and informed customers;

Start at the board structure:

  • Small board, few investors, more independent members, few management members;
  • Board culture: The board members must become your advocates;

Liz Cain: Scaling Lead Gen — Starting and growing NetSuite’s BDR organization from 0 to 170 ppl over the course of 3.5 years.

  • In year one, they hired 41 people to increase pipeline. It was hard to keep up with hiring’s needs;
  • Goal: Move from Inbound to outbound. 3 years later, 75% of leads came from Outbound efforts;

Key Lessons:

  • You can learn from your peers: Talk to as many Lead Gen leaders you can, read every book, in order to move fast. Do not worry about product training. Focus on integrating Demand Gen and Sales execs knowledge. Specialize Inbound/Outbound Demand Gen reps;
  • Never Stop Hiring: Design a consistent interview proccess. Coach your management team. Get confortable with moving people out (internal/external);
  • Retention is king: Have short promotion paths, certifications. Train the trainers and enable people to promote themselves. Create an army of subject experts;
  • Align all levels: Document, share, communicate. Create shared incentive plans, structured communication channels and assure that the team trusts each other and its leaders.
  • Plan for big: Do the things right the first time around. What works for 20 people does not work for 100. Think about people, process and technology early on.

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