Personal Impressions/Learnings About The Biggest European SaaS event, SaaStock.

As an enthusiast of the Brazilian SaaS Ecosystem, when attending to a SaaS conference one of the aspects I keep trying to compare is the differences/similarities between the two communities. As some of you might already know, earlier this year I co-authored an in-depth research about the Brazilian SaaS Ecosystem. You can learn more about it here.

Enter SaaStock 2017:

At the conference in Dublin, I was impressed by the quality of the event, the sponsors, and the amazing content/speakers/community. But I couldn’t stop thinking about how the European and Brazilian communities relate to each other. So, here’s my impressions:

Key similarities:

  • Just like in Brazil, the European SaaS community is still in it’s early days with lots of young founders focused on learning from each other, as fast as they possibly can. Differently from US conferences, such as SaaStr (see my notes here), at SaaStock, I met a lot of young people trying to figure out how to grow fast. Obviously the speakers were super successful and highly technical, but most of the audience were young founders, like me, looking for knowledge. Not a lot of second timers or playbooks, like you see in the US market.
  • In both places, the community is at a clear inflection point. When you see thousands of people flying to Dublin for SaaStock, it becomes clear that people want to learn more about SaaS best practices. You also see great local SaaS blogs, such as SaaScribe, Point Nine Land and even job boards, such as SaaSjobs.
  • SaaS is still a niche. Just like in Brazil, Europe is experiencing SaaS growth, but it still not a mainstream startup category, in my impression.

Key differences:

  • It seemed to me that European SaaS founders are way more product focused and able to build better products than their Brazilian counterparts. Design, UX and pixel perfect products are way more common in Europe than in Brazil. This is probably due to a more educated buyer as most European buyers speak English and have a higher purchasing power. Also, the European market has many big tech giants and these companies foster a lot more product/tech talent than we usually see in the Brazilian Ecosystem.
  • Europeans have no fear of crossing the Atlantic. This is probably due to the fragmented European markets. Unlike Brazil, that has a huge internal market, internationalization is a priority for the European SaaS founders.
  • Europe seems to have way more capital available for founders. The event had a huge lineup of investors across all stages, and several investors invited me for coffee, looking actively for investment opportunities.
  • Go to market is harder in Europe. I think this correlates with smaller & fragmented local markets. Selling a global product is more expensive and harder from a GTM perspective, so local SaaS founders have to crack the internationalization code in order to grow fast.
  • Unlike Brazil, Europe has amazing success stories. Companies like Zendesk & Intercom are a real inspiration for founders and make a clear case for what you can achieve as a European SaaS founder. In Brazil we’re seeing the first wave of SaaS pioneers, but they are way less common than in Europe.
  • There seems to be a lot of US companies interested in Europe, opening local offices, something that is also on it’s arly days in Brazil.

And that’s it. These are perceptions from a foreigner and I probably got some mistaken ideas above. If you are an European or Brazilian founder, I’d love to hear your thoughts and impressions. If you have something to share, feel free to leave your comments below!

PS: A huge thanks Alexander Theuma, Koomerang Chris Murphy and SaaStock crew for the invitation for this amazing event. Looking forward to #SaaStock18!

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