By Ingvild Farstad, Community and Marketing Manager, and Martin Senning Eriksen, Investment Associate, Viking Venture
Last week Viking Venture attended SaaStock Remote, which brought together the best and brightest minds in software-as-a-service (SaaS) for a two day online conference. SaaS is an area which evolves at a rapid pace, so it is always useful to compare how we operate with other ‘best-in-class’ players and learn more on how they seek out new opportunities and adapt to changes, especially in the current economic climate.
In the following article we will
- Summarize our key learnings from the conference
- Share our reflections on how we operate compared to the topics discussed at SaaStock Remote
- Share a collection of quick-fire tips we found useful
- Expand on some of the sessions we found particularly interesting
What is SaaStock?
SaaStock is a global community of SaaS founders, executives, and investors. Their mission is to help SaaS companies gain traction, grow, and scale by sharing actionable learnings from the best minds in SaaS at conferences in Europe, North America, Latin America, and APAC. They also have a useful Learning Hub where you can find stories and tips on many different topics like marketing & growth, sales, customer success and so on.
The content of the conference was structured around three pillars:
- ADAPT to the changing landscape
- SURVIVE during tough times
- THRIVE in the years to come
The organizers ran parallel sessions for two days, which were split into a range of topics.
- Growth is ‘out’ and efficiency is ‘in’ – a number of speakers suggest the Rule of 40 should be the new north star for SaaS businesses
- During tough times you have to know your value proposition and communicate delivered value. Great usage, support and engagement scores mean nothing if the customer does not understand how your product helps them reach their goals
- B2B is Human-2-Human selling. The best companies look to B2C (Business-to-Consumer) companies to learn how to create a frictionless journey for their customers
- Data is king! Utilize data from the last few months to analyze customer behavior. Slice and dice to get a better understanding of who your ideal customers are by looking at usage the last few months – this can really tell you who sees your product as need-to-have. Segment and refocus
- Go through your deals in the pipeline and gather characteristics on who bought and didn’t’ buy your product – and why!
- Predict retention instead of churn by finding leading indicators on customer retention. It is about making sure customers are utilizing your product to its full potential which in turn results in contract renewals and higher retention rates for your business
- Covid-19 has shown us that customer success is more important than ever. You need to take care of your existing customer base. During Covid-19 many companies have moved salespeople over to customer success
Preparing for a downturn and seeking out opportunities
A lot of the key take-aways and topics discussed at SaaStock Remote really resonate with how we operate with our portfolio companies.
No one could have predicted Covid-19, but we have been preparing for a potential economic downturn for a number of years. Our focus is on helping our companies scale internationally, but this needs to be done in a healthy way. In other words, lasting value is only created if you are able to balance growth and profitability.
A great SaaS KPI in relation to this is the Rule of 40. This is a KPI which has become very important in our work towards new investments but also for our portfolio companies. We have seen a shift from a ‘growth at all costs’ mindset to a much more balanced approach. The Rule of 40 states that your growth rate plus EBITDA margin need to be 40% or higher for your company to have a balanced approach to growth and profitability. This was one of the most talked about KPIs at SaaStock and it was even suggested it should be the ‘new north star for all SaaS businesses’.
You should check out our article Why we are obsessed with tracking key software-as-a-service metrics and KPIs if you are interested in learning more about the SaaS KPIs we find most important, like the Rule of 40.
Together with our companies we quickly realized that it was going to be hard to get in touch with new customers and that this is a great time to nurture existing customers by really showing them the value of our software solutions. Several of our companies re-allocated new salespeople (hunters) to customer success (farmers), which not only increases the effort towards the customers, but also strengthens the relationship between sales and customer success. This was also brought up by many of the speakers at SaaStock as a strategy they have used during Covid-19. One keynote speaker even went as far as to say ‘farmers are the new rock stars in SaaS’.
Another area we have really focused on with our portfolio companies, and something which was discussed a great length during the conference, is that there are always opportunities in a crisis. It is important for companies to analyze their current situation and find areas within their business, or their clients’ business that is benefiting from the current situation we find ourselves in. For example, if a customer has seen an uptick in business due to Covid-19 they may be looking to invest and are most likely open to discussing new purchases – it’s all about finding these customers!
SaaStock is a great arena to learn new ways of operating, but also a great opportunity for us to compare notes with other best-in-class companies and investors on how we are positioning ourselves in the new normal. Below, we share a collection of quick-fire tips we picked up at the conference and some of the sessions we found interesting.
There was a number of great lessons at SaaStock and a ton of tips from the software community. We have put together a presentation with our collection of quick-fire tips from SaaStock Remote, June 2020.
5 presentations we recommend checking out
Below you will find our summary and links to presentations we found particularly interesting
Whoever holds the most customers at the end of this wins: Tactical growth lessons from 18,427 SaaS, Patrick Campbell, ProfitWell
The science of re-establishing growth: when, where and how, Mark Roberge, Stage2Capital
Re-think the funnel: High-touch engagements in a low-touch world, Tricia Gellman, Drift
Attending these types of conferences is a great way for us to expand on our knowledge by listening to thought leaders and best-in-class companies on important SaaS related topics in addition to getting a ‘sanity check’ on how we are operating. We get new perspectives and inspiration in how we can continue to work with our portfolio. The world is moving incredibly fast and no one knows exactly what the new normal will look like, but together with our portfolio we can leverage the insight we have gained at SaaStock Remote to create further value.
We help Nordic software companies scale. That’s all we do.
Ingvild Farstad, Community and Marketing Manager, Viking Venture
Ingvild manages Viking’s software community, which offers a unique environment for our portfolio companies to exchange knowledge, ideas and experiences within the most important processes for software companies.
Martin Senning Eriksen, Investment Associate, Viking Venture
Martin is part of Viking’s investment team. As part of the investment team he participates in deal sourcing, primarily in Denmark, and execution as well as the monitoring and development of portfolio companies.