The Second 20 Confirmed Batch at #SaaSx5

2 days to go for #SaaSx5 and we are reaching our limits for this year. I had missed a few folks in the first batch of 50 announced, so including them along with  the next 20+ (in no particular order).

  1. 99Tests
  2. Appmaker
  3. Auzmor
  4. Botminds Inc
  5. CallHippo
  6. CIAR Software Solutions
  7. Cogknit Semantics
  8. CustomerSuccessBox
  9. Deck app technologies
  10. GreytHR
  11. Happay
  12. HotelLogix
  13. Indusface
  14. inFeedo
  15. Infurnia
  16. LogiNext
  17. Makesto
  18. Mindship.io
  19. Pepipost
  20. PregBuddy
  21. Recruiterbox
  22. ReferralYogi
  23. Swym

There will be one last list sent out tomorrow of confirmed participants. Really excited about the sessions which are shaping up at #SaaSx5

The First 50 Confirmed Companies at #SaaSx5

We are almost there. Only 3 days for #SaaSx5.

For people who are have attended earlier SaaSx I don’t need to tell this, but for all those who are attending the event for the first time – SaaSx is an informal event for knowledge sharing by SaaSprenuers for SaaSprenuers. This is why we have it on the beach for the last 3 years. 🙂

If you don’t know what this is about, SaaSx5, iSPIRT Foundation flagship event for software entrepreneurs of India, is being held in Chennai on 7, July 2018 (Saturday). SaaSx has been instrumental in shaping Global Software from India in the last 3 years. This year the theme is to help SaaS entrepreneurs setup for growth over the next 1-2 years.

So the first 50 confirmed list #SaaSx5 companies is here. It has been a slog for us going through all the applications we received, especially the initial drive to set extremely fair criteria and process. Listening to feedback from earlier SaaSx this year we decided to allow Founder and +1 (from their leadership team). Having a tag team we believe is extremely helpful to the founders in learning, assimilating and taking it back to their teams. This also meant that given the small limited space we had to be strict in our curation to ensure most SaaS product startups had an opportunity.

By the time this post goes live many other invites will have been sent and confirmed. We will continue to announce the companies finalized as we go along, so they can start preparing for the amazing sessions.

There are still spots, so if you have not registered or confirmed your invite (check your email), please do it quickly.

saasx5

In no particular order, here are the first 50 (based on their confirmations).

  1. 3Five8 Technologies
  2. 930 Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
  3. AceBot
  4. ADDA
  5. Airim
  6. Almabase
  7. Appointy
  8. Artifacia
  9. Artoo
  10. Asteor Software
  11. BlogVault Inc
  12. Bonzai digital
  13. CogniSight
  14. DevSys Embedded Technologies Pvt Ltd.
  15. FactorDaily
  16. FlytBase
  17. FormGet
  18. Fourth Dimension Software Systems India Pvt Ltd.
  19. Fyle
  20. Gaglers Inc
  21. Godb Tech Private Limited
  22. inFeedo
  23. Infilect Technologies Private Limited
  24. InMobi
  25. Inscripts
  26. JKL Technologies
  27. Leadworx
  28. LiveHealth
  29. Lucep
  30. Mindship Technologies
  31. Netcore Solutions
  32. Olivo Inc
  33. Omnify Inc
  34. Playlyfe
  35. Plivo
  36. PushEngage
  37. QueryHome Media Solutions Ind Pvt Ltd.
  38. ReportGarden
  39. Rocketium
  40. ShieldSquare
  41. Siftery
  42. SlickAccount
  43. Stealth
  44. Strings.ai
  45. Syscon Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
  46. Tagalys
  47. United Translogix Pvt Ltd
  48. Vernacular.ai
  49. Waffor Retail Solutions Pvt Ltd.
  50. webMOBI

[Update: Next 20+ also announced]

All confirmed participants will receive further information in their mailboxes.

Looking forward to an amazing #SaaSx5!

Thanks to our many behind the scenes volunteers who have been tirelessly working on getting us this far and continuing on. Thanks to Chirantan & team from Software Suggest for crafting this post.

Product Manager as the Wicket Keeper

 

 

wk1

 

Wishing you all a very happy 2017, may you get the guts and courage to make the change this year.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of the most successful cricketers is certainly an inspiration for all of us – cricket fans and Indians. While he is a famous and winning captain, probably being a wicket keeper has helped him to shape up his instincts, strategy and execution.

Being a product manager for few years now, I often relate to being a wicket keeper, who really wears multiple hats to help his team and win in the market. Often there is lack of clarity on the role of a Product Manager and why are they needed. In this post I would like to focus on drawing some parallels between Wicket keeper and Product Manager , especially differentiating the greats from good ones.

Pitch reader (Market)

wk2

Understanding the pitch is a key aspect to winning a cricket match – so is the understanding of the market to win with a product. Wicket keepers are great pitch readers, as they stay close to it always. So is the product manager, as understanding the market is a very significant success factor for products. If product managers can read the pitch (market) well, they can certainly guide the team very well to shape the right product that fits the market.

Supporting the bowler (Development)

wk3

One of the primary roles of product managers is to work very closely with development to shape and release the product. They are involved every ball, they need to be attentive to every detail, they need a great presence of mind, they need to keep motivating and appreciating every milestone. They also support the bowlers on field placements – read as key reviews of every aspect of the design of the product. They can give instant feedback and suggest changes, on the spot to ensure success. They also catch to take wickets – similar to some key contributions by product managers on prototyping and closing loop on the product.

Alert with fielders (Quality Assurance)

wk4

Wicket keepers stay alert with fielders and set an example in the field, as well as guide the field on what’s coming from the bowlers. Product managers similarly are one of the initial quality assurance /testers of the product, and guide the QA on how to ensure the quality of the product.

Close to opponent (Competitive insights)

wk5

Wicket keepers stay very close to the opponent batsman. They know whats their strength and weakness by closely following and watching them. This can certainly help share their insights to the bowlers. Similarly Product Managers have to stay very close to whats being done by competition, and how the products they build can surpass the competitor products, by understanding their strengths and weakness.

Handy batsman (Sales)

wk6

Finally wicket keepers can also support with the bat. While they are not the strike batsman, they may be useful handy batsman as they know the pitch and the opponents, and in some situations could single handed win with their extra batting abilities (like a Dhoni or Gilchrist). Product Manager similarly can support Sales to win in the market. Product managers know all the details of the product, the market and the competition – so they can certainly help win in sales. While they are not the strike sales man, they can be an effective supporting person for the striker. Some Product Managers have a very high success rate of closing business when they are involved.

 

There could be more parallels…but hope the above helped you understand the critical role of product manager, as critical as a wicket keeper in a cricket match, and some of the key ingredients and potential contribution they can make to your product.

When we all started playing (read startup), we may not need a full time wicket keeper as someone wears that hat in rotation, but to make it big (beyond early stage startup) you probably need one.

Great Product Managers move on to become Great Product Leaders and are winners….Adam Gilchrist or our MS Dhoni !

wk7

 

PS : Never thought MS Dhoni will resign captaincy when i wrote this blog post (he resigned on same day when this post was published). Anyway hoping he will continue to be a wicket keeper for a some more period, and great team player 🙂

 

 

Minimum Viable Technology (MVT) — Move Fast & Keep Shipping

Technology teams can be the biggest asset or worst bottleneck for a growing company based on the strategy taken by them. In name of future proofing engineering, the technology teams become a hurdle to company’s goals. You can see the ‘hidden frustration” in Bezos words below ..

Engineers should be fast acting cowboys instead of calm clear-headed computer scientists — Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO, Amazon

Rampant Problem in Industry: When the task is to build a bike, the product and technology teams would plan for a product, which can later run on motor, seat four people, sail in sea and even fly in the future. This hypothetical building of castle in air, digresses the focus from the real problem to be fixed. This is what Bezos is suggesting to refrain from, as it wastes resources and agonizingly delays the time to market.

Being defensive, the Product/Technology teams usually build a cannon for killing a bird.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) philosophy evolved, to avoid this “unnecessarily over-thinking and over-preparation” problem which plagued products in all companies. It encouraged building the minimum required at a certain point of time and then iterating and improving it going forward. MVP approach enables much needed fast experimentation, fail fast and invest where needed strategy.

No such philosophy evolved for Technology. Therefore, the decades old defensiveand paranoid philosophy still prevails (which was much needed during older 1–2 year long waterfall releases). This becomes competitive disadvantage for startups usually fighting for survival or growing fast.

Fundamental problem is that the engineers blindly copy the large company’s strategies, considering them to be the standard. Corporate and startups differ widely on their needs of scale, brand, speed, impact of a feature, loss by a bug, etc. Startups enjoy more freedom to make mistakes and that they should exploit to their benefit.

Strategies used in big companies are more often irrelevant and even detrimentalto a small growing company’s interests.

Minimum Viable Technology: The solution to above problems is to Build the Minimum Technology, that makes the product and its foreseeable further iterations Viable. Make it live a.s.a.p. and then iterate and improve it based on real usage learnings. Every company is in different stage of evolution. Something that is MVT for a big company, can be over-engineering for startups.

If the task is to kill a bird, we should build a catapult/small-gun to begin with. If that becomes successful and there is a need to kill more or bigger animals, then bigger-guns/cannons should be built as required.

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. ~ Peter Drucker

Startups experiment a lot and only a few of them sustain the test of time. As per 80–20 rule, only those 20% successful ones should get deeper technology investments.

Principles of Minimum Viable Technology (MVT):

  • MVP + MVT + Agile is the complete package.

MVP is for product scope minimisation. MVT is for technology scope minimisation. Agile is for iterative technology execution.

  • Most decisions can be reversed or fixed easily. Choose wisely by bucketing the decision properly into reversible or non-reversible. And judiciously decide how much to prepare for that case. (Read Jeff Bezos’ two types of decisions).

It’s important to internalise how irreversible, fatal, or non-fatal a decision may be. Very few can’t be undone. — Dave Girouard

  • Build MVT — Fast & cost effective. Build the Minimum Technology that makes the product and their foreseeable iterations Viable. Prefer operational familiarity while choosing technology. Don’t fall for the latest buzzword (sure sign of inexperience).
  • Refactoring is part of success plan: Getting to refactor is a sign of success. Only components which are used and evolve fast; become complex overtime and need to be refactored. Be ready to re-factor or throw away and rebuild where justified.

The best code you can write now is the code you will discard in a couple of years time. – Martin Fowler

  • Think long term, act short term: It’s a fine line between under-engineering and MVT approach, that has to be tread properly. Don’t rush into execution without thinking completely, otherwise it will lead to more resource waste later. Thinking has to complete and deliberate choices must be there to cut scope. The rule of thumb, is  discuss the ideal solution on board and then decide what to take out of scope to make it MVT.
  • Speed and Quality must go hand in hand: Never justify the bad quality of your work by using the speed of execution as excuse.

MVT is for scope reduction, not for quality reduction.

  • MVP/MVT is applicable for every iteration/release: People relate MVP to the First release of product only. In fact, it applies to every stage. MVP/MVT needs to be chosen from the remaining next tasks at every stage. At no stage, it is ok to waste time and resources.
  • Deep understanding, conviction and confidence is needed for MVT. Both MVP and MVT approach is about taking bold calls like — “Out of these tasks, only this much is enough to win this stage of game”. While defensive traditional approach is like — “we can’t win or sustain if we do not do most of the known tasks”.
  • Alignment across departments is must for MVT execution. MVT reduces time to market in 80% of cases, by focusing on the core of what is needed. As per 80-20 rule, only 20% will need re-factoring and re-architecture later. Due to mistrust and friction between departments, they keep looking for faults in others. This leads to engineering (and others) being defensive and therefore over prepare to avoid any mistakes. This is explained and solved in Solver Teams post. In ST approach, all parties are in hot sync and are aware of trade offs taken while executing. So there is strong understanding and support for such efforts.

Move Fast. Keep Shipping!!

* The term “Minimum Viable Technology – MVT” is coined by the author – Ajay Shrivastava

The specifics – How we grew 100% organically every quarter 

We had earlier written about the fundamentals that helped us in growing over past one year but recently we looked back to dig further and list down few specifics that we believe helped our growth. These come from our own experience as a consumer company and might not be applicable to every startup but we hope that something applicable and actionable is derived from the points below.

the-specifics-how-we-grew-100-organically-every-quarter

What we did:

1) We operated below scale in a very patient manner (Do things that don’t scale — Paul Graham)

Early on, we saved contacts of all our top 300 active users in a company phone and spent a great deal of time in assisting them, reaching out to them. We called them all at least once a month, interacted over WhatsApp and staying tuned to their feedback helped us iterate our product at a faster pace. These users were also the ones whose feedback we gave primary weightage to. The idea was that it’s better to have few hundred very satisfied users than few thousand dissatisfied users.

This further helped us in a subjective product validation as we monitored NPS (Net Promoter Score) and gauged how disappointed they will be, if we took the product away from market.

2) Almost everyone in our team did customer support early on.

Over a period of time, many customers thought that we had a big team of customer support staff while the reality was that anyone would pick up the phone kept on the table in the early days. Reason for this was that, we wanted to listen to every piece of feedback ourselves and understand the issues users faced. The same set of issues and appropriate actions to be taken differed in many instances when viewed from different perspectives of development team, marketing team and product team.

The idea was that we need to have high capacity of attentiveness. We would respond to every tweet, call, email and resolve any issue within 10 minutes. This further reflected in our play store reviews where a vast number of them praise our customer support.

This non-scalable approach is an advantage of being a first mover in the market, the tacit knowledge acquired is invaluable and sets up time compression diseconomies (an MBA jargon for first mover economic advantage) that just can’t be overcome overnight by a clone.

3) We sold like a non-tech company!

Remember those users whom we had on our WhatsApp, we cross-sell and up-sell a lot of different use cases to them by just picking up the phone, so much so that they started recognising us by our voice over phone. We did a user specific profiling of their spend and the use cases they spent on and carried out over quarters weekly and monthly comparative analysis to predict growth trajectory and fine tune our throttle accordingly.

We were obviously not selling penny stocks but genuinely helping them out!These users further spread the word about product among their peers and we started mapping behaviour of incoming cohorts of users.

4) We iterated very fast for a focussed outcome

We have very short product release cycles to experiment and test our hypotheses and improve funnels conversion and KPIs. As a small startup, we realised that at any point of time, there are maximum of 2 metrics that we can focus on.

This ensured that we learnt and acquired knowledge of our social payments domain on a regular weekly basis and this growth is the kind that doesn’t reflect in vanity metrics like app downloads.

5) We maintained sanity when it came to data

We tracked but never over — analysed data. We largely relied on user observation and subjective feedback in early days and later ensured that the assumptions we test are based on decent sized cohorts which are statistically significant. For user observation and feedback, 10–15 users at a time is usually a good number to uncover majority of issues or problems a user would encounter.

6) We started with a clean slate with no prior bias.

We believe that there is nothing ‘standard’ about standards or best practices which is why we put out the disclaimer upfront that our learnings might not be relevant and applicable to all. For a unique product play and especially if you are not copying a product from the West, one requires patience and has to test everything about the product.

We iterated our product with constant user feedback and observation improving the conversions within the product and engagement.

We also got some validation for our approach towards very unique challenges we faced. One such example was partitioning our app in two parts — ‘Split n Settle — Post Transaction money settlement among friends’ and ‘Plan n Pay — Pre Transaction collection among friends’ and the approaches we took were also seen in products whose UX we admire like ClearTrip, Tinder and Google Play.

We have just begun and are learning something new everyday. It is this process of never ending learning from consumers while serving them, that excites and keeps us going on every day.

Guest Post by Ankit, MyPoolin

Demystifying Growth Hacking

Too much has been already written about ‘Growth Hacking’. Having been into product space for quite some time, I believe growth hacking is probably the most confused jargon being used in the business world (mainly product businesses).

demystifying-growth-hacking

Hence, thought of writing down my perspective on growth hacking by clearing out few notions around it –

For growth hacking, one should know coding?

I will say it depends on the hack. Some hacks will need a combination of more than one skills but sometimes a hack can be solely executed by a single function.

There is definitely use of technology as an enabler. Technology in growth hacking case generally need not correspond to hardcore coding but to a set of tools that helps you execute the hack quickly.

For example, trying different subject line for e-mails is a growth hack focused solely on content. What you need for it — probably a creative mind and an e-mail marketing and A/B testing tool (the tech part) but definitely not coding.

However if e-mail subject line has to be optimized based on results of earlier e-mail campaigns, then data skills is also needed. From data you should be able to make inferences and thus optimize the current campaign.

So it all depends on the use case.

Copying of popular growth hacks will also give you the similar results –

I think once a hack is in public domain and is widely accepted, then it is no more a growth hack.

For example, if you are a SaaS provider,  you would have known of that putting one price plan as ‘Most Popular’ have resulted in more sign ups for few products.

Should you implement it? Yes.

Will it deliver the same growth? Probably no when compared to products who tried when this hack was still in infancy, as now this hack is more of a hygiene.

However if you can even innovate a bit be it at UI, Content or something else that does the trick for you, congratulations! you have created a hack for yourself. And you need not split it out until you see the results getting flattened out.

 Growth Hacking is only about new user acquisition –

I believe, for any product there are four main metrics that is needed to be improved on a constant basis — User Awareness, User Acquisition, User Engagement and User Retention.

So any activity that can be used to improve any of the four metrics in the least cost or no cost (the ideal situation) can be qualified as a growth hack.

Would be glad to help in case someone needs more information.

P.S: check out this http://conversionxl.com/growth-hacking/ for more detailed view points which had emerged around growth hacking starting 2010 and this clearly tells why there is so much confusion around growth hacking!

Guest Post by Nishith Gupta

8 tech products from India for the World

India has come a long way since its Independence on 15th August, 1947. One industry that has really shined for India is IT/ITES and that really have put India in a global map. The major contribution has come in the form of Software services with names such as Infosys, TCS, Wipro & HCL being the torch bearers. However, be it due to lack of media attention or for the lack of sheer scale, India is still not looked upon as a Product Nation that has created a global consumer or enterprise facing product such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and other such marquee names. It is a bit ironical that all these big giants have a size-able number of Indian minds working for them!

So, on the eve of Independence Day of India, let’s give a shout out to few products which are slowly and steadily helping India to become a Product Nation and inspiring many Indian entrepreneurs to dream big for the World!

#TechMadeinIndiaforWorld

Capillary Tech — Any retailer in the world if looking for a customer engagement solution, then Capillary probably will be there in the list of evaluation. That is the brand it has able to create for itself in quick time. It has shown that an industry specific solution can be also scaled up big time!

Crowdfire — It is a social media management app for Instagram and Twitter. Earlier know us ‘just unfollow’, it has really shown that to get users, the focus should be on user need and not on complex problems.

Finacle — Infosys should always be proud of on the success of Finacle. This has helped them take multiple risks in product and platforms space. Finacle has always kept itself up to date owing to change in banking customers’ behavior. The fact that banks are using it in more than 94 countries speaks a lot of its universal applicability. Finacle has shown that despite the parent company being service oriented, products can be created if given independence in execution!

Freshdesk — It started in an industry which already had multiple matured players in the market. But focus on UX, price points and its target customer needs, it has nailed the customer support space. And with its recent hiring, it has shown the importance of right leadership.

Tally — It is almost a synonym for accounting software. And probably the first global product out of India. Again have shown to focus on user problems than anything else.

Web Engage — It has redefined the way how products should engage with customers. Again it operates in a highly competitive space but with its focus on innovative features, has shown how a product should be scaled up.

Wingify — Just look at their main page and you will fell in love with its mission statement. Overlaps with the web engage space to some extent but the mission statement itself separates them out.

Zoho — The perfect example of how to run a product business. In the age where founders chase funding, Zoho has remain bootstrapped and keeps churning out a productivity product for a business problem.

These products inspires us at UX Hack on a daily basis to have the right intent and build for the World!

Guest Post by Nishith Gupta, Founder, UXHack.co

3 Levels of Product Training for growth

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You have crossed the initial milestone of proving your product has seen some initial success, covered the MVP and now its time for growth…what is one key ingredient for growth ?

You are the rockstar founder or product manager…you have the urge to be omnipresent in every customer discussion or support call…you do a good job on this…but it’s a major deterrent for growth as you become the bottleneck…

The best solution for this problem is to put together a strategy for your product training.  Based on interaction with a startup growth entrepreneur’s request I had put few things, and sharing that in this post.

I plan to cover 3 levels of product training that I have personally learnt or done over the years to make products scale and be successful, the examples are more relevant to B2B but some of this can be used for B2C as well….

The analogy i have used here is of movies

Level 1 : Trailer – Targeted to people that engage with the Decision Makers who buy the product

Level 2 : Movie – Targeted to people that interact with users of the product

Level 3 : Making of Movie – Targeted to people that interact with administrators or consultants that configure, implement or support the product

Lets look at each of them in detail

Level 1 : Trailer training

This training is usually provided to Sales & Marketing teams who have the responsibility to engage and influence the decision makers, to buy the product. Certainly while the content stays high level , I have come across 3 questions to be covered in this training, that will help Sales to effectively position the product and get the interests

The three questions

Why buy ?  – This question establishes what is the real need for the product. What is the real problem that the product solves and why is it important for the customer

Why me ? – Having established the need to buy, the next question that needs to be answered is why me, why your product vs. other choices available in the market, what are differentiators, how is your product better in solving the problems and other objection handling

Why now ? – Assuming the need is established, and the fact that your product is the best fit, the next convincing part is the timing of the buy. The “why now” training should facilitate content that will help the trainee to engage with establishing the urgency, to get the decision to be made in a realistic time.

Coverage of the content

The content should cover the following to help with the above three questions

  • Benefits – the benefits of using the product , to improve the process, derive top line or bottom line savings or any others
  • Customer case studies – this is an amazing content to help sell. How are other customers using the product, their experiences, quotes, videos and other documents
  • Competitors – its important to know your competitors and how your product differentiates from them, this is an important area of coverage in your training
  • Unique differentiators – the product may have 100s of features, but there maybe certain ones which are the outliers or differentiators, there should be specific focus to highlight these in the training
  • Pricing and ROI – how is your product pricing done, what are the flexible options, what is the discounting policy, how do you combine products , how do you optimize revenue opportunity are some of the things that should be covered. Creating presentations and videos to explain the pricing with examples would be an important tool. In addition you also should have ROI templates that can help sales to justify the ROI for the customer, using relevant metrics that is aligned to the product’s benefits
  • Short demos – 2 to 3 minutes – This is the eye catcher demo (The Trailers), as its typically done to the decision makers, the demo should highlight the most important capability and it should also try to cover the overall value proposition of the solution. Remember this is the main tool that can help sales to create the initial interest or close the opportunity for approval.
  • Role plays – This is another extremely successful way to train people – the role play enacts how a customer facing person engages with the customer, bringing in relevant questions and dictate the engagement style to bring out answering the 3 questions
  • FAQs – you know answers to several questions, but its important that this knowledge gets out. A Frequently Asked Questions document or video should be a must have.

 

Level 2 : The movie training

This is to do with the actual product in more detail on how the users would use them. So this is essentially a training that is usually provided to Sales Consultants , Partners and Others who are likely interacting and engaging with the customer users – both during pre-sales as well as post sales.

Coverage of this training

  • Product feature functionality – going into details of the features and functionality of the product, focused towards customer users
  • Use cases – talk about different use cases that the product solves, every product may solve 100s of use cases, so its important to highlight different usage scenarios
  • Benefits in detail – while you cover the benefits already in level 1, this could further explain the details with more deep dives and examples
  • Product differentiators vs competition – detailed product differentiators, on various facets of the product and how this can help especially to cover the functional scenarios
  • Detailed demos (like the actual movie) – 30 minutes to 2 hours focusing on end user functionality
  • Role plays to explain usage of the product – detailed role play videos or depiction of how customers will use the product or how you can convince the users, for them to become influencers

 

Level 3 : The making of the movie training 

The third level of the training is for the people that engage administrators, implementer, partners and consultants. This covers variety of areas and really detailed and deep dive into the “how to aspects”. This is usually done to consultants , support staff and Business/IT administrators. This training is for mostly people who engage post sales, but essentially they should also have good understanding of the level 2 training, before getting here.

 

Coverage of content

  • How to configure the application, security, data, master data etc
  • How to trouble shoot
  • Detailed functional and technical architecture
  • How to demos or videos – detailed 2 hours to a day or even multiple days
  • Technical FAQs

 

So as you can see, if you can create the above training content and start training, it will certainly help you in your growth endeavors.

Offcourse you will also have to keep updating these content as you enhance your product.

Product Training , these days can be delivered in different formats – in person, webcast or through videos. But its essential for you to understand the importance of this and make it as a priority if your goal is growth

 ProdTraining1

Becoming Cash Flow Positive In SaaS Business & Growing Revenue By 3 Times In 3 Months: The ShieldSquare Story

In Q1 2016, we saw our hard work payoff. We achieved some notable milestones. We became cash flow positive and our annual revenue rate (ARR) grew by 3 times in 3 months. We expanded our customer base to 68 countries (with over 90% of the revenues from outside our home base), and doubled our team to 50. Our Average Revenue per account (ARPA per year) has doubled to $10,000. Above all, we pushed ourselves to become one of the top 2 bot prevention vendors across the globe!

This is quite an achievement, and I’d want to share some of my learnings on what worked, and how we got there.

Who Are We?

We are ShieldSquare – a startup based out of Bangalore that has come up with a world-class solution to fight bad bots that scrape content, spam forms and engage in various forms of site abuse. We started off in late 2013 with a founding team of five incubated at Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, Bangalore. We worked hard on building the product and refining it by working with early customers till the first half of 2015. We launched ShieldSquare for the global market in mid 2015 and started getting good traction. We decided to shift gears and accelerate the business growth for the year 2016 and this is how we went about doing the same.

Expanding To Outbound Lead Generation Channels

We initially focused on a low-touch approach in getting leads via inbound channels. With the right keywords, and after a lot of optimisation, we became the No.1 in search ads. We started getting a good number of leads, and this also helped us secure a top global financial portal as our customer.

However, as the average deal sizes through the inbound approach were small, we kickstarted our outbound marketing campaigns with aggressive sales targets. We launched personalised email marketing across different verticals, analysed the technologies our prospective customers were using and focused on them. This helped us reach out to the Europe and US markets, and win marquee customers – still keeping it a low-touch approach.

Incentivising Customers To Opt For Longer Duration Plans

We wanted to have a win-win situation for our customers (lower total cost of ownership) and us (cash flow and predictable business growth). We removed monthly subscriptions, and started providing significant discounts to customers that opt for annual subscriptions. Why? Because we believe that the the cash paid today is many more times valuable than the same amount paid after a year. If the valuation of the company increases by 5 times over 12 months, the cash being realised now is 5 times more valuable than the same amount realised after 12 months. We now plan to expand this strategy to incentivise customers that go for 3-year subscriptions.

Then Came The Growth Hacks!

Our regular efforts resulted in regular leads, but we wanted higher conversions with minimal touch.  We  launched a few growth hacks that are first in this industry, to increase our conversions. Our free-forever diagnosis plan helped our prospects try, and experience our product with no upfront commitments. Our free tools  ScrapeScanner and BadBot Analyser  provided reports that enabled our prospective customers understand the need for ShieldSquare and prioritise it internally.

scrapescanner free tool

Wise Investments To Achieve Growth

One way for businesses to reach positive cash flow is to get the team to work 2 times harder, cut costs, and the like. But our team was already working 2 times harder and our costs were tightly managed.   Another way—the more sustainable way—to reach positive cash flow is to grow revenues! We chose this path for becoming cash-flow positive!

  • Growing revenues require building solid sales, marketing and product teams, and we invested on growing our teams across functions and bringing in passionate talents to drive these teams.
  • There are certain things that might seem unimportant, but rather carry great value. Our employees at Bangalore enjoy free breakfast, lunch and snacks, while the same will be implemented soon for our folks in the Chennai, who are already beating the heat with the free tender coconuts we offer twice a day.

It’s Ok To Say “NO”

In business, priority is everything. 20% of the activities we do contribute to 80% of the results. Here’s how we prioritised things to be more productive:

  • We steered our focus away from activities that are of less or no value to our business, like attending feel-good/networking events. Rather, we reached out to our advisors and mentors whenever we needed guidance and advice.
  • We have restricted ourselves from meeting prospects until we qualify them. But we keep engaging with various players to get better educated about the market, trends and customer requirements.
  • As we were focusing on building the business and not raising funds, we have politely refused the calls and meetings from VCs who wanted to know about the business. Yet, if any of them insist on learning more about the exciting things happening at ShieldSquare, we invite them to our office to meet the team. This really works as only those who are serious will come to our office to have a conversation, while the others drop out.

Strong Foundation

We have promised ourselves that we would never compromise on the core values that took ShieldSquare to the global audience. It would have been impossible for us to be in the global top 2 position in our space, if not for the following:

  • A world-class SaaS internet security product that caters to  the problems of customers
  • Self-serve platform that requires minimal effort to integrate
  • Strong 24×7 support processes to help our customers
  • A great onboarding experience for customers using diverse tools

The aforementioned are the key learnings from our own trial and error experiments as well as interactions with our awesome customers and advisors. The key takeaway from these learnings would be to believe in our own instincts instead of reinventing the wheel.

The overall experience of developing a stellar security SaaS product for the world was amazing! As it turns out, the feedback we get from our customers are equally overwhelming, and yet it reminds us of the fact that the journey has just begun, and we still have a long way to go.

Guest Post by Pavan Thatha, Co-Founder & CEO of ShieldSquare, one of the fastest growing Saas Security company globally.

 

Design thinking Playbook Roundtable by Deepa Bachu

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The core idea of a startup is to tap into the previously unexplored markets, identifying unsolved problems and bringing to the market innovation that disrupt the existing eco-system. It’s about understanding complex problems and coming up with innovative, disruptive solutions…a process that requires understanding the consumers’ requirements and behavior patterns to create a well-thought out solution for the customers’ benefit.

While most entrepreneurs spend weeks brainstorming about the idea, they often ignore the key ingredient to innovation : design.

Design /dɪˈzʌɪn/ (noun) – do or plan (something) with a specific purpose in mind.

The Design thinking Playbook Roundtable organized by iSpirit and conducted by Deepa Bachu from Pensaar helped startup founders understand the importance of design thinking and integrate design into their workflow. Here are some key takeaways from the Playbook Roundtable held at the head office of Instamojo in Bangalore:

Design thinking is not just about the graphic elements, UI or tools. It is a creative approach to a problem. It is a problem solving methodology – whether it is blueprints for a building, a beautiful graphic design for a brochure, a sleek UI for a website or a comfortable piece of furniture, design helps to solve any problem, visual or physical.

While it is important to engage a professional, it is crucial that everybody on the team thinks DESIGN. Entrepreneurs should be able to step away from their immediate environment to look around and view their idea from the perception of the consumers, a process that requires creative thinking.

As a good product manager, a startup founder should be able to connect the dots in non-obvious ways to come up with a unique and innovate solution for the consumers. It is crucial for entrepreneurs develop a deep insight of the problem they are seeking to solve and be passionate about it before coming up with a solution. More startups focus more on the solution and forget the initial problem statement. You must never lose sight of your problem, constantly revisiting it while fine-tuning and tweaking the solution.

A product is valuable only as long as the consumer users it. It is thus important for entrepreneurs to understand customer behavior in order to make their product user friendly. Usability studies though interesting, aren’t always reliable. Startup founders thus have to seek out customers and work with them closely to understand what they need, what they think, how they use the product and how they feel about it.

Customer behavior v/s customer intent – it is important to understand the difference between the two. While a user may want to do something in the ideal world (intent), she may not be able to do it in the real world (behavior). As entrepreneurs it is important to differentiate intent from actual behavior. If this is geographically impossible, startup founders should not hesitate to use data analytics to tap into the users’ behavior patterns and modify the product.

Design thinking allows entrepreneurs to look at their idea holistically and come up with the best possible solution for their users. Design after all enables people to create and come up with the unimaginable and unexpected designs.

 

 

Stop Wasting your Hard-Earned Inbound Leads

Inbound Digital Marketing – A must for Generating Leads!

Organizations rely significantly on inbound digital marketing for their business. One of the most popular marketing channel used is Pay-Per-Click Campaigns, wherein inbound leads are captured as soon as a visitor clicks on sponsored landing pages/Google Adwords links and fills the details to access specific resources/offers. Direct inbound traffic leads are generated through Newsletters, Blogs, Contact Us, Demo Pages, Case Studies over website/ social networking sites where the visitor expresses an interest by filling their details over website to access the required information or request for a personal contact. Another way to generate direct inbound leads traffic is through organic content publication, SEO.

Getting an ROI from your Inbound Digital Marketing?

B2B companies invest between $25 to $500 for generating an inbound lead while B2C companies invest between $5 to $25 for the same. The money spent goes down the drain if inbound leads are not responded in an efficient way. The important questions for you to answer are – How many of your inbound leads are never contacted as they get lost during data transfer to sales team? As per the latest research done by Texo for SAAS companies based in India, close to 70% companies didn’t respond to inbound leads. How many inbound leads are loosely passed on to Sales reps to contact with incomplete or wrong information? How many of them are contacted when the prospect have lost interest in you or chosen a competitor? Based on Texo research, only 3.7% companies had a lead response time within 10 minutes and only 6.5% companies responded within an hour. How many prospects block you after your first sales contact?

The answers to these questions will define the ROI of your inbound marketing efforts. However, the good news is that if you are effective in inbound lead response management you are on the top of your business as chances are pegged on higher side in converting inbound sales leads rather than outbound leads for which investments are even on a much higher side.

Way to Efficiently Manage your Inbound Leads

We’ve all heard this popularly-quoted statistic: 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to sales (SiriusDecisions). What are buyers doing during this time?

Prospect gain awareness about their own need, and the vendors available in the market who may cater to the specific need. Buyers are usually looking for educational material, customer reviews, etc., at this stage. Prospect then considers the narrowed down companies and their products and services based on their requirements. They then perform a second level of research on company’s specific offerings to see how the companies can address particular pain points. This involves comparison of shortlisted companies’ products and services. Buyers generally consume MOFU content around features, case studies, and comparison charts. Prospect finally decides to choose a vendor. Prospect looks for more practical and on the ground stuff to substantiate their decision. They look for demonstrations, customer testimonials/ references, reliability of customer support to assess which solution suits their needs and budget. BOFU content drives the prospects to make a final contact for placing the request for buying interest. Marketers job involves understanding what their buyers are doing, and how they can engage with their buyers and help them move from one stage of the cycle to the next.

Inbound Leads are the prospects who have shown any kind of interest in your products/services by making a contact at any of the buyer stage. Marketers and sales reps have to align their engagement strategies with respect to the buyer stage. But what can they do about the 70% of the buyer’s journey that they’re missing out on? They are not able to correctly judge  the prospect’s buying stage when they make a contact and hence not able to employ an effective engagement strategy.

And how can a tool like Sales Engagement Hub integrated with Marketing Automation Tools help marketers and sales reps keep pace with their buyers? The level of interest may vary depending on the buying stage the prospect is in, and hence different prospects need to be addressed differently. Factors to be considered for engaging with inbound leads are Response Time, Mode of Communication, Information to be shared, Frequency of follow-ups and so on. A prospect in the consideration stage would prefer information about products, solutions, services, and case studies, and would need longer follow-ups over email (preferably) or call. However, a prospect in the decision stage would be more interested in having information on solutioning and pricing, and would need consistent follow-ups (shorter) over call (preferably) or email. Sales Engagement Hub integrated with marketing automation tools help the sales reps and marketers in effectively engaging with prospects.

Marketing Expense Tracker for Startups

I moved into a product role recently but for the majority of my startup life, I was in marketing. One of the things I always had lacking in my toolbox was a simple expense tracker. I looked around a lot but the best option was what I was already using and wanted to move on from — Google Sheets.

What’s wrong with a spreadsheet?

Google Sheets is a great way to record marketing spends compared to complicated expense management modules built inside even more complex solutions. It’s fast, everything is one place, everyone’s familiar with it, and there’s no easier way to collaborate than Google Sheets.

google-sheets-marketing-spend

But every time I shared the sheet with someone else to add spends made by them or their team, I was scared that something will go wrong. They might delete a column, remove a comment, change the amount paid. I normally trust people but this was the only place where I was recording spends. And it’s rather easy to fuck up with a spreadsheet. So, I would make a copy of my marketing spend sheet every couple of weeks or whenever the terror struck me. Over time, I ended up with 40–50 copies of the marketing spend sheet.

Also I often add comments to individual items with details on the campaign, the creative we ran, or simply if the campaign has already been paid for.

google-sheets-marketing-spend-with-comment

While comments in Google Sheets are awesome to collaborate, once you have a couple of comments, they start to get clumsy. And with 15–20 comments every month, it is easy to miss out on one of the important ones. Oftentimes, I also wanted a reminder to check on the RoI of a particular campaign or to make a payment, which was not possible in Google Sheets.

And of course, I wanted to compare and contrast the total spend against the budget, the spend previous month or the same month last year. Or even sum up and compare sub-heads like Tools, PPC or Events over a quarter or year. One of the core uses of spreadsheets is to help you add and compare numbers and I could have just written simple formulae for that (and I had some of them) but for most practical purposes, the analysis I needed to do was different most of the time. And then there were times when I just wanted the bigger picture — show the total divided under sub-heads, no need for individual expenses. Or show all items under PPC ads, we are spending too much there, so I need to figure out how we can cut down there.

All of these can be done with a spreadsheet, but it’s not the most efficient way. And there’s only so many rows and columns you can see at once in a spreadsheet.

I also talked to some other people in marketing and there were only two ways people were doing this in:

  • A Google Sheet like mine or Excel Sheet that they mailed back and forth in the organization to prevent the fuck ups I was so scared of.
  • Do nothing. And dig through your emails and credit card statement when the time came to put together the numbers..

There needs to be a better way for this.

The Solution

The next step before we get to the actual product definition is listing down the main actions a user could take in our marketing expense tracker. We won’t go into tiny details like inviting collaborators or editing the profile, we’ll just keep it to the actions required to solve the main pain points we just talked about.

User Actions

  • Add an expense
  • Add a reminder to an expense
  • See total spend in the month broken down under sub-heads
  • Compare spend against the budget
  • Compare spend in current month against previous month or same month last year
  • Compare spend under sub-heads across different time periods
  • Edit an expense after it has been added

Screens

The next step I use in the process is to think about the most logical way to group these actions into screens. Here are the screens we are going to have for our expense tracker:

  • Add Expense: The most obvious screen. Here’s where you can add an expense, categorize it and add a reminder.
  • See All Expenses: This is where all expenses for the month will be listed in chronological order. You can see all details about a spend, edit them or delete them from here.
  • Dashboard: This is where you can see total spend for the month compared to budget, and compare spends across months. Also all reminders will be shown here.

Add Expense

add-new-expensePretty self-explanatory but here are some pointers that the mockup doesn’t bring out:

  • The name field is a textbox but once you start typing, it will show suggestions that you can pick from as well. This ensures that you don’t end up using Adwords, adwords, Ad-words for the same item, making it easier for grouping and comparison later. Of course, if you want to add a new item, you can disregard the suggestions.
  • Category is to be picked from a drop-down so that you don’t end up creating too many new categories. If you want to create a new category, there will be an option in the menu. Or you can choose none if you want your item to be a sub-head by itself.
  • Amount can be made recurring for things like spend on tools for SEO or email marketing, retainer contracts with agencies or long-term campaigns. It’s a pretty frequent use-case to be out there. You can choose the currency at the time of setup.
  • Already paid? Then you can choose to add payment details like mode of payment and date. If not paid, you can ask to be reminded. You will get a reminder email and it will show up in your dashboard.
  • Additional comments are helpful to add details on the creative you used, campaign results (later on) and so on. It really could be used in so many different ways that I cannot fathom right now, so we will have it.

See All Expenses

see-all-expenses

Additional details:

  • The expenses are listed in chronological order based on the date they were added on.
  • You can click on an expense to see details, edit or delete it.
  • By default, you see all the spends for this month but you can also choose last month, this quarter, this year and other well-defined time periods.
  • Clicking on the categories head will group all expenses under a category (see a use case for it?), the amount head will display spends in descending or ascending order and the like.
  • You can also see all spends on freelancers this year by first selecting this year as the time period and then searching for freelancers in the search box. You can search for individual items as well.

Dashboard

dashboard

The dashboard is rather simple.

  • It shows what % of your budget for the month have you spent already. If you overshoot the budget, the bar will turn red. The budget can be set during onboarding and changed from settings for current month onwards.
  • You get a quick breakdown of the spend by sub-heads right below with the option to show individual expenses under that head. Think we need it here or would people rather go to See All Expenses to see it in complete detail?
  • You can compare your spend against previous month/previous quarter/any chosen time period (you are allowed to select months for this, not individual days) by using the Compare option the date picker provides (very similar to how Google Analytics has it).
  • And finally at the bottom, you get payment reminders for everything that is due. If you have already paid something, you can simply check it and add payment details from the dashboard itself.

That’s it. That’s all I would build in v1 of the product..

Future Additions

Of course, I have ideas for what else can be added to the product. Who doesn’t? But as I said, I will evaluate them once v1 hits the market and I have data points on how people are using it. Here are some of the ideas:

  • Simply send an email to a particular address to add an expense.
  • Build a mobile app. Or probably start off as an app itself.
  • Automatically pull spends on Google Adwords, Facebook Ads and everything else that can be automated.
  • Show RoI for different campaigns. Again the details are a little fuzzy, but if the product could show RoI, it becomes a lot more valuable than a simple expense tracker. And a lot more embedded into the marketing team’s workflow.
  • Show possible savings. If the product is tied to Google Adwords, I could show ideas on which campaigns can be optimized.
  • Suggest additional channels to advertise on. You have budget left over for the month. Why not try out some additional growth areas? It’s a tricky problem to solve but a problem a lot of people have. And going from passive expense tracking to providing active suggestions makes it so much more valuable.
  • Some kind of gamification or feed to show who added what expense. If people see others are adding every expense and detailing them out, they will be pushed to do it too. Adding marketing expenses, after all, is not the most exciting job on the planet.

What do you think?

Is this a pain point you or other people around you face? Does a product like this help you? If you were to build this, would you build it any differently? Or prioritize the functionalities differently? Would love to have your feedback.

Why am I doing this?

Why would I put out a pain point and then discuss how to solve it in so much detail? Why wouldn’t I just go build it?

Because coming up with the initial product idea and actually building, marketing and supporting it are completely different beasts. Moreover, I want to get better as a product person. I want to be able to identify opportunities better, learn how to tackle them better and how to prioritize what to build. As much as I tried to find detailed case studies on how other products opportunities were spotted, how they thought of the solution, the trade-offs they made, I was not able to find good study material.

I have a bunch of product ideas that I have made notes on over the years. If this post turns out well, I will do the same with them. So do add in your feedback, brickbats or bouquets and help me become a better product thinker. Thank you!

Follow me on Twitter: @sanketnadhani

Cheap Kills, Value Wins!

Competing on price is never a great strategy! Cheap Kills, Value Wins! As long you as you have a clearly differentiated offering, you should calculate the value your solution provides your users, and base your pricing on that! And stick to it! Competing on price creates a spiral of death for all competitors, no matter what the industry, no matter what the offerings are!

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Some eons ago, in one of the services start-ups I was with, prospects always brought up a competitor that offered better prices. Why just one? I usually volunteer to provide them an even larger list of competitors that can give them better raw pricing than me. Then I bring up the value of our higher priced offerings and how, over the course of the project, our total costs will  be lower for them, given the superiority of our hiring, training processes, and the higher productivity of our resources.

In another software product startup, we knew that many of our customers tried developing a solution in-house to solve the same problem and failed. We knew that in-house applications will not scale up as well as a carefully designed software product. Our product had the benefit of addressing  a larger variety of problems with all of our customers. And so every customer gets to benefit from better features, rapid customizability and scalability. We priced our offering at high US product prices; they were based on value provided rather than something that is worked from costs up!  We knew we had defensible intellectual property that cannot be easily replicated by any other competitor!

Perils of Competing on Price

Competing on price does not mean that you don’t provide strategically offered discounts on the total price to close a sale quickly.  It means that the only thing that differentiates you from your closest competitor is price and price alone. This is a terrible situation, not just for you, but all of your competitors also. Here are the perils of competing on price:

  • Inflexibility in the Contract – Competing on price does not allow for acquisition of other technologies, products, or people to make the overall effort more efficient and effective. Especially in product companies, a smaller competitor may have developed a product that fits in well with your offering when integrated properly.
  • Tight Margins – Murphy’s Law happens! Key people may leave, unforeseen things may happen at a company. Competing on price and tight margins can turn a marginally profitable opportunity into a loss-making effort.
  • Compromises future people and product development – The margins you make are not just for profits. A large portion of the margins are the monies you have left to be used for continued development of the people you have, or continued product research and development. Competing on price may force you to cut down on these strategic investments.
  • Sets up the wrong dynamic with the customer – The best time to set up a proper dynamic on Pricing with customers is right at the beginning. If you get the contract because you competed on price you have already set up a terrible dynamic. You may never be able to recover from this later on.

Steps towards Competing on Value

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Competing on Value is a careful, long journey and requires faith, patience and a lot more hard work. But when set up correctly, and if the value is proven with a handful of customers, scaling up to a larger customer base is easier. Here are some absolutely essential steps towards Value-Based Pricing:

  • Calculate and Have Ready, Demonstrable Value – First principle of Value Based pricing is to understand, calculate and have ready at your fingertips, your Value. Return on Investment (ROI) calculations, Pay Back Periods, Projected Total Cost of Ownership of alternative solutions are all necessary for you to demonstrate Value.  You need to have them ready even in your initial presentations. Tell them how you may appear more expensive than their other alternatives, but demonstrate how your solution will save them money, effort and time in the long run.
  • Differentiate your offering and Value – Make sure you have defensible intellectual property either in the form of patentable technology or at least a large body of complex code that will take a competitor a long time to figure out and develop. Companies underestimate the value of time in these comparisons. That’s why large software product companies routinely make the buy decision to acquire a smaller, nimbler competitor that provides a part of their overall solution rather than develop it all from scratch themselves.
  • Highlight your plans to add even more Value –  Share some of your future people or product development directions with your prospects and customers. Demonstrate how your plans will enable their investment in you will benefit them in the longer run even more. This will also have the added benefit of getting you feedback on what’s critical for them and what’s not. You will be able to fine tune your own future directions before you spend money on them, a kind of Lean Fine-Tuning!
  • Demonstrate Thought Leadership, don’t be in reactive mode – Whether you are providing software services or software products, thought leadership is a terrific way to demonstrate and provide added value. If you are doing Big Data Analytics products, share with prospects and customers, the thought leadership kinds of activities you are doing in that area. They need to look up to you as an informed, thought leading business expert; not a service or a product supplier. Those are the tools with which you add value.

Competing on Price is a losing proposition. Nobody wins and all competitors including you will be in a downward spiral with that strategy. On the other hand Value-based Pricing when done correctly can facilitate a longer term, mutually beneficial partnership with your customers. When done correctly, it enables you to defend and build your business with your customers and help grow your company in the process!

Price is what you pay. Value is what you get – Warren Buffett

 

Growth Hackers Will Share Their Secrets at SaaSx Chennai

This Thursday evening will witness the largest gathering of SaaS founders in India. In the event conceived by iSPIRT called SaaSx Chennai, more than 100 people, largely SaaS founders, apart from a few handful of product industry influencers, will brainstorm on various aspects of a SaaS business, especially taking the SaaS organization from a $10 million revenue to a $100 million revenue.

Girish Mathrubootham, CEO of Freshdesk, talks of Aaron Ross, the author of Predictable Revenue, as the brain behind Salesforce.com’s recurring $100 million revenue year on year. He initially started a company, raised $5 million, burnt the whole cash, and shut down the company. Then he joined Salesforce.com as a cold caller. Finding cold calling to be a bit arduous in winning customers, he conceived what Girish calls Cold Calling 2.0. His idea was to first interact with the customer on email and then establish a rapport, before calling the customer. The idea behind this exercise to first zeroing in on the most suitable customer for your product. This turns the prospect into a paying customer quickly.

SaaSx_headerAt SaaSx Chennai, Aaron Ross will deliver the keynote as SaaSx via video and will release the Jump Start Guide Desk Marketing and Selling for SaaS, co-authored by Suresh Sambandam, founder of KissFlow, Krish Subramaniam, co-founder of ChargeBee, Niraj Ranjan Rout, founder of GrexIt, and Sahil Parikh, founder of BrightPod.

jumpstart-guid-1Suresh says the event was conceived on the lines of SaaStr Conference, hosted by Jason Lemkin. He attended the event in San Francisco this February. Buoyed by the 300 to 400 founders coming together from all over the world in SaaSter, he wanted to bring together the SaaS founders in India. SaaS companies are witnessing phenomenal growth all over the world, and India is also seeing an uptick in this sector. Chennai is emerging as the SaaS hub of India, thanks to six big companies that are running their operations here. There are startups emerging as well. “Just two days after we announced the event, 65 signups happened and SaaS founders were excited by the idea,” says Suresh.

“In a focused event, founders can discuss real problems,” says Girish. A conference of a general nature does not give a beneficial take-away for an entrepreneur. “The idea is to bring similar people at similar stages of growth and discuss their pain points,” says Krish of Chargebee. He says cross-learning from each other will be useful in solving many problems the SaaS entrepreneurs face. “Even before the event, many one-on-one meetings are happening among SaaS entrepreneurs,” says Krish.

The event will have four parts. A My Story session with three SaaS founders, followed by an open house on Anything and Everything on SaaS moderated by Girish, aided by Suresh and Krish.

Aaron Ross will deliver the keynote then and finally, the Jumpstart Guide will be released

Announcing Platform Scale, the book: The pre-orders campaign is now live

Are you building a marketplace, social network or a platform?

Do you ever describe what you’re doing as the Uber for X, Airbnb for Y or the Twitter for Z?1

Do you want to understand why certain startups scale and others fail?1

Over the last few years, I’ve been obsessed with platform business models and their ability to scale. Unlike traditional enterprises, platforms do not scale by scaling internal employees and resources. Instagram gets to a billion dollars with 13 employees while Uber doesn’t own any of the taxis it dispatches. They scale through network effects. As more producers use the platform, consumers find greater value, and vice versa.

what-is-platform

Announcing Platform Scale – The Book

I’ve written about this topic extensively on the blog. And now, I’m bringing it all together as a book meant specifically for entrepreneurs and innovators.

order-now

Platform Scale is a maker’s manual, a guide, for entrepreneurs, innovators and makers looking to build platforms and benefit from this new form of scale. The book provides codified, actionable steps to design and implement platform-based businesses. Platform Scale is a book about unlocking the scale advantages that are possible in today’s connected world.

If you’s building a marketplace social network or a platform, you need to understand Platform Scale. Click to tweet

platform-scale

Why did I write this book?

I wrote this book because the rules of achieving scale are fundamentally changing but they aren’t understood very well. Platforms need to focus on interactions between users, not simply growth. They need to invest in building feedback loops that keep re-engaging users. The traditional metrics of user growth and active usage do not apply anymore, tracking actual interactions between users is far more critical to scale. We need a new playbook to achieve scale in a world of platforms.

goal-of-platform

Platform Scale – The Book Trailer

To learn more about the book, watch the trailer below:

If you’d like to pre-order your copy of Platform Scale, just click on the link below to get to the pre-orders campaign:

order-book

Platforms may be more important than you think

Platform Scale lays out the new rules for scale in today’s connected world. Even if you are not building a platform, you can benefit form the same principles that powered the growth of successful platforms like the ones in the image below.

platform-business-model

If you’ve ever wondered how to solve the chicken and egg problem for a platform or wondered which metrics best show success of a platform, you’ve seen the need for a structured approach to building platforms. That’s what Platform Scale aims to provide.

This article was originally published on Sangeet Paul Choudary’s personal blog Platform Thinking – A blog about building early stage ventures from an idea to a business, and mitigating execution risk.