Are you ready to Jump with AI/ML? [Updated Session Dates]

[Update 6-Apr] New April Session Dates – Symposium RT is being scheduled on Saturdays for Bangalore & Chennai (21st & 28th April). 

Playbooks for Electrifying SaaS and more.

This is what we call the fourth industrial revolution…And companies are really transforming and bringing all these new technologies to connect with their customers in new ways.
Dreamforce 2017 Keynotes, Marc Benioff.

There is no doubt that Artificial Intelligence (AI), is one of the recent “tectonic” market shifts, creating a change in landscape, market, and opportunity. AI and  Machine Learning (ML), now in its eternal spring, has a deep impact on SaaS evolution. While the incumbent companies like Salesforce, Zendesk, Workday, have all invested heavily in AI, also global challengers across many verticals from Sales, BPM, CRM… to Security are focused on building higher order efficiencies and automation through AI/ML.

Over the last few years, our Indian SaaS entrepreneurs trumped the global SaaS growth by leveraging mobile first as there was no baggage of desktop, reduced sales & onboarding cost by perfecting the art of Inside Sales & Inbound Marketing, and efficient after sales support & service by leveraging remote success representatives. Our SaaS Mavens helped disseminate these leverages by sharing the best practices & modeling internal flywheels & experimentations. Many SaaS entrepreneurs successfully assimilated and got a significant boost in their growth journey. These levers are now basic table stakes for most SaaS startups.

AI has no breakthrough success stories, but it is helping create a level playing field – especially for our Indian entrepreneurs – to compete with global players and incumbents alikeStartups willing to make the jump, adapt AI into their products & business models to create meaningful differentiation, will experience a strong wind in their sails to leapfrog over the players who don’t.

Our entrepreneurs have a rare opportunity to be early adopters & global trailblazers. 

To take advantage of this our entrepreneurs ask very valid questions.

Q. Why & How should we entrepreneurs navigate this AI market shift? 
Q. How should we, given that we are untrained in AI, grapple with the 360° impact of AI on product, business, and technology?
Q. What AI leverage can we develop without requiring expensive investments for constrained resources? 

How do we enable our companies to create new AI playgrounds to analyze, surface, validate and develop higher order customer values & efficiencies?

AI Playbooks

Since adapting to the AI “tectonic” shift requires a new paradigm of thinking, we have launched a multi-step playbooks track focused on Playing with AI/ML for Indian entrepreneurs. In line with iSPIRT’s mission, our playbooks purpose is to help market players navigate market shifts. The goal is to bring the practitioner knowledge from AI Mavens AI-first entrepreneurs who are further ahead in their AI journey – to the AI-hungry startups and help them perfect the model of working with AI, get traction towards a meaningful AI-enhanced value, and become trailblazers for the community. If you are an AI-hungry startup who has either taken the plunge with AI/ML but early in your journey, or are actively looking to leverage AI/ML for your current products, then following the stepped approach below may help:

Step 1 – Attend an AI/ML Symposium RT – Getting prepared with Why AI and How AI. In our first kickoff session on 10-Mar, we had great discussions on AI data maturity, what can drive your AI approach, and more with our AI Mavens and ten startups (read more).

Step 2 – A cohort of startups from step 1 will be taken through multiple AI/ML Playbook RT for How AI – deep dives on topics to help with structuring an internal AI playground, competency with data product management, product positioning & branding, business model shifts, and more.
These playbook RTs will help the startups carve out a lean playground for rapid experimentation and analysis, with a 3-4 person team of a data PM, & engineers. The team, actively lead by the founder, runs regular sprints (business/product/engineering sprints) of experimentation and validation, and have review touchpoints at intervals with AI-Mavens and the cohort as a running group.
There is also an optional Tech Training Lab to build internal ML competency with a multi-day workshop with Julia experts.

Four startups have been initially selected for the cohort for the step 2 AI playbook RTs (Acebot, FusionCharts, InstaSafe & LegalDesk).

SaaSx5 – June 2018

We are working to set up the 5th version of our marquee SaaSx to engage with the larger SaaS startup community. We will definitely focus on the impact of AI/ML on SaaS and have workshops based on our momentum of the playbooks track on various topics above. Date & details to be announced shortly.

The AI+SaaS game has just begun and it is the right time for our hungry entrepreneurs to Aspire for the Gold, on a reasonable level playing field.

Click to Nominate or Register a startup for the AI/ML Playbooks Track.

Dates & Venue

AI/ML Symposium RT #1 – 10th Mar (Sat) 2p – 5p Done (read more)
AI/ML Symposium RT #2 – 21st Apr (Sat) 11a – 2p @ Bangalore TBD
AI/ML Symposium RT #3– 28th Apr (Sat) 10a – 1p @ Chennai TBD

May the force be with you!

* All iSPIRT playbooks are pro-bono, closed room, founder-level, invite-only sessions. The only thing we require is a strong commitment to attend all sessions completely, to come prepared, to be open to learning & unlearning, and to share your context within a trusted environment. All key learnings are public goods & the sessions are governed by the Chatham House Rule.

Featured image modified from source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jedimentat/7557276684

First AI/ML Playbook Roundtable – Playing With the New Electricity

This is a Guest post by Krupesh Bhat (LegalDesk) and Ujjwal Trivedi (Artoo).

AI is seen as the new electricity that will power the future. How do we make the best of the opportunity that advancements in AI technology brings about? With this thought in mind iSPIRT conducted a symposium roundtable at the Accel Partners premises in Bengaluru on March 10th. Accel’s Sattva room was a comfortable space for 20+ participants from 11 startups. There were deep discussions and a lot of learning happened through subject matter experts as well as peers discussion. Here’s a quick collection of some pearls, that some of us could pick, from the ocean of the deep discussions that happened there.

Products that do not use AI will die soon. Products that use AI without natural intelligence (read common sense) will die sooner.

– Manish Singhal, Pi Ventures

Starting with that pretext, it isn’t hard to gather that AI is not just a promising technology, it is going to be an integral part of our lives in near future. So, what does it mean for existing products? Should everyone start focusing on how they can use AI? Are you an AI-first company? If not, do you need to be one? After all, it does not make sense to build the tech just because it appears to be the next cool thing to do. If you are building AI, can you tell your value proposition without mentioning the word AI or ML? have you figured out your data strategy? Is the need driven by the market or the product?

Before we seek answers we must clarify that there are two types of products/startups in the AI world:

First, an AI-first startup – a startup which cannot exist without AI. Their solution and business model is completely dependent on use of Artificial intelligence (or Machine Learning at least). Some examples of such startups in local ecosystem are Artifacia and Locus.sh.

Second, AI-enabled startup – startups with existing products or new products which can leverage AI to enhance their offering by a significant amount (5x/10x anyone?). Manish has a very nifty way of showing the AI maturity of such companies.

The session was facilitated by several AI experts including Manish Singhal of pi Ventures, Nishith Rastogi of Locus.sh, Shrikanth Jagannathan of PipeCandy, Deepak Vincchi of Julia Computing.

Maturity Levels of AI Startups

After a brief introduction by Chintan to set the direction and general agenda for the afternoon, Manish took over and talked about the various stages of AI based companies. Based on his interactions with many startups in the space, he said there are roughly four growth stages where different companies fall into:

Level 1No Data, No AI: An entity that solves a business problem and is yet to collect sufficient data to build a sustainable AI business. The AI idea will die down if the company fails to move to state 2 quickly. Business may be capturing data but not storing it.
Level 2Dark data, No AI: The company holds data but is yet to build solid AI/ML capabilities to become an AI company. There is a huge upside for such companies but the data strategy needs to be developed and AI capabilities are not mature enough to be considered as an AI/ML company.
Level 3Higher automation driven by data and AI: These are the companies that have built AI to make sense out of data and provide valuable insights into the data using AI/ML, possibly with some kind of human assistance.
Level 4Fully autonomous AI companies: These are the companies at the matured stage where they possess AI products that can run autonomously with no human intervention.

Manish also noted that most companies they meet as a VC are in level 1 and 2, while the ideal level would be 3 and 4. He noted that AI comprises of three important components: Data, Algorithm & the Rest of the System that includes UI, API & other software to support the entire system. While it is important to work on all three components, oftentimes, the data part doesn’t get enough importance.

Do You Really Need Artificial Intelligence?

A whole bunch of solutions are smart because they are able to provide additional value based on past data. These are not AI solutions. They are merely rule based insights. Nishith from Locus added that there is nothing really wrong with rule based systems and in a lot of cases AI is actually an overkill. However, there are two cases where it seems apt for startups to look at AI for their predicament:

  1. Data is incomplete: An example of this is Locus who gets limited mapping for gps coordinates and addresses.
  2. Data is changing constantly: A typical case was of ShieldSquare where bots are continuously evolving and improving and the system deployed to identify them also needs to learn new patterns and evolve with them.

It is important to have clarity on your AI model especially when you communicate with your internal teams. Figure out what is the core component of your product – AI, ML, Deep Learning or Computer Vision.

What’s Driving Your AI Approach?

There are two major driving forces that can help one in deciding whether to AI or not to AI.

  1. PUSH: The internal force when decision can largely be taken if your business is sitting on a lot of useful data, may be as a side effect of your key proposition.
  2. PULL: The external market driven force where clients expect or ask for it e.g chatbots. We are already observing that AI can be a great pricing mechanism.

However, take great caution when using Customer data or Derived data, it depends on legal agreement with clients and can get you into legal troubles if it violates any terms.

Is Your Data Acquisition Strategy in Place?

Anyone interested in AI should have a data acquisition strategy in place. Here are a few points that can help you get one in place:

    • What data do you collect, How do you validate it, Clean it and store it for further analysis?
    • Surveys and chatbots can provide a steady stream of data if built correctly
    • Think of data as a separate entity (has its own lifecycle), it may help to think of it as a currency and plan how you would earn, store and utilise it
    • Capturing location, user interaction data can be insightful. This may include the interactions user has committed and the ones they have not committed (deleted/skipped/hidden)
    • It makes sense to invest time, resources and people to gather data properly
    • Have a unified warehouse (can start with economical options like Google Analytics and AWS)

It is also important to give some thoughts on how you are using aggregate data across the platform. In case, if your AI model uses a combination of customer specific data and the sanitised aggregate data available in the platform (“Derived Work”), then you should make sure that you have the permission to use such data. Without such clarity, you may run into legal issues.

Deepak Vincchi explained how Julia Computing is emerging as the programming language of choice for data scientists. The platform can process 1.3 million threads in parallel and is used by large organizations to crunch data problems.

In all this was an extremely engaging 3 hours without break. Guiding the session with real examples by Nishith, Shrikanth and also shared learnings from Navneet and others really helped bring to life Why AI and How AI. This symposium is part of an AI playbooks track was aimed at kickstarting cohorts of startups ready to jump with AI and help them get traction with AI, more will emerge on this shortly.

10 startups attended this mini-roundtable session – Acebot, Artifacia, Artoo, FusionCharts, InstaSafe, Klove, LegalDesk, Rocketium, Rubique, ShieldSquare.

Thanks to volunteers Rinka Singh and Adam Walker for their notes from the session and Ankit Singh (Mypoolin/Wibmo) for helping coordinate the blog post & note

* All iSPIRT playbooks are pro-bono, closed room, founder-level, invite-only sessions. The only thing we require is a strong commitment to attend all sessions completely, to come prepared, to be open to learning & unlearning, and to share your context within a trusted environment. All key learnings are public goods & the sessions are governed by the Chatham House Rule.

Featured photo by Matan Segev from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/action-android-device-electronics-595804/

Playing with the new Electricity – AI/ML Playbook Sessions [March Update]

[Update 29-Mar] New April Session Dates – Symposium RT is being scheduled for Bangalore & Chennai (21st & 28th April). 

“Tectonic” market shifts happen every few years creating a change in landscape, market and opportunity. The most recent “tectonic” shift is the emergence of the Artificial Intelligence era. In just the same way electrification in the early 1900s transformed major industries globally, AI, Machine Learning & Deep Learning are poised to transform a multitude of industries, services & products.

It took 100 years from the discovery of electrical generator to electrification of industries. AI is doing this in a span of 70 years (from the time of the Turing Test).

AI/ML has gone through many winters and is now in its eternal spring. It portents a new framework for startups to navigate and evolve from an internet era startup into an AI era startup.


Every new era shift begins with a lot of smoke and hype before it is well understood. iSPIRT ProductNation & Julia are launching a set of AI/ML playbook roundtable & workshop sessions to dispel the hype around AI, and help bring a pragmatic mindset & process change necessary for product startups to leverage AI/ML. We believe AI is not just a technology shift. It is a combination of product, business, and technology shift. Adapting to it requires a new paradigm of thinking to build a viable value strategy. This needs to be done mindfully and in context of the value you offer to the customer, do not rush in with the AI hype.

These multi-step playbooks are for all categories of startups regardless whether they are AI-First or SaaS, and MarTech, FinTech, HealthTech or any other <Domain>Tech category, startups who are looking to deliver a higher order value to their customers by leveraging and applying AI models with their data.

Since AI/ML is still in its early years there aren’t any proven success playbooks. Hence these deep sessions will bring together AI experts, AI Mavens (entrepreneurs who are more ahead in their AI journey), iSPIRT Mavens, and selected startups, to discuss & share their insights, challenges & learnings on the mindset shifts outlined above and best practices adopted. The 2-step playbook roundtable sessions focused on founders (+1 typically CXO) and a hands-on lab workshop are a sequence of:

    • AI/ML Symposium RT (step 1) – An invite-only 3 hour mini-symposium playbook with AI/ML experts, first mover AI leaders & Mavens from our startup community and 10-15 invited startups, focusing on Why AI/ML? What was the higher order value being created? How to identify the opportunities to leverage AI? What do you need to get started with AI (if not already running)? Data needs for AI/ML investments… The shared awareness created in this session, combined with the commitment by startups to articulate their AI/ML opportunity, and detail their approach will lead to the next AI/ML roundtable.
    • AI/ML Playbook RT (step 2) – Startups at similar AI readiness from the Symposium will be invited for a 5-hour deep-dive roundtable discussion on the AI/ML challenges in the context of the startup domain, effectively going through their AI/ML readiness & approach (a review & teardown). Topics would emerge from the Symposium RT and could cover data collection & modeling strategy, AI transformation algorithms, Business model innovation, Success metrics… This session is restricted to 5-6 startups (having similar AI needs) per roundtable and an AI Maven to facilitate the topics & discussion. Possible outcomes for each startup would be to develop an action plan/checklist for next few months of execution. Additionally, startups can identify a tiger tech team to go to the AI/ML Training Lab to get traction for their checklist…
    • AI/ML Training Lab with Julia Sandbox (optional) – A 3+ day workshop intended for the 3-4 person tiger tech teams (CTO, Engg, Data guy, PM…) from each startup. The workshop will help focus on building competency, getting traction & executing implementations related to the checklist developed at the roundtable.

For the first set of these playbooks, we are inviting nominations/applications for startup founders (+CXOs) who are either directly focusing on AI-based opportunity or have started integrating AI/ML as a core strategy for their product growth/success. Please provide your nomination for startups you believe should be part of the first series of the AI/ML playbooks. If you are a startup and interested to be part of this please register below. On final approval, an invite confirmation will be sent via email.

Please submit your nominations here. A registration link will be sent to your nominee.

Dates & Venue for the first of the series:

AI/ML Symposium RT #1 – 10th Mar (Sat) 2p – 5p Done
AI/ML Symposium RT #2 – 21st Apr (Sat) 11a – 2p @ Bangalore TBD
AI/ML Symposium RT #328th Apr (Sat) 10a – 1p @ Chennai TBD
AI/ML Playbook RTApr-TBD (Sat) 11a – 5pm @ Bangalore TBD
AI/ML Training Lab w/ JuliaApr-TBD @ TBD (Bangalore)

While the sessions are in Chennai/Bangalore, we believe this topic is of emergent interest to startups across the country and would invite all to register.

AI Mavens

Ashwin Ramasamy – PipeCandy
Manish Singhal – pi Ventures
Nishith Rastogi – Locus.sh
Shrikanth Jagannathan – PipeCandy

Cost

All iSPIRT roundtables are pro-bono (read below for how that works)

This series of playbooks is being setup by active support from our Mavens & Volunteers – Ankit Singh, Deepak Vinchhi, Karthik KS, Praveen Hari, Ravindra Krishnappa, Sandeep Todi.

P.S. Some great material for pre-reading

I strongly recommend all to go through many of these.

* All iSPIRT playbooks are pro-bono, closed room, founder-level, invite-only sessions. The only thing we require is a strong commitment to attend all sessions completely and to come prepared, to be open to learning & unlearning, and to share your context within a trusted environment. All key learnings are public goods & the sessions are governed by the Chatham House Rule.

* The Julia team is on a social mission to train a large number of people in India to develop grassroot skills and competency with AI & ML.

+Feature image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/gleonhard/34046647175/

Deep Learning Session with Julia Computing

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An evening with Julia

iSPIRT, in association with Julia Computing, is proud to announce an open-session with Prof. Alan Edelman and Dr. Viral Shah, co-creators of Julia, an open source programming language, and co-founders of Julia Computing Inc.

The event will be hosted in Koramangala, Bangalore, on the 22nd of January 2018, from 5 – 7pm. Register now for an invite to the session or to join the live cast (venue details will be shared along with the invite).

What is Julia?

Julia is a modern, high-level, high-performance programming language for numerical computing, data science and AI. With syntax that is familiar to users of other technical computing environments, Julia solves the eternal two language problem, by providing productivity similar to Matlab or R, and performance similar to C for writing mathematical and statistical software. Julia is open source, its research is anchored at MIT since 2009 and is growing very rapidly in its adoption across industries, from Finance to Life Sciences.

Julia … can even be used by those who aren’t programmers by training

Why Should You Care?

Julia’s deep mathematical roots and comprehensive customizability make it very friendly to work with for data scientists, who are generally limited with popular Machine Learning approaches due to their issues with customizability and efficiency.

This 90 minute session will cover a quick introduction to Julia, showcase a few challenging and compute-intensive case studies that Julia has helped solve across domains, and demonstrate how Julia as a framework is used to enable nextgen AI & ML modeling & computing with the AI tools of your choice, including popular libraries like Mocha, MXNet and TensorFlow. This will be a great opportunity to interact with Prof Alan and Dr. Viral on best ways to approach an AI/ML strategy.

About the Speakers:

Prof. Alan Edelman is a Professor of Applied Mathematics, Computer Science and AI at MIT. He is a co-creator of Julia language, and a Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Julia Computing, Inc.

Dr. Viral Shah is a co-creator of Julia language, and a Co-founder and CEO of of Julia Computing, Inc. He has been an important part of Aadhaar team from 2009 to 2014, and has co-authored a book called Rebooting India with Nandan Nilekani.

Julia Computing was founded in 2015 by the creators of the open source Julia language to develop products and provide support for businesses and researchers who use Julia.

Register now for an invite to the session or join the live cast.

Also, Workshop will be streamed on Youtube live for those who can join us virtually. The Invite will be shared on 21st Jan 2018 with the registered participants.

Is your SaaS product ready for GDPR?

What is GDPR you ask? and Why should you care?

Some of you may know about the upcoming rollout in EU of the General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR is a regulation that requires businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. GDPR implementation date is 25 May 2018, but do not get complacent by the date, it requires reasonable effort and time for companies to become ready & compliant. And there are significant penalties for not being compliant.

If you are operating in the EU or if any of your customers are operating in the EU, GDPR applies to you.

Who?

  • Customers in EU – YES
  • Employees in EU – YES
  • Vendors or partners in EU – YES

GDPR Workshop / Webinar

iSPIRT and Microsoft are conducting a GDPR workshop for founders to demystify the GDPR and help understand the steps required towards compliance. This will be a mix of in-person and webinar session (choose when you register).

The session will cover among many topics, clarity on the impact of GDPR, application to organizations in India, additional responsibility about controls, notifications and data governance for managing and tracking personal data, and how organizations need to start thinking about GDPR compliance. There will be presentations by both Legal teams from Microsoft India and the CTO of Microsoft Accelerator.

Apply here using the Registration Form

Date & time: 16-Nov, 3-5pm

In-person Venue: Microsoft Accelerator – JNR City Centre, IBIS Hotel Annexe ,Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road, Bangalore.

Webinar: Link will be sent to those who choose to attend the webinar.

Session Scope:

  • GDPR & Data Privacy, and its growing importance
  • A Risk assessment Checklist – Go to https://www.gdprbenchmark.com/ to access a quick, online self-evaluation tool available at no cost to help your organization review its overall level of readiness to comply with the GDPR
  • Data Privacy Business Scenarios – Technical Demos

Registration

If you are keen to attend the workshop please apply using the Registration Form. Since seats are limited for both in-person and webinar, please register ahead of time. We will confirm with an invite subject to availability. There is no cost to attend. We start sharp at 3 pm.

Strongly recommend going through the Risk Assessment Benchmark Evaluation.

The checklist will help you prep for the workshop and get the most out of it.

Some sources for pre-reading:

What is the GDPR, its requirements and deadlines? – CSO Online

GDPR in the age of SaaS: One SaaS vendor’s journey to compliance …

If You Use SaaS Products, You Need To Prepare For GDPR. Here’s How

Are you ready for the GDPR? A quick, no-cost, readiness self-evaluation tool.

The Global Impact of GDPR on SaaS Providers – Spanning Backup

Home Page of EU GDPR

Coming soon – 2017 SaaS Survey

BTW did you know the new SaaS survey is coming? We are excited to announce that we would be launching the third edition (2017) of the India SaaS Survey in a week from now. This survey is an annual exercise conducted jointly by SignalHill and iSPIRT to gather valuable data for drawing insights which help various stakeholders in the ecosystem understand this space better.

Please click on the following link to access last year’s survey results

Please stay tuned to this space. We will be providing a link to this year’s survey very soon in an upcoming blog post.

Product Teardown Roundtables are coming to your city.

Read more details on the teardown sessions, and preview the teardown format. If interested please apply here (Limited Seats).

Smart tools for SaaS founders to handle inbound & outbound sales processes – #PlaybookRT94

When #iSPIRT announced a roundtable on ‘Building & Scaling Growth Teams for Saas Founders’  with Ashwin Ramesh (Synup) leading it, I was thrilled to join it, assuming it would be a direct take off from Ashwin’s session at #SaaSx4. Well, we were not disappointed. I am sure the other participants share my feelings on the outcome – It was an action-packed interactive session on the strategies one can use to be successful in SaaS.

Most fellow founders who joined the discussion chimed up with a common theme, with questions on how to get good inbound leads, how to scale up, crack the game, and most importantly – how to switch from outbound to inbound.

In this post, I want to provide a summary of all the tools that were discussed in the roundtable to help in content creation and distribution, and tools that will help you do outbound in a structured way. The sheer number of tools that we discussed was overwhelming to the group, to say the least.

WhatsApp Image 2017-05-05 at 10.36.03 AMContent is still King, so let’s lead with it.

Content: Good content is more important than the fact that it is a blog or a post or guest post. It could be anything that attracts folks, and gives your product or service the attention span needed. Some of the examples of good content that were discussed include websites,  checklists (e.g. http://localseochecklist.org/), videos, visualisations, infographics, data driven content, Quora ads, & Answers wiki.

If you need ideas on how to create great content, take a look at https://tympanus.net/codrops/

Now that you have the content, let’s shift the focus to distribution. The traditional models of distribution have become saturated. No one’s going to come just because you wrote and published something. So you need to come up with innovative ways to distribute content. Well written content, if it is not reaching the intended audience, is a dead investment and one has to have deliberate policy of setting aside a budget, even if it’s a small one, for distribution of each piece of content. You should try the following options:

  • Start contributing on reddit, and especially to a subreddit specific to your industry, business area or technology. The strategy suggested is to become active participants of a specific community, engage in discussions, post comments, contribute and build your credibility. The content you may share here would be actively promoted by other participants and also gets picked up other channels. The key is to build credibility and be supportive to other members.
  • Another idea is to sign up to https://inbound.org/ and once again be an active participant, and a slowly become a regular contributor. 
  • A third option is to use services like QUUU to distribute or share content across social media including Twitter , Facebook.
  • Investing in FB paid ads also has been found effective for many businesses.
  • If you feel that the above strategy is high on investment and low on initial results, start using article syndication services like Outbrain or Taboola to engage your target audience while they are browsing or reading interesting content on the web. 
  • A good way to use Taboola or Outbrain would be to use it with  Bombora, one of the best B2B intent engines. It gives you better options to identify / reach your B2B customers. There are integrations available for Bombora with Outbrain, and you need to decide on the budget. 
  • If you need to reach out to key influencers to help you share your content on a wider scale, use Buzzsumo to build the list and also get an idea about what your competition is sharing.
  • Once you have the list, use Buzzstream to manage the outreach that is desired. It helps manage the relationships and also monitor the content sharing. 
  • One related area which may be of benefit is to reach out to journalists using tools like Haro and Bite Size PR
  • If you have good content, you can choose to distribute the same through newsletters. Look for a curated list of newsletter sites or owners and get your content into these newsletters. It is an ongoing challenge for newsletter publishers to get good content for their readers, so reaching out to provide them content becomes a win-win proposition

Social media is a powerful medium for reaching out to a wider audience.  Tools that may be used for leveraging social media audience are:

  • Lead Sift ( twitter )  – This is used to keep track of potential customer who are engaged by  your competition . Helps in qualification of leads and setting up engagements faster 
  • EngageWise : To help present your content to a wider audience based on the interest they show in similar content. This helps in growing the pipeline using the reach of social media.
  • Lead Feeder :  Identifies the visitors to the website thereby qualifying the visitors and makes better / faster engagement possible. Offers and integration to CRM as well.
  • Ad Espresso :   One can create and test FB Ads in a very short time and run ad campaigns instead of single ads to effectively reach the different sections of audience thereby reducing cost and increasing efficacy of the ad.

Any website / online content strategy has to consider SEO.  Some of the tools that can be used for SEO include ( apart from the tools offered by Google ) 

  • Screaming Frog   – This can be used for in-depth technical analysis on your site .  It is a website crawler, works very fast & quickly allows one to analyse the results in real-time. 
  • All in one SEO  :   It can be used to optimize WordPress site for SEO. 

Another key element of growth involves reaching out to prospective customers. For that , email is still the most effective mechanism.  When it comes to using outbound emailing, getting good data ( email ids ) is equally important as the mail content and delivery strategy . 

For Creating the Data ( emails ) the options available are 

  • Scrape websites for data  
    • Screaming frog : The custom extraction feature allows you to scrape any data from the HTML of a web page using CSS Path, XPath and regex
    • Scrappy :  An open source and collaborative framework for extracting the data you need from websites, in a fast, simple, yet extensible way.
  • Some other common tools are 
    • Builtwith  :  One may get to see leads in your list by known technology spend, the usage or non-usage of competitor or other technologies as well as the usage or non-usage of entire categories of technologies like A/B Testing.
    • Limeleads : Access to a large repository of business leads across multiple verticals
    • Zoominfo : ZoomInfo’s Growth Acceleration Platform offers the most accurate and actionable B2B contact and company intelligence 
    • Buy data from publishers like D&B . This link is useful for Indian websites only.

Once you have the data , cleansing or cleaning up email list is the next key activity 

  • External agencies may be employed to clean up the email list. There are many service providers engaged in doing this for an acceptable consideration.

Once the email list has been curated, then you have to decide on the best way to engage the prospects or identify a delivery mechanism. There are many tools which support a structured approach to sending mails in a personalised manner, away from the mass mailers.

  • Klenty : This is an outbound sales automation tool for your inside sales team to prospect, outreach and follow up at scale. 
  • Prospect : A simple tool for sales automation. Works well for cold emailing and drip marketing. 
  • Quickmail : Another simple tool to automate outbound emails. 
  • Outreach  : Yet another platform that supports emailing and calling. 

Any inbound process revolves around the sales funnel. Organisations constantly look for increasing the conversation across all stages of the funnel or improve the funnel itself. Some of the recommendations that came out of the extensive discussion included usage of Google Analytics and other exclusive tools for understanding the user’s journey in your website and app through session recordings, heat map analysis, etc.  It would be good if cohorts are defined before initiating analysis so that patterns can be identified. 

  • Heap: Automatically captures every user action in your web or iOS app and lets you analyze it all retroactively.
  • MixPanel: Follow the digital footprint of every user across mobile and web devices. Know precisely what happens inside your product.
  • Inspectlet: Inspectlet records videos of your visitors as they use your site, allowing you to see everything they do.
  • Hotjar: Can be used to understand user behaviour as it visually represents their clicks, taps and scrolling behavior on your website.
  • Crazy Egg: Through Crazy Egg’s heat map and scroll map reports you can get an understanding of how your visitors engage with your website. 

Other tools that were mentioned include marketing automation tools and A/B testing / multivariate testing tools. One common suggestion which came up was to use best in class tools rather than using all in one kind of tools. A few examples of specific tools are mentioned below. Since all of them are well known, I don’t think it’s necessary to add a description of what they do.

Marketing Automation tools / Communication tools: 

A/B – MVT Tools 

A big thanks to Ashwin and the roundtable participants for listing these tools and sharing their experiences in using them.  I may have missed out one or two of the tools discussed. Look forward to your comments on these tools and also suggestion of other equally valuable tools for inbound / outbound processes.

WhatsApp Image 2017-04-29 at 7.01.02 PMDisclosure :  I am Neel Padmanabhan part of Team Lucep and head India Operations . Lucep is an instant response call back tool that is currently being used by several businesses around the world for handling inbound leads. The tool is designed to encourage visitors to the website to contact the sales team and get a response as quickly as possible.

Zero to One – Marketing and Inside Sales – SaaS

This playbook roundtable is meant for early stage SaaS product startups on inside sales and inbound marketing. This playbook will be facilitated by Sachin Bhatia (Ameyo/Inside Sales Box) & Ankit Oberoi(AdPushUp) and is scheduled for 15th April in Gurgaon. If you are interested, please apply send a mail to rajat.harlalka@gmail.com.
Roundtable Focus Areas
– The PlayBook Roundtable will focus on how Early stage SaaS startups can get their first 10 and then the first 100 customers.
– The founders will share their experience of the initial steps to be taken, key metrics to focus on and the team structure for inside sales and marketing.

First 10 Customers -> First 100 Customers is an important milestone for SaaS companies.
In this playbook we talk about early steps to focus on in Marketing and Sales from experience of

  1. AdPushup
  2. Inside Sales Box

We share actual Traffic / Conversion / Cost per lead etc from experience

Initial Teams, Hiring Experiences and Compensation plans and

key learnings in initial Lead generation and Sales efforts

Marketing

Team

When and How

Goals?

Website/Content

Goals

Review a few websites and discuss

View real metrics [Traffic / Conversion / Landing Page Conversions?]

To put pricing or Not?

Content – Blog / Ebooks

Activities / Channels
SEO [Keywords, On Page, Linking, External Links]

PPC [Sharing Real Benchmarks and Examples]

Social  – Linkedin / Twitter / Facebook as B2B Lead Gen Mediums

PR?

Others

We will also share Cost Per Lead etc from experience

Example of Successful / Unsuccessful Campaigns

Stack

Website

Lead Tracking

MIS (Share Template)

Sales

Team

Founder

When and How

Structure and compensation plans (Share Template)

Stack

Website Chat?

CRM

Phone

MIS (Share Template)

Playbooks is one of the key pillars of iSPIRT bouquet.

Playbook in iSPIRT denotes entrepreneurial learning meant for Indian software product startups to become world class and be successful.

Roundtable is a format of learning intended for startups that have reached a happy confused stage. In this format 8-12 non competing startups are brought together to discuss deeply on a topic that holds them from jumping to their next level.A facilitator, who is an in the saddle entrepreneur deep dives on the topic by becoming metaphorically naked and shares his experience and gets a peer discussion going on the topic.Coaching including peer coaching happens through multiple mode – judgement of the discussion (VC mode), sharing experience (Sage on Stage), being a mirror (Guide by the Side). Playbook Roundtable tend to be more of the last category of mirroring.

playbook-ispirtThink of this as group study for 7th class students in an age where there no school & teacher and one has to pass the 10th standard board exam. Some one who has done that leads the group study.

Playbooks have a longitudinal impact so they are tracked via an input metric.  At the end of every roundtable session a Net Promoter Score (NPS) is calculated via survey, the average NPS score of last 85 roundtable that were held is about +80. (iPhone as a product has an NPS of +71).

Roundtable was initially architected by Shankar Maruwada, Ashish Gupta, Vivek Subramanian & Aneesh Reddy. Some learnings from past roundtable are captured here

Key organizing principles behind creating playbook roundtables

  • In the saddle entrepreneurs are the best to teach upcoming ones. Age, company brand plays no role.
  • Quality > Quantity which means traditional format of 1 to 100 classroom style  and metric of footfall attendance should be questioned.
  • Safe environment are absolutely necessary to have deep discussion.
  • Curation is highly important, ie. have non competing participants and bring people together in similar stage of startup growth.
  • A facilitator and organizer checklist.

I have had the privilege to shadow about 40 of 85 roundtables that have happened in last 3 years. If I describe it as saying that gold dust of the tacit knowledge gets shared it won’t be an exaggeration. Chatham rules apply in a roundtable i.e. to protect the safe environment no quote is attributed to a person. However this deck those captures some of the discussed tacit knowledge as directives

A good mental model to decide which roundtables can be used from the market map

2-3-map-by-rajan

Check details at the events section in PN blog

Playbooks is more than roundtable

The initial focus of Roundtable was happy confused product startup founders a later realization was that playbooks will need to extend across the spectrum of entreprenuership lifecycle.

kindergarden   > discovery (1st to 7th std) > happy confused (7th std) > pre-scale (10th std) > pre-growth(pre college)

Playbooks Progression
Playbooks Progression

 

Some of these additional formats emerged

Playbooks sets down one of the most critical foundation layer for India to be product nation.

How AdPushup Uses Content Marketing To Power Growth #PlaybookRT

Close to about 15 founders gathered on 1st October at the small and cozy office of AdPushup to participate in a Playbook Roundtable on Content Marketing. This was Ankit’s first playbook with iSPIRT and he did a phenomenal job.

AdPushup is a SaaS company that helps web publishers increase their ad revenue by letting them test and optimize their website’s ad layout. Their expertise has been content marketing, and Ankit shared several details of their experience, learning and strategy which have helped AdPushup become a leader in content marketing in the AdTech software space.

Inbound is a Culture

Ankit stressed upon the fact that when starting in inbound practice, founders themselves need to get involved. Inbound is a long term game and requires a lot of patience and perseverance. By getting their hands dirty, founders understand the intricacies involved in inbound and thereby are build the right team and culture.

Buyer Persona

The first step in building your inbound strategy is to put together a buyer persona.  It is basically a description of your ideal customer – someone who will directly benefit from your product or service. Creating content around and for them is what will get you more traffic, engagement and a sustainable growth. You could identify buyer persona by:

  • Interviewing Prospects
  • Feedback from your sales team on the leads they’re interacting with most
  • Looking at your Top 10 customers

A typical buyer persona will consist of the following:

  • Job Role/Title
  • Job Skills
  • Performance KPI
  • Tools used
  • Goals
  • Challenges
  • Personal Demographics (if appropriate)
  • Recent purchase and the decision tree
  • Online communities/websites they use to consume content

A buyer persona will help you identify the kind of content and channels you need to focus on in your inbound strategy.

how-adpushup-uses-content-marketing-to-power-growth-playbookrtContent Creation

There are two types content that founders can focus based on their industry and product:

  • Relevant to business or industry ( informative)
  • Relevant to the Persona (targeted and actionable)

The tone of the content should be educational and non promotional. Create content only keeping in mind – “is this helping someone solve a problem?”. At AdPushup, their target audience is long form bloggers and large web publishers. They write content which either informs them or helps in dealing with a painpoint (e.g. blogging tips, how to get more subscribers, how to get more traffic, user psychology, increasing user engagement, among others).

Each content piece should be:

  • Thorough and meticulously researched
  • Up-to-date
  • Well designed

Content should have:

  • Scannable text – bullet points, sub-headings, short paragraphs, images. Remember bulk of readers do not read but scan the content.
  • Actionable Insights
  • Content Frameworks
  • Citations and sources

Content ideas mostly come from:

  • Keyword research
  • What topics your competitors are writing about
  • Evergreen content (guides, tutorials, how-tos, best-practices)
  • What the industry experts are tweeting, sharing on social media
  • Comments on blogs and from relevant communities
  • Round-up posts

Nail the headline of every post that you publish and you will have won 70% of the battle. If your headline doesn’t inspire confidence, interest, excitement or any sort of emotion then readers wont click on it. Then even though your content might be brilliant and relevant, it will just not get the importance it deserves.

Content Distribution

An important rule of thumb to remember is that whoever is the content creator – allocate 50% of time in creating content and the rest 50% in distributing it.

Some of the channels for content distribution include:

  • Relevant Subreddits
  • Google+
  • FB Groups
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Pinterest
  • Hacker News
  • Forums
  • Influencer outreach
  • Syndicate/Guest Post
  • Article that will rank on SERP
  • Refurbish for Infographics, SlideShare, etc
  • Competitor URL outreach

When you join communities on social networks, regularly engage with their members. This helps when you have to share your content there and not come across as a spammer.

Reddit is infamous for being ruthless with spammers and self promoters. So the only way you come across as neither is by providing all the value right there in the community post and add a small link in the end which says something like – “to read the full post, here’s the link” (and provide the exact url, not bitly or any short links). Provide the entire outline right there. Anyone reading it should only click on your post when they know exactly what is in the content and they would still want to read it.

Whoever you mention in our post, product or person, make sure to send them or the relevant team members an email telling them about the mention and encourage them to share it on their social media. Most people do actually share if you ask them. Also, it helps if you are relatively well known and the content is really well written.

Look for guest posting opportunities because they are an effective way to make your presence in the industry. And guest post only on sites that are relevant to your audience, have a very high volume of traffic and well respected (e.g. HubSpot, KISSmetrics)

Generating Leads

Once you have created content and distributed, it is imperative you capture details of the readers. You could devise several ways to do that:

  • Opt-in Subscription Forms
  • Banners
  • Email courses via drip campaigns
  • HelloBar
  • Native mentions (with disclosures)
  • eBooks, reports and whitepapers

Make sure your email marketing is sorted out. Put pop-up email capture boxes (and similar lead capture forms/boxes) in your blog to encourage visitors to convert into subscribers. Once you have a decent number of subscribers (300+) and are pushing content out regularly, start rounding them up and email them to your subscribers in the form of a ‘weekly newsletter’.

Here is a screenshot of how AdPushup uses its content to capture user details.

adpushup-blog

Measurement and Analytics

Finally it is important to measure and analyze your inbound activities. As Ankit puts it, “Inbound is a continuous rinse and repeat process”. Few key metrics to track include:

  • The channels that are giving more traffic
  • Channels that are converting better
  • Type of content that gets more organic reach
  • Statements/Emotions in the headline that perform better (e.g. questions, negative statements, suspense, informative etc)
  • Reader Demographics
  • Best time to publish
  • Best channel to distribute for every topic

Once you have a sufficient success in measuring ROI – cut out what is not working and concentrate only on what is getting results. And always keep creating hypotheses and rigorously testing them. You never know what product or customer insight you might stumble across.

Guest Post by Rajat Harlalka, Bellurbis

Nuts and Bolts of selling to US customers from India for First Timers. #Chennai

This PlaybookRT will focus on Product startups who are keen to enter the US Market. The PlaybookRT is facilitated  by Suresh Sambandam, CEO of KiSSFLOW / OrangeScape. Suresh will host a highly interactive Playbook Roundtable for Product Startups and share his journey of acquiring 9000 customers globally. Details of the last Playbook Roundtable can be accessed here – Nuts and Bolts of Marketing & selling SaaS products to US customers from India for First Timers

Some of the key topics that Suresh would be sharing insights are:

  • Getting the Basics Right
    • B2B SaaS Customer Acquisition Model
    • Role of Product
    • Freemium vs Free Trial
    • Positioning (3 types)
    • Pricing
  • Marketing
    • Junk In – Junk Out (Top of the funnel)
    • Perpetual A/B
    • Inbound vs Out Bound
    • SEO
    • Adwords
    • Re-targeting and Re-marketing
    • Channels to Ignore
    • Signup Qualification
  • Engagement
    • Drip Emails
    • Engagement Tools & Tracking
    • Fix the product
  • Sales (Hunting)
    • Founding Team Commitments during early days
    • Role Definitions
    • Opening the Communication Channel
    • Region Mapping, Sales Agent, Multiple Shifts, Time Zones, etc
    • CRM Choices
    • Unified view for Sales Team
    • Support Driven Selling
  • Sales (Farming)
    • Post Sales Customer interviews
  • Infrastructure and Others
    • Recurring Billing, Payment Gateway choices
    • Product Feedback Loop
    • Continuous Content Marketing Loop
    • Automation Engineering
    • MIS Reports
To apply for this PlaybookRT please fill up the online application and we will get back to you. The session is open to the company’s Founding Team, CEOs and/or head of Sales. Applications are due by the 5th Sept 2016. The goal is to have at most 12 companies so as to make the interaction effective. If there are other interested attendees, we will arrange subsequent RoundTable. This PlaybookRT is FREE and there are no charges.

Announcing #PNcamp2(8th Oct, Pune) – Not bigger, but definitely better

In late 2013, the iSPIRT volunteer team I was part of decided that the best way to approach pn-camp-logo (1)the problem we had on our hands was to simplify it. We wanted to bring together a group of product people who were ready to ask each other the tough questions. When they came out of the event we were putting together, we hoped they’d be changed, they they’d find answers, and in the process, new questions as well.

And that is how we decided on the bootcamp format, which was so well received that we were inundated with applications. It was a great event, and we wanted to replicate it again. But other things intervened, and PNCamp had to wait. Until now.

This time, we are doing it way better. And in the experience of other events, we have decided to keep it small. So the bootcamp becomes an actual run through a difficult trail. No one can lag behind or hide. Everyone has to run, everyone has to move.

So what will this PNCamp focus on?
These things:

1. Product Market Fit
2. Product Management Principles that actually make sense in the real world
3. Sales and Marketing things you can go and do, like right-away

With a smaller, curated audience to ensure peer- learning, to learn from other entrepreneurs challenges and solutions, and to encourage deep, interactive conversations, we are going to be having focused group round tables. There will be no PowerPoint, no monologues; just tips, insights and questions from doers like you for you to ruminate on.

Are you excited? We certainly are. We’ll have a lot of updates for you soon. Watch this space. Please apply before 15th September 2016. We will confirm your participation by 25th September 2016. 

Why did I love this Saturday?

I usually start my weekends with an intense workout regimen. This one was also quite intense but in a very different way. I attended the 71st edition of ‘Playbook Roundtable’ on Saturday the 28th of May, 2016. Incidentally, this was my first time at any Playbook event. From the time I received the invite, I just had one question: how should I prepare to give it my very best? Little did I know that rather I would get the very best from this infectiously energetic tribe of people we call entrepreneurs on earth.

The event began at 11 A.M. with the first sip of cappuccinos and a brief introduction by everyone. We had 12 entrepreneurs (plus their co-founders), who had come to spend this Saturday to learn from one another. Besides passion, everyone was running high on desire to solve meaningful problems by using technology and change our world forever. While few of them had already (successfully) launched a product and were now facing next level growth challenges, many were still somewhere in MVP stage, figuring out product-market fit.

I was amazed to see an eclectic mix of problems these start-ups wanted to solve – beyond many industries and businesses. We had a renowned Fintech company making peer-to-peer banking easier with its latest product, a B2B engagement platform that helps convert one’s clients to promoters, a knowledge management product that makes life easier for customer support staff, a marketplace for those who want custom-tailored clothing minus hassles, an employee engagement platform that makes it easier to share ideas and innovate bottom-up, a mobile push notifications platform which has a unique ‘do it from your notification itself’ feature, an AI-based data cleaning & organizing tool, a personalized curated video platform which helps discover ‘still hard to find videos’ at YouTube, a collaboration platform which seamlessly works over Gmail, an education portal that aims to make multiple forms & cumbersome application process around admissions redundant, an open source ERP for small businesses with an enviable community across the globe, and a managed marketplace for getting super-affordable flash presentations. Phew, that was a lot… But that’s how best Saturdays are made!

The format of the event – with a handful of participants and an intimate setting over a roundtable, literally – allowed for an easy interaction for everyone. After hearing elevator pitches by everyone, we all were kicked to get into the next phase of our day – the demo!

Every entrepreneur had a total of 30 minutes to give a brief demo and then get into question-answer session, which was a unique opportunity for everyone. While a lot of questions satisfied curiosity of the audience, many entrepreneurs actually took on the audience by asking difficult questions that were giving them sleepless nights. “Almost everyone giggled when this young gentleman innocently asked – how do I reduce my cost of sales? And one response came – don’t ever sell to this segment!”

While everyone learned a thing or two, I noticed recurring themes in advice and insights that most of us agreed with. I call those timeless pieces and they are:

  1. Articulate the problem you’re solving really well (for whom, how, and why)
  2. Keep it super simple during MVP stage
  3. Speak to users, don’t assume
  4. Your product is super cool, but maybe for some other segment!
  5. Solve one problem really well for just a handful of users before conquering the world.

We concluded the session with everyone summarising their one or two key takeaways from these awesome 6 hours spent together (damn, nobody mentioned expanded LinkedIn network!) For me, more than anything, it was a humbling experience to be with these ultra-human beings for I’d like to be like them, some Saturday!

How culture is the fevicol of a startup

I recently attended a Playbook Roundtable organised by iSPIRT on “Culture Design” discussing how to preserve culture of a company that it started with? Reading so much strife because of culture conflict globally or in India or how MNCs should imbibe the “Transparency Culture” & “Accountability Culture” has made me wonder Isn’t “Culture” a confusing word?

Each time we use the word culture we incline toward one or another of its aspects: toward the “culture” that’s imbibed through osmosis or the “culture” that’s learned at museums, toward the “culture” that makes you a better a person or the “culture” that just inducts you into a group.

As per Wikipedia, Culture is, in the words of E.B. Tylor, “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”

Tirthankar Dash articulated culture that can be depicted in a pyramid. At the base is the Philosophy – what are the belief systems underlying the culture.

On that base is built the Mythology or folklore. This would mean Stories – what are the stories that make your philosophy real and personal. And at the top would be Rituals – what can you do that will bring it all alive.

One truth we have seen over the centuries – whether it’s a team of 3 or a country or a civilization, culture exists in every community. So the choice is between letting an unconscious culture crop up like weeds or consciously creating a culture we truly love.

A lot has been said about “Corporate Culture” of late especially about “Startup Culture”. One can have big vision and goals, smart people, super pay, great products and more, but the undercurrents of culture many a times determine whether the company crosses the chasm from good to great.

So, the key question is what kind of culture we want to propagate, as a company, community and the country? How do we provide an environment where one can respond (said and unsaid) to people and situations to bring out the best in each of us?

How does one ensure that we preserve and pass the culture of company from the 10th employee to the 100th to the 1000th?

While each startup or a big company should identify its own values, rituals, celebration and mythologies, there are three critical aspects that each culture should have for it to sustain, have its employees be “in the zone”, an experience when your concentration and focus peak and you are able to scale uncharted territory.

Trust: Every culture should command and demand trust among its community. If there is trust deficit, it leads to fear which creates processes and policies. Leaders of many organizations are afraid of the 2 per cent employees who may break their trust. The reality is, whether you create restrictive processes or not only 2 per cent of the people break your trust.

You end up penalizing the 98 per cent of the employees with restrictive policies (attendance tracking, detailed travel policies, time-tracking etc.) Any driven employee cannot ever be in the zone if they feel restricted, monitored and trapped.

Progress: Growth, movement , opportunities whatever you call it progress is like oxygen for any company or culture. Driven people constantly look for avenues where they can satiate their hunger for learning. Hence the culture should foster open communication and collaboration coupled with professional & personal growth.

The Indian culture, often labelled as an amalgamation of several sub-cultures is a prime example of this progress over several millennia.

Purpose: As a leader, if you had to choose to do only one thing to get your team to be in the zone, it should be to continuously, shamelessly and loudly remind them of the larger purpose of the team and the organisation they are a part of.

Remember, there are a bunch of operational tasks and distractions vying for your team’s time and attention. It is your job to take out time and remind them of the larger purpose of the organisation. It is your job to get them back on track when they are distracted and to give them the feedback and support they require.

At InMobi we believe in nurturing a culture that enables people to become more of who they truly are. YaWiO which is the foundation of our culture is like the wind – it’s the presence that can’t be directly seen, but it can be felt very strongly. It is our glue that holds the organization together and can guide how to behave & act!

Guest Post by Ankit Rawal, Proud Veteran InMobian

Nuts and Bolts of selling to US customers from India for First Timers in Pune

This PlaybookRT will focus on Product startups who are keen to enter the US Market. The PlaybookRT is facilitated  by Suresh Sambandam, CEO of KiSSFLOW / OrangeScape. Suresh will host a highly interactive Playbook Roundtable for Product Startups and share his journey of acquiring 9000 customers globally. Details of the last Playbook Roundtable can be accessed here – Nuts and Bolts of Marketing & selling SaaS products to US customers from India for First Timers

Some of the key topics that Suresh would be sharing insights are:

  • Getting the Basics Right
    • B2B SaaS Customer Acquisition Model
    • Role of Product
    • Freemium vs Free Trial
    • Positioning (3 types)
    • Pricing
  • Marketing
    • Junk In – Junk Out (Top of the funnel)
    • Perpetual A/B
    • Inbound vs Out Bound
    • SEO
    • Adwords
    • Re-targeting and Re-marketing
    • Channels to Ignore
    • Signup Qualification
  • Engagement
    • Drip Emails
    • Engagement Tools & Tracking
    • Fix the product
  • Sales (Hunting)
    • Founding Team Commitments during early days
    • Role Definitions
    • Opening the Communication Channel
    • Region Mapping, Sales Agent, Multiple Shifts, Time Zones, etc
    • CRM Choices
    • Unified view for Sales Team
    • Support Driven Selling
  • Sales (Farming)
    • Post Sales Customer interviews
  • Infrastructure and Others
    • Recurring Billing, Payment Gateway choices
    • Product Feedback Loop
    • Continuous Content Marketing Loop
    • Automation Engineering
    • MIS Reports
To apply for this PlaybookRT please fill up the online application and we will get back to you. The session is open to the company’s Founding Team, CEOs and/or head of Sales. Applications are due by the 22nd May 2015. The goal is to have at most 12 companies so as to make the interaction effective. If there are other interested attendees, we will arrange subsequent RoundTable. This PlaybookRT is FREE and there are no charges.

Brief profile of Suresh is:

Suresh Sambandam is the Founder and CEO of OrangeScape, that specializes in building technology platform software. OrangeScape offers two platforms – Visual PaaS – a cloud application development platform for Large Enterprises and KiSSFLOW a workflow-as-a-Service platform for SMBs. OrangeScape has marque enterprise customers include the likes of Unilever, Citibank, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and its KiSSFLOW is #1 in the workflow / SaaS BPM space with 9000+ customers across 108 countries with a truly global footprint.

Content marketing your way to multi-million dollars in revenue – iSPIRT Playbook Roundtable

Playbook-RoundTable is one of the most sought after community events of iSPIRT. It’s a gathering of 12 like-minded product startups who are beyond the early stage. RoundTables are facilitated by an iSPIRT maven who is an accomplished practitioner of that Round-Table theme.

The Playbook Roundtable (#PlaybookRT) on content marketing is a brainstorming session on how to acquire users at scale and confer them to customers without paying a dime through content marketing.The playbook roundtable is facilitated by Paras Chopra, founder and CEO of Wingify (the makers of VWO). Paras founded Wingify in 2009 and the company today has 3700 customers across the globe including the likes of Microsoft, AMD and Groupon, and is known as one of the SaaS poster boys of the country.- How to generate initial traction for your product with content marketing?
– How to target your content to the right audience using personas?
– How to get top marketing experts in the world your biggest influencers?
– How to measure RoI on your content marketing?
– How to scale up the team?
– How to get covered on TechCrunch, trend on HackerNews and write for the likes of Moz and Smashing Magazine?

If you are interested, please fill the below mentioned form. If shortlisted, we will confirm by 31st March 2015