SaaStr Annual 2017: Day One Highlights

By Erika Malzberg February 7, 2017

Day one of SaaStr was a real treat (and we’re not just talking about the slushies and churros on the “Deep Dive” floor). Across the four stages, SaaS leaders including CEOs, CMOs, VCs, and even the Founder of SaaStr himself, Jason Lemkin, took on big subjects from going from $0 to $4B to customer advocacy, net negative churn, the CEO’s role in marketing, building momentum, and more.

Here are just a few of the great insights captured from a day surrounded by the best of the SaaS best:

“Sometimes it’s as important to know the market you aren’t going after as the market you are going after” – Michael Pryor, CEO Trello @michaelpryor

“Translating an app into another language doesn’t mean it’s localized.” – Michael Pryor, CEO Trello @michaelpryor

“When everyone can use your product, it’s like a marketer’s dream: shooting fish in a barrel. But, here’s the problem: when everyone and anyone can use your product what you have is a couch. A beige couch. Messaging that makes sense for everyone is boring, and it won’t stand out in the marketplace.” – Lauren Vaccarello, VP Marketing, Box @LaurenV

“A great trial experience is vital. Prepopulate some data – don’t welcome [prospects] with a blank slate. Whatever makes your product sticky, highlight that. What are attributes of a customer who doesn’t leave? Bake that into the trial experience.” – Lauren Vaccarello, VP Marketing, Box @LaurenV

“The people who start a company are rarely the people who love to scale a company. You need different functional expertise” – Chris O’Neill, CEO Evernote @croneill

In regards to hiring: “You don’t want the ‘number 1’ person. You want the #2 or #3 person — the ones who have the fire in their belly to get to the #1 seat. I’ll trade off on the experience curve. A certain energy comes when you put people in stretch roles. That’s where the magic happens.” – Chris O’Neill, CEO Evernote @croneill

“It’s a fact of nature that companies and businesses will sometimes scale faster than humans. You need the courage to recognize this and to make necessary transitions.” – Chris O’Neill, CEO Evernote @croneill

“Having product and development at the table — owning retention and customer advocacy — will lead to the outcome of ensuring that product market fit occurs.” – Catherine Blackmore, GVP Customer Success, Oracle Marketing Cloud @catherineblckmr

“If a customer feels passed around too many times, they feel frustrated. Smooth handoffs are important.” – Nick Mehta, CEO, Gainsight @nrmehta

“If you don’t understand your product, you don’t understand your customers, and what their pain points are. Companies need they think they need analytics and insights, when it’s too late. You need to be proactive with analytics and it needs to be done with velocity.” – Emilia D’Anzica, VP Customer Engagement, Walkme @emiliadanzica

“Companies need to go through different gears as they grow. First gear isn’t the one you want…but you have to get through the first few gears to get up to speed.” – Sudheesh Nair, President, Nutanix @sudheenair

On starting off…” We just looked for a use case that worked 80% of the time. We decided we would solve just one problem really well — but that we would solve it for the whole world.” – Sudheesh Nair, President, Nutanix @sudheenair

“Sales is probably the most quantifiable profession there is. Every 90 days we know if you’re a hero or a zero.” – Sudheesh Nair, President, Nutanix @sudheenair

“In a successful company…somebody is doing the marketing. Marketing is not an appendage; it’s the center between products and the field.” – Greg Schott, CEO Mulesoft @gregschott

“Marketing likes to pretend that positioning is a black art. But it’s not. Positioning happens in the mind of the customer and it’s about very simple things. – David Kellogg, CEO, Host Analytics @Kellblog

“Marketing is about empathy. Who am I selling to and what’s in it for them?” – Stacey Epstein CEO, Zinc @staceyepstein

When we were small we were a tight knit band and everyone knew why we were here and who are customer was. Everyone was on the same page. As we started to get bigger, we needed to set out our brand book, personas etc. This was important externally and internally to set everyone around the same core principles.”- Kathryn Minshew, Founder and CEO, The Muse @kmin

Is your SaaS company embracing the 10 core growth strategies for SaaS companies? Learn more about the SaaS growth imperative here.