Impressions from Saastr Europe

Posted by Bo Pedersen
on June 19, 2018

Gtmhub helps companies grow faster and deliver an awesome employee experience.

To learn what other companies are doing to grow and build a world class culture, I attended Saastr Europa in Paris on June 15, 2018.

Summary

Is it worth attending Saastr? If you’re a pre/seed/A-round company, then most definitely attend, one way or another. I’d send 1-2 people with a brief to network aggressively, and it should be an easy ROI win. The networking is the secret to me, as the content of some of the speaker sessions although good, was not mind-blowing. Saastr could leverage the network opportunities more, and I’m sure they will.

First impressions

  • Seed stage startups and investors dominated the audience. There are of course many more pre-seed and seed companies than later stage companies. But it felt very seed-centric in the audience. I liked this as it gave me a chance to sanity check our own progress and approach against a diverse peer group. But it also felt a little echo chambery.. even if that serves its own purpose.
  • Speakers were mainly later stage growth companies. Again, I have not audited the list of speakers, but the speaker content felt much more later stage. How to deal with reaching $15mm ARR (is this a recognised challenge?), conversations around the $1B+ IPO pipeline, and the like.
  • The networking was off the charts. This is the sleeper success of Saastr. Although the speakers and companies attending are world class, the real power of any network lies in the degree to which participants can and do connect. There was a constant buzz of people meeting in more or less formal settings around coffee, lunch, in between sessions, etc. This is something to double down on.

Notable speakers

  • Aaron Ross. Predictable Revenue, Impossible to Inevitable, scaling Salesforce to $100mm ARR. A predictably excellent presentation, with some surprising elements, including extensive examples drawn from Aaron’s very large family. Memorable! My takeaway was that our early work to separate growth, sales and customer success is on the money. Need to learn more about the  right inbound/outbound mix.
  • Andrus Purde. Ex-marketing at Pipedrive, and now co-founder at Outfunnel, a marketing automation startup. Starting off with an excellent illustration of the Awareness/Urgency matrix using a dog and a flying squirrel was genius. Andrus introduced me to the idea of ‘findability’, supported by an excellent recipe on how to dominate organic and paid search.
  • Jos White / Brynne Kennedy. Jos is partner at Notion Capital, and Brynne is founder and CEO at Topia, fka Move Guides. Brynne and Jos debated diversity, with some very powerful examples drawn from direct experience as investors and founders. Key takeaway, diverse teams perform better, but are harder to manage.

Notable companies

  • UiPath. This European Unicorn is spearheading the rapidly evolving category of robotic process automation. One of the fastest growing companies ever, the company is enabling companies and organisations in every vertical, of any size to automate any process. The scope and scale of the ambition, backed by razor sharp execution is mind boggling.
  • Oradian. Provides core banking solutions for the unbanked in emerging markets. The company ships a light weight, fully featured cloud solution for delivering banking products to millions of previously unbanked consumers in hard to reach locations. The combination of a compelling value proposition for banks or other service providers with powerful social impact is rare and great to see.
  • Gatekeeper. My first conversation at Saastr was a pivotal moment. Someone walks up to me and says: ‘Gtmhub? We use that. Great product.’ (Paraphrasing, sorry Andrew). Gatekeeper is an awesome SaaS business which unravels the unholy mess that is supplier contracts and puts the customer back in control. With great customers like Hubspot onboard, they’re on track to scale fast.

PS – it would be remiss of me not to mention Harry Stebbings. Harry is also somewhat of a secret to Saastr’s success imho. Extreme enthusiasm combined with incredible insights from hundred of interviews, semi-celebrity status combined with graceful humility. Was great to reconnect.