Skip to content
Startups are innovation machines. They identify market opportunities, develop novel products and go out to change the world. Some companies want to change the world in one dimension: a better product or a disruptive go-to-market. Others want to innovate in every dimension and re-invent every discipline from pricing to marketing to support to customer success.
Brad Birnbaum, founder and CEO of Kustomer, discussed the challenges of innovating on two dimensions simultaneously on the [Saastr podcast]().
In Defense of Troublemakers. I love the title. Who doesn’t want to be a troublemaker? Charlan Nemeth is a professor at Berkeley of Psychology. She’s studied the role of dissent in group decision-making and written this book on the topic. It’s a critical part of a functioning team.
Here’s what I learned from the book:
The minority, dissenting opinion in an argument is essential to ensure we make the best decisions.
After publishing the survey last week, I received many questions. I’ve answered a few here. I’m happy the data has garnered so much interest and I hope it’s helping with our two goals of sharing benchmarks and sparking conversations about how to optimize trial. If you have stories or data that buttresses or contradicts any of these findings, please share them. I’d love to publish them here. Also, if you have ideas for future surveys like this, send them my way.
As you build out your startup’s financial model for 2019, a key component will be the hiring plan. You’ll need to calculate the number of managers and individual contributors to achieve your goals. But don’t forget to plan for mishires.
You will make mistakes hiring people. We all do and it’s part of the process of building a company. Someone looks great on paper but isn’t a culture fit. Another doesn’t ramp quickly enough.
Before we’d leave campus - Christmas vacation or spring break or summer vacation - our rowing coach would tell us, “You’re either getting faster or you’re getting slower. There’s no such thing as staying the same.” It was his way of inspiring us to train hard during those times. I’ve never forgotten it.
More recently I came across two math equations that confers the same idea, with a twist. The compounding effect of improving every day.
Top 10 Learning about Free Trials from Tomasz Tunguz
At Saastr yesterday, I presented thetop 10 learnings from the Redpoint Free Trial Survey that we distributed in October. The data confirmed many rules of thumb but also raised some interesting new questions about the best way to use trials.
When we distributed the survey, we never would have expected the response. About 600 companies submitted data. They span single digit ARR businesses to publicly traded SaaS companies.
The first wave of SaaS is 20 years old. Today, the SaaS model dominates. But we’re seeing the emergence of a different type of next-generation software company. A new wave of companies that is responding to the changing needs of customers by innovating their architecture. Very simply, they liberate the database from the application.
In license software, the database ran alongside the application on-prem. In SaaS, the database runs next to the application in the cloud.
As you start to go to market, there are two things to prioritize from early customers that matter more than cash. Feedback and marketing rights.
The feedback matters for obvious reasons. The product is early; customer feedback will help you hew the raw granite of your initial product into shape.
The second may not be so obvious. Every prospect championing a software purchase will be asked by the opponents of the sale and decision-makers: “Who else is using the software?
Late last year, my colleague Pat Chase and I announced the Redpoint Free Trial SaaS Survey. Over the course of a few weeks, we received roughly 600 responses from SaaS startups who use these marketing techniques. They span companies from $1M in ARR to more than $100M. The respondents sold into every key function of a business and at all different price points. On February 5 at 10am, I’ll be sharing the top 10 learnings from the survey at [Saastr]().
It’s very difficult question to answer. How do you judge a leader? Is it financial success? The loyalty they engender? Their ability to inspire? There are war-time leaders and peace-time leaders. Leaders may be understated or zealous. I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to say definitively what constitutes a great leader. Regardless, we all want to improve our ability to lead, whether it’s a small team or a Fortune 500.