Portfolio Update Part 2

The Angel VC

Continuing my little 2010 portfolio review ( here's part 1 ), the next stop after San Francisco ( Zendesk ), Vancouver ( Clio ) and Berlin ( Momox ) is Edinburgh, home of FreeAgent Central. By launching a flurry of innovative new features such as multi-currency support or project profitability analysis, in 2010 the FreeAgent team has shown again who's setting the bar for online accounting.

Portfolio update (part 1)

The Angel VC

As 2010 is drawing to a close I’d like to take a moment to give you a quick update on my angel investment activities and more importantly, thank the incredibly talented and hard-working people who have made it such an amazing year. Since becoming a full-time angel investor in 2008 I’ve made 14 seed investments, with 4-5 additional ones being on the way.

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Free is not a SaaS Marketing Strategy

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

I like free stuff as much as the next guy. Just check out my t-shirt collection - all free giveaways from technology companies. In fact, many of these t-shirts have outlived the product or company they're promoting. Remember Lotus Improv or Prime Computer?) I even use free software. I have free gmail and Twitter accounts, and nobody at Google sends me a bill for using the Blogger application that I'm using to write and host this blog post.

Three deadly SaaS marketing mistakes

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

I'm sure there are hundreds of ways to sink a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company with poor marketing, but I want to focus on three that can be particularly effective. and not in a good way. Spending money to lose money In this money-losing scenario, the SaaS company spends more on acquiring a customer than they can earn back in revenues from that customer. Drew Houston of Dropbox shared an example of this deadly hazard, detailing his company's experience with an Adwords campaign.

3½ ways to lose customers in 2011

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

If you’re marketing a SaaS solution and have had enough with year-end wrap-ups, predictions for the new year, or sure-fire tips for success in 2011, here’s the antidote: 3 ½ ways to lose customers in 2011. Ignore them Once you’ve won a customer, consider your marketing job complete. Focus on the prospects, not the ones who are already sending in a check every month. Leave them out of the loop on product and service enhancements, and ignore their suggestions for improvements.

What are you customers saying about you?

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

Have you purchased a new car lately? You can find out everything you need to know about any make or model without ever stepping foot on the lot. All data on features, colors, and accessories are available from the manufacturers' sites, and detailed pricing information is readily accessible from sites like Edmunds.com. You can also find out about particular dealers. Better yet, that information comes from actual buyers.

SaaS 100

Engineers are marketeers, too

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

In my last post, I went out on a limb, claiming that in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business, customer support is actually a marketing function. Retaining happy customers and reducing defections through first-rate customer support is vital to SaaS success. So now that I've climbed out on this limb, let me go even further: In SaaS companies, engineers are marketeers, too. I know that's an oddball idea, mixing engineering and marketing. So does Dilbert.

Customer Service: Timing is Everything

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

In an ideal world, you'd all be delivering software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions so simple to learn and easy to use that customers would require no help. And you'd be so flawlessly reliable that users would never experience any service downtime or performance flaws. The fact is, though, most of us live in the real world, not the ideal world. And in the real world, bad stuff sometimes happens: Customers get confused, a feature doesn't work, service goes down.

SaaS market consolidation; Blame Wimpy

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

There’s been a lot of consolidation in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) market lately, and I think I know who’s to blame: Wimpy. You may remember that he’s the character in the Popeye cartoons famous for promising “I’ll gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Stay with me and I’ll explain. It’s easy for new SaaS firms to get rolling The SaaS model makes it much easier and less expensive for companies to build new solutions.

Bad SaaS nearly killed my fantasy football league

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

My fantasy football league has survived an NFL strike, pre-Internet scorekeeping, and 30 years of trash talk. But we were nearly sacked this season by lousy software. A few years ago our league moved away from manually tabulating results. We got tired of checking the newspaper on Monday, Tuesday and sometimes Friday mornings, calculating scores with a calculator, updating the standings, adding the league Commissioner's colorful commentary, and mailing it out via U.S. Postal Service. (I

SaaS let's you see where you're going

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts recently passed legislation prohibiting texting while driving. I’m hoping they’ll soon outlaw texting while walking. I just came back from a short, but harrowing drive that took me past our town’s high school, just after the end of the school day.

Mobile 100

SaaS marketing lessons from the New York Yankees

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

Connecticut has no major league baseball team of its own, so it splits its loyalties between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. The boundary between Red Sox Nation and the Yankee Universe meanders through the state in a fuzzy line that runs roughly northwest from Old Saybrook to Canaan. I grew up on the New York side of the boundary, and am still a devoted Yankees fan… though I’ve lived in Boston for more than 25 years.

VP of Trust and other new SaaS titles

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

When I was an analyst with IDC, a very long time ago, I sat in on lots of vendor presentations on their products and strategy. Too many of them started off with a slide that identified precisely where the presenter and his group fit in the organization. It usually included a detailed topography, indicating the various direct and dotted-line reporting relationships within the department, within the division, within the group and eventually within the overall company.

Putting Marketing in "The Pit" is bad for SaaS

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

I used to work in a place called "The Pit." I wasn't serving ribs and pulled pork at a barbecue joint that wandered north into New England. I was actually with one of the large mini-computer companies they used to populate the ring between Route 128 and Route 495 around Boston. The company put all of us marketing types into the far end of the building into a cube-filled area that was a 1/2 level below grade.

Too many choices aren't necessarily a good thing

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

Because of the unusually warm weather here in the Northeast, my neighbor's farm has already started harvesting corn this summer. They plant different varieties throughout the season, carefully timing each planting to ensure that one or another variety is available from mid-summer into October. Earlier this month, they were harvesting a butter & sugar variety called "Temptation." This week, they started bringing in "Montauk." I don't know what's they'll bring in after that.

SaaS 100

Greta Garbo would be a poor SaaS marketer

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

I read an article this morning about Greta Garbo, the famously taciturn actress from the 1920s and 30s. Her closely guarded privacy is so different from most of today's actors, musicians, athletes and celebrity chefs, who use Facebook and Twitter to skillfully cultivate a broad audience of "friends" and "followers," by letting the world in on their every thought. Personally, I'm more comfortable with the Greta Garbo approach.

Marketing collateral: How much and what kind

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

I attended the IDC Directions 2010 conference a few weeks ago. I listen for two kinds of things at these conclaves: big, industry trends and small, but useful, practices. On the "big trends," in a presentation entitled, " The Maturing Cloud: What It Will Take to Win ," Frank Gens explained that the most significant growth opportunities in the IT market will be in cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions.

Cloud 100

Product naming gets even more complicated

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

I used to say that the only thing more painful than product naming is root canal. But a few months ago I actually had a root canal, and with the anesthesia and painkillers, it wasn't so bad. Product naming is now back on top of my "most painful" list. And the pain only gets worse when you're marketing both a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution and an on-premise application. Let's consider just one very basic question: Should you use the same name for both the SaaS and on-premise products?

SaaS 100

Agile marketing

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

Who knew that software developers were such athletes? My code-writing friends are all talking about "scrums," "sprints" and "extreme programming." Though I'm sure some of these folks are spending time in the gym, I've learned that these terms actually refer to the agile development methodologies many are using to build software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions.

Pricing SaaS solutions: Beyond a "lease vs. buy" analysis

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

From the "Ask the SaaS Marketing Guy" mailbag, here's a question on pricing from a software-as-a-service solution vendor: "My prospective customer is asking about the "break-even"point at which their software-as-a-service subscription payments would equal their on-premise license cost. They're asking why they should select a SaaS subscription option if they plan to use the application over a long period."

Are you sure you want to offer a SaaS solution?

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

Often when I'm talking to vendors about transitioning from an on-premise model to software-as-a-service (SaaS) and there's an opportunity for Q&A, I get questions that go like this: "How do I market a SaaS solution that doesn't lure away my on-premise customers?" Or, "Can I structure the contract for my SaaS solution to guarantee the same large up-front license fee and on-going maintenance stream that I have with my on-premise offering?"

Understand what's connected to what

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

We renovated our house a few years ago. The larger kitchen, new family room and the extra bathroom we love. The process of getting it built. not so much. Though resurrecting "construction nightmare" stories might be entertaining for you and even therapeutic for me, I'm actually prohibited from revealing any details of the experience per order of a legally-binding agreement with the original contractor. Yup, that's how well it went.

A dancing lion and the value of departing from the script

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

I was planning to write a blog post on how to capture the attention of prospective customers. The usual fare of practical marketing advice: How do you cut through the clutter to build visibility, establish credibility, and generate leads, etc? But I'm not going to write about that. Instead, I want to talk about a dancing lion. This particular lion is, or more likely was , a dancer in a Russian ballet troupe.

The impact of the cloud and PaaS on marketing

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

When it was operating at full capacity, the Ford River Rouge complex in Dearborn, Michigan had more than 16 million square feet of factory floor space, operated its own docks, ran an internal railroad of more than 100 miles, maintained its own furnaces to make steel and glass, and generated its own electricity.

Cloud 100

Winning customer trust

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

In subscribing to software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, customers aren't really buying a product ; they're buying a promise. They are not purchasing a finite set of capabilities to be delivered once the contract is signed, as they would with an on-premise license. Instead, the customer is expecting the SaaS vendor to deliver a service over the life of the subscription. This requires trust. The customer must trust the SaaS vendor.

SaaS 100

Secrecy is over-rated

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

Just because Steve Jobs and Apple can go stealth, doesn't mean it works for most technology companies. Apple is the rare exception of a company that can roll-out a new product like the iPad in front of a global audience drooling with anticipation after keeping the device under wraps for months, although even Apple had difficulty containing leaks. Time was, this was standard operating procedure in the technology market.

Why are you paying for marketing?

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

Most months I take only a cursory glance at each of my recurring bills: phone, internet, cable, electricity. If the charge looks to be about the same as I paid the previous month, I pay it. But for the first bill of the year, I make it a practice to look more carefully. Under this annual scrutiny, I saw that my January land-line phone bill included a $6.99 charge for "inside wire maintenance." It's insurance that covers me should hungry squirrels nibble on the phone wires inside my walls.

Ideas that work. and don't cost much

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

A few months ago, when discussing which marketing activities work and which don't, I confessed " I do not know." Let me clarify. Actually I do have a few ideas. I'm not sure if they'll work for every software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, but they're at least worth thinking about. Importantly, they're relatively inexpensive to try.

Make it Easy to Deploy

Practical Advice on SaaS marketing

"Some Assembly Required." Three terrifying words for the "screwdriver-challenged." To those moms and dads who may have just lived through the experience, I'm sorry for reviving ugly memories. What's scary about bikes, dollhouses and the Wii is scary for software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, too. The folks subscribing to SaaS solutions do so, in part, to avoid hassles. That includes not just hardware hassles and upgrade hassles, but implementation and deployment hassles, too.

SaaS 100

Keeping your "friends" list up-to-date

The Angel VC

If you're reading this, chances are that you use at least three of four different social networking sites (or social bookmarking tools, microblogging services or other community sites) that let you “friend” or “follow” other people. I, for example, use Facebook , Twitter , LinkedIn and XING. LinkedIn and XING I’ve been using for years and I find both sites to be invaluable tools for finding, connecting and staying in touch with people, as well as for checking references.

Microsoft sets Nov. 1 deadline for shutting off old Outlook clients from 365 services

IT World

Affected editions of Office included Office 2007, which was already out of all support; Office 2010, which was to exit support on that same Oct.

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a16z Podcast: Designing for, Marketing to, and Partnering With Gen Z

Andreessen Horowitz

Gen Z—those born between 1995 and 2010—now makes up 35 percent of the population and represent $143 billion dollars in spending power.

5 Interesting Learnings from Sprout Social at $180,000,000 in ARR

SaaStr

SproutSocial was founded in 2010. So one of the quieter SaaS success stories in Sprout Social, a leader in social media management. Sprout Social IPO’d somewhat quietly at the end of 2019 at about an $815m market cap — small for a SaaS IPO. But they kept at it.

SMB 217

The Radically Different Early Stage Fundraising Market

Tomasz Tunguz

The top left chart shows a $1M round had about 41% market share in 2010; that grew to about 54% in 2014; now it has fallen to 35%. But is now at the same level it was in 2010. In 2010, it was very likely that a business raised a $1M round before raising a $3-5M dollar round. 1M rounds have lost 51% of their market share since 2010 in dollars. We’ve all seen the data on the average increases in round sizes over the last four or five years.

The 18 Outstanding Speakers at SaaStock LatAm 2019

SaaStock

In 2010, he joined DGF Investimentos, one of the top VC firms in Brazil. In 2010, he became one of the Co-Founders of Warehouse Investimentos, a prominent Brazilian VC company. In 2010, he founded Influitive, which helps B2B companies employ brand advocates for faster growth and development. He co-founded Praesto Convergence in 2005 and served as its Managing Director until 2010.

Nate Schmidt Joins Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator as Managing Director

TechStars

In 2010 my brother Mike and I took our e-gift card startup, Instagift , through Techstars Seattle. The experience changed my life. We were guided by incredible mentors, worked in an amazing space, and ultimately raised money for the first time in our entrepreneurial careers.

How SMBs Can Increase Ecommerce Sales with Instagram

Nimble - Sales

Back in 2010, when Instagram appeared, no one could have predicted that this photo-sharing platform would become a substantial sales channel for any e-commerce business. Today Instagram has not only over one billion of active users who can become your potential customers, but also multiple e-commerce features to drive conversions with ease. While big dogs […]. The post How SMBs Can Increase Ecommerce Sales with Instagram appeared first on Nimble Blog. Social Selling

The Software Startup Sectors Raising the Most Capital in 2017

Tomasz Tunguz

In 2010, classic SaaS was booming, the benefits of a subscription model were finally becoming clear to the public markets and the mass-market. The chart above breaks out 14 different software categories and shows the amount of dollars invested in each category indexed to 2010 levels. In other words, if machine learning startups raised the same amount of money in 2016 is 2010, the chart would show a value of 1.

Startup Reads: 11 Books Every Early-Stage Entrepreneur Should Read

TechStars

I’ve read it yearly since 2010, and recommended it to every founder I meet. I haven’t always been a big reader, but I’ve got more into it over the past few years of working with startups.

Yesware: Coping with the everyday struggles on the way to $20M+ ARR

SaaStock

Matthew started Yesware in 2010 together with his co-founder and CTO Cashman Andrus. On this month’s episode of the Struggle, Alex speaks with Yesware co-founder and chairman of the Board, Matthew Bellows. He interviewed him a year ago for another episode of the SaaS Revolution Show where the focus was on the part of the story that showcased Yesware’s success to date.