10 Learnings From The 2021 SaaStr Annual

Thank you so much to the 6,200 folks that came to San Mateo / SF Bay Area for the 7th SaaStr Annual!

  • 6,200+ attendees
  • 250+ speakers and mentors
  • 150+ sponsors
  • And we will see you even bigger and better, outdoors again, in 2022!!

We’re waiting on the survey details, but despite all the odds, it looks like it will be our highest NPS event since the first Annual in 2015.

A few learnings:

#1. 2022 should be huge. We had as many attendees in 2021 as 2019, and 55% of the SaaStr community couldn’t come (Europe, Australia, NZ, etc) for visa issues alone. Get ready for an epic 2022.

#2. Getting back together IRL is really magical.  We all love Zoom and the introverts in us have kinda enjoyed a lot of the work-from-home stuff. But the magic we all saw everywhere, where folks saw folks IRL for the first time in 2+ years … well, it was magic.

#3. Outdoors looks easy but it’s much harder & more expensive. Everyone LOVED the festival style outdoor event and we’d looked at it for years. But it’s hard to do well. Tents cost $1m+ extra. Power, A/V much more complicated. “Load-in” takes 8 days, not 1 day Cost goes up 50%.

#4. The world is different now.  Exactly how is still murky. I didn’t meet a single one of our 6,000+ attendees that wanted to sit inside a windowless Marriott room for a workshop ever again. We will go back to those events, but my guess is not as often.

#5. What does meeting mean in a distributed world? This is the most fascinating question. Cloud startups went from 5% distributed to 98% distributed in the past 18 months. “Getting together” is so different now. We hope SaaStr Annual will be a hub for that.

#6. Health & Safety was Hard, but Worth it.  Thank you to everyone that worked so hard on Health & Safety!  Every single person in the venue was vax’d AND tested, including not just attendees but all the incredible staff that put it all together. It cost about $300k+ extra and took some patience, but everyone was OK with it.

#7. Folks loved getting back together IRL again.  We weren’t sure.  Are we all OK working together on Zoom?  This might have been the most rewarding part.

#8.  Sticking to the Core Worked Just Fine.  To make things work outdoors, we had to cut a few secondary elements we had at Annuals past.  It didn’t impact things a bit.  A bit less is more.

#9.  The Few Corners We Cut Weren’t Worth It.  Mostly, we dropped things we just couldn’t get done outdoors. But we did relax some of the content requirements across out 5+ stages, and when we did, those were the lowest attended sessions.  We won’t do that again.

#10.  We Didn’t Intend to, But We Rebooted SaaStr Annual for the Next 5 Years.  It turned out rebooting SaaStr into a mega-community event worked.  We’re going to stay festival-style now, and just work at getting it better and better.  Expect a 2022 Annual a lot like 2021, just 2x bigger, on another 10+ acres, and with lots of elements even better.

 

Published on October 5, 2021

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