SaaS Startups

100 Members at the SaaStr CoSelling Space: Lessons Learned

echojason@gmail.com'

Jason Lemkin

So this week we crossed 100 members at the SaaStr CoSelling Space.

Like most new initiatives, we’ve learned a lot.  And we’re at break-even financially (sort of) … but not everything has gone as expected!

What’s gone well:

  • Higher quality startups working in the CSS.  The average startup working out of the CSS has more revenue, and is growing faster, than expected.  From Teamable to PlatoHQ to Beamery to Mural to Slido, more folks working at the CSS are well past $1m in ARR and growing very quickly.
  • Higher quality content than planned.  We’ve had the current and past CEOs of Marketo, Sendgrid and Medallia do amazing sessions at the CSS; great VCs from Bessemer, Sequoia, Shasta, Bain Capital, Point9 and other SaaS leaders present; as well as great sharings from next generation CEO leaders including Algolia, Talkdesk, Front, RainforestQA, Duo Security, Clari, PagerDuty, Gainsight and more.
  • A physical space for a community does matter.  We had over 700 folks come to the SaaStr Summer Social at the CSS, and we’ve had over a dozen VCs drop by, do office hours, and meet with founders.  Most importantly, we’ve begun a process to create a physical hub for SaaStr.
  • It’s fun.  It’s fun to work in an environment surrounded by great CEOs and founders.  Personally, I enjoy working here far more than in our old little SaaStr office.

What we got wrong:

  • We planned for more international founders looking for their first US-based office space. When CEOs and founders come from Europe, Asia, etc. to SF … they often seem to land in awkward coworking spaces or odd corners of other startups.  Wouldn’t it be 10x better to work out of a beautiful office with other great SaaS startups?  I would have thought so.  But the number of Coming-to-SF startups working here as a landing pad is far lower than expected.
  • Business model is terrible 🙂.  Rent is so insanely high in SF, and if you combine that with a desk density less than half of a WeWork and the cost of having tons of available conference rooms (our members need room to place to sell!) … you simply can’t even really break even.  Not without sponsors or other sources of revenue.  That’s OK, but just getting to break even has been harder than expected.
  • Peninsula folks not working out of CSS.  Another thing I was sure would happen is that executives and sales teams working on the “Peninsula” would love to have a super-convenient place for a part of their teams to work out of in SF.  Our space is perfect as the initial SF outpost for SaaS companies with an HQ in Palo Alto, Mountain View, etc.  The location is particularly convenient, better than anywhere else in SF (because Peninsula folks avoid all the SF traffic driving to our space in Showplace Square).  But this hasn’t been a draw.  It’s a mystery, but basically zero teams from the Peninsula use the CSS as their initial SF office.  They should.  It’s 20x easier and better than trying to get to a loud, cramped office at 2nd and Howard.
  • Tons of applicant / startup noise.  We’re past this now, but when we opened the CSS, we had almost 200 companies apply to work out of here.  That sounded great, but many just wanted to save a place in line.  It was a huge headache just trying to screen and process them.  Like a trade-show booth, the learning is it’s better to focus on higher quality leads here over raw quantity.

So now we are ready for the 2.0 phase for the CSS.  We’re at break-even-ish so we’re defining that next phase as I type.  It should be even bigger and better.

If you are post-revenue and need a great place in SF for 2-10 full-time, or up to 2 half-time desks, let us know.  Apply here.

 

Published on September 26, 2017
Share This