Can B2B startups attract senior talent (VP, COO,…) outside of the Bay Area?'


It’s very, very, very hard today to find seasoned enterprise SaaS VPs outside the Bay Area.

But let me define enterprise.  I mean, real enterprise.  Experience selling to, marketing to, meeting with, big companies.

It’s just a factor of where these very scarce resources come from.  The vast majority of enterprise SaaS companies are in the SF Bay Area.  Not all.  But the vast majority.

Now … having said that …

The more “low-end” you are, the more freemium, the more SMB, the easier it is to hack it, and use less experienced, but overachieving, resources.  Inside sales is easier to hack than field sales.  Freemium is easier to hack than inbound sales.  Etc.

Second, the very best SaaS companies find a way.  They convince execs to move (e.g., Qualtrics).  They create remote offices, which is hard, but can sort of work.  The CEOs “live” in two places, really.

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Published on November 2, 2015


  1. I love the topic – in my experience, I’ve not seen a VP that truly has a grasp of how to deliver a start-up. But hey, that’s just my experience. Depending on the stage of the start-up, having someone senior to speak with bigger companies may not be the ticket – here’s why. I work with countless start-ups; I’ve seen many times where big companies won’t take the chance on a start-up. They won’t buy from start-ups. What I’ve found is that you need to get the SLC in place first, deliver some proof points and then approach bigger companies – One of the keys to getting acceptance from bigger companies is that they want to see ROI – If you haven’t delivered the ROI, they won’t listen. This also means the solution needs to be deployed quickly in a POC and show results NOW! (SRP).

    There is this misconception that VP’s are the answer – if you look at the SLC, which I’ve studied and experienced first hand for several years now – they are looking for renaissance reps first – someone that is more of a hybrid rep. who is versed in technology, worked on the inside and outside, with partners etc. Then there is the shifting of the market under your feet while you are trying to deliver the SLC. – That’s a whole-nother topic.

  2. In think there would be almost no value for my Phoenix-based company, CampusLogic, to be in the Bay Area. There is a very strong ed tech hub here in AZ (see and a lot of ed tech innovation going on. I suspect that is true in other geographies for certain B2B, vertical SaaS opportunities. I am a big believer in building something awesome no matter where you are.

    But I definitely agree with getting the best talent to move when needed. I found the best ed tech / saas product person I could find and got him to move to AZ from Denver. I found a great VP of Customer Success at a SaaS company in UT and got her to move to AZ. I probably spend 20%-30% of my time on locating, attracting, developing and retaining the best talent I possibly can. If you build a movement, great people will relocate to be part of it.

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