How to Hack The SaaStr Annual — And Get The Most Out of It

echojason@gmail.com'

Jason Lemkin

So we’re one week out from The SaaStr Annual!  What started off as a 1-day event in 2015 organized on scant notice, with 1003 attendees (1000 was max capacity) … to almost 5,000 last year … to being on-target for 10,000 this year … the Annual has grown into the largest non-vendor B2B/SaaS event, somehow.

Now, that is a lot of people, and perhaps even as critically, it’s a lot of content across three full days.

You can’t see it all, meet everyone, and do everything.  But there are some things you can do to hack the event to get the most out of it:

  1. Get there on time every day.  We’ve carefully designed the event to maximize networking and other experiences so you not only learn from the best — but you meet as many other great founders and VPs as you can.   The key to this is coming on time:
    1.  Tuesday Feb 7 starts intentionally late … so there’s no excuse, be there on time 🙂  Registration opens at 10am, then we have 2 great kick-off sessions on classic SaaStr topics at 11:30 (How to build a great sales team from the CRO of Lyft, and how to market and get leads from customers of all sizes from the VPM of Box) … then we have a lunch session especially designed to get you to meet more folks from your functional area.  So try to get there on Tuesday by 10am-10:30am or so.  This will maximize your “lobby” time for meeting other folks. Tuesday is “Level Up” day and the content is especially tailored to helping you think about scaling.  But even beyond that, the flow of the day is designed to help you meet tons of your peers.  There will be “lunch meet-up” areas broken into function areas (ops, sales, marketing, success, etc.) and the whole day is designed around making new friends.
    2. Wednesday starts at 9am sharp with amazing sessions from the CEOs of Twilio and Veeva Systems.  Wednesday will then be jammed-packed with the most amazing sessions and speakers, all the way until 5:30pm and The Big Party after.  Take a break in the middle.  Grab churros and slushies on the Deep Dive stage on the 4th floor.  Take a break in the middle of the day at the CoSelling Space.  But even if you take a nap back at the hotel in the middle — come on time.  Trust me.  We will reach Peak Annual at 9am on Wednesday morning.
    3. Thursday starts at 9:15am (so you can sleep in just a little bit more from The Big Party) but be there on time.  This will be an amazing day (it’s Founder Power day, after all), starting off with founders’ founders — Josh James from Domo/Omniture and Mikkel Svane of Zendesk.  There will be Bacon Bloody Marys, strong coffee, donuts, and special prizes to help you roll in by 9:15 🙂  But trust us, it’s worth it.  This will be the most relaxed day, and it’s your chance to hear from 100+ VCs, 50+ SaaS executives and more in their most off-the-cuff moments.
  2. There is too much good content — so Pace Yourself.  Last year, the #1 complaint we heard was there were too many good sessions on both stages at the same time.  It will be worse this year. 🙂 There is no way you will be able to attend all the sessions you want to.  It’s OK.  Pace yourself.  Send a VP on your team to a session you can’t make and have her send notes for the team.  Flip a coin.  In any event, get zen about the fact you will not be able to make every session you want to see.
  3. Put the New Lunch-with-a-VC on Thursday on your calendar.  We’ve added 20+ amazing sessions during a new Lunch-with-a-VC on a Thursday where 20+ top VCs from the top venture funds will pitch you on micro topics designed to help you.  It’s a chance to really learn how VC works, and the most VCs will be at the Annual on Thursday for Founder Power day.  Plan to be at lunch and in the VC sessions that afternoon if you’re fundraising or just want to learn about fundraising.
  4. The sessions are amazing, the best ever in SaaS.  But they don’t really matter.  We’re extremely proud of the incredible line-up of speakers and sessions we have this year.  2016 was amazing, but this feels 2x as good (time will tell, though).  But the thing is, they don’t matter.  Not really.  The sessions are here to inspire you and help you learn.  But even more important is who you’ll meet.  Make sure you go to a Peas-and-Pods party on Tuesday night.  Be at all the on-site cocktails parties at 5:30 on Tu, Wed and Thursday.  Go to The Big Party on Wednesday night (yes, you will meet tons of people there).  And most importantly, the entire day of Tuesday 2/7 is especially designed to help you meet your peers.  Even if you missed every session, if you did all the meet-ups and social activities — I suspect it would be almost as big a win.
  5. Download the mobile app — and start using it now.  If you haven’t yet, go get it.  Just search for SaaStr on the AppStore or Google Play.  This is the best way to get organized, see the latest sessions, sign up for the parties — and get a sense of who is coming.  Thanks DoubleDutch!
  6. Take an SF break … or two or four.  The Annual is at the Bill Graham in San Francisco.  Take a long walk.  Go visit a few customers.  Take the shuttle over to the new SaaStr CoSellingSpace and check it out, or even sign up for a Day Pass and work from there if you want.  70% of the attendees are from outside the Bay Area.  Use this week to experience SF and meet with Bay Area customers and partners.
  7. Chill out on the Fourth Floor — the Deep Dive Stage (with Churros).  It will be crowded at Bill Graham.  When you need a break — the fourth floor of the Bill Graham will be very cool.  The “Deep Dive” stage on 4 will contain special hands-on sessions in a 250+ theatre that are designed to really help you think about specific issues and challenges.  And this will be a great place to take a break.  We’ll have coffee, churros, slushies, and more on 4.
  8. Learn from our inspirational sponsors.  We have some of the best sponsors in SaaS — from Salesforce to Oracle+NetSuite to Intercom to Intacct to Workable and InsightSquared to Dialpad and Marketo … and so many more.  Yes, they are there to sell you 🙂  But let them.  This is a chance to learn how the best in SaaS sell and market themselves.  We learn by copying the best.  We don’t have any “random” sponsors.  Almost all the sponsors are folks you want to grow up to be.  We’ll have sponsor booths and area on both main floors.

It’s going to be great.  It’s going to be too much.  We’re going to mess a few things up.  But hopefully, it’s best event ever for SaaS founders, execs and VCs.

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Published on January 30, 2017
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