SaaStr Annual: Live Blog, Day One Kickoff!

Post written by guest blogger, Jen Igartua. 

A commitment to diversity, kickass content and… dogs. 

Last year, I attended SaaStr Annual for the first time. As a partner of a SaaS consultancy, the existence an event solely targeted to SaaS companies immediately drew me in. is what made me come in the first place. But what left a lasting impression in my mind about the conference was how inspired and re-energized I felt to take my own business to the next level. 
So this year we decided to become a sponsor, our first time sponsoring a conference, which was a big deal for us. So with some jet lag (the good kind that gets you up in the morning straight from Brooklyn) and a cup of coffee, I was ready to kick off SaaStr Annual!

Diversity and inclusion is on us

This year, SaaStr Annual is moved to a new venue, leaving the Bill Graham behind, and it already feels much grander and brighter. (It also doesn’t hurt that the weather cooperated this year.) There’s also another big change, which I’m going to pretend was a result of my tweet from last year.
It’s great to see more diversity at this year’s conference, not just in the attendees of the conference but also in the speakers. Jason Lemkin and Dayna Rothman took this topic on head on in the Opening Announcements this morning, explaining that this wasn’t  just a coincidence. It took work and commitment to increase diversity. Jason explained that at the first Saastr Annual in 2014, only 5% of speakers were diverse, and that increased to just over a third in the following two years. For 2018 the majority of speakers (60%) were diverse.  We can see a similar trend in the attendee diversity from 20% in year one up to a third this year. 
The reason for Jason and Dayna shared these numbers is not just to get a pat on the back, but instead to inspire and help us all put best practices for diversity and inclusion in place with our own teams.  And the way to do that, they explained is to set targets. That’s the only way the team was able to see the uptick this year. 
It’s nice to see issues of diversity being discussed head on. Jason didn’t shy away from saying that we need real change today in our industry even beyond the topic of inclusion. We need to enact real change now, and work to make scandals a thing of the past. There are no excuses. 
SaaStr is committed to this and has created more sessions this year on exactly how to enact real change in the SaaS industry. 
I get the feeling that the content is out of control here, in the best way possible. Along with sessions, there is a bustling expo hall (come find me at the Go Nimbly booth, get a sticker!), you can schedule BrainDates, there are Partner parties everyday, and… wait for it…there is a pop up park called SaaStr Square Park” where you can play with puppies. Puppies. PUPPIES! (And you can adopt them too!) 

Anything Significant is going to be accomplished by a team

After the Opening Announcements came the main session with Slack’s CEO, Stewart Butterfield. I found his comments on what it takes to build a team inspiring as well as a perfect symbolism to Slack as a product. We all understand the importance of people and communication for scaling a team quickly but it’s important to be reminded to focus on the performance of the team and not the individual. The team is what will accomplish something significant. 
The other main takeaway from Stewart, which we should all be pumped about, is how software spend at companies is being split by hundreds of vendors. A large enterprise’s software spend is split by thousands of vendors the market share is not just for the big dogs (there’s puppies here too!). 

And there’s more

With the help of the app, I’ve got my schedule all lined up for the next two days.  These are my not to be missed sessions:
  • Tales of a Modern CEO with Atlassian & Trello
  • CMO as Chief Miscellany Officer: Exploring Marketing’s Impact outside of the Funnel with Insight Squared, Everstring, Notarize and Engagio
  • How to Build out a Revenue-Generating Partnerships Strategy: Lessons from Stripe, Slack and Segment
  • Bootstrapping vs. Fundraising with Mapbox
  • You B2B Data Strategy is Broken: Why Everyone is Wrong and How to Fix It with LeadGenius, LeanData, Orb, DiscoverOrg & Zendesk
  • and parties, parties, parties! 
I’m excited about the next two days at SaaStr and continuing to grow my business alongside the SaaStr community and come back to my team a smarter human. 
Jen Igartua is the Chief Services Officer at Go Nimbly, where she advises clients on their marketing automation efforts and lead generation – from execution of nurturing campaigns to closed loop reporting. Jen is part of several SaaS meet ups and user groups. Most notably, she was a speaker at Eloqua Experience and Marketo’s Marketing Nation. Heinz Marketing Named her one of the top 15 Marketing Automation Influencers.
Published on February 6, 2018

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