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SaaStr is 4 Years Old. What We’ve Learned.

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Jason Lemkin

The other day, we celebrated the 4 year anniversary of our first SaaStr blog post (Everybody Lies) with an update — Everybody Lies, The 2016 Edition.

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I thought it might be useful to reflect on where we are, how we got here, what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what the goals are for the future.

Where We Are:

Our goal for SaaStr is be the world’s largest, and best, community for SaaS founders and executives.  And founders and executives-to-be.

I think we’ve accomplished several important milestones on the way to achieving this vision:

#1:  We’ve built the largest body of “Helping SaaS/B2B Founders” Content, Period, With 3M+ Views a Month and 2,500+ Pieces of Content, 100s of Videos and Podcasts.  This if nothing else — we’ve accomplished.  We have close to 3,000 pieces of content, all in one way or another, about helping you scale faster, with fewer mistakes.

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This includes almost 2,000 answers on Quora, where we are approaching 30,000,000 views; all the content on SaaStr including organizing it through the new SaaStr Academy, which has been very well received; our new SaaStr Podcast by Harry Stebbings, which already attracts almost 20,000 listeners a week (super cool, Harry!); our newsletter, with 22,000+ subscribers; our LinkedIn content, which is new, but already has 14,000+ followers, etc.

And yet … there’s still a lot more to do here.  First, we need more voices and more authors.  Harry’s podcast has shown how powerful this is.  The challenge is most people just can’t produce a lot of high quality content.  We’re still working on this.  I wish we had 4 core “authors” of our content, and another 20 less frequent but important contributors.

#2  We’ve Built the Largest Global Gathering for SaaS Founders, VPs, VCs and To-Be’s in The SaaStr Annual.  The SaaStr Annual 2015 had 1,600 total attendees (800 day + 800 party) over one full day; we had almost 5,000 at the ’16 Annual, over 3 days; and our plan is almost 10,000 over 3 days at the ’17 SaaStr Annual.   (Don’t worry, even though ’17 is bigger than ’16, it should “feel” smaller because we’re doing even more to group folks together by size, functional area, stage, etc.).

Obviously, we’re a lot smaller than Dreamforce overall (which you should attend — get a free expo pass here).  But for the core SaaS founder / executive / VC audience — we might be just as big as Dreamforce this year at 10,000.

This is pretty cool, and unexpected.  When we started SaaStr, there was no goal to do any of this.  But a virtual community needs to meet physically as well, is the learning.  We started with meetups of a few hundred folks in Menlo Park in ’13 and ’14, then in London, New York and Los Angeles … and now it feels like 10,000 is the right size for an annual meet-up to share learnings from the best, and the up-and-coming … to the next generation.

#3 We raised a $70,000,000 venture fund to invest in 4-5 break-out early stage SaaS companies each year.  More on TechCrunch, Forbes and Business Insider.  You can also check out the SaaStr Fund website here.

This too, was not the original goal starting out.  But our previous investments proved strong enough that in the end, raising a distinct “SaaStr Fund” to continue investing was a natural outgrowth.

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So that’s pretty cool, starting from one blog post.  Our first material investment from the new fund was in Automile, and look for a few more in the next few months.

What’s Next?

#1 The SaaStr Co-Selling Space. This one has taken longer than we’d hoped, but our goal is to open a 25k+ square foot space where companies graduating from accelerators and incubators, and coming to the Bay Area from other locales, can learn to sell and market together.

This is profoundly expensive, and a money loser, but we will find a way.  I hope we can get this done before the ’17 Annual but it may slip.

#2 Doubling the Community Year-over-Year.  The SaaStr community is already far larger than we would have ever thought 4 years ago.  I mean, how many SaaS companies are there, really?  The answer is a lot.  And the community is about the sales teams, the reps, the marketers, the CS professionals, the investors, and all the rest, which makes it much larger than we orginally thought.

Like a SaaS product, we don’t see any limit to the size of the web community as long as we invest in it.  So our goal now is to double everything year-over-year … web traffic, Annual attendees, etc. etc.

#3 More tailored help via building more software.  A few other projects we tried to launch, SaaStr Jobs, SaaStr Pro, Ask The Experts, and more have proven harder to push out at our required quality level.  We hope to build a lot more software in ’17 that will help you scale faster.  There is some low-hanging fruit we will push out in Q4 here (adding Algolia search, adding a Q&A/AMA section to SaaStr.com, etc).

In any event, things won’t be static.

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Our full-time team is now 4 in our SF office, another 4 or so distributed, and a lot of other folks in our village that keep events, media, content and investments rolling.  Our goal is to double the team by the end of the year.

We are committed, and promise, to always be doing better.

In fact, it feels like in 7-10 years, we’ll really have something.

Published on August 22, 2016
  • Michael

    Great post Jason. Annual ’16 was really insightful and very well put together. Looking forward to being apart of this community as it grows.

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