Second (or Third or Fourth) Timer’s Guide to 2018 SaaStr Annual

Are you coming back again to the SaaStr Annual this year?  If so — Thank You.  We sincerely appreciate it.  We’ve been planning for an entire year to make it better this year.

Last year, while overall the feedback was quite strong, we heard there were a bunch of things you wanted us to try to improve:

  • Facilitating meeting even more people.  More founders, VPs and others at similar or later stages.
  • More mentoring.
  • Better / faster registration.
  • Sessions were too crowded, especially VC sessions and smaller stages.
  • Parties were a bit too loud, and sometimes, too commercial.
  • Wanted even more time with VCs and investors.

We’ve listened.  And we’ve tried to improve everything.  Let’s dig in on what’s even better this time:

  • Mentoring Braindates + Plato Engineering Mentoring.  We’ve added formal mentoring, 1-on-1s, and 1-on-small groups across all 3 days.  First, we’ve invited 200+ ceos, founders, sales, marketing, success and product leaders to mentor you through Braindates, and we’ve set up a dedicated area in the Sponsor Pavillion for this mentoring.  You’ll get a separate email shortly from us to sign up.  In addition, PlatoHQ is hosting mentoring with great Directors + VPs of Engineering.  This is rare opportunity to share you scaling challenges with the best of the best.  These new sessions will not be perfect.  We’re learning and apologies in advance for any mismatches on supply-and-demand.  But this should be a great upgrade.

  • No & shorter registration lines.  It was great last year that everyone came at kick-off, but it created stress on registration.  We have three strategies to mitigate this.  First, if you stay at the Hilton Union Square, you can just walk downstairs and register there.  So stay on site if you can.  Click here to do that.  Second, come on Monday Feb 5 in the afternoon and register early.  It should be quick and simple.  And third, more importantly, we’ve quadrupled the registration resources and added self-registration.  Our goal is everyone can register in 5 minutes.  We may not quite hit that, but it should be a lot better.
  • More, bigger sessions and session pre-registration.  We’ll have 5 stages this year, all of them of similar, and all of larger sizes to the non-Strategy sessions last year.  This means there will be more sessions at the same time you want to go to … apologies for that 🙂  But you’ll also be able to pre-register for sessions (email coming shortly), and in addition, with most stages 1.5-3x bigger than last year, it should be much easier to join sessions in general.
  • Parties optimized to meet more people.  The Tuesday night “peas-and-pods” parties and the Wednesday night Big Party have always been fun, but they’ve been a bit chaotic.  And this has made it harder to meet new people than it might have been.  We’ve taken the Tuesday night parties in-house, and they will be more elegant and quieter.  And the Wednesday night Big Party (with The English Beat!) will be at a bigger, better venue (The Masonic SF — where the 2016 Annual was), and we’ll have louder and quieter areas and in general, better circulation.  And for thousands of folks still in town on Thursday as we close things out, we’ve added a Last Call / Out-of-Towners part, sponsored by Insight Venture Partners.
  • More time with VCs.  Last year, we added Lunch-with-a-VC sessions and stopped doing VC 1-on-1s.  This year, we’re doing both — and bigger.  We’ll have 66% more Lunch-with-a-VC sessions, and they will be in bigger rooms (they were way too popular last year).  And we’ve added 200+ VC Braindates with top investors from all stages and geographies.

  • Better venue.  The Bill Graham last year was cool aesthetically, but clearly, we maxxed out the venue.  We’ve moved to the Hilton Union Square, the second largest venue in SF behind Moscone.  Yes, it’s a hotel, but we’re making it as cool as we can.  And there will be a lot more space.   It will still be super packed, but there will be more places to mingle and sit.  Related to that we’ve added …

  • SaaStr Square Park + Dedicated Sponsor/Braindate/Food Pavillion. Last year, there just wasn’t enough room to sit.  This year will be 20x more places to meet and chat.  We’re building SaaStr Square Park (sponsored by Intacct and Intercom), a big dedicated space to relax, meet people, grab coffee and a snack, watch classic SaaStr sessions in our ICYMI Movie Theater, and see new SaaStr stuff (Pro, CSS, etc.).  The Sponsor Expo will be much better than last year’s.  The mentoring Braindates will be held inside it, food will be served there, there will be a Jumbo screen to watch sessions (thanks to First Data).  In addition, the Hilton Lobby and the restaurants in it will be open places in the venue to hang out.  Of course, being in the heart of Union Square, you can do meetings outside the venue, too.
  • Better Attendee Diversity.  We’re proud of our speaker diversity, and this year will have 50%+ women and multicultural speakers (up from 40% last year).  This year, thanks to a dedicated effort and sponsorship by Pagerduty and Kleiner Perkins, we should hit 30%+ female attendees and 40%+ (hopefully more) women+multicultural attendees.   We’ll see exactly what we hit, but it should be an important upgrade from last year.  And if you are an under-presented SaaS exec and still want to come, sign up here for one of 200 free VIP tickets we’ve set aside.

So those are the improvements.

And the speakers and content are the best ever.  And that’s a high bar.

This really is the best line-up of speakers in all of SaaS history.  So good, we’ll probably have to re-boot things in 2019 because this about as good as we can make it.  CEOs and founders of Atlassian, MongoDB, Qualtrics, Box, Mapbox, Intercom, Coupa, Asana, Grammarly, Blackline, Medallia, Basecamp, Hubspot, Prezi, Marketo, Guideware, Host Analytics, Alteryx, Servicemax, G2 Crowd, Algolia, WP Engine, The Trade Desk, Cloudflare, Appdynamics, Zuora, Namely, Front, Freshbooks, Hashicorp, Trello, Mixmax, Netskope, Mailchimp, Plangrid … it goes on and on.  Wow.

I personally can’t believe what a great job our content team did.  A huge, huge thank you to all of our speakers.  You are really doing an amazing job giving back.

See you Feb 6!! (or maybe even Feb 5 for early registration)

Published on January 22, 2018

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