Founding a SaaS company is already a significant challenge for any entrepreneur, but targeting the enterprise space can be an entirely different beast. So how can you break into the market successfully?
This SaaStr Classic podcast episode features an interview with Mathilde Collin, the Co-Founder & CEO of Front. Front is a communication hub that helps teams work better with customers. The app connects all communication channels (social media, email, live chat, etc.) into one inbox, automates repetitive tasks, supports collaboration, and delivers analytics to track key performance metrics.
As of 2022, Front has reached an impressive $1.7 billion valuation. In their Series D fundraising round led by Salesforce Ventures and Battery Ventures, the company raised $65 million. These days, FrontApp serves 8,000 customers worldwide, including the likes of Shopify, Airbnb, and Lyft.
In this illuminating podcast, the company was still in its early stages, and Collin shares her experience as a young entrepreneur succeeding in a tough space.
The Origin of Front
Collin confesses that she always dreamed of starting a company, but early in her career, she wasn’t sure she could do it. After graduating in 2012, she went on to work at a SaaS company and helped them launch a product. After that, she gained enough confidence in her knowledge and skillset to feel comfortable starting her own business: “When you have not started a company, everything feels very abstract. So there are a lot of things that you need to do. You need to have product skills to build a product, you need to have marketing skills to get people to sign up for your product, you need a sales team…those skills you don’t learn at school. So until I had written my first blog post, I had sold my first product, I had hired my first salesperson, etc., that’s how I realized that I could [start a company].”
Once Collin left her job and seriously began work on starting a company, she and her co-founder decided they wanted to build a solution that made daily work life easier for everyone. A weak point they found was communication, particularly with email. And so, the idea for Front was born.
Investors, the Enterprise Space, and Sales Strategy
Breaking into the enterprise arena may seem daunting, especially as a young founder. But Collin considers her youth an advantage. Since she was trying to target a brand new market with a future-minded view of team communication, she felt a fresh approach and creative tactics were necessary, something that her youth supported.
As Collin approached early fundraising for Front, her strategy was to raise money from angel investors. This was because she knew that many angel investors were also entrepreneurs, and she wanted some guidance from experienced founders since Front was her first company. So she kept regular meetings with her investors to glean as much wisdom as possible in the startup stage.
Finally, Collin shared a little bit about her sales and marketing strategy: “Our sales strategy is very much land and expand.” She goes on to explain that since Front was a new company and they marketed to such a wide variety of teams and use cases, they wanted to start small and then grow in relevance within a company. She mentions that a huge benefit of a gradual approach to sales is that it keeps the sales cycle much shorter.
60-Second SaaStr Takeaways
- Founders should get plenty of sleep.
- Transparency is vitally important in startups, though things like salaries should be kept private.
- If you move your business to another country, start thinking about visas as early as possible.
- When content marketing is done well, it can be the primary driver of sign-ups for your business and lead to sales down the road.