Spenser Skates is the CEO of Amplitude, one of the leading customer analytics services for enterprises and product makers. But getting customers like Twitter, Instacart, Match, and IBM didn’t happen overnight. Spenser lays out the mistakes young companies will often make as they grow, and how he positioned Amplitude for growth and success. He found these lessons essential for founders to learn on their way to $100 million ARR and beyond. His SaaStr Build session was so packed with information that we had to split it into two episodes. Check out Part 1! You can also watch the full video below.
Focus on the product and expansion
Now that we have covered building a strong foundation for your company, the next step is focusing on expanding your product line.
That brings us back to this: know what you are and what you are not. In other words, focus on your customer use-cases, don’t drift into different markets, and don’t get bogged down with developing too many apps for your product.
“Your product will always be your biggest growth lever.”
One simple way to hyper-focus on the product is to talk to your customers. What do they need from your product? What do they love about your product? What do they hate about it? Customer feedback allows you to find the right product features.
After you create and refine a product that your customers love, your next step as a company is to expand the product line. It takes tremendous resources for a company to build a product that its customers love, and to do it twice over is a challenge for most companies. When listening to your customers, don’t drift into building a new product for a new market, build something complementary to your existing product instead.
Take your company public
Beyond all of this–building a great product, hiring an effective staff, and finding complementary products–the next stop on the journey toward hypergrowth is hitting the public market. Long before your company ever goes public, you should be preparing your company for it. Don’t pretend that going public means everything will always be “up and to the right”. If your team can’t handle the idea of market volatility, how will they handle the reality? While going public is not the ultimate destination, for SaaS companies, the journey of building and growing is never over.
There are four stages a company will go through on the way to extraordinary growth:
- Building the right foundation: You can’t build a strong, long-lasting company without a foundation to support years of work. This foundation includes having co-founders who have the same vision you do, a talented executive team, and supportive board members.
- Putting the product first: You won’t have anything–a company or an effective staff–if you don’t have a product that customers love. Don’t try making a new product or selling to a new set of customers at first. Once you have a staff concentrating on doing one product exceptionally well, it’s hard to change the company’s direction.
- Expanding the product line: Instead of reorienting parts of your company to sell something new to someone new, try developing a complimentary product. Reach out to your customers and ask what else they want out of your product. Gauge their needs to improve your company’s offering.
- Hitting the public market: The lessons Spenser recommends here are that Founders take their company public via a Direct Listing, as opposed to an IPO. Also, prepare your company for life as a public company.