The new customer support

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Who are these handsome people you ask? A small part of FreshBooks’ award-winning support team receiving Stevie Awards for outstanding customers support.

Once upon a time customer support was relegated to outsourced call centres, where the focus was on cost minimization and maximizing efficiency, with little consideration of actual customer experience. You still see this today inside old school, sleepy giants in the banking and telco sectors.

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Two ways to grow your SaaS business

PhotoSpin Money & Finance 2 ? 2001 PhotoSpin www.photospin.comSaaS is a pretty simple business: You pay to acquire a customer on day one. Over time as you invoice that customer you recover your acquisition cost. From then on, the longer you keep that customer the more profitable they are. As the years go on and you keep more and more customers that you have already paid for, your business as a whole becomes profitable. Simple, right?

Tomasz Tunguz from Redpoint recently asked whether SaaS startups are less profitable these days. According to his data (below), no matter whether you sell to small companies or enterprise, over time the profitability of SaaS companies converges around a similar median.

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The High performance CFO

Here are the slides from my talk yesterday at Point Nine Capital‘s SaaS Founder Meetup.  Point Nine is a Berlin-based seed fund with investments across the Globe. Their partner Christoph Janz has a real focus on SaaS and as a result they have built a broad global SaaS portfolio. They were a seed investor in Zendesk and have invested in many other great SaaS companies. They co-invested in Unbounce with me a few year’s back. Yesterday’s event (still going on today) was full of amazing founders sharing vast amounts of knowledge. I’ll post some notes from it later this week.

In the meantime, here are my slides on the things you need to know about when to hire a CFO, what they do, etc. Plus some random topics to consider once you have a CFO in the building. I’ve been doing this for so long that I take it for granted. But what I learned from the founders and VCs at the event yesterday was that many (in fact, most) startups don’t get to the point where they need a real, full time CFO. And so, this whole subject was foreign territory.

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The Startup Treadmill

going-nowhere-fasterDo you know why startups fail? Because they run out of money. Yes, there are lots of root causes: wrong market, timing, team, product, execution. But you can get past these sins and keep fighting as long as you have cash.

Ironically, the reason why startups run out of money is because they raise capital too early. And they raise the wrong kind of capital too early.

As soon as you raise institutional capital of any kind you get on a treadmill where the VCs want you to run harder and burn faster. They want you to use their capital to accelerate – spend, hiring, marketing and ultimately growth. Acceleration is of course why you raise money and give up part of your company in the first place. But premature efforts to accelerate usually don’t work.

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