Last week, SaaStr Europa was a hit. More than 2,500 SaaS sector attendees from all around the world spent two days together in Barcelona. Payhawk had the biggest booth at the event, several senior team members delivering talks, and our stellar product team ran a number of demos with lots of great feedback.
During the event, we also launched our Enterprise Suite 2.0. And we announced one of the biggest releases of the year. We now integrate directly with Oracle NetSuite, one of the most essential ERPs for scaleups, the majority of SaaStr attendees.
We also released our Mileage feature, which will help every employee who uses their own car for business purposes get reimbursed in just a few clicks.
We understand that not everyone could make it to the event in person, so, here are our main takeaways.
Scaling your business: Funding
Everyone’s talking about the VC valuation bubble. In 2021, CB Insights research showed a record in global funding, $621B, 111% growth from 2020. SaaStr Founder Jason Lemkin and Doug Pepper GP at Iconiq discussed this and mentioned that for companies at over a 1B valuation, new rounds would be harder to achieve. They also said that as many SaaS companies raised tonnes of funds in 2021, they should be OK in the next year. The recommendation from Pepper is to stretch capital a little longer in this current environment, at least six months longer if they can.
It can be scary to think a recession is coming soon. But even if valuations are downsizing and a recession seems possible, no one seems concerned about a total collapse.
Hiring and retention
One common topic we heard people discussing at the event in conversations in our booth and during speaker sessions is how to attract and retain the best talent in SaaS. A recent report showed that in the B2B SaaS market, companies with an ARR of less than 5M$ in 2021 increased their employee force by 195%. Understandable as growth is their key objective.
During one of the workshops that focused on hiring and retaining the best engineers, one number that struck us was that in Silicon Valley, one-third of new hires leave after six months. Some speakers, like the People Business Partner at GitLab, mentioned that diversity, inclusion, and belonging are crucial to retaining engineers and that it's a core topic at all levels in the company.
The session with the CEO of Zoominfo, Henry Schuck, got a lot of attendees talking. The company has 1B in ARR; of that, 37% is free cash flow. In his presentation, Schuck mentioned that when recruiting, you must be diligent about who you hire and whether they're the right fit for the job. He stated that if you're not an expert in, say, sales or marketing, you should talk to leaders in these functions and discover their best qualities. Then, if you don't see those qualities in the people in your team, it's time to let them go.
Hiring is also super important for us at Payhawk. Hristo Borisov, our CEO, mentioned during a session at SaaStr Europa that he spends around 80% of his time meeting candidates, as do the other co-founders. He also noted that for the first 30 people that joined the team, not a single job was advertised, as all the early employees were headhunted.
SaaStr is mainly focused on scaleups and has a lot of growth-focused content. At the event, several sessions talked about how to scale your ARR, open in new markets, get the best sales and marketing functions, etc.
We enjoyed a great session with David Kellog about 5 Scaleup Mistakes for Startups. As he mentioned, the scaleup mode seems easier than the startup one in many ways, but it's not.
Below is the list of the five mistakes Kellog mentioned during the talk; if you want to dig deeper, you can watch the session here.
- Premature accelerating the go-to-market (GTM)
- Putting (or keeping) people in the wrong roles
- Losing focus
- Messing up USA expansion
- Accumulating debilitating technical debt
Our CEO, Hristo Borisov, and our VP of Marketing, Desiree Schildt, also did a session on growth. In the presentation, they explained how we went from a Series A to Unicorn status in less than nine months. At the end of the session, they summarised what we've learned in this journey, and we hope this will help other SaaS companies in the same stage.
- Build a stellar team. Founders should complement each other with their skill sets. Prioritise product management, tech, and design. Focus on diversity from the start (at Payhawk, 40% of the team are women, way above average for the Tech sector).
- Attract new investors but be picky. Choose an investor who truly understands your business model and has invested in similar companies, so you can get inspired and challenge yourself.
- Guarantee true product-market fit: if you understand your customers' needs 100%, you will know what features they need. This idea is also fundamental when you localise the product. Some features can be important in one market and not in another one. Hire a local expert in all key markets.
- Get your marketing strategy right. You should focus on your positioning for highly saturated markets and show customers your main differentiators. If there are not many competitors, then your role is to educate the market.
- Dream big right from the start. Think big to become a unicorn. Solve a big problem in a big market.
The US SaaStr edition is from September 13-15th. Payhawk will be there, and we'll have some very exciting news to announce.
If you want to learn how to scale your business efficiently, you should download our free ebook, Grow your business with Payhawk: How five scaleup customers took control of spend to drive growth.
Or, if you are ready to see how Payhawk can help scale your business, book a demo with us.