Thursday, January 15, 2015

Announcing our investment in ChartMogul

The big guy who's lifting Nick is Michael Hansen,
Zendesk's first employee and a co-investor in ChartMogul
As reported by TechCrunch, we’ve led a seed round in ChartMogul. We’re thrilled about the investment. The decision to invest in ChartMogul, which has developed an analytics solution for subscription businesses, was a very easy one. Here’s why:

1) ChartMogul was founded by Nick Franklin, an early Zendesk employee. As employee #6, Nick has headed Zendesk’s activities in the EMEA region for two years before leading the company’s expansion into Asia for another (almost) three years. I knew that Nick has done a fantastic job at Zendesk and knew that he was an extremely entrepreneurial, hard-working, well-rounded, smart and nice guy. So when Nick told me a few months ago that he’s leaving Zendesk to start his own startup, I was sad for Zendesk but also very keen on learning more about his new gig.

2) ChartMogul is solving a problem which we at Point Nine know very well. We talk to SaaS startups on a daily basis, and almost all of them either have significant trouble getting comprehensive, accurate and consistent metrics or they had to make huge investments (especially into developer man-months) to get reasonably solid data.

When I put together my SaaS metrics dashboard almost two years ago, I drastically underestimated how difficult it is for companies to retrieve all of the relevant data. It sounds very easy in theory, but as we (and many SaaS founders) have painfully learned over the last years, in practice it’s very hard. I’ve heard from several SaaS founders that when they’ve found my SaaS dashboard template, they loved me for creating and open-sourcing the dashboard. But that love turned into hate when they found out, often over months, how hard it is to fill the template with real data. :-) The difficulties include getting and consistently matching data from multiple sources, dealing with complicated billing scenarios, addressing all kinds of exceptions and many more – I’ll let Nick follow-up with an in-depth post on that topic.

ChartMogul is solving that pain. You connect ChartMogul with your billing system (Stripe, Braintree, Chargify or Recurly) and at the click of a button, the product will show you almost any SaaS metric that you want to see, including the SaaS KPIs from my dashboard. But ChartMogul is not only a productized version my dashboard template. Since you can slice and dice all the data that you see on the screen, ChartMogul allows you to get many more insights. If you’re a SaaS company, go check it out!

3) We’re convinced that SaaS will continue to grow very fast throughout the decade and beyond, so the company is addressing a large and growing market. What’s more, while ChartMogul is initially focused on B2B SaaS companies, the solution is equally relevant for any kind of business with subscription revenue, which expands the company’s TAM even further.

So if you happen to provide a subscription service for “authentic T-shirts from the best bars”, curated items for nerds, emergency supplies or, well, dope, ChartMogul’s got you covered. ;-) (seriously - these services all exist, and many more)

What's table stakes in SaaS, anno 2015

Yesterday I shot off a Tweetstorm about some important developments that I'm observing in the SaaS world as we're entering 2015. While a Tweetstorm is a nice way of gently breaking the 140 character limit, I thought it would make sense to follow-up with a blog post.

The point that I made was that most of the tactics which smart SaaS entrepreneurs developed around 2007-2009 – inbound marketing, conversion optimization, lifecycle marketing, etc. – and which gave them a competitive edge at that time can no longer be used to gain a competitive advantage. This doesn't mean that you should ignore these strategies. It's exactly the contrary – you have to do all of this, and you have to do it excellently. But it doesn't mean you'll win, it's necessary just for having a seat at the table.

The whole concept of the "consumerization of the enterprise" and everything that comes with it was very new a couple of years ago. As I've written before, when Mikkel told me how Zendesk was doing sales and marketing in 2008, I was intrigued but also slightly confused. Most of the terms like content marketing, inbound marketing or growth hacking didn't even exist yet or weren't widely used.

Today, an incredible amount of knowledge on how to build a SaaS company is available online. Jason M. Lemkin alone has answered more than 1100 (!) mostly SaaS-related questions on Quora, drawing from his experience in founding EchoSign and scaling it to $100M in ARR. Between his website and the blogs of David Skok, Tomasz TunguzJoel York and others you'll find great answers to almost every SaaS question that you can think of. In addition, there's a large number of excellent blogs and resources to learn about more specialized topics such as inbound marketing, landing page optimization, customer success, marketinggrowth hacking, more growth hacking, product strategy and every other imaginable topic. Processing all of that information and prioritizing and applying the learnings is of course difficult, but at least the information is there.

Besides that, companies like Totango, Gainsight and Intercom have taken some of the ideas of the first generation of consumerized SaaS entrepreneurs and turned them into great products which make it easy to analyze, segment and communicate with your users. Customer success is not the only area which saw the emergence of "SaaS for SaaS" solutions – there are now dedicated products for subscription billing and subscription analytics, too. And then there are of course great solutions for everything from multi-touch attribution to A/B testing to lead scoring.

What that means is that in 2015 there's no excuse for not understanding your metrics, for not doing great content marketing, for not being focused on customer success, for being clueless about sales and marketing or other rookie mistakes. I don't intend to sound harsh. It's the market which is harsh. All that knowledge, all those tools, it's all available to your competitors as well, and that's what's raising the table stakes.

So how can SaaS entrepreneurs get ahead of the pack in 2015? I'll leave that for another post (and I'm happy to hear about your ideas!).

Monday, January 05, 2015

The #P9Family is hiring

At the beginning of December we had the idea that it would be cool to put together a "recruiting advent calendar" with job openings from within the Point Nine Family. Each day until the 24th of December, we'd showcase one job opportunity from a portfolio company, along with a referral bonus or prize for successful referrals.

Our portfolio companies surprised us with some amazing referral prizes. Please take a look at the list below, and if you know any awesome people who might be interested in a career change in 2015, let me know!

Without further ado (and apologies for the brag), here are some of the greatest opportunities in tech in 2015:

riskmethods is hiring a Ruby on Rails Developer
Referral bonus: A trip to Oktoberfest! (everything but flight included)
Tweet it!

Kreditech is looking for a Head of Group & German Taxes
Referral bonus: One monthly salary of the new employee!
Tweet it!

Contentful needs a Technical Product Manager
Referral bonus: A weekend trip to Berlin!
Tweet it!

15Five wants a Front-End Developer
Referral bonus: A round trip flight to anywhere (up to $2,000)!
Tweet it!

Contentful has an open position for a Sales Manager
Referral bonus: A weekend trip to Berlin!
Tweet it!

15Five wants a Business Development Rep
Referral bonus: A round trip flight to anywhere (up to $2,000)!
Tweet it!

Contactually is on the hunt for a VP of Engineering
Referral bonus: $1,000 to the referrer and $1,000 to a charity of his/her choosing
Tweet it!

Vend is looking for a VP of Global Sales Operations
Referral bonus: Return economy ticket to New Zealand

Referral bonus: A trip to Paris, flight & accommodation included

Do you know a VP of Marketing for Gengo?
Referral bonus: A trip to Tokyo for 2!

Westwing is hiring a Global Head of Product Management and User Experience
Referral bonus: An iPad or iPhone 6+!

Positionly is looking for an Account Executive
Referral bonus: A trip to Warsaw!

Referral bonus: A trip to Tokyo for 2!

Mambu is hiring an Account Manager
Referral bonus: Apple iWatch Sports Edition (as soon as it's released!)

Referral bonus: iPad Mini

Typeform is looking for a CMO
Referral bonus: A weekend in sunny Barcelona!

Referral bonus: A Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Quadcopter!

15Five is searching for a Front End Growth Hacker
Referral bonus: A round trip flight to anywhere (up to $2,000)!

ServerDensity has an open position for a Technical Account Manager
Referral bonus: One year supply of English-grown Earl Grey Tea!

DocPlanner is looking for a Product Manager
Referral bonus: A party weekend in Warsaw for 2!

Referral bonus: An iPad or iPhone 6+!