What’s your background?
After getting a business degree and taking a year out to live in Brasil, I returned to the UK and ‘fell into’ a tech Sales career. That spanned 11 years working across various startups, selling IT, Telecoms equipment and cloud computing platforms. In the last 3 years of that career I started to take an interest in SaaS. That interest turned from passive to active and then became an almost infatuation. That led to me starting a blog on SaaS, SaaScribe, and building out a strong network across the SaaS Founder and Investor community, not only in Europe but the US also.
— SAASTOCK (@SaaStock) January 18, 2017
Is it a logical progression to what you do now?
Yes and No. 3 years of immersing myself in the world of SaaS, still made me a relative novice about the subject/industry but a novice with a passion to be more involved and learn more. I was devouring every SaaS article and reading every SaaS blog. Watching videos of talks from conferences in San Francisco that I couldn’t attend at the time because of family/work constraints. Starting to blog, then I created the first podcast on B2B SaaS, The SaaS Revolution show. Then I ran the first SaaS meetups in London, Dublin and Berlin. That was the logical progression to the much bigger event. To SaaStock, the biggest B2B SaaS Conference in Europe.
The No part, was that I’d no experience in running a conference. When people like Conor Stanley at Tribal.vc said to me that ‘Alex you should do a big SaaS event’. When other founders in the community asked me to set a SaaS conference up. The lack of experience was the one thing that made me hesitate. But not for long. After a couple of months of customer development, I knew this was needed and would work. I quit my job and secure income, whilst my fiancee was 6 months pregnant and went all in with SaaStock and have not looked back.
— SaaScribe (@saascribe) January 19, 2017
How was SaaStock 2016, what went well? What were your highlights?
It was incredible. We delivered over and above everybodys expecations including our own! No-one expected that big a turn out. 700 attended on the day. No one expected that great attention to detail and for it to be so polished. The feedback across the week and on the day was very humbling and made it so worth the decision to quit the day job and focus 100% on SaaStock. It was one year in the making and so we had a lot of time to think and plan about doing the best we can and adding the most value for our attendees. I have to say pretty much everything went really well. From great content delivered by excellent speakers, to fantastic production powered by Catapult, who did an amazing job and have to take a large part of the credit as to why everything looked so great and ran without a hitch. And what went really well, was that we had 100% the right crowd. No spoofers or strays. We had SaaS founders and execs with growing businesses and over 100 VCs that invest in SaaS. That meant that every conversation mattered. Every meeting counted. Nobodys time was wasted. Attendees made new friends, met customers old and new and investors met with future portfolio companies. It was one big highlight, but special mentions to the meetup hosted by Point Nine Capital and Algolia which was the first event to really kick off SaaStock and had about 40 founders from roughly 20 different countries in the room. Having helped facilitate this coming together of this tribe of founders from all over the world, that was my first special moment. Then Des Traynor of Intercom kicked ass with his opening keynote and observing a packed conference room with everyone transfixed on Des, was also very special.
— SAASTOCK (@SaaStock) January 21, 2017
What are your plans for SaaStock 2017?
We’re coming back bigger and better for 2017. There’s always room for improvement and now we’ve a ton of feedback from our 2016 attendees that we have taken onboard and will implement some of it to fine tune the conference and aim to make this not only the best SaaS conference but one of the best conference’s there is. We’re back in September, from the 18th to 20th. Back at the RDS in Dublin. This time we’ll be expecting 1500 attendees. The Same audience of B2B SaaS Founders, execs and investors from all over the world. We’ll increase the number of satellite events from 10 to 20. These will include SaaS Bootcamps, workshops, VC Open Office hours, involvement from some of the major SaaS companies based in Dublin and some great parties to help facilitate networking before the 2 full days of conference. Then you can expect 100 Speakers from Scaling, growth stage and traction stage B2B SaaS companies. Some of the best founders and execs in Europe and across the globe. Folks like Bill Macaitis who was SVP at Salesforce.com, CMO at Zendesk and most recently CMO at Slack. 3 of the fastest growing SaaS companies of all time. He has Serious SaaS & Marketing chops. The agenda will give those that attend some of the best advice and some of the best lessons in how to grow a SaaS business from those that have and are blazing a trail in SaaS.
What tips would you give to people thinking of launching a SaaS product?
Don’t! Unless you have a truly unique solution fixing a problem that’s not been solved yet and goes beyond being another workflow app. Every category is super crowded right now. So will your SaaS be creating a new category? Or what makes your product better than the incumbents? Think about that before you launch, as you’ll find it tough out there. The market is crowded and the bar is incredibly high.
What SaaS innovations can we look forward to in 2017?
Everyone in SaaS has been talking about AI being the most important innovation for some time. I’ll not buck that trend. The issue is that I see many SaaS companies jumping on the bandwagon and all of a sudden becoming AI platforms. But its easy for marketing to change the copy on the website and say your solution is AI. I expect that those companies will struggle to compete against the real AI players. Let’s see.
How can people find out more about the event?
Go to www.saastock.com. You can find all you want to know about the event there.
P.S. SaaStock 2017 Early Bird Tickets are now on Sale. Grab yours here