Why ideas, innovation and opportunity found a new home at SaaStock 2018

Dublin’s RDS played host to SaaStock 2018, which achieved its goal of focusing ideas and opportunity under one roof. There were qualitative talks where entrepreneurs in particular could really walk away with great advice. This coupled with networking opportunities with established SaaS companies and investors alike made for a selection of choices for the attendee to invest their time in.

I attended the first day of the event and got to talk to a Peter Reinhardt, CEO and event Speaker from Segment. Peter’s success story started out in his college dorm at MIT where he and his buddies decided to start a company that will create value by simply solving customer problems through technology. Given the MIT setting, their first product upon launch in 2011 was unsurprisingly a classroom lecture tool. This led to AnalyticsJS and the successful collaboration with the open source community, which in turn led to a monetised hosted version of their product! In essence, the hosted product takes care of data cleansing and transformation in the data pipeline providing concurrent access for multiple analytics tools to access clean unduplicated datasets! Very cool was my first impression and apparently Google Ventures along with other investors agree given that they have invested in Segment who now have over 19,000 customers.

After my chat with Peter, I took a walk around the event and was struck by the strong Marketing presence in the exhibitor stands, the buzz of deal making in the air and the content of talks in the speaking areas. Amongst the talks at the time was Kieran Flanagan of Hubspot who talked very wisely in the Growth area on building company success. One of the keys of success is the initially the founder, which then switches to the team when you create one! This is very true given the mindset change required, which is considerable for entrepreneurs who fully commit to their venture!

After lunch at 12:30hrs, more engaging talks were noted with Adam Marcus in the Scale area on Product led sales and why Millennials will not wait for a request for quotation, license, etc. They will just “Google their problem” and get a quick solution! The concept of product led development was explored with real life examples such as Altassian, Dropbox and Slack Technologies where word on a product’s features/quality spread quickly on the web and adoption was fuelled by resulting demand based sales.

The afternoon progressed which saw me sitting with Patrick Campbell of Profitwell on his success story in launching his company. He initially started off with his monetised solution Price Intelligently, which led to a Profitwell and its free tier of products. When asked about challenges, he talked of the complexity of developing two product streams to reach out to a wider market through Profitwell; whilst maintaining traction on Price Intelligently. He also talked about why team and culture matters as you cannot do it alone! He found that freedom to devise solutions to challenges with outcomes evaluated by management was the right fit for Profitwell. Starting out at 18 hour days, he now has a staff of 60 that make Profitwell a venture to look out for into the future!

My final stop of the day was with a Generation Z expert and CEO of Vidyard, Michael Litt! Generation Z are those born from 2000 onwards and are now coming of working age. Michael made great points about how video is more and more adopted by a generation that has a reducing attention span some of us older folks might call an attention deficit. He also chatted about how opinions in groups are more powerful then those in isolation making the idealism many perceive in today’s teenagers more likely to last well into adulthood given the power of our hyperconnected world. In that, he also thinks the AI evolution will happen presenting a paradigm shift that Generation Z will have to deal with! The increasing pace of change certainly supports Michael’s forward looking views leaving today’s business with adoption challenges on how to meaningfully talk to Generation Z, making evolution without the revolution possible.

As I headed home, I thought about the little points made in passing by those I talked with and many reminded me of observations, opinions and solutions I had reached many years ago, when technology had not given birth to SaaS! To see those seemingly small points been openly discussed is just one more reason why SaaStock has a bright future as a house of innovation and opportunity for many years to come!

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