SaaS Central 2022: The secret sauce for SaaS startups to accelerate their growth journey

By Geetika Sachdev & Mayuri Ramanan
November 16, 2022, Updated on : Thu Nov 17 2022 04:44:47 GMT+0000
SaaS Central 2022: The secret sauce for SaaS startups to accelerate their growth journey
SaaS Central 2022, a hybrid programme by Prime Ventures and Amazon Internet Services, in association with YourStory, highlighted several successful strategies that early-stage SaaS startups must adopt to shape up their journey and scale in the future.
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The pandemic has proved to be a game-changer in several ways. Tech-led solutions have been in the spotlight, paving the path for several new trends to emerge. As the tech solutions arena expanded, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry also grew exponentially, and is touted to grow even further in the future.


As per statistics, the number of new unicorns in the Indian IT business increased by 267 percent between 2020 and 2021. This can be attributed to India’s great engineering talent pool and low hiring costs, as well as a ready pool of customer support representatives. However, to get to the next level – there's more that needs to be done.


This is where SaaS Central, a two-week hybrid programme by Prime Venture Partners and Amazon Internet Services, in association with YourStory stepped in to help accelerate the growth journeys of early-stage SaaS startups.


The third edition of SaaS Central witnessed focused sessions by SaaS founders on company-specific use cases, and interactions with some of the best startups on the same trajectory.

Highlights from SaaS Central 2022

Since a hybrid model was followed, the selected cohorts were exposed to both virtual and offline sessions by experts. The programme launch was kickstarted by Amitabh Nagpal, Head of Startup Ecosystem (India), AWS, which was then followed with sessions by Amit Somani – Managing Partner, Prime Ventures, and Akshay Patel, Principal SaaS Business Lead, AWS SaaS Factory.


"About 300 to 400 companies sent in applications, out of which a few startups were selected for the cohort. At Prime, we've been investing in SaaS for a long time. SaaS startups form nearly 25 percent of our portfolio, and we continue to invest in it. We want to help you in whatever way – whether it's about the product, go-to-market dynamics, right pricing, fundraising, storytelling, and SaaS metrics, etc.," shared Amit.


Next, the selected startups introduced themselves, speaking about what sets them apart and their vision for the future. Some of the names included Kloudmate, Tydy, Propeller.ai, Humalect, Luru, and Datazip, among others.


The next day’s agenda was led by Jen Abel – Co-founder, JJELLYFISH who touched upon the Ideal Customer Profile – Finding your ideal customer and understanding their motivations. The session delved deep into identifying the ideal customer profile and understanding their pain points, and where they are focused today.


"Founder-led sale is a prerequisite for finding a product-market fit in the US market. There are three key milestones founders go through with regard to US expansion and identifying product-market fit. These include founder-led selling, process build, and sales efficiency. It is important to understand what's working and what's not working. The longer you wait to enter the US market, the more risk you are introducing," she explained.


Day Three of the event featured a session by Ashwin Ramesh – CEO, Synup, on ‘Inside a Sales Engine – How to Build One’. Synup is a digital marketing SaaS company founded in 2014 that went from SMB to closing $250K ACV deals. Even with a fully remote, lean distributed sales team, they carry a $4 million bag annually.


"When we started the company, shortly after Freshworks, there were two ways people would describe their SaaS – green ocean and blue ocean. The green ocean was a category that was fairly new, not many competitors were there in that space, and the blue ocean had many competitors but also more space. For many early-stage startups, you are doing sales in a red ocean space," he shared, adding that there are a ton of SaaS apps that are being introduced every day. However, what made some of them more successful than the rest, was their GTM.


The session on the fourth day, SaaS adoption and challenges, was spearheaded by Akshay Patel, Principal SaaS Business Lead, AWS SaaS Factory. Citing examples from the successful strategies being executed at Amazon, he shared that 85 percent of new products failed, because the wrong solutions were built.


"When we set out as founders, we have a pretty strong feeling that our solution may be the best. But when you think about building a solution for your customers, it's important to understand that sometimes they don't know what they want. Ask the ‘five whys’ and get a sense of what your customer needs," he said, adding that if teams and organisations were aligned in their vision, the customer experience would be far superior.


The fifth day witnessed two power-packed sessions – the first on Partnerships by Aditya Tulsian, GM, Receivables, and Co-founder, Numberz. He spoke about his experiences with different kinds of partners, and how over time, they have acquired over 50,000 small businesses and 50 enterprises.


"In the initial days, we partnered with Nokia to bundle our CRM product with the phone for small businesses. It was a mistake! Even before launching the product, we were focused on how to integrate it with their phones. The real product was never in the hands of the customer. When you think about the partnership, the time and the type are very critical," he shared.


He also spoke about how they partnered with accountants as influencers to recommend the product during the launch of QuickBooks, while adding that the strategy with accountants didn't work, since they couldn't empower the users.


"You must know your partner, the way you know your customer,” he said. “There are two types of partners you can have – one is the GTM, other is a product partner. Before you get into the product side of things, always try out a lighter way to see if the partnership will work or not," he added.


The next session was by Venkatramana Ameth of AWS on ‘Tech Architecture – Building the right multi-tenant architecture for your SaaS product’.


Apart from the online sessions, the offline sessions held in Bengaluru were as insightful. Some of the prominent ones included Customer Success – Why your Startup Needs it by Amitabh Nagpal of AWS; US GTM – Getting your first 50 enterprises in the US by Vijay Rayapati, Founder and CEO, Minjar Cloud Solutions Pvt Ltd; Global M and A – Navigating cross border M&A in SaaS by Pallav Nadhani, Founder and CEO, FusionCharts; Pricing – How to price your SaaS product by Shripati Acharya, Advisory to Prime Venture Partners; and more.


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