Tuesday, December 12, 2017

3 tips to check that your salesforce is ready to scale

Earlier this fall, we co-organised with Salesforce Ventures the first edition of Cloud Europe, a ½ day event preceding SaaStock 2017 and gathering the founders of the top 100 European SaaS companies. We were lucky to have as a keynote Chris Ciauri, EVP Salesforce EMEA, and he shared a few tips to check that your sales organisation is ready to scale. Here is a quick summary of the key insights with us, which hopefully will help you with your 2018 planning.

1)     Balance your sales management ratios

As software companies scale, the question of span of control in the organisation becomes critical. There is no right or wrong answer and it will depends on your business. But here is what has worked well for Salesforce and is a good starting point for a SaaS business:

·       4-5 first line managers to 1 second line manager

·       6-10 reps per first line manager. 6-10 reps is a wide range: the right ratio will depend on the segment. For small businesses, the number will be closer to 10 and for enterprise, closer to 6

2)     Figure the right formula for your sales support functions

For most SaaS companies, sales reps will be supported typically by Solutions Engineers (SEs) and by Business Development Reps (BDRs) who are cold calling and taking appointments. To be able to scale quickly, each company should figure out the right ratios of these support functions vs. sales reps. The formula will be heavily dependent of the customer segment targeted. Here is the rule of thumb that Salesforce has used successfully:

3)     Build your Sales Academy

Sales and acquisition costs are typically heavily represented on the cost base of SaaS companies and having a short ramp-up time for your new sales hires is a key lever to increase the overall productivity of your organisation. Here are the four key pillars that Salesforce has used to set-up an effective Sales Academy:

·       Send your new hires pre-work: You want your new hires to have a basic understanding of your product functions and differentiation. Send the sales pitch, product sheets and competitive overview to new hires in advance. It is a good step to get them started on the right foot.

·       Develop your sales bootcamp: Stack your hiring to make sure a critical mass of new sales people will start on a given Monday and prepare a bootcamp over several days to get them familiar with the company product and teams. It is helpful for example to have them attend support calls, get an overview of the product roapmap from the product team, shadow experienced reps and, of course, learn the tips from the top people on the team.

·       Prepare a 30-60-90 day achievement plan: The first three months are critical to ramp your reps and it helps to have specific goals each month to measure progress. It also gives them something to aim for, especially in businesses where the first customer close can take time.

·       Don’t forget the badges: as your reps will progress in their tenure, it is effective to attribute badges based on specific achievements. It helps boost morale and competitiveness in the team, when all reps cannot be in the President’s club

At the end of his presentation, Chris gave us a final piece of advice: each month counts! Manage your sales and pipeline on a monthly basis (or try to!), even if you have quarterly closings. Fast cadence is everything in sales!

And good luck to close your Q4!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cloud Europe 2017: The Factory is Cranking

Recent SaaS trends and the Accel Euroscape of the 100 most promising companies in Europe and Israel

This article was co-authored with my colleague Pia d'Iribarne and published initially on Tech.eu. Findings were presented at Cloud Europe, an Accel and Salesforce event gathering the top 100 SaaS companies in Europe, in conjunction with SaaStock 2017. You can see the full presentation here -

Europe is fertile ground for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies, as shown in our comprehensive look at SaaS last year, “SaaS Wars – Europe Awakens”. Since then, momentum has only accelerated, and we’ve published a fresh edition of the top 100 European SaaS companies in conjunction with SaaStock 2017.

But, first, let’s take a look at the overall health of the SaaS industry.

12 cloud IPOs in the past 2 years: One from Europe 

SaaS companies are thriving in the public markets, with their aggregated market cap grew 350% since 2011, and 12 cloud companies going public in the past 24 months. These 12 have performed well, with an aggregate $2.6 billion in revenues (growing 39% year-on-year) and $25B of market cap. Compared to Salesforce, the industry leader, the stats were not too dissimilar over the same period: its market cap grew by $19B and its revenue increased by $3.3B.

Looking closer at the 12 companies, we can conclude that it takes a $100m+ revenue run rate and 30-50% growth to go public in the current environment, even if several companies like Atlassian and Cloudera waited to reach $300M+ revenues before going public. However, the companies’ annualised free cash flow showed a big variation, ranging from -$100M for Box and Cloudera to +$100M for Atlasssian.

 Out of the 12 IPOs, Mimecast is the only company from Europe. However, as Europe’s SaaS acceleration began in 2013, and given that the median time to IPO from this group is 10 years, it will take time before we see a meaningful geographical change in SaaS IPOs. 

A healthy funding environment and momentum in Europe 

Like the public market, the private funding environment is still at an all-time high in 2017 with an annualised investment rate of $8.4B in the US, $2.6B in Europe and $0.9B in India. Europe and India are growing particularly quickly, and investment more than doubled from 2015, while the US is up 20%. 

The pace of SaaS company creation in Europe is growing even faster, up from 200 companies in 2008-10 to 670 in 2014-16. Our investments in the space have followed suit. We’ve invested $2.3B in SaaS companies globally. In 2010, 4% of this funding was going to European SaaS companies, while it’s over 40% this year.

With a more mature SaaS market and more late stage companies, the US is posting record late stage funding rounds with Dropbox raising $600M, Slack $200M and Qualtrics $180M in the past 18 months. Funding in Europe is healthy but reflects the market’s earlier stage. The largest rounds include Algolia with $53M, Collibra and Showpad with $50M each and CallSign with $35M.

The Accel Euroscape

With a positive environment fuelling the market, this year we extended our research for the Accel Euroscape, the 100 most promising SaaS companies, to look at over 1,000 companies across 12 countries and included a new category, Security:

Note: to create the list, we ranked each company by a set of criteria including market attractiveness, level of technology differentiation, strength of the team and initial traction (monthly recurring revenues and growth in number of employees). Nothing is perfect, and we might have missed some great companies. Your feedback is welcome!

Overall, these 100 companies illustrate how the European market is maturing. They have raised $3.4B in total, of which $1.8B or 53% was in the last two years alone. Close to 60% of them have raised more than $15M, and 22% have raised more than $50M, including Algolia, Collibra, Doctolib, Qubit and Showpad. From a revenue standpoint, 58 companies have already crossed the $5M per year mark and 29 are $15M+.

From a geographic standpoint, the UK and Israel lead the pack with 20 companies each, followed by France with 18 and Germany with 8. The remaining companies are fragmented across Europe, showing that great SaaS companies can emerge from any city on the continent. From a funding perspective, Israeli companies have raised on average more than their British (-48%) and French (-160%) counterparts at similar stages. 

Comparing the list to the top 300 leading SaaS companies in the US, some interesting trends emerge:
  • Europe is showing strength in data/ analytics and security, driven by the booming ecosystem in Israel but is less represented in developer/infrastructure and vertical applications.
  • The EU/US funding gap still exists, especially at the seed stage ($1-2M raised on average in Europe vs. $5M in the US) and series B ($20M raised on average in Europe vs. $37M in the US).
  • In terms of funding efficiency, leading European companies appear to be more efficient than their US counterparts. We looked at capital required to reach $10M Annual Recurring Revenue and saw that European companies required $7-15M to get there while US companies required $15-20m.
  • In addition, fast-growing US and European companies are reaching $10M in revenue in similar time periods. Whether Algolia or Twilio and Duetto or Doctolib, they took 1-2 years.
EU Companies: Blue Lines - US Companies: Black Lines

Crystal ball: What the future holds

With the European SaaS landscape moving fast, we’ll continue to see it evolve and believe there are five trends that will define the next crop of fast growing SaaS businesses:

  1. AI and Automation-driven productivity: The next generation of AI-driven technologies to improve backend processes is now coming of age, and is seeing fast adoption from Fortune 500 companies redesigning their processes. Large System Integrators are developing dedicated practices to drive this change. Promising companies in this segment include Robotic Process Automation vendor UI Path and process mining software startup Celonis.

  2. The rise of the SMB engine: The past few years have demonstrated that companies focusing on the SMB segment can become very valuable businesses – both as public companies, with Shopify reaching $10B market cap and Xero, Wix and Hubspot in the $2-3B range, or through M&A, with Netsuite acquired for $9.3B, Constant Contact for $1.1B and Intacct for $0.85B.

  3. APIs and Microservices-driven infrastructure: Given the increasing need for agility and scalability, micro-services and APIs are taking over infrastructure, and we can expect more companies to emerge in this area, providing API-driven functionality (like hosted search engine API Algolia) or helping to manage this next generation of infrastructure (like Application Performance Management solution Instana).

  4. Vertical applications: With the SaaS market in Europe maturing, we expect to see this category develop, and a new generation of services driven by mobile and AI to emerge, such as Shift Technology in insurance, Doctolib in health, Mambo in finance and Mirakl in retail.

  5. Compliance and security: With cyber threats on the rise, the need for security and compliance platforms has never been so acute. One of the challenges businesses face is how to enforce security without complicating the ease of use to the point that it becomes a hindrance to productivity. One pioneer is CallSign, which has developed an adaptive authentication platform, getting rid of passwords.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Accel SaaS 100 Europe 2017: Calling the Leaders

Nominations are now open for the 2017 edition of Accel SaaS 100 Europe, the list of the top 100 leading SaaS companies emerging from Europe & Israel.

Last year, after many months of research, we published alongside our Article “SaaS Wars: Europe awakens” the first list of 100 leading SaaS companies from Europe & Israel, in conjunction with SaaStock 2016, the first large scale SaaS event taking place in Europe. In front of the enthusiasm raised by the post and the conference, we have decided to renew the initiative this year and update our Top 100 for 2017. We will even go further and invite the founders of the Top 100 companies to a unique half-day event organised by Accel in partnership with SaaStock 2017, on Monday September 18th, right before the start of the conference. 

This past year’s winners have raised a combined $2.5 billion to redefine industries on a global scale. They include Trustpilot, Intercom, Doctolib, Showpad, Zerto, Algolia, Qubit and Typeform among others. To compile last year’s list, we screened more than 1,000 companies across 12 countries in Europe, met hundreds of them, and spoke with dozens of entrepreneurs & investors from the SaaS ecosystem. Nobody is perfect - we know we might have missed some amazing companies, so this year we are opening up the entry. 

Do you think you are ready to join the ranks of Europe & Israel’s most promising SaaS Leaders? If so, it is easy to apply, just fill the official nomination form here. Feel free to also refer any other company you think should be on this list. After you submit your nomination, use the hashtag #AccelSaaS100 and tell the world why we should pay close attention to your nominee.

The nomination submission deadline is June 15th 2017 and we will announce the final list on September 18th. 

Stay tuned as we release more information and we look forward to hosting the companies shaping the future of SaaS in Dublin in September!

The Accel Team