The 3 Phases of SaaS Growth at SaaStr Annual 2016

No two SaaS startups are 100% alike.

Companies can sell to executives or salespeople; offer a freemium or a paid product; build for SMBs or the enterprise. But despite these many differences, most SaaS startups follow very similar growth patterns on the journey to success.

As SaaS has become more mature, investors, founders and analysts have identified these patterns more clearly. On the path to $100 million in Annual Recurring Revenue, SaaS companies generally go through 3 phases:

  • Initial Traction – up to $1 M ARR
  • Scaling – up to $10 M ARR
  • Market Dominance – up to $100 M ARR

Obviously, the priorities of SaaS companies in each of these phases are very, very different. Early startups are concerned with product-market fit, while scaling startups are worried about churn rates and sales growth, and dominant companies are looking toward IPO.

Luckily, the upcoming SaaStr Annual 2016 has sessions specifically tailored to each of these 3 phases of SaaS growth. This event is incredibly influential, so much so that when Mamoon Hamid got on stage last year and explained his new metric – the Quick Ratio – it was the talk of the SaaS community for months.


Instead of going through these phases of growth without guidance, you can learn from some of the top founders and CEOs in SaaS who have experienced it all themselves, and succeeded. On February 9 in San Francisco, some of the biggest names in SaaS will converge to share the keys to their success, the mistakes you shouldn’t make, and how to scale from $1 to $10 to $100 Million.

Initial Traction

This is the most tenuous and dangerous phase in the life of a startup. Companies are often teetering on the edge of a financial cliff, struggling to learn if anyone will even pay for their product. A huge focus at this point is on building a great product, identifying the right target market, and building a sales team to sell that product to the market.

What value should your product offer? How should you price it? How should you market it? These are all decisions that SaaS companies make when trying to reach initial traction. These 4 sessions will help you finesse your company’s product-market fit, and start selling effectively.

Illusion and Reality in Product Market Fit

Hiten Shah: Co-Founder of QuickSprout
David Cancel: CEO of Drift
Tuesday 11:00 AM Tactical Theater

Building a Company Wide Growth Culture

Sean Ellis: Founder and CEO of GrowthHackers
Tuesday 11:30 AM Tactical Theater

Killer Companies in Nonobvious Markets

Andy Wilson: CEO of Logikcull
Scot Chisholm: CEO and Co-Founder of Classy
Daniel Chait: CEO of Greenhouse
Wednesday 3:30 PM Strategy Stage

Building Amazing Teams

Keith Rabois: Investor at Khosla Ventures
Thursday 11:45 AM Strategy Stage


Scaling takes completely different skills than initial traction. In this phase, a SaaS company needs to take what’s working, and optimize it. During this process, companies often grow their teams rapidly, and worry about hiring the right team members, creating repeatable processes, and maintaining quality along the way.

What are the most common mistakes that startups make as they scale? What would founders change if they could do it again? These 4 sessions go deep into the real life lessons from scaling a SaaS startup.

The Top 10 Learnings Going to $10 Million

Leo Widrich: Co-Founder and COO of Buffer
Tuesday 1:30 PM Tactical Theater

How to Really Do Outbound Sales

Aaron Ross: Author and CRO of Predictable Revenue
Emmanuelle Skala: VP of Sales at Influitive
Kyle Porter: CEO of SalesLoft
Wednesday 10:00 AM Tactical Theater

15 Ways SaaS Startups Scale

David Skok: General Partner at Matrix Partners
Wednesday 2:00 PM Strategy Stage

How to Break Out and Really Scale

Dan Siroker: Co-Founder and CEO of Optimizely
Ajay Agarwal: Managing Director of Bain Capital
Thursday 1:30 PM Strategy Stage


Just because your company has grown and is now a recognized name in the market, that doesn’t mean the work is over. In fact, startups face many difficulties between market adoption and an IPO. Don’t go into the future unprepared for the challenges ahead. These 4 sessions from VCs and business leaders will let you know how to navigate the tricky waters of an IPO, how to make sure your public debut isn’t a failure, and how to keep shares rising.

Inside Story Behind a $6B IPO

Jay Simons: President of Atlassian
Tuesday 9:20 PM Tactical Theater

From Day 0 to IPO: What Went to Plan, What Most Certainly Didn’t

Dharmesh Shah: Founder and CTO of HubSpot
Tuesday 3:30 PM Strategy Stage

10 Laws of Building a Unicorn

Byron Deeter: Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners
Wednesday 2:30 PM Strategy Stage

Last Time We Met We Had 100 Reps. Now We Have 1,000

Parker Conrad: CEO of Zenefits
Jason Lemkin: Founder and Advisor of SaaStr
Thursday 3:30 PM Strategy Stage

Bonus: One-on-One Sessions with Top Venture Capitalists

Not only does SaaStr Annual 2016 have more than 150 speakers on stage, there is also an incomparable opportunity for a 1:1 mentoring session with the investor you most want to meet. On Wednesday, you could spend 30 minutes talking SaaS metrics and growth with:

Tomasz Tunguz, Redpoint Ventures
Mamoon Hamid, Social + Capital
Mark Suster, Upfront Ventures
Sarah Tavel, Greylock Partners
Stacey Bishop, Scale Venture Partners
…and many others.

Apply here to spend time with a Top VC.


Hopefully, now you have an idea in mind for the SaaStr Annual 2016 sessions that will most help your SaaS startup reach the next level of growth. Whether you’re in the early stages of growth, scaling up, or reaching IPO, there’s always something to learn.

And don’t forget to stop by and visit InsightSquared at Booth 20 for your free SaaS VC Metrics poster.