The annual SaaStr conference took place from February 5-7, 2019, in San Jose, California. SaaStr is the largest non-vendor gathering of B2B Software as a Service (SaaS) executives, founders, and entrepreneurs in the world. With over 10,000 attendees, 250 speakers, and 200 sponsors, it was the mission of SaaStr 2019 to provide the SaaS community with unparalleled access to the top minds in the industry. SaaStr helps SaaS companies of all sizes to scale and grow their business. At this year’s event, senior executives and VCs came together over three action-packed days of high-quality knowledge sharing and business networking.
In attendance this year was Aoife O’Leary, Market Advisor, Enterprise Ireland, and CloudKPI, a company supported by the trade and innovation agency who exhibited at the conference. CloudKPI offers an analytics platform that helps SaaS businesses predict their future performance, enabling them to make informed decisions. CloudKPI’s reporting and predictive analytics offers SaaS teams an automated solution to consolidate cross-business data, formulate accurate SaaS metrics and deliver insight – exclusively tailored for SaaS.
“The value of attending SaaStr boils down to two topics – connections and knowledge,” said O’Leary. “The pool of potential connections is both vast and of incredibly high caliber, representing not only the top tier of the Silicon Valley community but also a wide array of international attendees.”
An emphasis on interactive dialogue
O’Leary explained that the richness of the potential network is brought full circle by the number of opportunities facilitating networking opportunities enabling attendees to “find their tribe” and connect with others in their specific sectors of focus. In particular, these sector-specific facilitated conversations are an incredible route to business opportunity for the Irish companies we support.
As a non-vendor conference, there is a massive emphasis on interactive dialogue and an exchange of knowledge. With industry leaders from the likes of Stripe, Sequoia Capital, YCombinator, Intercom, early stage start-ups — like Enterprise Ireland-backed companies — are given the opportunity to hear first-hand and learn from their history of failures and successes.
This perspective allows companies to gather insight that leads to them avoiding similar potential pitfalls or to replicate similar successful strategies. The majority of the sessions that I attended during the conference held lessons applicable to Irish start-ups increasing their sales in the US market.
The most important event of the year
“For us, SaaStr is the most important event of the year. Our target clients are SaaS businesses requiring analytic solutions to help them to scale and grow, so this is where we need to be,” said Brenda Jordan, Co-Founder/President at Cloud KPI. “Plus, the speakers are experts in the SaaS space, and you learn something from every single one you listen to. Very inspiring!”
According to O’Leary, currently, there are 99 SaaS companies valued at or over $1 billion, and the total market cap for SaaS is set at $690 billion. Not only is the size of the market massive, but there’s also a strong dynamic of interdependence between the major and minor players. One cloud company typically does not scale without symbolizing the near-term growth of a variety of other cloud companies within the ecosystem.
“For the SaaS market thematically, artificial intelligence and machine learning will be a thread we see woven throughout technology for apps, platforms, and services in a variety of industries but particularly those that handle large amounts of data like healthcare and agriculture,” said O’Leary. “In terms of buyer decision making, the product will increasingly have a seat at the table and a voice in terms of what technology vendors win contracts, regardless of what team would utilize or interact with the new tool.”
“Irish companies that want to be on the global stage need to attend (and exhibit at) events like these to gain recognition and develop their branding message and grow,” said O’Leary. “In relation to the learning lessons of SaaStr, I’d advise clients to read up on the G.R.I.T. model conveyed by Bessemer Venture Partners.”
“SaaStr is big for us, and we have attended for the last four years, our exhibit and participation are very worthwhile investments,” added Jordan. “We were able to cultivate dozens of potential, highly-lucrative contacts and sales leads, and we met many well-known SaaS industry ‘gurus’ whose expertise we will leverage in the development of our analytic and benchmarking solutions. We highly recommend getting involved with the SaaStr community.”