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#SouthernSaaS20 panel - Lessons from the Trenches

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This article was published on 13 November 2020

What does it take to become a successful SaaS entrepreneur?

As part of #SouthernSaaS2020, Jo Mills (Fuel50), Mike Carden (Joyous), and Campbell Brown (PredictHQ) talked with Sian Simpson (PublicRally) about their experiences launching SaaS products globally. Here’s a short rundown on the answers provided by these SaaS professionals from our panel. 

What changed the game for these entrepreneurs?

Jo Mills said that after the first fundraising round, Fuel50’s success showed the team what was possible. “Getting that first flagship global client gave us global confidence while we were still working out of New Zealand. We saw an increase in competition in our space, which really galvanised the Fuel50 team and made us think about what we were going to do differently. It made us advance our thinking.” 

Mike Carden’s answer was around realising that going after big fish was an effective way to grow. “Going after the biggest companies rather than the smallest. Working in a low-risk environment with smaller customers didn’t give as much opportunity to grow and learn quickly. It’s a confidence thing.”

Selling your story vs product features

All three panellists agreed that when it comes to driving sales, selling ‘story’ instead of features is an effective way to communicate your product. 

Campbell Brown talked about the idea of storytelling as a crucial element of product management. “Simplifying messaging is really key. Your champions in your customer organisation might be into the technical detail, but as you go up the chain you have to make it a simple story. ‘This is how much you’re going to save,’ or ‘this is how much you’re going to make’. CEOs want simplicity to make a decision, and they want your service to be boiled down to key value propositions.” 

“Getting better at storytelling is important, and it needs to run throughout the business,” Mike told us. “The power of simplification is incredible. Every email I write is run through an app to reduce the reading age to a child’s level. This forces you to dump all the B.S which comes naturally to the tech industry. The language of specialists is not the same language spoken by the c-suite. You’ve got to bring people along on the journey.” 

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Southern SaaS 2020 is a virtual conference arranged by New Zealand’s innovation agency, Callaghan Innovation, for software-as-a-service (SaaS) professionals looking to network, upskill, and inspire in New Zealand’s growing digital product sector. 

Southern SaaS 2020
Southern SaaS 2020