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#SouthernSaaS20 - Transitioning from tech giant to startup

open this image in new window: Sandi Lin - Southern SaaS

This article was published on 13 November 2020

“Startups are just a series of failures, but you lurch in the right direction all the time.” 

We were grateful for the opportunity to speak with Sandi Lin, CEO and founder of cloud-based customer education platform Skilljar for #SouthernSaaS2020. An MIT and Stanford graduate with experience in product management at Amazon, Sandi’s deep understanding of product-market fit and effective scaling has made Skilljar a global success. Thanks for your time with us, Sandi! 

“SaaS products are great because you can tell quickly whether you have product-market fit,” she told us. “Customers either pay you or stop paying you. You know early on if things are working or not.”

Skilljar is an online course delivery platform which lets users create online courses used by big-name companies such as LinkedIn, Zendesk, and Spotify to train their staff. The product went through several early-stage pivots before landing on the current model, and now employs a team of 100.

“There’s no obvious line to success,” Sandi said. “Every failure is a learning experience. Adaption and feedback are key, especially at the early stages.”

Sandi gave useful insight into the challenges of scaling a company that was experiencing rapid growth. “Scaling is hard on every person in an organisation because their role is changing rapidly. The functional skillset changes so fast with growth and I’ve learned that personal characteristics matter most. A problem-solving mindset, positive attitude, and realising that nothing is ever static are key attributes in scaling.” 

Her final advice for SaaS entrepreneurs? “Product-market fit is incredibly hard no matter what kind of business you’re in,” she said. “Product usage metrics are really useful. You want to see that people are actually using and finding value in your product – not just buying it.”

Join our Kiwi SaaS community for valuable connections, capability opportunities, and advice from industry experts.

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. 

Sandi Southern SaaS
Sandi Southern SaaS