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Billion Dollar SaaS: How to Build a Platform, Not Just a Product

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This presentation was delivered by Ajay Agarwal, managing director of Bain Capital Ventures, as part of the SaaStr Annual 2018 conference in San Francisco. It outlines the "secret" to building a billion-dollar software-as-a-service company -- transforming your product into a platform, so customers and partners can take advantage of your unique data, valuable user base and/or essential functionality. Ajay outlines the strategic questions and implications for product management, business development, sales and marketing.

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Billion Dollar SaaS: How to Build a Platform, Not Just a Product

  1. 1. SaaStr Annual 2018 // Product to Platform – 1Ajay Agarwal // ajay@baincapital.com // @ajay_bcv BILLION DOLLAR SAAS How product companies become platform companies Ajay Agarwal Managing Director Your company?
  2. 2. SaaStr Annual 2018 // Product to Platform – 2Ajay Agarwal // ajay@baincapital.com // @ajay_bcv Product Application to solve a specific problem or use case Platform Common infrastructure essential to multiple applications What is the difference?
  3. 3. SaaStr Annual 2018 // Product to Platform – 3Ajay Agarwal // ajay@baincapital.com // @ajay_bcv What are examples of platforms and their products?
  4. 4. SaaStr Annual 2018 // Product to Platform – 4Ajay Agarwal // ajay@baincapital.com // @ajay_bcv Proprietary and Unique Data Essential Functionality What is my value to platform partners? Distribution Channel EXAMPLESVALUE YOU NEED… Useful Data Lots of Users Valuable Features
  5. 5. SaaStr Annual 2018 // Product to Platform – 5Ajay Agarwal // ajay@baincapital.com // @ajay_bcv What strategic questions to ask when building a platform? Open vs Curated Paid vs Free Scale Effects Network Effects
  6. 6. SaaStr Annual 2018 // Product to Platform – 6Ajay Agarwal // ajay@baincapital.com // @ajay_bcv Developer Relations Channel & Marketing Your platform strategy leads to important questions… Corporate Development CONSIDERATIONSFUNCTION • What data could be securely valuable to other applications? • How can applications provide value back to my platform? • What functionality is “core” to my platform, and where can third parties innovate—where should I build, buy or partner? • Would my platform benefit from certification and training programs for partners and professionals? • Do I need a network of system integration partners, and if so, how do I recruit and engage them? Engineering • Is my application built such that functions, UIs, and data could be accessed via API in a secure, scalable way? Sales • What additional functionality could help me sell and retain the incremental customer?
  7. 7. SaaStr Annual 2018 // Product to Platform – 7Ajay Agarwal // ajay@baincapital.com // @ajay_bcv QUESTIONS? How product companies become platform companies Ajay Agarwal Managing Director Your company?

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