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LESSONS
LEARNED
Insights Gained From 17 Years Of Running (and Exiting) A SaaS Business
Gail Goodman, Former CEO of Constan...
revenue
time
Q32002
Q42002
Q12003
Q22003
Q32003
Q42003
Q12001
Q22001
Q32001
Q42001
Q12002
Q22002
Q32000
Q41999
Q12000
Q22000
Q42000
Lif...
Lifetime of a business in three parts…
Q12002
Q11999
Q12000
Q12001
Q12003
1999 – 2003
Q12004
Q12005
Q12006
Q12007
Q12008
Q...
Lessons I’ve learned along the way….
• Revenue and growth
• Leadership and team
• Strategy
• Combining forces
It’s all the same funnel.
Conversion
Lifetime customer value
Retention
Attrition
Customer referrals
are like rocket fuel.
The early
experience is really
important.
The on-going
experience matters,
too.
Complexity is inevitable…
…so inevitably, you’ll need
to rebuild and simplify.
Growth is fun!
(And a little dangerous.)
Lessons I’ve learned along the way….
• Revenue and growth
• Leadership and team
• Strategy
• Combining forces
When people say,
“It’s all about the team”…
…they mean the team...not
just the quality of the
individuals.
Mission Vision Values
Alignment matters...BIG TIME!
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Lessons I’ve learned along the way….
• Revenue and growth
• Leadership and team
• Strategy
• Combining forces
Defend your
core at all
costs.
You may have a moat…
but your competitors will
innovate a way around it.
Second acts are hard to
find…
stay close to the core.
+ = ?
Acquisitions are hard…
no matter which side you’re on.
Lessons I’ve learned along the way….
• Revenue and growth
• Leadership and team
• Strategy
• Combining forces
Hard to know when it’s
time to combine forces.
?
?
?
ARPU
Retention
EBITDA
Cashflow
Public valuations driven
by revenue growth
Our situation in 2014…
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
50,000
Custom...
☐ Customer funnel
☐ Company culture / team
☐ Focus on SMB
☐ Geographic proximity
☐ Customer funnel
☐ Company culture / tea...
Turning the page
was very bittersweet…
It was the end of an era.
And it had been a very good run.
$370,000,000 in annual revenue
$
650,000 customers
1,400 employ...
I could not be prouder of what we
built together.
LESSONS LEARNED
Thank you!
Gail Goodman
Former CEO, Constant Contact
@Gail_Goodman
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Gail Goodman Constant Contact - Lessons learned running a SaaS business for 17 years

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Lessons Learned in 17 years Building and Exiting a SaaS Business

When Gail became CEO of Constant Contact 17 years ago, she had to persuade venture capitalists that selling anything to SME/SMBs was possible, let alone an online service – THIS WAS THE LAST MILLENNIUM!

It wasn’t easy to make it work (see her previous Business of Software Conference Talk – ‘The Long Slow, SaaS Ramp of Death‘. Over this time, the business grew to over 1,400 people, went through an IPO with a market cap of over $1 billion and attracted more than 650,000 small business customers (that were impossible to market to). In November 2015, Constant Contact was sold to Endurance Software for $1.1b. One of her legacies to the software industry has been proving you can build a profitable business in the SMB space. Today, SME/SMBs are a recognised and attractive market segment for software companies and significant amounts of venture funding is available to go after it.

Gail considers some of the things she has learned about marketing and serving SMB customers, about the software industry and about leadership along the path to a scale business. She will also share her thoughts behind the ultimate sale of the company, something she describes as good for customers, for employees and for shareholders, even if it was a bittersweet process for her personally.

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Gail Goodman Constant Contact - Lessons learned running a SaaS business for 17 years

  1. 1. LESSONS LEARNED Insights Gained From 17 Years Of Running (and Exiting) A SaaS Business Gail Goodman, Former CEO of Constant Contact @Gail_Goodman
  2. 2. revenue time
  3. 3. Q32002 Q42002 Q12003 Q22003 Q32003 Q42003 Q12001 Q22001 Q32001 Q42001 Q12002 Q22002 Q32000 Q41999 Q12000 Q22000 Q42000 Lifetime of a business in three parts… 1999 – 2003 $1,000,000 $200,000
  4. 4. Lifetime of a business in three parts… Q12002 Q11999 Q12000 Q12001 Q12003 1999 – 2003 Q12004 Q12005 Q12006 Q12007 Q12008 Q12009 $30,000,000 2003 – 2009 Q32015 Q12010 Q12011 Q12012 Q12013 Q12014 Q12015 $90,000,000 2009 – 2015
  5. 5. Lessons I’ve learned along the way…. • Revenue and growth • Leadership and team • Strategy • Combining forces
  6. 6. It’s all the same funnel. Conversion Lifetime customer value Retention Attrition
  7. 7. Customer referrals are like rocket fuel. The early experience is really important. The on-going experience matters, too.
  8. 8. Complexity is inevitable…
  9. 9. …so inevitably, you’ll need to rebuild and simplify.
  10. 10. Growth is fun! (And a little dangerous.)
  11. 11. Lessons I’ve learned along the way…. • Revenue and growth • Leadership and team • Strategy • Combining forces
  12. 12. When people say, “It’s all about the team”… …they mean the team...not just the quality of the individuals.
  13. 13. Mission Vision Values Alignment matters...BIG TIME!
  14. 14. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
  15. 15. Lessons I’ve learned along the way…. • Revenue and growth • Leadership and team • Strategy • Combining forces
  16. 16. Defend your core at all costs. You may have a moat… but your competitors will innovate a way around it.
  17. 17. Second acts are hard to find… stay close to the core.
  18. 18. + = ? Acquisitions are hard… no matter which side you’re on.
  19. 19. Lessons I’ve learned along the way…. • Revenue and growth • Leadership and team • Strategy • Combining forces
  20. 20. Hard to know when it’s time to combine forces. ? ? ?
  21. 21. ARPU Retention EBITDA Cashflow Public valuations driven by revenue growth Our situation in 2014… Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 50,000 Customer growth was “stuck” New Customers
  22. 22. ☐ Customer funnel ☐ Company culture / team ☐ Focus on SMB ☐ Geographic proximity ☐ Customer funnel ☐ Company culture / team ☐ Focus on SMB ☐ Geographic proximity ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔
  23. 23. Turning the page was very bittersweet…
  24. 24. It was the end of an era. And it had been a very good run. $370,000,000 in annual revenue $ 650,000 customers 1,400 employees EE 17 years
  25. 25. I could not be prouder of what we built together.
  26. 26. LESSONS LEARNED Thank you! Gail Goodman Former CEO, Constant Contact @Gail_Goodman

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