Berlin Startup Camp

Last time we were in Berlin we loved the city and startup atmosphere so much we decided to look for another event there. And there it was – StartupCamp Berlin. It seemed like an amazing conference that would give us a chance to learn a lot about SaaS business model which is the basis of our startup (don’t worry, the post about Magello is coming soon).

The event took place at Humbold University in Berlin’s Mitte district. The event was well organized, although lack of breaks between keynotes impaired networking opportunities. On the other hand I went there to get knowledge in the first place – and knowledge I received:)

The whole event started with few keynotes. First one we attended was hosted by Florian Heinemann about venture capital in Germany. He stressed out the importance of people in startups – because VC invests in people, not the skills and business (“Not experienced, but fast learning people will win in new tech industry”). He also suggested thinking about quality signals when choosing accelerators/investors – for ex. when a well-known SaaS investor (Berlins PointNineCapital or Cracows InnovationNest) invests in your business it gives a signal to the market that your idea is worth checking out. A second very important attribute is VC’s business focus – so E-commerce company should look for E-commerce oriented investor.

After him came a very inspiring speech by Frank Thelen – it was great to hear that such a person made so many mistakes (he even was on the verge of bancrupcy) and still achieved a great success just by having a good focus and being open to pivoting.

This concluded the main keynotes part. Later on the event was divided into stages. For me the most interesting was the SaaS stage.

The first SaaS lecture was given by Steffen Teske from ZenDesk and was followed by John Coulston from Vend. Both of them made a very strong point about keeping your customers as happy as possible because their happiness is a strong predictor of their loyalty. The tool to measure this factor is called NPS (Net Promoter Score) and it is vital to keep it as high as you can. John also mentioned the need of upselling in order to achieve negative churn. As for the stickiness (another very important SaaS factor) he stressed out the importance of integrations (see Slack for example).

After Johns appearance Nicolas Wittenborn from Point Nine Capital presented SaaS metrics and best practices. He started with showing basic metrics (MRR, CAC, CLV) and stressing out the need of cohort analysis when considering their growth. As a way of getting the most of a startup he suggested annual (rather than monthly) payments and incentivized referrals. A very solid point to remember was “never raise the price for the old clients when playing with pricing” because those companies trusted you from the start and their loyalty should be appreciated.

Right after a short brake Suchit Dash from Soundcloud and Ifeelgoods came to talk about partnering with large corporations in order to create a better value for your customer. His main advice for getting through corporate wall was equitable value exchange – a mechanism that forces you to give as much value to the relationship as possible and only then ask for something in return. Of course a great deal of research is needed in order to know what given person might need, but if done properly, it will bring a lot to into the equation.

That was the moment I switched the scene and went straight to the workshop about active sourcing in HR. During the following hour I heard a lot of stories coming from very experienced recruiters and came to the conclusion that we (Visuality) cannot feel inferior. I also learned about this amazing tool – TalentWunder – that is essentially a google for HR. I will say nothing more for now but am strongly encouraging you to try this tool.

After Andreas Dittes workshop I came back to SaaS stage where Torben Schreiter from Signavio talked about the importance of human relations in sales – “selling B2B is still old-school sales”. A very similar remark was given by Moritz Klussmann from Customer Alliance. He showed us the importance of getting the best people in Sales you can, especially when 86% of your CAC (customer acquisition cost) goes to sales. Interesting concept that was brought up was over-hiring – the suggestion being that it is vital due to large sales team fluctuation at the beginning. He also mentioned the importance of documenting processes as fast as possible (even as an early stage startup) because this documentation will help you survive later on when you grow to become a large company.

At this point I decided to visit Tech scene to hear what Rory Lawton (a SCRUM expert) has to say about this methodology. I was not disappointed, he gave us a lot of interesting information on how this process looks in large and experienced companies (he was a product manager in Google). The most interesting thing was his answer for question about setting and meeting deadlines – “I love deadlines, especially the sound they make as I pass them by” – suggesting that he has never seen a project in his career that met a deadline – mostly due to changes in requirements that appeared since the client knew his product better after every sprint.

The last lecture I attended was a short workshop lead by Andreas Förster – a coach working with leaders and sales people helping them to turn into charismatic, magnetic & influential personalities. He talked to us about the importance of attitude (accept who you are and what you are selling) and body language. He also mentioned that it is vital to “love your prospects and hate their problems” because only then you will be treated seriously. This naturally means that you must do a good preparation before any meeting – thinking also about the answers to any objections the client might have.

To sum up:

  1. People are the most important factor in aby IT business
  2. You must be able to sell your product before anyone else can do it for you
  3. Care truly about your possible prospects and current clients. Only then will you achieve success.
  4. Create and follow processes, as this will save you as you grow

I cannot wait to implement these instructions in our businesses.

P.S. Berlin is great:)