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68 Insights by Chubby Brain

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Anand Sanwal (@asanwal) tells us as it is....and pitches his CB Insights. February 2017

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68 Insights by Chubby Brain

  1. 1. 1 DON’T do these 68 things in your SaaS company From HR to product to marketing, here’s some of our screwups. Presented by Anand Sanwal, CEO & co-founder
  2. 2. 2 First, some context Some background on CB Insights so you can decide how much of what I’m about to say might be valid/valuable
  3. 3. 3 “I just think it is serving a different kind of need. It’s a different business segment onto itself. And the segments that we are serving largely, I think, will remain separate and distinct from that. I don’t think customers suddenly woke up…and aid, ‘We really don’t care about consistently high quality products, and we don’t need service and we don’t need amenities.’ I just don’t buy it.” – Chris Nassetta, CEO of Hilton on Airbnb TECHNOLOGY IS EATING EVERY INDUSTRY
  4. 4. WE HELP YOU BITE BACK CB Insights’ technology market intelligence solution lets you predict, analyze and communicate emerging technology trends by mining millions of data points in ways that are beyond human cognition. 4
  5. 5. (if these three had a tech focused baby) 5 Search engine organizing massive unstructured data sets CRM for big ideas and knowledge management The tech industry’s most trusted and cited analysts
  6. 6. See what other customers have to say at “We use CB Insights to find emerging trends and interesting companies that might signal a shift in technology or require us to reallocate resources.” TRUSTED BY THE WORLD’S LEADING COMPANIES Beti Cung Corporate Strategy, Microsoft
  7. 7. 7 62 9 16 211 490 1200 1400 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 (YTD) From the NY Times to Bloomberg, CB Insights data and analysts are cited by hundreds of leading media outlets every month. THE MOST TRUSTED SOURCE FOR INSIGHT ON TECHNOLOGY TRENDS CB INSIGHTS MEDIA CITATIONS PER YEAR (THROUGH Q3 2016)
  8. 8. Revenue-funded to 66 teammates Raised $10M Growth Equity round (end ‘15) Will be 150 at YE 2017 (vanity metric)
  9. 9. Because people are fixated on fundraising, the chart to the left shows our revenue of last year as funding rounds Healthy 8-Figure Revenues Grown revenue by 100%+ for last 3 years
  10. 10. Anand Sanwal CEO / Co-founder, CB Insights Ran American Express $50M Chairman’s Innovation Fund Prior work in venture capital and M&A Author of “Optimizing Corporate Portfolio Management” (Wiley 2007) Graduate of Wharton (Finance/Accounting) and University of Pennsylvania (Chemical Engineering) @asanwal Questions / Help 3 Miscellaneous Facts 1. Worked at – an infamous NYC dot com bust darling 2. Climbed Mt Kilimanjaro 3. Have run all 5 NYC borough ½ marathons
  11. 11. 11 This will be useless for wantrepreneurs, people who believe VC is required to build a biz, folks who can’t grind, or folks selling $9.95/month SaaS products (and many others)
  12. 12. 12quote by Mark Cuban #1 DON’T take advice from non- customers “Only take advice from those who have to live with the consequences”
  13. 13. 13 #2 DON’T tolerate high-performing assholes They might provide short-term benefit but are cancerous to culture long-term.
  14. 14. 14 #3 DON’T fall in love with pedigree There are plenty of smart folks who aren’t Google or Stanford alums.
  15. 15. 15 #4 DON’T half-ass onboarding of new teammates Teammates make decisions to stay quickly. First impressions matter.
  16. 16. 16 #5 DON’T believe you have to raise VC This narrative is great for VCs but is BS. Revenue is the best funding.
  17. 17. 17 #6 DON’T be pressured into raising VC Just because a competitor did doesn’t mean anything.
  18. 18. 18 #7 DON’T let them call you a lifestyle business You can revenue-fund a giant (Mailchimp, Atlassian)
  19. 19. 19 #8 DON’T waste money on PR to get customers Especially early, do it on your own. Know what PR is good for.
  20. 20. 20 #9 DON’T chase press in sexy but irrelevant media It’s easier to go after niche media which is less sexy and more useful.
  21. 21. 21 #10 DON’T believe your own hype People are saying your co is amazing. Enjoy & forget. Stay paranoid.
  22. 22. 22 #11 DON’T get fixated on losses If you’re doing it right, you’ll probably lose a lot. It sucks but try to forget.
  23. 23. 23 #12 DON’T think you know your end- market from day one Be promiscuous in the early days. Sometimes, customers show up you didn’t expect.
  24. 24. 24 #13 DON’T be promiscuous about your market forever At some point, you have enough data. Pick a market and attack it.
  25. 25. 25 #14 DON’T hire smart people and “figure it out later” People do better with clear goals and priorities especially early on.
  26. 26. 26 #15 DON’T hire under pressure Every time we’ve rushed a hiring decision, we’ve regretted it.
  27. 27. 27 #16 DON’T fire slow Easier said than done TBH but culture is driven by people you hire and fire.
  28. 28. 28 #17 DON’T inflate people’s titles When your startup scales, the inflated title holders get demoted. Not good.
  29. 29. 29 #18 DON’T be afraid to hire expert advisors We did too much non-core stuff on our own in the beginning. Made mistakes.
  30. 30. 30 #19 DON’T be afraid to fire expert advisors Sometimes, people/firms coast by on reputation. If you find this, run.
  31. 31. 31 #20 DON’T do what Slack, Dropbox, Evernote do Everyone is super smart until they’re not. Do what is good for your biz.
  32. 32. 32 #21 DON’T believe the easy hype BS You can’t growth hack your way to $100M in revenue.
  33. 33. 33 #22 DON’T don’t believe being outfunded matters Money buys you time. It doesn’t buy you the ability to execute.
  34. 34. 34 #23 DON’T only celebrate big wins or sales wins Highlight big and small milestones and recognize folks behind them.
  35. 35. 35 #24 DON’T sell to startups No money. High churn. They die. The definition of SaaS hell.
  36. 36. 36 #25 DON’T be the lowest priced product in the market This path generally sucks. Trust me.
  37. 37. 37 #26 DON’T get cute with pricing It’s confusing and nobody is buying your important, awesome product cuz of this.
  38. 38. 38
  39. 39. 39 #27 DON’T be afraid to ask if your product idea sucks Customers will tell you if it’s something they’d pay for. They want you to win.
  40. 40. 40 #28 DON’T respond to trolls Obvious but don’t. (TBH, I still do this to F with them from time-to-time)
  41. 41. 41 #29 DON’T worry about perfecting your tech too early Revenues > technical debt. This will change as you scale.
  42. 42. 42 #30 DON’T be boring So much software marketing is boring. Have a voice. Be interesting.
  43. 43. 43 #31 DON’T chase startup fads Badges, AI. Big Data. Does it help customers?
  44. 44. 44 #32 DON’T think biz dev / CS will learn through osmosis Not investing in training as you scale will hurt you.
  45. 45. 45 #33 DON’T wait to hire customer success Even if churn is low, hire CS folks to ensure customers love you.
  46. 46. 46 #34 DON’T believe in the one hire messiah If you’ve got a mess, someone may fix it. But don’t bank on it.
  47. 47. 47 #35 DON’T half-ass reference checks Whether it’s a new teammate, investor or important advisor, vet them hard.
  48. 48. 48 #36 DON’T meet with VCs unless you’re ready to raise If you meet them, even casually, it’s a pitch.
  49. 49. 49 #37 DON’T price based on competition If you’re indistinguishable from competition, that’sa problem.
  50. 50. 50 #38 DON’T think channel partnerships will save you It’s hard to get someone else to do the selling for you.
  51. 51. 51 #39 DON’T dominate conversations w/ customers The more customers talk during conversations, the better.
  52. 52. 52 #40 DON’T try to delegate product management too early In the beginning, the product managers are the founders & engineers.
  53. 53. 53 #41 DON’T forget to ask for the sale A quick yes is amazing. And a quick no is also pretty good. Don’t get strung along.
  54. 54. 54 #42 DON’T listen to people w/ no $ who want to “integrate” 99% of time, these people are collosal wastes of time. Show me the money.
  55. 55. 55 #43 DON’T fear non-scalable work Elegant solutions are often not worth the effort. Love the grind.
  56. 56. 56 #44 DON’T worry about competition Focus on the customer night and day. (Hint: Read Jeff Bezos on this topic)
  57. 57. 57 #45 DON’T give a shit about Hacker News God – we wasted so much time trying to get on the HN front page.
  58. 58. 58 #46 DON’T try to innovate in HR Focus your innovation efforts on your product.
  59. 59. 59 #47 DON’T give perks you can’t give forever If the market turns downward, and the perk wouldn’t survive, don’t give it.
  60. 60. 60 #48 DON’T hire salespeople till you can sell it yourself If you’re the founder and can’t sell the shit out of it, nobody else will.
  61. 61. 61 #49 DON’T think all leads are created equal Double down on best ones. Some will never buy. Forget them.
  62. 62. 62 #50 DON’T try to please everyone You’ll build a crappy product that doesn’t get anyone fired up.
  63. 63. 63 #51 DON’T worry about your personal brand Unless it helps recruit teammates or customers, why bother?
  64. 64. 64 #52 DON’T try to act like a “salesperson” There is not one way to sell. Do what’s comfortable.
  65. 65. 65 #53 DON’T ignore sales advice There is a lot of wisdom out there. Use it.
  66. 66. 66 #54 DON’T do ‘demos’. Have conversations You’re not a tool with buttons and features. Position yourself as more.
  67. 67. 67 #55 DON’T be lazy after your first conversation People are busy and aren’t fixated on you. You have to keep them interested.
  68. 68. 68 #56 DON’T buy whole grape / piece of watermelon thing Focus on the narrative that works for you. Not one foisted upon you.
  69. 69. 69 #57 DON’T believe the media/VC survivorship bias 79% of exits are < $200M. Google and Facebook are freaks.
  70. 70. 2016 GLOBAL TECH EXIT VALUATIONS 70Source:2016 Tech Exits Report
  71. 71. 71Credit: LockhartSteele #58 DON’T always look for new channels It’s better to be killer at a few channels than suck at many.
  72. 72. 72Credit: LockhartSteele #59 DON’T pointlessly network If you’re emailing to pick people’s brains, swap notes, etc, stop it. Now.
  73. 73. 73 #60 DON’T be a ‘conference ho’ See earlier slide on pointless networking. Don’t mistake activity for progress.
  74. 74. 74Credit: LockhartSteele #61 DON’T hesitate to ”flood the zone” Once you find something works, milk the hell out of it.
  75. 75. 75 #62 DON’T deceive yourself on the size of your market Build a product and price with your market in mind.
  76. 76. 76Source:Christoph Janz
  77. 77. 77 #63 DON’T fetishize failure Failure blows. Don’t make it ok and say it was a learning experience.
  78. 78. 78 #64 DON’T worry about your name & logo too much Cuz you will never do worse than us. CB Insights began as ChubbyBrain.
  79. 79. 79
  80. 80. 80 #65 DON’T expect clients to tell you what product to build First, it is not their job. Second, their feedback will often be incremental.
  81. 81. 81 #66 DON’T do feature demos Nobody really cares. They want to know why it makes their lives better.
  82. 82. 82Source:ChrisBrophy
  83. 83. 83 #67 DON’T ever forget WIIFM Nobody gives a shit about your product. They care about What’s In It For Me?
  84. 84. 84 #68 DON’T blindly follow this advice There is no playbook. Anyone who tells you there is one is stupid and/or a charlatan.
  85. 85. 85 LIKE THIS? then check these out 204 startup failure post-mortems(view here) Why we don’t have an exit strategy? (view here) 54 mistakes of a startup CEO (view here) Memo: What does Trump’s election mean for us? (view here)
  86. 86. 86 I LOVE YOU if you get our newsletter, you understand If you don’t, what are you waiting for? Your boss already does.
  87. 87. Anand Sanwal CEO / Co-founder, CB Insights Ran American Express $50M Chairman’s Innovation Fund Prior work in venture capital and M&A Author of “Optimizing Corporate Portfolio Management” (Wiley 2007) Graduate of Wharton (Finance/Accounting) and University of Pennsylvania (Chemical Engineering) @asanwal Questions / Help 3 Miscellaneous Facts 1. Worked at – an infamous NYC dot com bust darling 2. Climbed Mt Kilimanjaro 3. Have run all 5 NYC borough ½ marathons
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Anand Sanwal (@asanwal) tells us as it is....and pitches his CB Insights. February 2017


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