Arman Eshraghi, CEO and Founder of Qrvey, hosts a podcast, “SaaS Scaled.” Our latest episode featured Matt Verlaque, Chief Operating Officer at SaaS Academy, the complete business growth system for SaaS founders. You can watch or listen to the podcast here and we’ve covered some highlights of their discussion below.

How do you begin helping companies with the math problems & complexity of a subscription business?

“When we start working with a founder, usually the first mindset hurdle that we need to overcome is the belief that everyone’s company is, we joke, like a special snowflake, completely unique and different than any other company. And the way that I like to describe this is that a SaaS company is 10% art and 90% science. The art is encapsulated in your value proposition, how you serve your customers, the way that you know your market, all the things that truly make you special. But what doesn’t change is the mechanical operation of a recurring revenue business. We work hard with our founders to teach them how the engine works, so to speak, in their company from a mathematical standpoint.”

Beyond the numbers, what are the precursors to a winning company?

“The things that I would say are the precursors to a winning company are founder/market fit, which is different from product/market fit, especially if you’re an earlier stage company. It might be less about the way that you’re solving the problem today with the first iteration of the thing that you built and more correlated to your knowledge of the market, how passionate you are to serve that type of customer and to solve the specific problems that you’re trying to solve

“We tell people all the time, fall in love with the customer and the problem, but don’t fall in love with your solution because that can sometimes lead you to just building towards your own hypothesis and not necessarily listening to what your customers are saying.”

What characteristics help companies grow?

“The one characteristic above all else is simply the mindset of the founder. I’m betting on a person more so than I’m betting on a business because the business could change 400 different times before it finds demonstrable traction, but the founder will not. I look at:

  • Are they coachable?
  • Do they have enough realistic optimism? Not uninformed optimism, but not pessimism and cynicism either. Optimistic enough to make good decisions and believe that it can work. 
  • Do they have a bias to action and internal locus of control? ‘I can affect this. Everything is my fault, everything is my responsibility. I’m going to go change the things that aren’t working.’

“If I can work with someone like that, I will bet on them every single day of the week.”

What are the most innovative marketing strategies you’ve seen?

“I’m going to give you a really boring answer, because I don’t have any fancy AI widget platform or any of that kind of stuff. The outside the box is actually getting back into the box. And here’s what I mean, the companies that I see operating most efficiently from an acquisition standpoint, their customers are helping them. 

“I love CS-facilitated referral programs to have your customers help market your software for you. The only thing the market wants to hear more than how good your thing is from you is to hear it from your customers, from other people like them. So, the companies that are leaning heavily into building tools for CS teams to reach out and capture value, capture testimonials and actually invest in interviewing their customers and building case studies to put out to the world. Like ClickUp, the project management tool has been doing a great job lately on user generated content. That kind of stuff is just so much more authentic, especially once the market is solution-aware, and they’re trying to figure out if tool X is better than tool Y.”

Matt’s Book, Software as a Science, will be available April 2024.

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