Blissfully grabs $3.5 million seed investment to help companies get their SaaS in gear

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Blissfully, a New York City startup that helps companies understand their SaaS usage inside their organizations, announced it has received a $3.5 million seed round.

The investment was led by Hummer Winblad Venture Partners. Hubspot, Founder Collective, and several unnamed pre-seed investors also participated. They got a $1.5 million pre-seed investment, bringing the total so far to $5 million, according the company.

Company co-founder and CEO Ariel Diaz says Blissfully actually helped him and his co-founder solve a problem they were having tracking the SaaS usage at their previous startups. Like many companies, they were using spreadsheets to track this information and they found it was untenable as the company grew beyond 30 or 40 people. They figured there had to be a better way, so they built one.

Their product is much more than simply a database of the SaaS products in use inside an organization. It can integrate with existing company systems like single sign-on tools such as Okta and OneLogIn, financial reporting systems and G Suite login information. “We are trying to automate as much of the data collection as possible to discover what you’re using, who’s using it and how much you are spending,” he said. – Read More

Does prospecting really work?

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Across 30+ SaaS investments, I can say the answer is Always, as least in SaaS.

But how much, and when to phase it in, varies.

Prospecting and outbound is an art. What is hard is it to get outbound and prospecting going with (x) a founder with no passion for it, and/or (y) with sales reps that have only done inbound.

If you have only done in-bound, then prospecting and outbound will seem incredibly tedious, very slow, and frustrating. You’ll likely never close anything.

But I’ve yet to find a category, from contact centers to search to voice to software testing to fleet management to recruiting to training and more, where outbound didn’t work — at least once you had someone doing it with some experience and passion around it.

The next question then is, if it works, will it work enough?

Certainly, the lower your price point, the harder it is to make traditional prospecting work. With bigger deals, it’s easier to target named accounts, take the time you need to personalize the outreach, and invest what it takes to get there.

Second, the % of revenue from outbound can vary widely. In some start-ups, it’s an “extra layer”, another 10%-20% growth. In others, it’s the primary acquisition channel, at least until the brand really takes off. There’s always more revenue to be had through outbound.

But in the early days, you do need to stick to what you are good at, or at least, the least bad at. If you are scared to do prospecting and/or can’t bring yourself to it, find a way to otherwise generate demand. Then hire someone later to own it. – Read More

Facing the new build vs. buy problem in application delivery

How to make better strategic sourcing decisions for your software supply chain

The market for application components delivered in the cloud using a subscription model is exploding—it spans the software supply chain and it is growing constantly.

Given the high quality of these component services, it can be difficult to determine how to source your parts—should you use a supplier, or build it yourself? There are many different ways to cut this problem, but a valuable mental model that can help you make your decision is to look at code as a liability.

The natural inclination is to think of code as an asset to the business. It’s something you invest resources in to build, and it drives the growth of your business. But an alternate line of thinking looks at writing code as creating risk, as a necessary evil to create value for the business.

Similar to financial debt, the idea goes something like this: You take out a mortgage to buy a house, you only want the house, but not the mortgage. So you minimize the mortgage as much as possible, keeping it around only long enough to obtain the value (the house). And if you move to a new house, you don’t take the mortgage with you. The debt—the liability—is a means to value.

You can think of code the same way: You don’t actually want the code, you want the value it creates. Code has ongoing costs to understand it, to maintain it, to adapt it over time. Those costs are the same as making the interest payments on your house. The scrum master, the two-pizza teams, the agile ceremonies—all are required, but all are simply paying down the interest. And unfortunately, when you move to Version 3 of your application, that Version 1 debt will still be hanging around—you can’t get rid of the principal!

If you have come from a background as a development or technical leader where your role has been biased toward building your own software and systems, thinking about code as a liability is a great way to view your decisions from a business perspective and make good strategic decisions. Applying the model to the build-versus-buy problem, four key areas for consideration emerge. – Read More