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Insights, education and some serious inspiration


Article originally published by KiwiSaaS

Three action-packed days at SaaStr Annual 2022

After three full-on days at SaaStr 2022, the Parallo Team is back and ready to put insights into action (after a much-needed sleep). The event was huge in every sense of the word – with hundreds of speaker sessions, workshops, seminars, and mentoring sessions – all in a fast-paced, high-energy setting.

We'll be back again next year. For now, let's look at what we did, what we learned and the most memorable moments from 2022.

Rubbing shoulders with the best in the biz 

SaasStr Annual is the biggest event on the SaaS calendar. It hasn't happened for the last two years (thanks, COVID), so there was lots of excitement this year. The three-day festival-style event kicked off in San Mateo, about 30 kilometres south of San Francisco, with 10,000 attendees – mostly founders, VCs and execs – flying in from all over the world.

It was a chance to learn from some world-class SaaS orgs – big names like Drift, Snowflake, Divvy, Calendly, and Cowboy Ventures - and gain some insight into the industry and network as we never have before. It was also an opportunity to get the Parallo brand out there.

We made the most of the occasion, spending three days dashing from seminar to mentoring session to workshop to networking event (and one 6 pm dance party).

We made it to far too many sessions to list – but here's a quick highlight reel:

  • Optimising GTM for PLG – Mark Roberge
  • State of the Cloud Report 2022 – with Bessemer Venture Partners
  • Revenue Alignment: How to Pull Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success Together with Divvy's CRO – Sterling Snow
  • The Current State of VC – Aileen Lee, Cowboy Ventures
  • How to manage 100+ SDRs across four continents, six countries and ten cities – VP of Global Sales, Snowflake

What did we learn? 

After the recent slowdowns, economic gloom, and grim predictions about the state of the SaaS industry, the positivity at SaaStr was a breath of fresh air. Although markets are still down overall, the cloud technology sector is moving forward at tremendous speed. Marketing Executive, Briar's, takeaway from the Bessemer State of the Cloud workshop: "Cloud remains an epically fast-paced industry, even in a 'downturn'."

Right now, investment from VCs is down, as are the multiples, but most expect it to return in due course. Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures put it best: "It's like everyone went to a party, drank too much, and is too hungover. They will come back."

Other insights from the dozens of workshops, sessions and chats with peers? According to Divvy's CEO Stirling Snow, cloud growth requires revenue teams (Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success) to pull together, stop infighting and work towards a shared 'North Star' or common revenue goal.

Naturally, we also heard a lot about scaling up, which is right in the Parallo wheelhouse. Being at an event with some huge industry players was so valuable – their idea of growth was on a different scale compared to most New Zealand businesses. GM Customer Success, Katerina, says she saw multiple speakers talk about hitting $500 million in annual revenue as they scale, while founders of multi-billion-dollar companies talked about 'just getting started'. We want to bring that limitless attitude to our customers in this country.

Unmissable moments (and missable coffee)

SaaStr was so full-on that it's difficult to pull out the best moments. The main stage' state of the industry' events were invaluable, something you just can't get anywhere else. Hearing from inspirational founders like Lars Nilsson of Snowflake, Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures, and Sterling Snow of Divvy doesn't happen every day!  

As Katerina explains, being immersed in a community of some of the smartest SaaS brains on the planet was transformational. "It will change your thinking and give you the confidence and the tools to achieve more ambitious goals."

For Global Marketing Manager, Grant, the event reminded him that "opportunities are unlimited" in the SaaS world, and business growth is still all about having the right people around you.

"A SaaS business is a vehicle through which you can change the lives of others and make a massive impact on many, many people around the world. To do that, you need to hire and develop awesome people. Look for people with a shared vision or purpose, with fire in the belly who you can see yourself wanting to spend time with."

Apart from the prominent speakers, the networking opportunities were priceless. Briar says, "It would have taken me 6+ months to gather the same amount of learnings and have the same number of conversations that I had at SaaStr."

The AU/NZ delegation was particularly welcoming (special thanks to KiwiSaaS for their co-ordination efforts, and to SaaStralia organisers Rahjev Rajkumar and Andrew Everingham for the WhatsApp banter). The ANZ cocktail hour was a standout event and a great chance for some friendly Aussie-Kiwi networking. Thanks to the sponsors for a fun, well-organised night: NZTE, AXS, kiwiSaaS Community, SaaStralia, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Austrade, Microsoft Lighter Capital, and Werqwise, Silicon Valley Bank.

There was almost nothing to fault in the entire SaaStr event (except maybe the coffee!), and we think NZ SaaS Partner Lead, Aubrey, wraps it up nicely:

"We know that Tech is NZ's second top export, and it has continued to grow from strength to strength - SaaStr absolutely confirmed that SaaS is the industry to be in and that there is still a lot of opportunity. I felt privileged to meet an innovative group of disruptors at SaaStr from Aotearoa that are punching above their weight on the global stage."

Get prepped for 2023!

SaaStr 2023 may be a way off, but we're already looking forward to it.

If you're considering making the trip, start planning and budgeting now, so you can snap up tickets as soon as they're available.

And when you're there, here's how to get the most out of your experience:

  • Precision planning – there's so much on the agenda, that it's crucial to plan every day down to the minute. If you go without a plan, you're bound to miss some key speakers or workshops.
  • Look for variety – you can't do everything, but try some things outside your area of expertise. It's amazing what you can learn from organisations that work differently.
  • Don't forget to network – small mentoring events and workshops can be great opportunities for one-on-one chats.
  • Book brain dates – one regret? We didn't book enough brain dates. These small-group events could be started and attended by anyone and were an amazing way to get insight into ultra-specific topics.
  • Stand out – use giveaways at your stand to grab attention and get your name out there. We gave away portable phone chargers, which were a hit at an event with few chances to charge phones.

We can't say enough about our experience at SaaStr 2022 – what an inspiring, hectic and uplifting few days! We'll put our insights and renewed enthusiasm to use while scaling our customers and look forward to more at next year's event. We might even see you there.

Do you want to talk to the team about what we learned? We'd love to chat. 

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