This year’s SaaStock is giving extra love to startups

After running two global SaaStock conferences and a dozen SaaStock On Tour events, we’ve learned some hard truths about SaaS. Starting and growing a SaaS business has never been such a challenge.

Why? There are lots of reasons. Many companies offer similar solutions and features, and the competition is fierce, with products becoming outdated very quickly. And that’s before the crucial subject of funding comes up. Funding requires building countless meaningful relationships and inevitably navigating unknown territories. There are exceptions to the rule but that is what they are: outliers, not averages.

While these challenges are not going anywhere and if anything, starting a SaaS company will only get more difficult, we firmly believe that should not impede the ambition of anyone.

Entrepreneurial spirit needs to be fostered when it’s most fragile – at the very start of its climb when the mountain seems absolutely unsurmountable.

If given the vital help when it’s need the most, startups can be propelled to successes never imagined – even in the crowded SaaS space. We witnessed that with our own eyes…

TravelPerk joined us at SaaStock17 as a startup partner. At the time, they were a few dozen people based in Barcelona, building a SaaS product for booking business travel.

TravelPerk’s VP of Marketing, Gidi Pridor, and VP of Sales & Customer Success, JC Taunay Bucalo and some other team members came to Dublin to showcase the product to what they would later coin as their sweet spot customers – other SaaS companies. They had been mostly showcasing the product at travel expos up to that point, where they were getting lost in the bottomless sea of airlines, resorts, walking tours and swimming pools.

At SaaStock17, they stood out. In fact, they stood out so much that they managed to add 20 deals to the pipeline, all of which came to fruition in the months after SaaStock. Our company was one of them. TravelPerk is now our official travel partner at SaaStock.

Fast forward to this year and TravelPerk is now the fastest growing SaaS company in Europe, according to both Gartner and G2 Crowd. I would love to say that it was solely because of their partnership with SaaStock but that would be an obvious overstatement.

Six months before SaaStock17, TravelPerk had won The Next Web’s pitch competition. Mentors had taught them how to pitch better and workshops had helped them become better business minded. The pitch and the selling proposition got better and better. It’s that refined pitch that they would masterfully give at their SaaStock17 booth, gaining the interest of their future customers.

During SaaStock they also met investors and people ahead of them on the journey that helped them in various ways. They sat in on actionable sessions by some of the best SaaS experts in the world whose biggest skill is how incredibly self-reflective they are.

Every such win we assist in bringing to a company still makes my heart tick.

Another example of this is when Glofox announced their funding round last year, which had come about from the back-to-back investor meetings they had at SaaStock.

When you have such clear signs of impact you cannot sit complicit. That’s why this year we are pulling out all the stops for startups and introducing the SaaStock18 Startup Program, built specifically for SaaS startups to get the best chance at high growth.

The program is divided into several parts — a Global Pitch competition seeking to find the best SaaS Startup of 2018, a day devoted to Startup Program participants and a platform to showcase products and foster key 1-on-1 meetings with investors and other stakeholders.

The title of Best SaaS Startup of 2018 can bring young companies much-needed publicity and heightened interest by 400 attending investors and many partners. However, the principal advantage of running the competition lays elsewhere.

Most Startup Competitions are industry and vertical agnostic and only help startups with general advice on their pitch and value proposition. Oftentimes, it’s a title that doesn’t come with much more support.

SaaStock, on the other hand, is well positioned to offer SaaS startups tailored assistance through our community of SaaS trailblazers. Pitching throughout the duration of the conference, startups will receive real-time feedback from a judging panel, helping them refine their go-to-market strategies, sales tactics, metrics and everything in between.

On October 15th, we will gather 200 attendees for our Startup Program Day devoted to learning and networking, away from the crowds. We looked for the best partner to help us on the journey of building the best Startup Program and we chose Zendesk, as we believe there is no bigger supporter of startups and their ambitions. The day will take place at their brand new offices in Dublin.

If you are a B2B SaaS startup, offering a subscription based product and have less than $1M ARR or less than $1M in investment, you are eligible to apply. Let us help you on the way!

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