7 Habits of Successful SaaS Startups


Originally published on SaaScribe.com

(or, What I Learned at Salesforce.com)

Recent times have seen a surge of SaaS IPOs. In 2014 there were several high-profile floatations: Zendesk, Hubspot, New Relic, andHortonworks. At the start of 2015, Box completed its initial public offering and raised $175 million in the process; its stock jumped 66% on the first day of trading.

All of these companies owe their very existence to Salesforce.com, which paved the way for all Software-as-a-Service companies. I had the good fortune of joining Salesforce before its IPO in 2004; the company has since grown into a global powerhouse. The success of Salesforce ushered in an era of enterprise software based on a new business model — software delivered via the Internet and licensed on a subscription basis.

(L to R): Marc Benioff, Parker Harris, Dave Moellenhoff, Frank Dominguez

The software industry has changed forever because of the vision of Marc Benioff and the other co-founders of Salesforce.com: Parker Harris, Dave Moellenhoff, and Frank Dominguez. Working alongside them will forever be a highlight in my career.

Entrepreneurs today should study the tactics Salesforce used transform from scrappy upstart into an industry bellwether. Salesforce became a great company — and was able to IPO — by applying the following 7 principles:

  1. Your Value is Easy to Articulate.
  2. Rally Your Team Around a Cause.
  3. Know Your Customers. Make Them Heroes.
  4. Build a Platform.
  5. Make Trust Your #1 Value.
  6. Punch Above Your Weight Class.
  7. Take Risks and Ride the Wave.

Salesforce engineers celebrating the IPO in 2004.

You’ll observe many of these same traits in today’s successful SaaS companies.

Although there’s no guarantee that your SaaS company will IPO, if you adhere to these 7 principles you’ll tilt the odds in your favor!

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