Top 10 enterprise SaaS learnings from a unicorn founder

Was awesome to hear Jyoti Bansal, Founder of Harness and Unusual Ventures, chat with Anant Vidur Puri at the Bessemer Venture Partners Cloud100 India Brunch in SF a few weeks back. He shared actionable insights from his founder journey building 3 outlier startups (AppDynamics, Traceable AI, Harness).

Key takeaways that resonated with me 👇🏽

1) In SaaS/ Cloud, having a free product is really important to drive product-led-growth [note: strongly echoes what I heard from Dheeraj Pandey at the SaaSBOOMi Summit a few weeks back. Post Nutanix, he is building DevRev to be PLG-first].

2) Focusing on getting into enterprise deals much faster in his current startups compared to AppDynamics, as “that’s where the $$ are”. Eg. started doing $1Mn deals ~1.5 yrs into Harness vs taking a few years for the same at AppDynamics.

3) When doing a 0-to-1 in Enterprise, important to first build a “top 3 product” in the segment. Once that’s achieved, various layers of monetization can be built around it.

4) Really important to qualify beta customers in Enterprise, so the product can be built efficiently. Once they start using the MVP, ask them the question “what’s the business case of this product for you?”. Will help filter out potential non-customers from the beta group.

5) While in the early stages of building an Enterprise product, avoid going down a feature-building rabbit hole for specific customers. The risk here is building features that not everyone will use.

6) Content marketing is key to early customer discovery. Put great content out there and let customers find you.

7) To identify which customer segment to focus on, run multiple experiments & track metrics. Eg. do cold emails on LinkedIn to multiple personas in parallel & measure response rates to see where you are getting the most interest.

8) To build a $100Mn ARR Enterprise business, founders need to have a view early on of how that destination math will eventually look in terms of no. of customers & ACV.

9) Interestingly, the current macro climate is seeing a slowdown only from an investor perspective. Enterprise customers are still growing rapidly & also spending more on software.

10) Important to operate lean in times like these where access to capital is getting constrained. Eg. at Harness, we are asking the question “can we achieve the same growth targets but with 20% less burn?”. Looking grounds-up at each function’s op-structure & optimizing.


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Author: Soumitra Sharma

Operator-Angel I Product Leader I US-India corridor I Believer in Power Laws I Love building & learning

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