Leaders of Growth - a phrase that could refer to many B2B SaaS companies and executives.
Today, we speak with Arthur Nobel, principal at Knight Capital and author of Leaders of Growth.
Leaders of Growth is the result of 47 interviews with B2B SaaS operating executives and investors. Brand name B2B SaaS executives including Mark Roberge, Matt Chappell, Katie Christian, Nathan Latka, Wes Bush, Patrick Campbell plus 42 more B2B SaaS executives with hands-on experience in scaling companies beyond Product-Market Fit.
Arthur first shared three different ways to define the journey and stages that B2B SaaS and Cloud companies go through.
3 views on company journey stage:
- Sequential (Series A, Series B, Series C, etc)
- Revenue approach ($1M, $5M, $10M, $20M, etc.)
- Company Maturity Model
We then dove into whether investors actually modify their investment thesis and enterprise valuation models based upon the above 3 lenses? Revenue growth, especially the velocity of growth remains a primary variable which VCs use to establish company value.
The thing that stood out the most from the 47 interviews was the AUTHENTICITY of everyone interviewed. Also, their openness and willingness to share their experiences and lessons learned...especially those learnings through failure as well as success.
The second theme he identified was the top-down view that investors shared and the bottoms-up perspective that the majority of operators used. When asked to explain what "top-down" and "bottoms-up" meant, Arthur shared that operators were much more focused on the more pragmatic "what" drove the business including topics like hiring, culture, tactical approaches whereas investors were much more focused on conceptual thinking, such as frameworks and methodologies.
When asked common challenges that the growth leaders faced, Arthur shared six common categories:
- Departmental objectives at each stage of growth
- Data challenge - including what metrics to measure and prioritize at each stage
- HR Challenge - such as hiring the right people at the right stage
- Documentation and enablement - critical as employee count increases
- Process challenge - well defined. documented and systemized after 20 - 30 employees
- Tooling - having the appropriate platforms and systems architecture at each stage
I asked Arthur if he has developed a framework to help B2B SaaS companies scale within and across each stage of growth? He highlighted this is a very complex task, as each company's journey is unique, but would try and share his initial thoughts:
-Scaling is not a point but a continuum that dictates using a stage by stage maturity model:
- Process introduction
It is also very important to define the maturity model for each function and against the six common challenges that were highlighted above.
We then discussed the concept of thinking, planning, and acting like you are already in the next stage of maturity versus continuing purely executing current state processes, activities and tactics. Some examples that Arthur shared on the traditional "VC" stage basis:
Series A = Replicability
- Build a strong initial leadership team
- Lay a solid foundation
Series B = Predictablity
- Establish Senior team
- Become more structued and documented
Series C = Scalability
- Be careful of silos
- Use shared metrics to align cross-functional teams
Learning from those who have already been there is the key theme of this episode!