SaaStr Speaker Series with Sameer Dholakia and Ajay Agarwal: The rule of 40 and more

Jason Lemkin introducing Sameer Dholakia and Ajay Agarwal - Paubox
Jason Lemkin introducing Sameer Dholakia and Ajay Agarwal

Greg Hoffman (Hoff) and I showed up early and furthered our Continuing Education in SaaS yesterday at the May SaaStr CSS Speaker Series.

Last night’s event featured Sameer Dholakia, CEO of Pre-IPO SendGrid and Ajay Agarwal, Managing Director at Bain Capital Ventures.

SaaStr Omiyage: 100% Kona Coffee

Jason Lemkin and Greg Hoffman - Paubox
Dropping off 100% Kona coffee with Jason Lemkin

Showing up early yields facetime with Jason Lemkin, the face and brand behind today’s SaaS industry. Since I’ve read he likes everything from Hawaii, I brought him an omiyage from my recent trip back home- a bag of 100% Kona coffee.

Despite having been turned down twice from his SaaStr fund, we don’t give up and we show our appreciation for leveling up via SaaStr events.

I told Lemkin I bought four copies of his book “From Impossible to Inevitable” for key managers at Paubox. I also asked for advice on establishing comp plans for our Customer Success and Marketing departments. He suggested we make sure our comp plans are accretive. Duly noted.

SEE ALSO: From Impossible to Inevitable: Chapters 1 – 8

Tasty beverages are a part of SaaStr - Paubox
Signature SaaStr: Tasty beverages

How to Build a Highly Capital Efficient SaaS Company

Sameer Dholakia and Ajay Agarwal recollecting early days at Trilogy - Paubox
Sameer Dholakia and Ajay Agarwal recollecting early days at Trilogy

Here are my takeaways from their excellent talk:

  • “Invest in great people you know.” [Jason Lemkin]
  • Sameer’s first job out of college was at Trilogy at a Produt Manager (1995). He met Ajay Agarwal there.
  • Sendgrid has 50,000 paying customers and is doing $100M ARR.
  • Over one million developers using their platform.
  • “How do you drive value to the customer?” [Ajay Agarwal]
  • “Build a company culture that has edge, is unique and one that does not fit for everyone.” [Sameer Dholakia]
  • “Every single hire you make is mission critical. You can’t get those wrong.” [Sameer]
  • Who is doing your recruiting? It’s a privilege, not an obligation.
  • Sendgrid has an extraordinary go to market business model. Solving product buyer fit.
  • Sendgrid solves a pain point for a particular persona who can put their credit card down and buy it.
  • 99% of Sendgrid customers sign up via self service.
  • Look at keyword search for determining whether or not to do self service.
  • Email Marketing is a $5B TAM with hundreds of competitors.
  • Sendgrid was crazy focused on buyer personas. For example, they give away 10,000 Sendgrid t-shirts per year.
  • “I believe email will outlive us all.” [Sameer]
  • “Profitability is a choice, not an outcome.” [Sameer]
  • Efficiently acquire and serve customers. Go to market strategy is key.
  • Rule of 40: Take your growth rate as a percentage and add profitability metric. They should equal 40 (or more).
  • Sameer and Ajay learned about the 3 Horizon Product Strategy from Trilogy: Cash cow, Growth engine, and Moonshot.
  • 70% of Sendgrid email read on mobile. (That probably holds true for all email!)
  • $38 ROI for every dollar spent on Email Marketing.
  • Sendgrid sends 35 billion emails every month.
  • Sendgrid explicitly does not sell to the enterprise (yet).
  • 95% of Sendgrid customers on monthly plans.
  • “Cloud is here and it’s opened up so many new opportunities.” [Ajay]
  • The 4 H’s of Sendgrid’s company culture: Happy. Hungry. Humble. Honest.
  • Defining your company’s culture: The sooner the better.
SaaStr speaker series with Sameer Dholakia and Ajay Agarwal - Paubox
Always a full house at SaaStr events

SEE RELATED: My Continuing Education via SaaStr CSS Speaking Series

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About the author

Hoala Greevy

Founder CEO Paubox. Kayak fishing when I can.

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