Highlights From SaaStr Summit — The New in Venture Now

Due to Covid-19, a lot of events have been canceled or have been moved online. SaaStr Summit — The New in Venture Now was one of the online events that we were looking forward to because of the session topics which we’ll cover below. An event is a sub-event of SaaStr which is known as the biggest event in SaaS.

The New in Venture Now event was organized online on May 27, 2020 and hosted a great group of investors and entrepreneurs.

We enjoyed all the sessions but the few below were our favorite:

1- Seed Investing Today: What’s Changed, What Hasn’t with Aileen Lee and Jason Lemkin

In this session, Jason Lemkin, co-founder of SaaStr Summit and Aileen Lee, a founder and General Partner of Cowboy Ventures, talked about seed investing. For those who do not know this cool fact about Aileen Lee: She coined the term “unicorn” in venture.

Aileen thinks that recessions like the world is in right now, are a great time to be a founder and investor. According to her, real entrepreneurs (hard-working people who are mission-driven) start their companies during these times which is a great thing.

When Jason asked her opinion about the number of deals during Covid-19 times, she stated that some investors might write more checks towards the year-end in order to hit their quota.

She also believes that skilled people who were laid off due to Covid-19 may work on their ideas and the prototypes during the summer and to start raising capital in fall. If this scenario holds true, we may see more transactions in early-stage investing in the fall.

Aileen and Jason also talked about sales during Covid-19 times. They both think that sales will be very hard for the next 2 or maybe 3 quarters for the startups that haven’t built a brand. They gave a tip for pre-seed and seed startups: These startups may offer their products for free for the next 6 months to show the value to customers and then start charging.

Aileen also stated that when she and the rest of the Cowboy Ventures team evaluate a startup, they look for things that Aileen describes as 4P: People, Product, Potential, and Plan. It is always inspiring to listen to Aileen and this session was really packed with great insights.

2- Founders Fund Keith Rabois and SaaStr’s Jason Lemkin — Decacorns & Unicorns in 2020

One of our favorite sessions was with Keith Rabois who is a General Partner at Founders Fund. The VC firm announced a $3B fund early this year. Keith stated that $1.4B of this megafund is for early-stage investing and rest is for late stages.

Keith said he is a founder driven investor and that 85% of his investment decision is weighted on his assessment of the founders. It is not a secret that most investors prefer referrals to cold emails but he said that if the cold email is crafted very well, it has a good chance to trigger a coffee meeting with one of the Founders Fund’s team members.

He describes “great email” as “special”. It has to be awesome: Simple, short, and with an attached deck. He says that crafting such an awesome email is a rare skill. So, founders, if you don’t have someone who can introduce you to the Founders Fund, crafting an awesome email is your best shot.

3- Fundraising During a Pandemic with Point Nine Capital Managing Partner Christoph Janz

This was another session that we liked: Point Nine Capital Managing Partner Christoph Janz talked about fundraising during Covid-19 times. He mentioned some really important topics of fundraising and gave awesome tips to founders who raise money during these unusual times.

He started with the obvious truth: Fundraising right now is harder than before. But he also mentioned some silver linings including that it is easier to talk to many investors in parallel without traveling. He also highlighted a very important subject: Focusing on the best leads in order not to waste your time and energy.

He thinks that having a killer deck and DD materials is crucial these times. The idea is to minimize the negative effects of non-in person meetings and capturing the attention of targeted investors. He also recommends creating a FAQ document. Another great tip for founders is to be transparent by inviting investors to your internal dashboard.

He also talked about major risks that SaaS startups face due to Covid-19: Customers are going out of business, customers asking for discounts and deferred payments, and longer sales cycles. Therefore, he advises startups to have a clear Covid-19 assessment by considering these risks.

SaaSTr team organized another great event and we are already looking forward to the other sub-events and the main SaaStr Annual Event later this year!

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