by Hoala Greevy Founder CEO of Paubox
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SaaStr Speaker Series with Sameer Dholakia and Ajay Agarwal: The rule of 40 and more

by Hoala Greevy Founder CEO of Paubox
Jason Lemkin introducing Sameer Dholakia and Ajay Agarwal

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

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

Person making a drink

Signature SaaStr: Tasty beverages

How to Build a Highly Capital Efficient SaaS Company

Sameer Dholakia and Ajay Agarwal recollecting early days at Trilogy

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 event audience

Always a full house at SaaStr events

SEE RELATED: My Continuing Education via SaaStr CSS Speaking Series

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