1. SaaS METRIC OF THE WEEK: SaaS Metrics 2.0. This is a big one - we all know the core SaaS Metrics - CAC, LTV:CAC, ACV, etc., etc. But Kyle Poyar from OpenView Partners is making the case for the next era of core metrics. Product lead, expansion, and margin profiles (such as ARRR per FTE) are at the core of this new potential playbook.
2. MARKETING: Marketing is an extensive practice covering many disciplines and specialties. Which one should be the focus of a startup's first hire?
3. ONBOARDING: Doing this well is critical to increasing value, lowering churn, and creating advocates - so here is how some of the best do it: Leveraging email, this is how ZenDesk document their comms flow, and ChartMogul has a guide to their non-email version too. From HeavyBit, here is a 4-phase plan, and this article covers 5 Tips to Speed up Sales Onboarding without Sacrificing Quality.
4. IDEAS: Everyone has them, like all the time. So here is a framework for managing them. This one is bookmarked for me, and the template is now on my wall! The HD version of it is here. A little bonus is a compilation of mental models that entrepreneurs and investors leverage to develop new startup ideas & venture theses from the same author.
5. CONTINUOUS DESIGN: My post on DesignOps was popular last week - so here is another design-based article: Thomas Sutton is pitching a new Continuous design framework to bridge this divide between theory and practice that I like to call "Everything everywhere all at once." A bonus here is the "How do you design" document that covers more than 100 design process models. Why are these important? This article makes the case that Agile and UX are a failed marriage.
6. FAILURES: According to data from this morbid Crunchbase page, at least 72 startups have shut their doors in 2023. This doesn't quite indicate the trend in terms of YoY spreads - but the fact they have built a page can not be because of positive trends. The hypothesis is that a disproportional amount of failures are now occurring due to the VC Boom that ended in 2021 and the hard-core tightening of VC Wallets that happened almost immediately after.
7. ESOP: Employee Share Option Plans are a fantastic idea to incentivize and retain great staff, but under the hood, ESOPs are complex, especially with changing valuations, both positive and negative, in today's market. Check out Airtree Venture's best practices for communicating the value of ESOP to teams. This article also has a bonus financial model template (value calculator, salary package calculator, and vesting schedule). Check this cheat sheet for standard ESOP terms.
8. ESOP BENCHMARKS: A fast follow from #7 above is this wonderful site that has compiled Option benchmark data comprising over 20,000 option grants from more than 1,650 startups across the US and Europe sorted by Seed or Venture stage.
9. BOOTSTRAP: This is a fun series just started from Inc mag (and currently at 2 parts) - part 1 here and part 2 here - covering How to start and grow a Tech company with less than $100 - it's all GTM, so make sure you have that whole product thing figured out first.
10. CASE STUDY: Spotify and its Squads. A few years back, a really inspiring and memorable video circulated (in one of those cutesy handwritten animation styles) describing the Agile Squads that Spotify employs in its apparently cooler-than-cool Utopian Developer department. Well, guess what? Sorry to burst your Spotify bubble, but they abandoned it. (How Agile of them)…. In this post-mortem assessment, the most significant fundamental failure was such a SaaS-based one: It was solving the wrong problem.
POD OF THE WEEK: From the Invest Like the Best team - a recent interview with Bessemer Venture Partners (one of my favorites). It's actually a VC firm that is over 100 years old and has a unique operating model and plans for building a VC Firm that last centuries.