Sep
13
2021
--

3 keys to pricing early-stage SaaS products

I’ve met hundreds of founders over the years, and most, particularly early-stage founders, share one common go-to-market gripe: Pricing.

For enterprise software, traditional pricing methods like per-seat models are often easier to figure out for products that are hyperspecific, especially those used by people in essentially the same way, such as Zoom or Slack. However, it’s a different ballgame for startups that offer services or products that are more complex.

Most startups struggle with a per-seat model because their products, unlike Zoom and Slack, are used in a litany of ways. Salesforce, for example, employs regular seat licenses and admin licenses — customers can opt for lower pricing for solutions that have low-usage parts — while other products are priced based on negotiation as part of annual renewals.

You may have a strong champion in a CIO you’re selling to or a very friendly person handling procurement, but it won’t matter if the pricing can’t be easily explained and understood. Complicated or unclear pricing adds more friction.

Early pricing discussions should center around the buyer’s perspective and the value the product creates for them. It’s important for founders to think about the output and the outcome, and a number they can reasonably defend to customers moving forward. Of course, self-evaluation is hard, especially when you’re asking someone else to pay you for something you’ve created.

This process will take time, so here are three tips to smoothen the ride.

Pricing is a journey

Pricing is not a fixed exercise. The enterprise software business involves a lot of intangible aspects, and a software product’s perceived value, quality, and user experience can be highly variable.

The pricing journey is long and, despite what some founders might think, jumping headfirst into customer acquisition isn’t the first stop. Instead, step one is making sure you have a fully fledged product.

If you’re a late-seed or Series A company, you’re focused on landing those first 10-20 customers and racking up some wins to showcase in your investor and board deck. But when you grow your organization to the point where the CEO isn’t the only person selling, you’ll want to have your go-to-market position figured out.

Many startups fall into the trap of thinking: “We need to figure out what pricing looks like, so let’s ask 50 hypothetical customers how much they would pay for a solution like ours.” I don’t agree with this approach, because the product hasn’t been finalized yet. You haven’t figured out product-market fit or product messaging and you want to spend a lot of time and energy on pricing? Sure, revenue is important, but you should focus on finding the path to accruing revenue versus finding a strict pricing model.

Aug
31
2021
--

Octane banks $2M for flexible billing software

Software billing startup Octane announced Tuesday that it raised $2 million on a post-money valuation of $10 million to advance its pay-as-you-go billing software.

Akash Khanolkar and his co-founders met a decade ago at Carnegie Mellon University and since then went off in different directions. In Khanolkar’s case, he ran a cloud consulting business and saw how fast companies like Datadog and Snowflake were coming to market and dealing with Amazon Web Services.

He found that the commonality in all of those fast-growing companies was billing software using a pay-as-you-go business model versus the traditional flat-rate plans, Khanolkar told TechCrunch.

However, he explained that monitoring consumption means that billing becomes complicated: companies now have to track how customers are using the software per second in order to bill correctly each month.

Seeing the shift toward consumption-based billing, the co-founders came back together in June 2020 to create Octane, a metered billing system that helps vendors create a plan, monitor usage and charge in a similar way to Snowflake and AWS, Khanolkar said.

“We are API-driven, and you as a vendor will send us usage data, and on our end, we store it and then do real-time aggregations so at the end of the month, you can accordingly bill customers,” Khanolkar said. “We have seen contention between engineering and product. Engineers are there to create core plans, so we built a no-code experience for product teams to be able to create new price plans and then perform changes, like adding coupons.”

Within the global cloud billing market, which is expected to reach $6.5 billion by 2025, there are a set of Octane competitors, like Chargebee and Zuora, that Khanolkar said are tackling the subscription management side and succeeding in the past several years. Now there is a usage and consumption-based world coming and a whole new set of software businesses, like Octane, coming in to succeed there.

The new round of funding was led by Basis Set Ventures and included Dropbox co-founder Arash Ferdowsi, Github CTO Jason Warner, Fortress CTO Assunta Gaglione, Scale AI CRO Chetan Chaudhary, former Twilio executive Evan Cummack, Esteban Reyes, Abstraction Capital and Script Capital.

“With the rise of product-led growth and usage-based pricing models, usage-based billing is a critical and foundational piece of infrastructure that has been simply missing,” said Chang Xu, partner at Basis Set Ventures, via email. “At the same time, it’s something that every department cares about as it’s your revenue. Many later-stage companies we talk to that have built this in-house talk about the ongoing maintenance costs and wishes that there is a vendor they can outsource it to.”

We are super impressed with the Octane team with their dedication to building a best-in-class and robust usage-based billing solution. They’ve validated this opportunity by talking to lots of engineering teams so they can solve for all the edge cases, which is important in something as mission critical as billing. We are convinced that Octane will become an inevitable part of the tech infrastructure.”

The new funding will go primarily toward hiring engineers, as well as product, marketing and sales staff. Octane currently has seven employees, and Khanolkar expects to be around 10 by the end of the year.

The company is working with a large range of companies, primarily focused on infrastructure and the depth gauge industries. Octane is also seeing some unique use cases emerge, like a construction company using the usage meter to track the hours an employee works and companies in electric charging using the meter for those purposes.

“We didn’t envision construction guys using it, but in theory, it could be used by any company that tracks time — even legal,” Khanolkar added.

He declined to speak about the company’s revenue, but did say it now had two to three years of runway.

Up next, the company plans to roll out new features like price experimentation based on usage to help customers better make decisions on how to price their software, another problem Khanolkar sees happening. It will build ways that customers can try different plans against usage data to validate which one works the best.

“We are still in the early innings of consumption-based models, but we see more end users opting to go with an enterprise that wants to let them try out the software and then pay as they go,” he added.

Aug
16
2021
--

Tropic picks up $25M to streamline software procurement experiences

The pandemic was a catalyst for showing companies looking to cut costs just how much they were spending on their software tools. New York-based Tropic’s platform not only uncovers those savings, but also brings a click-and-approve approach to buying software. Today, the company announced a $25 million Series A round of funding.

Canaan Partners led the round, with participation from Founder Collective and Mo Koyfman’s new fund, Shine. It gives Tropic $27.1 million in total funding since the company emerged from stealth in 2020, CEO David Campbell told TechCrunch.

Prior to founding the company with Justin Etkin, Campbell was in technology and sales roles, selling software contracts of every size, and realized how complex and rigid the contracts were getting as companies grew larger and the lack of price transparency increased. The complexity of some contracts can cause companies to overpay, even locking companies into payments they can’t afford, Campbell said.

On top of that, more buyers are younger now and their experience with purchasing software is pulling out their phone to download an app, while buying a customer relationship management tool will take six months to buy and cost thousands of dollars.

“Looking at the space, we are in a mirror maze of software, including companies using software to build products that they then sell back to the software companies,” Campbell said. “Companies are only buying software once a year, yet the process can be so complex.”

Tropic’s SaaS procurement model gathers the whole process under one platform. Unlike some competitors’ approaches, it takes on the heavy lifting so when companies have to buy or renew a contract, users can access Tropic’s one-click purchasing service to outsource the transaction. After the contracts are signed, its platform manages the technology and ensures financing is in order. This approach saves companies 23%, on average, on the software purchases, which Campbell said “moves the needle” for many companies where software is the No. 1 cost after salary.

In recent years, cloud software has become a fast-growing spend category across most businesses. Campbell said the average company can have more than 100 software contracts, while that jumps to over 500 for enterprise organizations. Meanwhile, global spend on enterprise software is forecasted to reach $599 billion by the end of 2021, a 13.2% increase over the previous year, according to Statista.

In the last 12 months, the company added over 60 customers, counting Qualtrics, Vimeo, Zapier and Intercom, surpassed $250 million in managed spend and processed transactions for over 1,200 vendors. The company is seeing 100% quarter over quarter growth, and in the last quarter, doubled its annual recurring revenue, Campbell said.

Tropic will use the funding for R & D and to deepen integrations with existing procurement tools in the cloud software ecosystem. Over the past year, the company’s headcount has grown to 50 and Campbell has “aggressive hiring plans between now and the rest of the year” focused on the tech side with engineering and product management.

Hootan Rashidifard, principal from Canaan Partners, said his firm was tracking the software procurement sector and learned about Tropic through Founder Collective, which led the company’s seed round.

“We’re seeing software and financial services converge and Tropic sits squarely at the intersection of both in a category with massive tailwinds,” Rashidifard said via email. “Software is accelerating the share of expenses while also penetrating every part of an organization, and software purchasing is becoming more decentralized. Tropic’s platform is in a fragmented market with high payment volume, which is ripe for layering on all kinds of adjacent services.”

 

Jun
01
2021
--

Sprinklr’s IPO filing shows uneven cash flow but modest growth

Another week, another unicorn IPO. This time, Sprinklr is taking on the public markets.

The New York-based software company works in what it describes as the customer experience market. After attracting over $400 million in capital while private, its impending debut will not only provide key returns to a host of venture capitalists but also more evidence that New York’s startup scene has reached maturity. (More evidence here.)


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. 

Read it every morning on Extra Crunch or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


Sprinklr last raised a $200 million round at a $2.7 billion valuation in September 2020. That round, as TechCrunch reported, also included a host of secondary shares and $150 million in convertible notes. Inclusive of the latter instrument, Sprinklr’s total capital raised to date soars above the $500 million mark.

Temasek Holdings, Battery Ventures, ICONIQ Capital, Intel Capital and others have plugged funds into Sprinklr during its startup days.

Sure, Robinhood didn’t file last week as many folks hoped, but the Sprinklr IPO ensures that we’ll have more than just SPACs to chat about in the coming days. But one thing at a time. Let’s discuss what Sprinklr does for a living.

Sprinklr’s business

Sprinklr’s IPO filing and corporate website suffer from a slight case of corporate speak, so we have some work to do this morning to determine what the company does. Here’s what the company says about itself in its filing:

Sprinklr empowers the world’s largest and most loved brands to make their customers happier.

We do this with a new category of enterprise software — Unified Customer Experience Management, or Unified-CXM — that enables every customer-facing function across the front office, from Customer Care to Marketing, to collaborate across internal silos, communicate across digital channels, and leverage a complete suite of modern capabilities to deliver better, more human customer experiences at scale — all on one unified, AI-powered platform.

Not very clear, yeah? Don’t worry, I’ve got you. Here’s what the company actually does:

May
18
2021
--

WalkMe is going public: Let’s stroll through its numbers

Hot off the heels of our look into Marqeta’s IPO filing and dives into SPACs for Bright Machines and Bird, we’re parsing the WalkMe IPO filing. Later this week, Squarespace will direct list and we’ll see IPOs from Oatly and Procore. It’s a super busy time for public debuts of all sorts.

Given how hectic the IPO market is, we’re going to skip our usual throat clearing and dig into WalkMe’s IPO document. As always, we’ll start with a brief overview of its product and then move into discussing its financial performance.

Image Credits: Alex Wilhelm

WalkMe is the second Israel-based technology company to file to go public this week: No-code startup Monday.com is also pursuing an American IPO.

Alright! Into the breach.

What does WalkMe do?

WalkMe’s software provides visual overlays on websites that help users navigate the product in question. I base that explanation on my time at Crunchbase, which was a customer during at least part of my time there. WalkMe is popular with marketing teams who want to introduce users to a new or refreshed experience.

Per the company’s F-1 filing, other elements of its service that matter include its onboarding system and what WalkMe calls Workstation, or its “single interface to the applications within an enterprise and simplifies task completion through a natural language conversational interface and automation.” We’re including that last feature because it says “automation,” which, in the wake of the UiPath IPO, is a word worth watching. Investors are.

At a high level, WalkMe is a SaaS business, which means that when we digest its results we are digging into a modern software company. Let’s do just that.

WalkMe’s numbers

From 2019 to 2020, WalkMe grew its revenues from $105.1 million to $148.3 million, a gain of 41%. In its most recent quarter, the company’s growth rate slowed: From Q1 2020 to Q1 2021, WalkMe’s top line grew 25% from $34.2 million to $42.7 million.

In SaaS terms, WalkMe calculates that its annual recurring revenue, or ARR, grew from $131.2 million at the end of 2019 to $164.3 million in 2020. In more granular terms, the company’s ARR grew from $137.8 million to $177.5 million in the first quarters of 2020, and 2021, respectively.

Oct
26
2020
--

SAP shares fall sharply after COVID-19 cuts revenue, profit forecast at software giant

SAP announced its Q3 earnings yesterday, with its aggregate results down across the board. And after missing earnings expectations, the company also revised its 2021 outlook down. The combined bad news spooked investors, crashing its shares by more than 20% in pre-market trading, and the stock wasn’t showing any signs of improving in early trading.

The German software giant has lost tens of billions of dollars in market cap as a result.

The overall report was gloomy, with total revenues falling 4% to €6.54 billion, cloud and software revenue down 2% and operating profit down 12%. The only bright spot was its pure-cloud category, which grew 11%, to €1.98 billion.

SAP’s revenue result was around €310 million under expectations, though its per-share profit beat both adjusted and non-adjusted expectations.

While SAP’s big revenue miss might have been enough to send investors racing for the exits, its revised forecast doubled concerns. Even though the company said that its customers are accelerating their move to the cloud during the pandemic — something that TechCrunch has been tracking for some time now — SAP also said the pandemic is slowing sales and large projects.

Constellation Research analyst Holger Mueller says this is resulting in an unexpected revenue slow-down.

“What has happened at SAP is a cloud revenue delay as customers know that SAP is only investing into cloud products, and they have to migrate to those in the future. The news is that SAP customers are not migrating to the cloud during a pandemic,” Mueller told TechCrunch.

In a sign of the times, SAP spent a portion of its earnings results talking about 2025 results, a maneuver that failed to allay investor concerns that the pandemic was dramatically impacting SAP’s business today and in the coming year.

For 2020, SAP made the following cuts to its forecasts:

  • €8.0 – 8.2 billion non-IFRS cloud revenue at constant currencies (previously €8.3 – 8.7 billion)
  • €23.1 – 23.6 billion non-IFRS cloud and software revenue at constant currencies (previously €23.4 – 24.0 billion)
  • €27.2 – 27.8 billion non-IFRS total revenue at constant currencies (previously €27.8 – 28.5 billion)
  • €8.1 – 8.5 billion non-IFRS operating profit at constant currencies (previously €8.1 – 8.7 billion)

So, €300 million to €500 million in cloud revenue is now gone, along with €300 million to €400 million in cloud and software revenue, and €600 to €700 million in total revenue. That cut profit expectations by up to €200 million.

The company, however, is trying to put a happy face on the future projections, believing that as the impact of COVID begins to diminish, existing customers will eventually shift to the cloud and that will drive significant new revenues over the longer term. The trade-off is short-term pain for the next year or two.

“Over the next two years, we expect to see muted growth of revenue accompanied by a flat to slightly lower operating profit. After 2022 momentum will pick up considerably though. Initial headwinds of the accelerated cloud transition will start to turn into tailwinds for revenue and profit. […] That translates to accelerated revenue growth and double digit operating profit growth from 2023 onwards,” SAP CFO Luka Mucic said in a call with analysts this morning.

The question now becomes can they meet these projections, and if the longer-term approach during a pandemic will placate investors. As of this morning, they weren’t looking happy about it.

Oct
21
2020
--

Lessons from Datto’s IPO pricing and revenue multiple

Last night Datto priced its IPO at $27 per share, the top end of its range that TechCrunch covered last week. The data and security-focused software company had targeted a $24 to $27 per-share IPO price range, meaning that its final per-share value was at the top of its estimates.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


The Datto IPO won’t draw lots of attention; its business is somewhat dull, as selling software to managed service providers rarely excites. But, the public offering matters for a different reason: It gives us a fresh lens into today’s IPO market.

That lens is the perspective of slower, more profitable growth. What is that worth?

The value of quickly growing and unprofitable software and cloud companies is well known. Snowflake made a splash earlier this year on the back of huge growth and enormous losses. Investors ate its shares up, pushing its valuation to towering heights. This year we’ve even seen rapid growth and profits valued by public investors in the form of JFrog’s IPO.

But slower growth, software margins and profitability? Datto’s financial picture feels somewhat unique among the IPOs that TechCrunch has covered this year.

It’s a similar bet to the one that Egnyte is making; the enterprise software company crested $100 million ARR last year and announced that it grew by around 22% in the first half of 2020. And, it is profitable on an EBITDA basis. Therefore, the Datto IPO could provide a clue as to whether companies like Egnyte and the rest of the late-stage startup crop should be content to grow more slowly, but with the benefit of actually making money.

Lessons from Datto’s IPO pricing and revenue multiple

Here are the deal’s nuts and bolts:

Aug
21
2020
--

As the pandemic creates supply chain chaos, Craft raises $10M to apply some intelligence

During the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chains have suddenly become hot. Who knew that would ever happen? The race to secure PPE, ventilators and minor things like food was and still is an enormous issue. But perhaps, predictably, the world of “supply chain software” could use some updating. Most of the platforms are deployed “empty” and require the client to populate them with their own data, or “bring their own data.” The UIs can be outdated and still have to be juggled with manual and offline workflows. So startups working in this space are now attracting some timely attention.

Thus, Craft, the enterprise intelligence company, today announces it has closed a $10 million Series A financing round to build what it characterizes as a “supply chain intelligence platform.” With the new funding, Craft will expand its offices in San Francisco, London and Minsk, and grow remote teams across engineering, sales, marketing and operations in North America and Europe.

It competes with some large incumbents, such as Dun & Bradstreet, Bureau van Dijk and Thomson Reuters . These are traditional data providers focused primarily on providing financial data about public companies, rather than real-time data from data sources such as operating metrics, human capital and risk metrics.

The idea is to allow companies to monitor and optimize their supply chain and enterprise systems. The financing was led by High Alpha Capital, alongside Greycroft. Craft also has some high-flying angel investors, including Sam Palmisano, chairman of the Center for Global Enterprise and former CEO and chairman of IBM; Jim Moffatt, former CEO of Deloitte Consulting; Frederic Kerrest, executive vice chairman, COO and co-founder of Okta; and Uncork Capital, which previously led Craft’s seed financing. High Alpha partner Kristian Andersen is joining Craft’s board of directors.

The problem Craft is attacking is a lack of visibility into complex global supply chains. For obvious reasons, COVID-19 disrupted global supply chains, which tended to reveal a lot of risks, structural weaknesses across industries and a lack of intelligence about how it’s all holding together. Craft’s solution is a proprietary data platform, API and portal that integrates into existing enterprise workflows.

While many business intelligence products require clients to bring their own data, Craft’s data platform comes pre-deployed with data from thousands of financial and alternative sources, such as 300+ data points that are refreshed using both Machine Learning and human validation. Its open-to-the-web company profiles appear in 50 million search results, for instance.

Ilya Levtov, co-founder and CEO of Craft, said in a statement: “Today, we are focused on providing powerful tracking and visibility to enterprise supply chains, while our ultimate vision is to build the intelligence layer of the enterprise technology stack.”

Kristian Andersen, partner with High Alpha commented: “We have a deep conviction that supply chain management remains an underinvested and under-innovated category in enterprise software.”

In the first half of 2020, Craft claims its revenues have grown nearly threefold, with Fortune 100 companies, government and military agencies, and SMEs among its clients.

Jun
22
2020
--

4 enterprise developer trends that will shape 2021

Technology has dramatically changed over the last decade, and so has how we build and deliver enterprise software.

Ten years ago, “modern computing” was to rely on teams of network admins managing data centers, running one application per server, deploying monolithic services, through waterfall, manual releases managed by QA and release managers.

Today, we have multi and hybrid clouds, serverless services, in continuous integration, running infrastructure-as-code.

SaaS has grown from a nascent 2% of the $450B enterprise software market in 2009, to 23% in 2020 and crossed $100B in revenue. PaaS and IaaS revenue represent another $50B in revenue, expecting to double to $100B by 2022.

With 77% of the enterprise software market — over $350B in annual revenue — still on legacy and on-premise systems, modern SaaS, PaaS and IaaS eating at the legacy market alone can grow the market 3x-4x over the next decade.

As the shift to cloud accelerates across the platform and infrastructure layers, here are four trends starting to emerge that will change how we develop and deliver enterprise software for the next decade.

1. The move to “everything as code”

Companies are building more dynamic, multiplatform, complex infrastructures than ever. We see the “-aaS” of the application, data, runtime and virtualization layers. Modern architectures are forcing extensibility to work with any number of mixed and matched services.

May
07
2020
--

As private investment cools, enterprise startups may try tapping corporate dollars

Founders hunting down capital in the middle of this pandemic may feel like they’re on a fool’s errand, but some investors are still offering financing, even if the terms might not be as good as they once were. One avenue that appears to remain open: corporate venture capital.

The corporate route offers its own set of unique challenges, depending on the philosophy of the organization’s investment arm. Some are looking strictly for companies that fit neatly into their platform, while others believe a solid investment is more important than a perfect fit.

Regardless of style, these firms want their investment targets to succeed on their own merits, rather than as part of the organization the funding arm represents. To get the lay of the land, we spoke to a couple of firms that take very different approaches to their investments: Dell Technologies Capital and Salesforce Ventures.

Corporate venture is a different animal

Corporate venture funds aren’t typically as large as private ones, but they have a lot to offer, such as global sales and marketing support and a depth of knowledge that offers direct benefits to a young upstart. This can help founders avoid mistakes, but there is danger in becoming too dependent on the company.

The good news is that these companies are often not leading the round, but are instead providing some cash and guidance, which leaves entrepreneurs to develop and grow on their own. While the pandemic is forcing many changes in approaches to investment, the two corporate venture capital firms we spoke to said they will continue to invest, and their theses remains pretty much the same.

If you have an enterprise focus and you can convince these firms to take a chance, they offer some interesting perks a private firm might not be able to, or at the very least provide a piece of your funding puzzle in these difficult times.

Powered by WordPress | Theme: Aeros 2.0 by TheBuckmaker.com