“This is going to be really hard. The whole idea of SaaSBOOMi Annual is to provide founders a safe space where they can learn from each other. I don’t think it’s possible if we are doing an online event.”
“I agree, we will have to tone down our expectations from the event.”
“A SaaSBOOMi Annual easily scores 9 out of 10 in leaving the founders inspired after the event. I doubt if we can get it to even a 6 out of 10 in an online format.”
These were bits and pieces from a conversation within the Program team that was put together to design the content and format for SaaSBOOMi Annual OnAir 2021. These are some of the prominent names in the SaaS Industry in India – founders, operators, mentors – and folks who are ardent believers in the Pay-It-Forward motto of SaaSBOOMi. They’ve all given back to the community in their own ways and are what I’d like to call Rational Optimists. But this conversation seemed to be erring more on the rational side than on the optimism front. For a moment, as a SaaSBOOMi volunteer I wondered if we are really going to have an Annual event in 2021.
And then Krish, co-founder of Chargebee and SaaSBOOMi broke the silence with a grin (that shows usually when he’s commenting with a mix of vulnerability and helplessness about things that are not in his control)
“Well, so what do we do? None of us are thinking of suspending the Annual for 2021 right?”. There was silence, again.
He continued, “All the concerns we’ve discussed are well founded. But as we all know, there are founders out there who are expecting us to rise up to the occasion and deliver. So let’s focus on how we can do that. Would that make sense?”
I don’t recall the Program team looking back again. SaaSBOOMi Annual 2021 OnAir was on.
SaaSBOOMi’s Journey from Annual 2020 to 2021
The apprehensions of conducting an online event cited by the Program team were valid, you see. I was one of the 1000+ startup founders who stood up and applauded when Girish Mathrubootham finished his keynote speech titled “All Constraints are Internal” during SaaSBOOMi Annual 2020. It was 30 mins of personal reflections by one of the flag bearers of the Indian Startup ecosystem and it was an authentic, vulnerable story relatable by all, maybe the reason why it left everyone in the room teary-eyed and with goosebumps. You could not have asked for a better ending to a 2 day event that was packed with learnings from the best SaaS practitioners in India.
It was clear that it’s going to be impossible to recreate a similar experience in the online world. And if that’s so, it’s natural to feel like toning down the expectations from the Annual gathering this year that can only be conducted online because of the Covid-19 pandemic and rightly so.
Except… except for one thing. And that would be how SaaSBOOMi stepped up since March 2020 to fill up the role of a friend, mentor, counselor, and cheerleader for many of the SaaS startups in India. The organisation kept evolving into something big and large-hearted, more like the Genie from Aladdin.
When there were growing concerns of startups struggling to pay their salaries, it introduced the Debt Fund that became a reliable avenue for many startups to find a bridge round of financing.
When it found many founders and startups struggling to cope up with the pressures of running the business through the difficult times, they started the Saathi Program.
When it realised the need to help companies navigate through challenges in growth, the Growth program was put together. It attracted more than 250 founders and operators.
When it noticed the dearth of deep-dive learning in the ecosystem, it built the Playbook format and conducted a session every month to facilitate groups of 10 founders to learn from a mentor about a specific craft.
When it got to know about the plight of many startups that wished for an affordable insurance program for their team members, it went ahead and launched Suraksha.
When it heard from startups about the need to learn from experts about product and growth, it formulated and kickstarted the Build and GrowthX projects respectively.
When it found the industry moving strongly towards Product-Led Growth, it put together Product, a program that’s designed to help startups become product-centric in their mindset.
When it observed that founders wanted a safe space where they can talk to each other and learn from each other in a vulnerable manner, it set up the Indian SaaS Tribe, an online community that now has more than 670 active SaaS startup founders.
All of this was done in a timespan of less than 12 months. And that’s SaaSBOOMi’s secret sauce – it has built a pay-it-forward community of SaaS founders and ecosystem enablers who have understood the power of achieving something bigger than the individual selves when together.
Now, why should you join us at SaaSBOOMi Annual 2021 OnAir?
Because this event is put together by all of us together. Every person who has been instrumental in initiating those wonderful programs that I talked about in the previous section is coming together and joining hands to conduct the marquee event of SaaSBOOMi, that is Annual. It’s designed by all the founders – Avinash Raghava, Girish Mathrubootham, Krish Subramanian, Manav Garg, Suresh Sambandam – and has every volunteer working hard to deliver 4 days of inspired-learning, from April 20 to April 23.
It’s designed to help Indian SaaS founders reimagine their vision, strategy, and execution, and create organisations that are “built to last”, and emerge stronger in the post-COVID era. The Program Team featuring Rajoshi Ghosh, Krish Subramanian, Vivek Khandelwal, Varun Shoor, Prasanna Krishamoorthy and Suresh Sambandam have spent weeks to understand the challenges faced by founders over the last year and have come up with a densely packed curriculum. It includes a wide range of topics including how to excel at remote sales, building distributed teams and leveraging community for growth. They’ve designed the programs to accommodate startups from all stages of the SaaS journey.
Adding to that, we are all set to unveil the think-tank collaboration SaaSBOOMi had with McKinsey to understand the opportunities of SaaS in India during the Annual event. And we will also be launching the first edition of SaaSBOOMi Awards honoring the champions in the Indian SaaS ecosystem.
Come back to where we started, that is inspiring stories – we have Dheeraj Pandey, co-founder and ex-CEO of Nutanix join us at the Annual. He will be telling us the story of how he led the team to build a new category (hyper-converged) and establish Nutanix as the leader, a case study that has been sliced and diced in many startup circles across the World. And it’s not just Dheeraj, we have a star-studded line-up of founder speakers who are going to be there, telling their stories with the utmost vulnerability and transparency.
True to our conviction to “Reimagine” the status quo, the event will be packaged in a first-of-its-kind multi-faceted online experience that’s accessible, safe, and inclusive. We are doing our best to ensure it will be an immersive experience that reflects all of the things that you’ve come to love about our previous Annual editions.
So save the date, stay tuned, and get ready to reimagine and co-create Asia’s largest SaaS conference with us. 🙂