How to Pick The Right Idea and Launch Your SaaS Startup: Shekhar Kirani and Krish Subramanian

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In this episode of #InsightsPodcast series, YourStory continues their discussion with Shekhar Kirani and Krish Subramanian on SaaS, diving deeper into starting a SaaS company, and some of the best practices for that.

Shekhar is a Partner at Accel and focuses on early-stage investments in SaaS. Krish is the Co-founder and CEO of Chargebee, which specialises in subscription management and billing. Chargebee today serves customers in 53 countries and processes over $3 billion of annual invoicing by managing millions of subscriptions around the world.

Listen back to the full podcast below, or, if you’d like a brief breakdown scroll down for some key take aways…

https://soundcloud.com/insights-podcast-accel/what-saas-business-to-build

Climbing the right mountain

Shekhar starts off with his famous mountain analogy. Drawing parallels between the journey of a founder and that of a mountain climber aiming to reach the peak, he says, “Most founders pick the mountain they see first and start climbing before thinking about whether this is the right mountain to climb and are they well prepared to climb because it takes the same effort, time energy, and hard work, whether you climb a small mountain or a large one.”

This happens more often as a result of the founder’s strong passion for the idea, but realising this when they’re halfway through their journey makes it very tough to abandon the mountain they’re climbing to go after a new larger mountain (opportunity).

Krish talks about the immense value that comes from having experience of working in the industry. “Learning on the job is like a fast-track MBA; somebody pays you to actually learn on the job,” he says. Context on the industry and how to build a business is extremely important before going out to solve a problem.

Being the first mover

There are plenty of examples when being early to the party and riding a new wave early on has helped companies chart success stories. Krish and Shekhar share analogies to exemplify how being among the early ones to spot a trend can help build a moat.

The India advantage

“Another interesting opportunity for those based out of India is going after established markets where there are a lot of players but they’re either tired or not able to innovate fast enough with modern toolsets, giving an opportunity for you to build a better product that is able to show 2–3x value at half the cost,” Shekhar says.

Shekhar and Krish share the traits of a good founding team: diversity of thought and domain expertise, ability to learn and support each other, members bringing unique skillset to the table, and someone with the ability to build the product and take it to market.

The art of storytelling

Krish says understanding customer problems is key before going ahead with building your product. “Building the website before building the product is wrong, and building the product before speaking to customers is even worse”, he says. Shekhar adds that recognising a change in customer behaviour early on can help you get an advantage over existing players.

On willingness to pay, Shekhar and Krish share their learnings on how most SaaS ideas these days are new tools for which people are not paying today. “Any new tool that crosses the boundary from using emails and spreadsheets for a task requires a nuanced conversation around hours saved or the benefit seen by the customer because in the older way there is no money being spent,” Shekhar says.

Shekhar ends with the closing thought: “The art of storytelling is an important attribute for a successful founder. All large companies have a successful, high-quality team, and the ability to narrate your story and the potential impact on the world that your company would create gives a significant advantage to attract the right talent.”

Source – YourStory

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