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Building a Fat SaaS Venture: Rob Hull, Founder and President of Adaptive Insights (Part 5)

Posted on Sunday, May 4th 2014

Sramana: How much money did you raise to start the company?

Rob Hull: We raised about $4.5 million in our initial round in late 2003.

Sramana: What were your milestones with that money?

Rob Hull: We wanted to get the product built, hire an executive team, and have a set of reference customers. That is exactly what we did with that round of money. We were able to hire our VP of Sales, we built out our development organization, and we garnered early customer support.

Sramana: How long did it take you to get your first product out?

Rob Hull: Our first product came out at the end of 2004.

Sramana: You had talked to a lot of CFOs during your market research. Did some of those CFOs become your early customers?

Rob Hull: Yes they did. It was nice to talk to them and meet with them early on. A substantial number of them became customers.

Sramana: From a positioning standpoint what was the competitive landscape? You tried to democratize the predictive financial market and take to the SMB space.

Rob Hull: At that time, there were very few competitors. The one competitor directly in our space had been sold off. Nobody else was trying to do what we were doing in the cloud. The on-premise vendors went through a phase of consolidation and that shrunk down the overall number of competitors. Today we compete with Oracle and IBM. There are other vendors who have come into this space, in particular the mid-market space.

Sramana: How have your revenues and growth tracked? What stage are you in right now?

Rob Hull: We were very early in the space selling cloud based software to mid-market CEOs. We were changing how people thought about the software and the sales process. Security around data for finance was a particularly interesting issue. We addressed that very early. We did a lot of evangelizing in the early days, so the adoption took a little longer than I had hoped for. That turned into incredible growth.

Over the past 11 years, we have built a very strong brand that is recognized in finance around the world. We have over 2,000 customers in over 80 countries around the world. We have done that with a very sharp focus on customer success and customer satisfaction. We have a subscription-based model. Your customer can constantly evaluate whether or not you are providing value. It is paramount that our customers understand the value we are providing to them every single day.

Sramana: Financial planning is something that is done on a quarter by quarter basis, so your software will have constant usage. If your product is designed well, then there is a continuous usage requirement.

Rob Hull: We have helped our customers build efficient processes. They are typically converting from inefficient operations with Excel and now are using 50% less time by leveraging our technology. Our customers can now take resources that were tactical and use them in a strategic manner now. This has helped companies embrace nimble forecasting. We have customers coming to us and telling us how much more effective they are. They can provide monthly or weekly forecast, well over their quarterly forecasts.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Building a Fat SaaS Venture: Rob Hull, Founder and President of Adaptive Insights
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