SaaStr Europa 2019: What We Learned

October 31, 2019
Reflections on SaaStr Europa 2019

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be offered a ticket for SaaStr Europa 2019 – A gathering of top SaaS executives, founders and entrepreneurs in the Maison de la Mutualite, Paris. They aim to help you “scale faster to £100m ARR with less stress and more success”.

The conference went on for 2 days and was a mix of presentations, interviews, “braindates” and networking. The first day we spent the majority of our time in the Theatre where SaaStr kicked off the event with an opening talk by Jane Kim, Godard Abel, Tricia Miller and Jason Lemkin.

The key takeaways of the event for us as an SMB can be split into 5 sections:

  • Branding & Marketing
  • Understanding Your Peers
  • Test, Iterate & Repeat
  • Get A Strong Team Early On
  • It’s Not All About The Leads – Support Your Customers

1. Branding & Marketing

Branding and marketing should not be overlooked. They should be adopted early on to help differentiate you from your clients. Many competitors end up offering the same features so your brand is your personality. It reflects your goals, your team, your values.

Here at Raildiary, we quite often get comments that people are surprised that we have only been around for a couple of years.

“I was expecting your company to have been around for 5+ years! Your message is really clear and concise and your product looks really strong”.

Whilst we love to hear feedback like this, we are constantly looking to improve. You don’t disrupt an industry by standing still! At events, for example, we aim for our stand to look warm, modern and welcoming. At Railtex 2019 we managed to reach that goal, but after analysing people’s reactions, questions and feedback, we amended our design at Rail Live 2019 to include a clearer description of our product. As a result, we had more people recognise what we were offering and come directly to our stand, citing “I’ve been looking for something like this!”

2. Understanding Your Peers

Everyone at SaaStra was super helpful – every time you turned a corner you would end up having a conversation with someone new, who was open and willing to help solve your problems. I personally met some great people, companies and products - one of which we are about to implement for our users to help guide them through the app. I also met someone who was a Chief Product Officer and formerly Product Manager. I was discussing with him that I wanted to be a Product Manager and he offered his services as a mentor.

It was inspiring to see how these founders of billion dollar unicorn companies have worked their way up from nothing. There is no denying that they are extremely talented, passionate and hard working individuals but it just shows you that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

(Shout out to Cognism who took us for dinner on the first night and made us feel part of the team!)

3. Test, Iterate & Repeat

This is something we admittedly weren’t doing enough of at Raildiary. We had the mindset that we needed to make our new features perfect before releasing to our clients. We understand now that our customers would much prefer regular (less glossy) feature releases than an all singing all dancing feature that takes half a year to release.

In the construction industry particularly, it’s about function and practicality over appearance. If we can release something that makes your life a little easier or overcomes a particularly awkward process, we want to do it - and we can tidy it up later, with your feedback.

4. Get A Strong Team Early On

One of the comments that came up time and time again was the importance of having a strong team. Having this team early on is essential as the cornerstone of the business, to support you in growing the enterprise. Company culture is also key when growing the business. You need to make sure everyone understands your business personality so that they reflect this whether they are in design, sales or marketing.

5. It's Not All About Leads

Although leads are essential for your business, as a small company you need to ensure that once you have secured your customer you don’t lose them due to a lack of support. Especially in a tech environment, where there is a learning curve when using a new software. Get as much feedback from your customers as possible. They have unique insight into your product that only true using customers could give.

As a result, Raildiary has returned to creating extensive support documents and materials with renewed vigor. We’re booking in more feedback sessions with our users, reviewing the key functionalities and purpose of the app, and making sure we stay in touch with new users at every step of the journey.

If we didn’t have that support in place, it would be all too easy for your on-site workers to try the app for a few weeks, get frustrated, and abandon it. We’ve discussed how to overcome this barrier in our blog post, ‘Supervisors vs Software’.


SaaStr Europa 2019 was a truly valuable experience for us as a company. It’s always useful for us to get feedback from people both in and out of the rail industry, so we can continue to strive towards becoming a market-leader in everything we do.

Our key takeaway from the week is a simple one: Never stop moving forward. Move fast, make changes, and improve every time.

SaaStr Europa 2019: What We Learned

Will Doyle


I am an experienced RICS chartered Quantity Surveyor​ with first-hand experience of how the consistent capture and analysis of data can transform global project delivery.

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