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SaaS Businesses,
Unfair Distribution
Advantages, and
the Legend of
David and Goliath
Based on Sujan Patel’s blogpost
Life’s unfair.
The Philistine crowd
jeered. David stood
unfettered, against the
8-foot-tall menace.
The Philistine crowd
jeered. David stood
unfettered, against the
8-foot-tall menace.
The giant smirked. The little
shepher...
But David knew
better.
But David knew
better.
He couldn't hear the crowd.
He had nothing to lose.
His mind
attempted to
grasp with
firm resolve,
...
He loaded his catapult as the giant
stood distracted, from a vantage point
that was poised for a deadly blow.
The giant couldn't see, he wouldn't.
Well, the rest is...
Ok, the story should draw your
attention to a few things.
Goliath was oblivious to the
threat David posed.
Goliath was oblivious to the
threat David posed.
His metric was SIZE and
that's all he chose.
But David had a few unfair advantages that Goliath
really didn't stand a chance against.
But David had a few unfair advantages that Goliath
really didn't stand a chance against.
● His catapult
● His fearlessness...
That's what an unfair advantage is really.
That's what an unfair advantage is really.
It's that nucleotide of success
embedded in your DNA, that the
competition, no ...
Now, with this premise, let’s get down to business.
Shall we?
Incumbents in the software
industry seem light years
ahead.
The Software scene seems like a heavily crowded
night club filled with A list celebrities.
The Software scene seems like a heavily crowded
night club filled with A list celebrities.
Intimidating.
But this deck is an ode to the countless
little guys who have hit it big, regardless.
But this deck is an ode to the countless
little guys who have hit it big, regardless.
And a little peek at how they
develo...
Here's what’s in store: We've taken a
close look at some of the
phenomenal, disruptive, fearless
SaaS businesses.
We followed their story from start to
finish, rummaging through facts and
anecdotes in search of patterns.
Here's what’s i...
And 10,000 Google searches later,
this is what we found.
And 10,000 Google searches later,
this is what we found.
Note: Any company’s success is
due to a complex interaction
betwe...
There are 5 ways in which these guys have created
Unfair distribution advantages.
There are 5 ways in which these guys have created
Unfair distribution advantages.
1. Intimate Design
There are 5 ways in which these guys have created
Unfair distribution advantages.
2. Ingenious
early adopter
marketing
1. ...
There are 5 ways in which these guys have created
Unfair distribution advantages.
3. Niche targeting
1. Intimate Design
2....
There are 5 ways in which these guys have created
Unfair distribution advantages.
3. Niche targeting4. Relentless
differen...
There are 5 ways in which these guys have created
Unfair distribution advantages.
3. Niche targeting4. Relentless
differen...
OK, I know you don't have all day. So here's how
we are going to do this.
OK, I know you don't have all day. So here's how
we are going to do this.
1. Explanation of the category itself and
what I...
OK, I know you don't have all day. So here's how
we are going to do this.
1. Explanation of the category itself and
what I...
OK, I know you don't have all day. So here's how
we are going to do this.
1. Explanation of the category itself and
what I...
OK, I know you don't have all day. So here's how
we are going to do this.
1. Explanation of the category itself and
what I...
Intimate Design
Design around the customer’s
innermost, unspoken desires and you
will create something truly irreplicable.
Intimate Design
Irreplaceable = Slack
Toppled Goliaths
Toppled Goliaths
It’s no secret.
Businesses love Slack.
It’s no secret.
Businesses love Slack.
Epiphany:
Users desperately needed a break
from work while they work.
Epiphany:
Unfair act:
Slack introduced social media
like fun and addictive interaction
within team communication.
Wish gra...
Matching Davids
Matching Davids
The simplest way to sign and
complete any document, digitally.
Matching Davids
The simplest way to sign and
complete any document, digitally.
Unfair act:
DocuSign designed around the ne...
For more stories and observations
on SaaS, head over to our blog ---->
www.chargebee.com/blog/
Ingenious early
adopter marketing
Ingenious early adopter marketing
A well-executed early adopter
marketing strategy is almost always
an unfair advantage ov...
Ingenious early adopter marketing
I know what you’re thinking.
Ingenious early adopter marketing
I know what you’re thinking.
Ingenious early adopter marketing
I know what you’re thinking.
The gold standard of referral programs
that SaaS companies ...
Toppled Goliaths
Toppled Goliaths
Unfair act:
1. Referral = Additional data space -> Simple idea
Unfair act:
1. Referral = Additional data space -> Simple idea
2. Seamless invitation and frictionless sign up ->
Perfect ...
Unfair act:
1. Referral = Additional data space -> Simple idea
2. Seamless invitation and frictionless sign up ->
Perfect ...
Matching Davids
Matching Davids
Tinder took a dating industry veiled
in privacy and turned it on itself
with its brilliant albeit cheeky e...
Epiphany:
People want to find other people they
have seen or know on dating sites.
Epiphany:
Unfair act:
I. Head to sororities - Get women to sign up.
Unfair act:
I. Head to sororities - Get women to sign up.
II. Head to corresponding fraternities. Display
local women that the men kne...
I. Head to sororities - Get women to sign up.
II. Head to corresponding fraternities. Display
local women that the men kne...
Niche targeting
Niche targeting
Be a visionary, look at trend lines and
crystal balls. Grab onto a growing,
profitable niche and slowly mo...
Targeting the right niche, right at the
beginning, is key.
Targeting the right niche, right at the
beginning, is key.
Classic example:
Toppled Goliaths
Toppled Goliaths
Toppled Goliaths
Unfair act:
Unfair act:
Online streaming, cheap subscription rates
and lots of content catered to a (then) small
group of Internet sav...
Matching Davids
Matching Davids
Epiphany:
Matching Davids
Epiphany:
A small group of not-very-tech-savvy business
people did not have the know-how to use
and manage...
Matching Davids
Unfair act:
Matching Davids
Unfair act:
Zapier catered to their needs by providing an
easy way to push data between dozens of
web apps...
Matching Davids
Unfair act:
Zapier catered to their needs by providing an
easy way to push data between dozens of
web apps...
Matching Davids
Unfair act:
Zapier catered to their needs by providing an
easy way to push data between dozens of
web apps...
Relentless
Differentiation
Relentless Differentiation
Stand out at all costs, be keenly aware
of your core identity and communicate
it with clarity a...
“A business needs to differentiate
itself” - Captain Obvious
“A business needs to differentiate
itself” - Captain Obvious
We don't mean just differentiate, we
mean differentiate relen...
“A business needs to differentiate
itself” - Captain Obvious
We don't mean just differentiate, we
mean differentiate relen...
“A business needs to differentiate
itself” - Captain Obvious
We don't mean just differentiate, we
mean differentiate relen...
Unfair act 1:
Unfair act 1:
The Logo: “No Software”
differentiated it from a near
obsolete and ill-suited
software industry.
Unfair act 2:
Unfair act 2:
The Pricing Model: Tiered pricing with
increasing costs for increasing functionality tiers
- competitors wer...
Unfair act 3:
Unfair act 3:
The Corporate Culture: Drove interaction
between customers, executives, administrators
and partners at event...
Matching Davids
Matching Davids
1. Reapplied the concepts that made
Linux great.
Unfair acts:
Matching Davids
1. Reapplied the concepts that made
Linux great.
2. Differentiated and disrupted by
satisfying the need fo...
Challenging
stereotypes
Challenging stereotypes
All the SaaS giants challenged and
questioned industry wide assumptions.
You should too.
Challenging stereotypes
Dating services are supposed to be
shrouded in privacy, Tinder asked
“Why so?”
Challenging stereotypes
People always want to store their
chat content permanently, Snapchat
asked “Why so?”
Challenging stereotypes
Workplace communication tools
must look and feel professional,
Slack asked “Why so?”
Challenging stereotypes
It is impossible for a group to work on
code at the same time without crippling
each other. GitHub...
A shepherd boy has no
chance against a
8-foot-tall Philistine
warrior. David asked
“Why so?”
So beyond all the parameters
we've mentioned here, David’s
victory seems to be a product of
his character rather than
his ...
Maybe it's not so unfair after all.
Maybe it's a question of quirky
thinking, fearlessness, and
sustained, untiring effort.
Maybe it's not so unfair after all.
Maybe it's a question of quirky
thinking, fearlessness, and
sustained, untiring effort.
Farewell, until we meet again...
M...
What unfair advantages do you feel a
startup can use to stand out in a crowded
marketplace?
Tell us about it:
Tweet @preet...
What unfair advantages do you feel a
startup can use to stand out in a crowded
marketplace?
Tell us about it:
Tweet @preet...
For more stories and observations
on SaaS, head over to our blog ---->
www.chargebee.com/blog/
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SaaS Businesses, Unfair Distribution Advantages and the Legend of David and Goliath

Can anything be 'unfair' in the world of distribution? We figure not. Learn from the Davids of SaaS industry who've created a reality of their own with distribution hacking.
Based on Sujan Patel's blogpost: https://www.chargebee.com/blog/saas-unfair-advantages-sujan-patel/

SaaS Businesses, Unfair Distribution Advantages and the Legend of David and Goliath

  1. 1. SaaS Businesses, Unfair Distribution Advantages, and the Legend of David and Goliath Based on Sujan Patel’s blogpost
  2. 2. Life’s unfair.
  3. 3. The Philistine crowd jeered. David stood unfettered, against the 8-foot-tall menace.
  4. 4. The Philistine crowd jeered. David stood unfettered, against the 8-foot-tall menace. The giant smirked. The little shepherd boy didn't stand a chance.
  5. 5. But David knew better.
  6. 6. But David knew better. He couldn't hear the crowd. He had nothing to lose. His mind attempted to grasp with firm resolve, the task that lay before him.
  7. 7. He loaded his catapult as the giant stood distracted, from a vantage point that was poised for a deadly blow.
  8. 8. The giant couldn't see, he wouldn't.
  9. 9. Well, the rest is...
  10. 10. Ok, the story should draw your attention to a few things.
  11. 11. Goliath was oblivious to the threat David posed.
  12. 12. Goliath was oblivious to the threat David posed. His metric was SIZE and that's all he chose.
  13. 13. But David had a few unfair advantages that Goliath really didn't stand a chance against.
  14. 14. But David had a few unfair advantages that Goliath really didn't stand a chance against. ● His catapult ● His fearlessness ● His focus ● His vantage point
  15. 15. That's what an unfair advantage is really.
  16. 16. That's what an unfair advantage is really. It's that nucleotide of success embedded in your DNA, that the competition, no matter how massive they are, cannot recognize, let alone, hope to replicate.
  17. 17. Now, with this premise, let’s get down to business. Shall we?
  18. 18. Incumbents in the software industry seem light years ahead.
  19. 19. The Software scene seems like a heavily crowded night club filled with A list celebrities.
  20. 20. The Software scene seems like a heavily crowded night club filled with A list celebrities. Intimidating.
  21. 21. But this deck is an ode to the countless little guys who have hit it big, regardless.
  22. 22. But this deck is an ode to the countless little guys who have hit it big, regardless. And a little peek at how they developed unfair distribution advantages.
  23. 23. Here's what’s in store: We've taken a close look at some of the phenomenal, disruptive, fearless SaaS businesses.
  24. 24. We followed their story from start to finish, rummaging through facts and anecdotes in search of patterns. Here's what’s in store. We've taken a close look at some of the phenomenal, disruptive, fearless SaaS businesses.
  25. 25. And 10,000 Google searches later, this is what we found.
  26. 26. And 10,000 Google searches later, this is what we found. Note: Any company’s success is due to a complex interaction between a number of variables. We’ve hoped to organize this information into an easily understandable and possibly useful format.
  27. 27. There are 5 ways in which these guys have created Unfair distribution advantages.
  28. 28. There are 5 ways in which these guys have created Unfair distribution advantages. 1. Intimate Design
  29. 29. There are 5 ways in which these guys have created Unfair distribution advantages. 2. Ingenious early adopter marketing 1. Intimate Design
  30. 30. There are 5 ways in which these guys have created Unfair distribution advantages. 3. Niche targeting 1. Intimate Design 2. Ingenious early adopter marketing
  31. 31. There are 5 ways in which these guys have created Unfair distribution advantages. 3. Niche targeting4. Relentless differentiation 1. Intimate Design 2. Ingenious early adopter marketing
  32. 32. There are 5 ways in which these guys have created Unfair distribution advantages. 3. Niche targeting4. Relentless differentiation 5. Challenging stereotypes 1. Intimate Design 2. Ingenious early adopter marketing
  33. 33. OK, I know you don't have all day. So here's how we are going to do this.
  34. 34. OK, I know you don't have all day. So here's how we are going to do this. 1. Explanation of the category itself and what I mean by it.
  35. 35. OK, I know you don't have all day. So here's how we are going to do this. 1. Explanation of the category itself and what I mean by it. 2. Illustration of the category with a real life SaaS success story.
  36. 36. OK, I know you don't have all day. So here's how we are going to do this. 1. Explanation of the category itself and what I mean by it. 2. Illustration of the category with a real life SaaS success story. 3. The Unfair act: Definition of a key decision the company took, that gave them an unfair advantage over incumbents.
  37. 37. OK, I know you don't have all day. So here's how we are going to do this. 1. Explanation of the category itself and what I mean by it. 2. Illustration of the category with a real life SaaS success story. 3. The Unfair act: Definition of a key decision the company took, that gave them an unfair advantage over incumbents. 4. Matching Davids: Other companies that fit into this theory, just to make things extra clear.
  38. 38. Intimate Design
  39. 39. Design around the customer’s innermost, unspoken desires and you will create something truly irreplicable. Intimate Design
  40. 40. Irreplaceable = Slack
  41. 41. Toppled Goliaths
  42. 42. Toppled Goliaths
  43. 43. It’s no secret. Businesses love Slack.
  44. 44. It’s no secret. Businesses love Slack.
  45. 45. Epiphany: Users desperately needed a break from work while they work.
  46. 46. Epiphany: Unfair act: Slack introduced social media like fun and addictive interaction within team communication. Wish granted. Users desperately needed a break from work while they work.
  47. 47. Matching Davids
  48. 48. Matching Davids The simplest way to sign and complete any document, digitally.
  49. 49. Matching Davids The simplest way to sign and complete any document, digitally. Unfair act: DocuSign designed around the need for simplicity inherent in signing contracts. It begged the question “why am I not using this?”
  50. 50. For more stories and observations on SaaS, head over to our blog ----> www.chargebee.com/blog/
  51. 51. Ingenious early adopter marketing
  52. 52. Ingenious early adopter marketing A well-executed early adopter marketing strategy is almost always an unfair advantage over the competition.
  53. 53. Ingenious early adopter marketing I know what you’re thinking.
  54. 54. Ingenious early adopter marketing I know what you’re thinking.
  55. 55. Ingenious early adopter marketing I know what you’re thinking. The gold standard of referral programs that SaaS companies still aim to replicate.
  56. 56. Toppled Goliaths
  57. 57. Toppled Goliaths
  58. 58. Unfair act: 1. Referral = Additional data space -> Simple idea
  59. 59. Unfair act: 1. Referral = Additional data space -> Simple idea 2. Seamless invitation and frictionless sign up -> Perfect execution
  60. 60. Unfair act: 1. Referral = Additional data space -> Simple idea 2. Seamless invitation and frictionless sign up -> Perfect execution 40x users 6Months
  61. 61. Matching Davids
  62. 62. Matching Davids Tinder took a dating industry veiled in privacy and turned it on itself with its brilliant albeit cheeky early adopter marketing.
  63. 63. Epiphany:
  64. 64. People want to find other people they have seen or know on dating sites. Epiphany:
  65. 65. Unfair act:
  66. 66. I. Head to sororities - Get women to sign up. Unfair act:
  67. 67. I. Head to sororities - Get women to sign up. II. Head to corresponding fraternities. Display local women that the men knew. Unfair act:
  68. 68. I. Head to sororities - Get women to sign up. II. Head to corresponding fraternities. Display local women that the men knew. III. An avalanche of word of mouth, the dating industry will never be the same again. Unfair act:
  69. 69. Niche targeting
  70. 70. Niche targeting Be a visionary, look at trend lines and crystal balls. Grab onto a growing, profitable niche and slowly move up-market with value added services.
  71. 71. Targeting the right niche, right at the beginning, is key.
  72. 72. Targeting the right niche, right at the beginning, is key. Classic example:
  73. 73. Toppled Goliaths
  74. 74. Toppled Goliaths
  75. 75. Toppled Goliaths
  76. 76. Unfair act:
  77. 77. Unfair act: Online streaming, cheap subscription rates and lots of content catered to a (then) small group of Internet savvy customers. The niche grew, so did Netflix.
  78. 78. Matching Davids
  79. 79. Matching Davids Epiphany:
  80. 80. Matching Davids Epiphany: A small group of not-very-tech-savvy business people did not have the know-how to use and manage API integrations.
  81. 81. Matching Davids Unfair act:
  82. 82. Matching Davids Unfair act: Zapier catered to their needs by providing an easy way to push data between dozens of web apps without coding knowledge.
  83. 83. Matching Davids Unfair act: Zapier catered to their needs by providing an easy way to push data between dozens of web apps without coding knowledge. Result:
  84. 84. Matching Davids Unfair act: Zapier catered to their needs by providing an easy way to push data between dozens of web apps without coding knowledge. Result: Today, Founders of tech businesses don't really need to know how to code.
  85. 85. Relentless Differentiation
  86. 86. Relentless Differentiation Stand out at all costs, be keenly aware of your core identity and communicate it with clarity and unyielding frequency.
  87. 87. “A business needs to differentiate itself” - Captain Obvious
  88. 88. “A business needs to differentiate itself” - Captain Obvious We don't mean just differentiate, we mean differentiate relentlessly.
  89. 89. “A business needs to differentiate itself” - Captain Obvious We don't mean just differentiate, we mean differentiate relentlessly. Take Salesforce.
  90. 90. “A business needs to differentiate itself” - Captain Obvious We don't mean just differentiate, we mean differentiate relentlessly. Take Salesforce. They didn't just differentiate, They used EVERY POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITY to stand out in the CRM space. This was unprecedented at that time.
  91. 91. Unfair act 1:
  92. 92. Unfair act 1: The Logo: “No Software” differentiated it from a near obsolete and ill-suited software industry.
  93. 93. Unfair act 2:
  94. 94. Unfair act 2: The Pricing Model: Tiered pricing with increasing costs for increasing functionality tiers - competitors weren’t doing it.
  95. 95. Unfair act 3:
  96. 96. Unfair act 3: The Corporate Culture: Drove interaction between customers, executives, administrators and partners at events like Dreamforce and changed the scope of the net promoter score in the industry.
  97. 97. Matching Davids
  98. 98. Matching Davids 1. Reapplied the concepts that made Linux great. Unfair acts:
  99. 99. Matching Davids 1. Reapplied the concepts that made Linux great. 2. Differentiated and disrupted by satisfying the need for collaboration. Unfair acts:
  100. 100. Challenging stereotypes
  101. 101. Challenging stereotypes All the SaaS giants challenged and questioned industry wide assumptions. You should too.
  102. 102. Challenging stereotypes Dating services are supposed to be shrouded in privacy, Tinder asked “Why so?”
  103. 103. Challenging stereotypes People always want to store their chat content permanently, Snapchat asked “Why so?”
  104. 104. Challenging stereotypes Workplace communication tools must look and feel professional, Slack asked “Why so?”
  105. 105. Challenging stereotypes It is impossible for a group to work on code at the same time without crippling each other. GitHub asked “Why so?”
  106. 106. A shepherd boy has no chance against a 8-foot-tall Philistine warrior. David asked “Why so?”
  107. 107. So beyond all the parameters we've mentioned here, David’s victory seems to be a product of his character rather than his catapult.
  108. 108. Maybe it's not so unfair after all.
  109. 109. Maybe it's a question of quirky thinking, fearlessness, and sustained, untiring effort. Maybe it's not so unfair after all.
  110. 110. Maybe it's a question of quirky thinking, fearlessness, and sustained, untiring effort. Farewell, until we meet again... Maybe it's not so unfair after all.
  111. 111. What unfair advantages do you feel a startup can use to stand out in a crowded marketplace? Tell us about it: Tweet @preethishreeya|@chargebee
  112. 112. What unfair advantages do you feel a startup can use to stand out in a crowded marketplace? Tell us about it: Tweet @preethishreeya|@chargebee Or spread the <3 by sharing it!
  113. 113. For more stories and observations on SaaS, head over to our blog ----> www.chargebee.com/blog/

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