Let me start by introducing myself properly: I’m Renat Zubairov, CEO and Co-Founder of a Germany-based company elastic.io, part-time techie, part-time sales, full-time father of three. And I will be hosting a topic at the SaaStr Annual Braindates 2020.
While working at our previous companies, Igor, Rico (the other elastic.io co-founders) and I realized how much of a challenge the traditional software business model posed for enterprises. Licenses per seat and software updates on a hard disk once a year at best simply did not sit well with the changing IT requirements, when companies increasingly bet on modern, cloud-based applications. This was especially true for legacy solutions that were supposed to ease the data transfer across the entire organization but made it more difficult to use this data with SaaS systems. That is when our idea of building the elastic.io platform, a natively cloud-based integration platform as a service – iPaaS for short –, was born.
We were not the first ones, but we were certainly among the earliest providers, and to be honest, we also got lucky. In the coming years, the integration platform as a service market exploded, and it continues growing at a high speed. In 2016, we made $500K revenue; the year after that it was about $1.2 million, and last year, we made $2.5 million, meaning that we have been consistently growing our company by 100% plus year to year for the last 3-4 years in a row.
Of course, we cannot and should not attribute this company growth to the parallelly happening market growth alone. A lot of effort was invested into spreading the word and acquiring customers through events and by word of mouth. Another significant factor that still plays a crucial role in customer acquisition and hence, our continuous growth, is content marketing. We’ve come a long way from writing about things that we ourselves found interesting to actually focusing on topics that would interest our potential users. It’s still a work in progress, but we managed to turn content marketing to our main lead generation machine.
Another critical factor is the perceived value of the product. Being software developers ourselves, we were very much pro-freemium and selling a product for a small monthly price to a large number of people. Eventually, however, we realized that people won’t take you seriously – at least not, when you are targeting companies rather than individuals – if you have a price tag of nearly zero. Especially considering that the level of support and hand-holding is largely the same for any type of customer. We have been experimenting a lot with our pricing from the very beginning – it’s still an ongoing process –, and we were able to find a clear pattern between it and the efficiency of our business operations.
Join me at the SaaStr Annual Braindates where I will share more on the filtering power of pricing as well as on various pricing strategies we’ve tried and tested, on how other common customer acquisition tactics played out for us, and what we should have done at the early stage instead of focusing 100% of our time and effort on building our product.