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Microsoft Product Leader to SaaS Founder

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Anand Subbaraj

Founder's Spotlight

Imagine being a senior product leader at Microsoft for one of the leading "cloud products" in the industry, Azure Data Factory, and deciding to leave the stability, security, and prestige behind to launch your own B2B SaaS company. This is exactly the decision and journey that Anand Subbaraj began five years ago.Anand spent 13 years at Microsoft but was fortunate to be involved with five different product launches (V1) over 13 years, with a primary focus on understanding the market and customer requirements. By being part of the founding team at Azure Data Factory, Anand learned what it took to take on established industry leaders, with a product that had not previously been introduced to the market.Anand's experience with new product introductions at Microsoft, Anand had a personal experience in servicing his refrigerator at home, which served as the catalyst that customer service was ripe for transformation. After having three different service technicians have to make six visits to fix the issue, Anand was sure there had to be a better way to leverage automation to transform field service.As a result, Zuper was launched. What learnings has Anand had starting, growing, and leading his own company? First, Anand gained an understanding that Marketing is about investing to build a brand and market awareness, and is more science than art.Anand also learned a lot about cold calling, and what is required to make the first sales in a newly formed B2B SaaS company. By taking the lead on all initial outreach for Zuper, Anand was able to directly hear from the market on what they wanted and/or needed to consider transforming how they were managing the field service process. Anand also learned that without the "Microsoft" brand, that persistence in cold calling was critical to gaining early traction.Anand executive the "founder-led sales" model from $0 to $1M ARR. By taking this responsibility himself, not only did he have direct access to product requirement input from the market, but he could also hand over a "sales process" that worked to acquire the first $1M ARR. Anand leaned on "Marketing" first to create awareness and demand before hiring his first professional Sale resource.Identifying a gap in the marketplace is a key ingredient to the idea to launch a new company. At Zuper, Anand identified that many companies were viewing field service management automation as an extension of CRM. Second, consumers now expect a seamless experience like Uber, while companies require the ability to configure their processes within an automation platform, not to force their process to adapt to take advantage of the B2B SaaS platform.Understanding and being able to measure the business value delivered to the customer is critical for early-stage B2B SaaS companies. First, the ability to improve efficiency in the business process being automated, second is improving the productivity of the field service workforce, such as spending less time on driving to the next appointment and more time on fixing the customer's issue. In the Zuper example, measuring the "first-time fix rate" of new service tickets is a key benefit, and the Zuper customers see a 30% increase in the first-time fix rate by having the right technician, the right parts, and the right tools.When asked what "SaaS metrics" Anand uses, here is what he shared:Top Lagging Indicators Used:ARR and ARR GrowthCustomer ChurnBurn RateCash runwayTop Leading Indicators Used:Product UsageCustomer Acquisition CostCustomer Lifetime ValueCAC Payback Period (new)If you are a product leader or in a large stable company today, but considering launching your own B2B Saas company, this conversation with Anand Subbaraj is a great listen!

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