Zero to IPO: Lessons From The Unlikely Story of HubSpot

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on February 19, 2016 in saas,startups,strategy 8 Comments

HubSpot has had a pretty good run.  Went from zero to IPO.  What's not known is how unlikely the story of our success is.

II gave a talk at the 2016 SaaStr Conference hosted by Jason Lemkin.  The slides and full video from the talk are included below, with some quick notes on a few of the topics covered. 

Here's me presenting what turned out to be the most popular slide (more on this idea at the end of the article).


 Here is the full deck from Slideshare.

And, here's the full video of the talk.
Note: There are some pre-roll videos, and my segment starts at about the 3 minute mark.
If you have trouble vieweing the embedded video, try this:  Dharmesh Shah at 2016 SaaStr Conference
A quick note on the "Tools are bought, transformations are sold."  This is one of the more important lessons I've learned through my professional career.  When you are improving things by offering a tool (which may or not be something that exists -- perhaps yours is just better), it is possible to put up a website, have people try out the tool, and start paying you if they like it or want to upgrade. 
But, if you're doing something radically new and trying to transform how people do things, it's unlikely that this approach will work.  Even some brilliantly written blog posts or videos are probably not going to get people to think:  "You know, she's right, I'm just going to start doing things the right way, and here's a platform to do it -- where do I sign up?".  It will likely require some "selling".  You'll need people to explain what's wrong with the world, how your company solves it, address objections, answer questions, and generally help people get over the hump.  Even then it is hard.  But if you try to transform the world with nothing but a website and a credit card form, chances are low that you'll succeed. It happens -- just not that often.
Would love to hear any comments or feedback you have.