Lisa Enckell, Partner of Antler
Welcome to Antler’s circles series, where we bring industry leaders, founders, and experts working in the same sector together to problem solve, share emerging trends and technologies. Through this series, Antler will provide unparalleled access to closed room discussions around the challenges and opportunities experienced by those innovating at the forefront of the industry.
As venture capital investors, it is our job to constantly be in contact with founders: innovative people, who are experimenting with new business models, working on bleeding edge technologies, and attempting to solve the world’s most difficult problems.
This is particularly true in SaaS, where companies are being built that have the potential to transform industries and revolutionise working practices. That’s why we recently brought together a group of SaaS founders from our global portfolio, and discussed the following insights.
Large companies are adapting new tools at a much quicker pace than before, driven by the pandemic and remote work. What used to take two years, is now taking less than two months. Large organizations - the majority of whose employees are now millenials - are finally trusting the cloud for its most sensitive datasets, opening up new opportunities for SaaS companies.
AI has been a talking point for some time, but it’s application to our day-to-day is now becoming less abstract and more ‘real’ and tangible. One area is in customer support where AI plays an important role in humanizing automated conversations in chat bots and other channels. Another area is within CRM and other sales tools where the use of AI allows teams to work much more efficiently. The development of GPT3, created by OpenAI, provides human-like text and will have a big impact in many areas where companies interact with customers.
Software is becoming increasingly consumerized. Startups are building for, and selling directly to, the end-user instead of building products for large IT- and procurement departments. With the volume, velocity and variety of data continually growing, it’s now easier than ever to personalize products to serve customer needs.
Large corporations are increasingly making their APIs available to startups, fostering a more collaborative and inclusive environment where the startups have easier access and the corporations more exposure to innovation.
The increasing digitisation of our daily lives is opening up new opportunities and markets that were previously regarded as too niche for many venture capitalists. Vertical SaaS companies with products focusing on a particular industry have seen a big growth during 2020 and it will continue this year.
The popularity of no-code and low-code tools continues to increase, allowing any employee or creator to build workflows, automate processes or create apps without writing a line of code. For founders of SaaS companies, it makes it easier to get started and to test ideas much faster than before.
Unlike startups in other sectors, many SaaS companies have revenue at a very early stage. The predicted revenue model of SaaS has created an emerging trend of alternative financing models. Pipe, or Antler portfolio companies ARRSquared and Supafin are some examples. SaaS startups have more options today beyond fundraising from traditional venture capitalists.
This article is based on the Antler circles industry discussions led by the founders of Antler’s portfolio companies, external industry leaders and investors.
If you’ve been inspired to build a company that addresses one of the challenges or opportunities listed above, apply to join Antler. Antler enables and invests in exceptional people building the defining companies of tomorrow. Learn more here.