Interview with Ferdi Roberts CEO & Founder of Saas Markets

As a marketing director for a saas company (WalkMe) myself, I’m always on the lookout for great services and marketing resources that can help new providers and startups get a head start and good return for their campaigns and efforts.

As you already know, the muck and mire of online advertising and brand recognition can often be more confusing than a subway map in a foreign country.

In the eye of the online marketing storm, you can find a glimmer of light going by Saas Markets. A glimmer of hope for Saas providers and startups that wish to have better engagements with their market and niche, create more revenue streams, educate their clients and create a strong differentiation from their competition.

Impressed with the unique services Saas Markets provide, I requested to conduct a short interview with CEO and company founder Ferdi Roberts to pick his mind and get some enlightening answers to pressing industry questions.

His answers are simply put – Fascinating

Interview with  Ferdi Roberts CEO & Founder of Saas Markets

Tell me a bit about SaaS Markets, what made you found this company?

When I was building my first business, I lacked the right technology tools to manage all aspects of it. I focused on growth, but struggled with managing cash flow, and nearly killed my business. I knew then that there had to be an easier way for SMB owners to find useful tools to help them manage operations, so they could focus on why they went into business in the first place.

The emergence of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications offered a better way – except it was difficult to find the app you needed, and make sure it would work as promised. I felt that just like smartphone users have their app stores, business owners should have a SaaS app store where they can find all the applications they need in one place.

So in 2010, I founded SaaS Markets, now a global SaaS app store provider, partnering with organizations, such as state and local chambers of commerce, to provide SMB owners access to browse through over 1,300 pre-qualified SaaS apps of an affordable price. But my vision for my company goes beyond providing online catalogs of SaaS apps; I want to transform these app stores into guides that help SMBs solve problems and success, by providing additional content where business owners can learn to use the apps available to them.

What developments are you forecasting for 2013 in the SaaS industry?

We expect 2013 to bring even greater growth to the SaaS app space. As smaller, specialized SaaS app providers bring new products to market, the number of options can easily overwhelm the average small to medium-sized business. The need for marketplaces that offer both quality-filtering and educational content will become more critical.

Also, there will be an increased need for enterprise app stores given IDC’s forecast that non-IT business managers are purchasing 80% of new technology directly for their teams.

From your experience, what are the biggest challenges facing the SaaS industry today?

For SaaS Application providers specifically, churn is a huge issue. With free trials on most apps and low monthly fees, many people can dabble is a new SaaS app (or a dozen SaaS apps) without really committing to use the app long-term. As a result, it can be very difficult for SaaS companies to predict their future revenues. For smaller SaaS companies, getting noticed among an increasing variety of SaaS options can be a challenge.

At the enterprise level, SaaS creates new challenges, like the enterprise losing control over their IT function! This is one of the reasons enterprise app stores are expected to be a major emerging trend in the SaaS space in the coming years.

What are the top challenges SaaS vendors need to overcome in order to sustain growth? Have these challenges changed over the past 5 years?

SaaS is rapidly becoming THE software for many small to medium-sized business functions. As SaaS moves to the mainstream, old problems like reliability give way to new challenges such as visibility (getting noticed in an increasingly crowded market) and churn (failure to truly engage end-users).

What makes a successful SaaS company?

It’s not enough for a SaaS company to have a great product to succeed, it also needs to be very proactive about engaging the market and have the expertise to really monetize its greatness. As CEO of SaaS Markets, I get to see lots of SaaS companies who clearly have very clever, very talented people building and maintaining their SaaS offering. What I see less often are the skills required to get that solution to market, allowing these companies to monetize the skills and efforts they have made. I’ve also come across many SaaS app providers who do not have any kind of affiliate program in place – very surprising.

One of the reasons I started SaaS Markets is because a marketplace is the perfect place for independent or niche vendors to gain visibility and sell their product. If you have a good product, you need to get it out in the market without fear of standing alongside competitors.

You cannot be an island. Customers want choice, and they will compare your product alongside other products whether you make it easy for them or not. The better you understand your business customers, their problems and the needs you are trying to solve for them, and the more ways you get that message out into the market, the better.

The entire industry will benefit when app vendors do a good job of communicating their value propositions and differentiators.

If you had only one tip to give new SaaS startups, what would it be?

Make sure your app does what it claims to do. Honesty is the best policy. Don’t try to hookwink, mislead, and misrepresent the customer. They will churn. Make it clear who you built this SaaS app for, and make it easy for them to find you.

Discover more about Saas Markets in their website: http://saasmarkets.com

Omri Erel
Omri is the Head of Demand Generation, as well as the Lead Author & Editor of the SaaSAddict Blog. Omri established the SaaSAddict blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to SaaS and cloud migration.
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