The Alphabet of SaaS Start-Ups

Have you noticed? The start-up world has its own vocabulary. If you’re new at this, here’s a short lexicon, which I hope will be useful. Especially as some of it aren’t necessarily Silicon Valley buzzwords.

A: series A.

Yay! Someone believed in you! Time to stop working on a technology, and make a real product.

B: series B.

Don’t worry too much about this. We’ll talk about it when you’re there. Not to mention series C…

B (bis): Blockchain

Sounds like something you should invest it. Everyone does. Or think they should. But no one ever found an actual use/problem to solve with it. Except with the Bitcoin.

C: Churn.
understanding kpis.png
It’s basically telling you how fast you lose customers. Read about MRR.

D: Denial.

What you’ll face when people will tell you 3 years later that your idea wasn’t so good since you don’t make revenue. Can last a long time, depending on people.

E: Ego.

What you need so you can face all of the challenges of creating a start-up. And what will also bring it down. Use with caution.

F: Faith.

You’ll need some. Loads of it. You may find business partners, but your faith only can make them become believers. Be careful as more faith leads to more denial. Read about Denial.

F (bis): Fintech

One more buzzword that gets people, ready to give away their money to start-ups, all excited. Finance and Technology. That can only mean ROI! Read about ROI.

G: Growth.

Talking about money is gross (yes, I’m a dad). And saying how fast you’re increasing your revenue is much sexier than saying you earned an extra 100€ on top of your current 1.000€ MRR. You’re having a 10% month-to-month growth!

H: Hypergrowth/Hyperscaling

That’s assuming that you have a mastery of Growth, as defined above. Clearly, a buzzword that is now all over the place, in almost all tech companies’ job postings. You’re multiplying your headcount by 4, going from 5 to 20? You’re hyperscaling just as much as those going from 200 to 800. What matters is the story you tell, right?

I: Internet.

A pretty cool technology that was invented to connect people. Now is used to sell immaterial and useless things.

J: Jeopardy

You know that game where you need to guess the question from its given answer? Expect to play that kind of game rather often when customers request features.

K: KPIs.

Your investors will ask you about this. For some of them, you’ll never understand why they want to know. For others, you wish they didn’t ask. Read about Churn and MRR.

L: Lean

The art of doing more with less. Pragmatism. Finding the straightest line between two dots. Solving a single problem at a time, with the simplest solution possible. Which of course doesn’t mean that you should blindfold yourself and forget about what’s around you.

understanding kpis.png
Just make sure your Growth is higher than your Churn. Read about Churn.

N: No.

Something you should tell your customers more often. A start-up needs focus. Always saying yes leads to a lack of focus, and to your doom.

O: Organizational structure

Something that is too often neglected by start-ups. The whole trick is of course to find an appropriate, lean structure. But no structure at all is the beginning of the end.

P: Pricing model

You know you need one. Some chime at the back of your head tells you it should be defined by the value your customer gets out of your service. In reality, you’ll define it according to metrics that are purely bound to your tech, and which customers won’t relate to.

Q: Quest

Building and making a startup successful is a beautiful quest. But then without NPCs showing exclamation points over their head and telling you exactly what are the next steps.

R: Rich.

What you won’t be.

ROI: Return on Investment.

Read about Rich.

S: SaaS.

That’s what you do. Software as a Service. It’s a little confusing, to be honest. When I was a kid, people told me one could sell products (goods) or services. Here, I never know which word I should actually use. Except that I’m in Product Management, and that Service Management probably would be misleading.

S (bis): Scale

Word used in any context which can mean: grow, industrialize. It should probably not be used in any context actually. Especially as you can now see it far too often so that it’s losing all meaning.

T: Tech, also appears as #Tech.

A word that is used as soon as bytes are involved. A Twitter hashtag that I wish would disappear and be replaced with #solution. Even if that involves pigeons more than CPUs.

U: Unicorn

Everybody dreams about it. Some even have seen it. But honestly, shouldn’t we rename it “Holy Grail”? We could then all be Arthur.


Unique Selling Proposition.What you should be working on defining and strengthening in your product. Although nowadays, it’ll be copied quickly if it’s good. In the best case scenario, a bigger company will buy you in order to acquire that USP.

V: Virtual Reality.

One of those buzzwords. Except that, contrary to “Blockchain”, you can have lots of fun with it.

W: What? Who? Why?

What user problem are you trying to solve? For who? Why should you be the one to solve this problem? If you can’t have precise answers to each of those questions, don’t even get started with a design.

X: Cross-sell.

Wait, you’re a start-up! Don’t think about cross-selling before you’re actually selling your first product correctly!

Y: Why?

The full question is actually “Why am I here behind my screen, thinking that I’ll make the world a better place with bits and bytes, instead of growing crops or farming goats? Or just taking care of my family?”.

Z: Zero.

The amount of money customers are usually willing to pay for a technology that doesn’t solve any of their problems. Except when it’s the new iPhone.

Featured image by sacky75

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