Learn from our community

The SaaS Startup Founder’s Guide Volume 2

Hands-on advice from SaaS leaders

2-6-2017 | Melanie Picard

“This guide is homage to you: the entrepreneur — the fearless innovator who runs toward the challenge with an open heart and takes all the risks. We built Salesforce with that same drive and spirit, and nothing delights me more than celebrating the community that makes our company so amazing.”

Leyla Seka, EVP, AppExchange, Salesforce


Last year we published Volume 1 of The SaaS Startup Founder’s Guide to help you understand the basics around selling to the enterprise customer. If you missed it, download it here.

In Volume 2 of The SaaS Startup Founder’s Guide, we’ve gone deeper to provide you with more advice and best practices from SaaS startup founders and industry experts like Tien Tzuo, Founder & CEO of Zuora, Mark Organ, Founder & CEO of Influitive and social selling evangelist Jill Rowley.

In Volume 2, you’ll get:

  • Frameworks to assess and solve business challenges unique to this industry
  • A perspective for better understanding of your customer
  • Key sales and marketing strategies to help you grow


“The customer experience is now what defines a company. [...]I can confidently say that without listening to customers and identifying their problems, you cannot compete in any market.”

Mark Organ, Founder & CEO, Influitive


Download this free guide today and be sure to join our program for more thought leadership content. 







Olá Start-ups!

We're going bigger in Brazil

11-6-2016 | Julia Barrett

When I moved to California, I decided I would learn to surf. This was 2005 and – thanks to the internet – travel had become a little easier, so I found a surf camp in Bahia, Brazil and set off for two weeks. Which morphed into six weeks. Being a little older than the backpacker crowd, I had many interesting conversations with the local entrepreneurs supporting the industry, talking email marketing strategy with the surf camp and partnerships with a surfboard shaper.

Fast forward 10 years and Brazilian entrepreneurship is thriving – while Brazil’s overall GDP fell 4% in 2015, the tech industry grew 20% YOY, from 2014 to 2015.

According to ABStartups, which was founded to promote and represent Brazilian startups, there were over 4,000 early-stage startups in Brazil at the end of 2015, after more than an 18% surge within a six-month period. Interestingly, FinTech and B2B services lead that growth. 

With 250% growth in the number of transactions, the tech sector across Latin America has actually grown measurably the past five years in terms of VC investment. Brazil leads the way in investment dollars across Latin America, accounting for close to 60%.

VC Investment Latin America Brazil
Salesforce for Startups launched in late 2014, attracting a small number of Brazilian startups its first week, with steady growth month over month. Since the start of 2016, I’ve watched our Brazilian membership more than double. Complementary to ABStartups’ findings, a large percentage of our members categorize themselves as SaaS companies.
Salesforce for Startups Brazil
Combine resources like MasterTech, an organization we showcased in the Startup Valley at Dreamforce this year, with organizations like ABStartups, which encourages entrepreneurs to take their prototype to market, and there are increasing opportunities for Brazilian entrepreneurs to launch new companies. 

In addition to training new developers, MasterTech enables entrepreneurs to move from ideation to prototype in less than eight weeks.
MasterTech at Dreamforce
Felipe Barreriros, CEO & Talita Novacoski, Experience Designer of MasterTech 
in the Startup Valley at Dreamforce

Felipe Barreiros, CEO at MasterTech, shared with us that, now that they’re experiencing 50% growth each quarter, they’re planning an expansion to NYC to increase their global presence and further enable entrepreneurs in Brazil. Listen to the full interview here, where Felipe shares notes on the growth of MasterTech, their experience working out of CUBO in São Paulo and plans for the future.
We also had the pleasure to showcase allpago in the Startup Valley at Dreamforce. allpago provides a platform to enable companies to process payments in Latin America, with offices in Bogota, Mexico City, São Paulo and, most recently, Buenos Aires. allpago first launched to facilitate payments in Brazil to European merchants and to help Groupon to expand, but Philipp Bock, CEO & Founder, shared with us that he has seen an increase in customers from across the globe interested in expansion into Latin America.
“People come to me and say, “We’re not selling, we’re not monetizing, how come?” And then we explain, and show them our payment methods, that just by plugging into our platform … people can pay.”

Brazil leads the way in smartphone usage across Latin America, with nearly 50M users, so unified payment processing only increases the opportunities for Brazilian entrepreneurs to innovate not only within Brazil, but across Latin America.

Learn more about allpago and FinTech from Philipp in our full podcast interview.
Allpago at Dreamforce
Philipp Bock, CEO & Founder of allpago
in the Startup Valley at Dreamforce

Our goal, as a program, is to help startups understand the breadth of products Salesforce offers, and to get started with those products. Meet a few more startups using Salesforce to innovate in Brazil, or, share your own story with us.

We are proud to increase our presence in Brazil in partnership with ABStartups and look forward to meeting more startups in the new year. Don’t miss us at CASE!
Salesforce ABStartups Case 2016

Salesforce for Startups: Year Two

We built, we grew. Now, let's do more.

10-27-2016 | Julia Barrett

We launched Salesforce for Startups in October 2014 at Dreamforce '14. We just finished up Dreamforce ’16, which marks our two-year anniversary.

I felt really good about our first year as we were incredibly scrappy, focused on building a platform to enable us to execute on our vision of a self-service program to help startups build, grow and give back with Salesforce. Here’s a look at that first year.

We dove into our second year focused on growth. I really wanted to see us optimize and leverage the platform we had built to expand globally. Innovation happens everywhere...so, we should be everywhere, helping startups.

Don't feel like reading? Check out this fun infographic.

What We Did

At first glance, it appears we nailed it.
Salesforce for Startups 2016

What We Learned

It would be ridiculous not to be proud of these achievements. But, while every market, every definition of "startup," and stage of entrepreneurship varies, what we learned is consistent across the board.
  1. We need to do more to help any startup get started with our flagship product, Sales Cloud
  2. We need to do more to help any startup leverage our network to promote their companies and grow
  3. We need to do more to help SaaS startups qualify and onboard to the AppExchange Marketplace
We need to do more to help you move fast.

Let's Do More

We represent Salesforce within the startup ecosystem and startups within Salesforce. This can be a tricky thing, converting external apprehension to excitement and internal excitement to action.

Having spoken to hundreds of founders and account managers, this year our growth is going to be a little different. We’ll focus as much on our internal partners as our external partners, digging deep on:


  • VIDEO: We've started to film workshops we host and hope to produce a series of shorts to answer some product FAQ. You can keep up with our video content on our YouTube channel.
  • TUTORIALS: We plan to work with our Trailhead team to construct a Startup Trail to help you set-up your Sales Cloud org.
  • SALES: We'll work even more closely with our sales teams to ensure they are aware of the same resources to help you get started.
  • INTEGRATION: We'll partner more closely with a few of our corporate programs and sales engineers to leverage the materials they already create for customers.
  • SYSTEM INTEGRATORS: We're in the process of compiling a directory of startup-friendly system integrators to help you build with App Cloud or integrate Sales Cloud more quickly. This directory will replace the Salesforce admin directory currently available in your dashboard.
  • APPEXCHANGE MARKETPLACE: We'll work closely with the Salesforce Partner Program to continue to improve its program to become a startup-friendly environment.

Thought Leadership

There is an enormous amount of knowledge across the Salesforce ecosystem. We'll be writing a lot more, speaking a lot more, working with more strategic partners and filming some of the talks the Salesforce Incubator team will host in its space. We're exploring partnering with our internal podcast team to record talks with experts in our ecosystem, including startups.

Startup Stories

We are going bananas with startup stories. Two goals here:
  1. Provide you with insight from other startups that have tackled some of the same challenges you face.
  2. Enable you to share your story with the world.

Cheers to Year Three

It's a lot, but it should be an exciting year across the board. In another month or so, we'll post a survey to collect additional feedback to help guide the content we produce. We're on a mission.

Insights from the Startup Valley

Hear from members of Salesforce for Startups on how they build, grow and give back

10-7-2016 | Melanie Picard

This week at Dreamforce, we celebrated startups from around the world in the Startup Valley. More than 35 inspiring entrepreneurs, with startups ranging from 3D-printed fine jewelry to apps to streamline your sales process, showcased their products and share ideas with attendees of all types.

Overview Startup Valley

As part of the Startup Valley, we setup a little podcast studio in an Airstream. To share the fun with everyone, we interviewed many of the startups who joined us.

Natalie Malloy

On Friday, we featured the first batch of the Salesforce Incubator. Jason Lemkin, founder of SaaStr, Jason Green, founding partner at Emergence Capital, and Mark Goldstein, founder of Bad Ass Advisors, joined us to interview each of them.

Jason Lemkin

Listen to Startup Valley at Dreamforce to learn about the wins and challenges of these entrepreneurs. 

Startup Valley Podcast

The Startup Valley at Dreamforce '16

Where to go to be inspired by startups

9-29-2016 | Julia Barrett

Dreamforce is our annual, 4-day event hosted in our hometown of San Francisco. The world's largest software conference, we welcome thousands of customers from all over the world who join us to learn and get inspired.

Last year, Salesforce for Startups hosted Startup Summit, for startups. This year, we're doing things a little differently. 

We'd like to provide startups with big exposure and our general attendees with inspiration, so we've crafted a Startup Trail – open to anyone – to enable attendees get inspired by the next generation of innovators.


  • Dreampitch: Startup pitch competition featuring legendary investors Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca + will.i.am
  • Innovation Sessions:  Panel sessions showcasing startups, moderated by journalists, on an open stage

    The Startup Valley is at the heart of the Startup Trail. Here we will showcase 35+ innovative startups from around the globe using Salesforce to build, grow and give back – swing by to check out what they do, and how Salesforce enables them to do it. A great way to start and end each day at Dreamforce!

    User-added image
    • Culture Amp (Australia): Powerfully simple platform for employee feedback and analytics.
    • FunnelCake (Canada): Analytics for revenue-obsessed marketers.
    • Loopio (Canada): Automate your responses to RFPs, RFIs and security questionnaires.
    • MasterTech (Brazil): Accelerate your innovation process and deliver an MVP in just eight weeks.
    • MindMeld (USA): Platform to enable you to create intelligent conversational interfaces for any app or device.
    • Perkbox (UK): Employee and customer engagement made easy with a cloud-based platform.
    • Splash (USA): All-in-one event marketing platform built for achieving goals and tracking impact.
    • YesGraph (USA): Toolkit to enable you to seamlessly invite more new users.
    • Your Mechanic (USA): Mobile car repair delivered at your home or office. 
    User-added image
    • allpago (Germany & Brazil): Leading payment provider for the LATAM region.
    • Augment (France): Augmented-reality enterprise platform to bring your products to life.
    • DUFL (USA): A personal valet that simplifies business travel by shipping, cleaning and storing your business attire.
    • Figo Pet Insurance (USA): All of your pet data, all in one place.
    • Naytev (USA): A/B test your social media content.
    • + All (3) Dreampitch Finalists


    User-added image
    • Auctio (USA & Colombia): An app to allow B2B companies to generate more revenue from referrals.
    • ClearScholar (USA): Student engagement platform with a vibrant, mobile, personalized experience.
    • COPIA (USA): Tech-enabled food recovery service to help your company to share excess food with nonprofits in the community.
    • Due (USA): Online invoicing platform and payments wallet.
    • Glassbreakers (USA): Enterprise software solutions for diversity and inclusion.
    • Iconery (USA): 3D-printed fine jewelry.
    • Mobillion Labs (India): Gamified sales enablement platform to drive sales capabilities.
    • Sensely (USA): Virtual nurse to help you navigate any healthcare issue.
    • SOMA (USA): Beautiful, sustainable water filtration products to hydrate the world.
    • Wizdee (Portugal): Business intelligence platform to allow you to query data using everyday language in a search box.
    On Friday, we will feature each of the startups accepted into the first batch of the newly launched Salesforce Incubator, which is focused on companies building SaaS solutions on the App Cloud. Names will be announced Tuesday, 27 September, so stay tuned!

      Tuesday, 4 October – Friday, 7 October
      Moscone West, 1st Floor

      If you're in the Bay Area, and don't have a pass, you can register for a free pass to attend Thursday, 6 October & Friday, 7 October.

      Salesforce Accelerates Ecosystem Innovation with Launch of New Incubator

      Welcome to the family, Batch #1

      9-28-2016 | Julia Barrett

      I count myself lucky to work for a company that Forbes has considered one of the most innovative for six years running and even called the “innovator of the decade.” In fact, innovation is one of our core values here at Salesforce; part of what enables the company to move as quickly as it does, is our unique culture.

      That’s why today I’m very proud to announce the first batch of startups to join the Salesforce Incubator at 650 7th Street in San Francisco.

      User-added image

      For the next five months, these 14 companies will be immersed in Salesforce community and culture. As part of the incubator’s programming, we will encourage peer-to-peer collaboration and provide access to the Salesforce ecosystem, including ISV and Consulting Partners in the Salesforce Partner Community. In addition, we hope our values of trust, equality and giving back will inspire them to create their own cultures that are not just about doing well, but also doing good for the world around us. We want to show these innovative new companies a path to the future, and empower them to be their best through a unique focus on customers and community.

      Our first batch of startups pays homage to our roots as a SaaS pioneer and will focus on SaaS companies built on the Salesforce Platform. Company stages range from prototype (like the new product being developed by Kapuhonu from Hawaii) to early-stage system integrators (like Keste from Texas). 

      Meet the first batch of startups joining the Salesforce Incubator!
      User-added image

      Bud Mobile: Contextual, real-time messaging to enable collaboration from within Salesforce products.
      CodeScience: System integrator focused on enabling ISVs, expanding to artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing.
      Ideator: Platform for entrepreneurs to turn their idea into a business.
      Kapuhonu: Developing an integration framework to help Salesforce developers quickly connect external data to the Salesforce Platform.
      Keste: System integrator focused on helping companies implement Salesforce Lightning and Communities to connect with their customers in new ways.
      Leankor: Visual project management software that connects to Salesforce CPQ.
      Metadata: An intelligent demand-gen solution that translates marketing automation data into laser-focused targeted advertising.
      Nova: Intelligent messaging and predictive task management for sales.
      Sambuca: Zero-code event tracking for marketers and product managers.
      Propel: Product lifecycle management (PLM) solution built 100% on the Salesforce platform to help everyone involved in launching new products coordinate the information needed for a product to be successful.
      Proximity Insight: Customer insights delivered to store associates in real time. 
      Quarrio: Business intelligence powered by conversation.
      SpringML: Predictive analytics platform to provide sales teams with the insight they need to make better decisions, faster.
      Wootric: In-app Net Promoter Score (NPS) and feedback platform to enable companies to boost customer experience.

      Companies in the Salesforce Incubator receive workspace in our San Francisco campus at a historic warehouse in SOMA, which also houses the Heroku, SalesforceIQ and Steelbrick teams. Salesforce does not take equity in the startups, and they do not receive any cash or investment commitment.

      If you plan to attend Dreamforce, please stop by the Startup Valley to meet the Salesforce Incubator family on Friday, Oct. 7. Applications for our second batch, focused on AI innovation, will close on December 15, 2016. Apply today.
      Startup Valley at Dreamforce

      Insights from an AI Founder

      9-12-2016 | Melanie Picard

      An interview with Timothy Tuttle, Founder & CEO of MindMeld

      This year at Dreamforce, Salesforce for Startups invites you to get inspired by the startup community. We’ve put together six innovative panels featuring 20+ startup founders and leaders. Timothy Tuttle, founder and CEO of MindMeld, is one of them.

      A former AI researcher at MIT, Timothy founded MindMeld in 2011 to push the boundaries of natural language understanding. In 2014, MindMeld launched a platform to enable companies to create intelligent conversational interfaces for any app or device.

      Tim took the time to answer our questions and share his thoughts on how AI startups impact the enterprise.

      Many forms of artificial intelligence—from decision support to fully automated systems—are disrupting our lives but remain difficult to grasp. What would be your two-sentence version of “AI for Dummies?”
      Artificial intelligence is the ability for machines to perform actions thought to require intelligence.  One approach is for machines to mimic humans, so that an average person cannot tell if they are dealing with a person or a machine. However, AI today also encompasses machines doing things that humans cannot do, or cannot do easily, that require a degree of analysis and predictive, cognitive and decision-making behaviors.

      Why are natural language interfaces game-changing?
      For the first time since the dawn of computing, devices and applications are adapting to humans’ natural behavior, rather than the other way around. It is impossible to fully predict the future ramifications of this shift, but they will be huge. Natural language interfaces will aid us in ways machines have never been capable of doing before, sometimes providing more ease and efficiency than even human representatives.

      How do they impact the way companies interact with customers?

      Natural language conversational interfaces will provide the most compelling and engaging omnichannel experiences available, for multiple industries. They facilitate human-like interactions that are not only natural and intuitive, but also highly personalized and brand-specific. Conversational interfaces provide customer satisfaction by responding to queries with efficiency and expertise. Importantly, natural language results in a rich trove of customer insights—from intent to sentiment—that brands can derive deep analytics from to inform business decisions.

      What are the key challenges in your field that you were able to overcome as a startup?

      The biggest challenge when you’re on the leading edge of a new industry is educating the market and your customers. When MindMeld first started, companies did not understand why they needed this technology, and they didn’t believe it could possibly be as advanced as it actually is. Over just the past year, we’ve seen an enormous attitudinal shift. Most major brands now understand that conversational AI is the future. These days our conversations are about timelines and specific goals, rather than pitching the basic concept behind what we do.

      How does Salesforce enable you to reach your goals?

      Our target market stretches across many verticals and thousands of companies. We use Sales Cloud to track a large number of target accounts through a relatively long sales cycle. In conjunction with Sales Cloud, we also use Pardot to manage our marketing programs.

      Can you name two other startups doing amazing work in different fields of AI?

      There are many startups doing really cool work these days. There are multiple names deserving of a mention here, but two of them that come to mind are Blippar (who use image recognition and augmented reality to display information about real-life objects) and Vicarious, a startup with some really interesting people behind it that learned how to solve CAPTCHAs in 2013.

      What's coming next?

      MindMeld is working with a number of leading international brands on solutions that shift perceptions of conversational AI across the tech industry. These are solutions that feature a level of natural language sophistication that the market has not yet seen. We are hopeful that when these launch—expectedly before the year is out—they will create awareness of what AI can do for people in their everyday lives.

      Come to Dreamforce to learn more about how Salesforce is delivering AI to everyone with Salesforce Einstein and our panel discussion, How AI Startups Will Impact the Enterprise.

      AI Panel


      Announcing the Salesforce Incubator

      Blazing a New Trail for Startup Success

      6-7-2016 | Julia Barrett

      Since Salesforce for Startups launched in October 2014, over 6,000 brilliant entrepreneurs across more than 130 countries have joined the program. Members like Automatic, GoSquared and OneMob have tapped into our technology and ecosystem to build and grow their businesses to become thriving customer- and community-focused companies. Leading accelerators and organizations across the world have aligned with us and continue to share our belief that the customer is the most important ingredient in transforming a startup from an idea to a successful company.

      That’s why today, at TrailheadDX, Salesforce's developer conference, we’re excited to announce a new incubator for startups and consulting firms to deliver innovative solutions to their customers.

      Salesforce is founded on innovation. As a startup, Salesforce was the first to launch a multi-tenant cloud product, a subscription-based revenue model and new philanthropic model, the 1-1-1 model. The Salesforce Incubator will build on our heritage of innovation to help customer- and community-focused startups build, grow and give back.

      Based in the Bay Area, the Salesforce Incubator will provide a workspace for select companies to innovate, collaborate, share best practices and interact with the Salesforce ecosystem. Paying homage to our roots as a SaaS pioneer, our first batch will focus on SaaS companies built utilizing the Salesforce App Cloud.

      Salesforce has the most passionate and unique developer, partner and customer ecosystem in the world. We’ve been blown away by the innovation showcased by the startups in our community and look forward to nurturing the next generation of innovative companies.

      Stay tuned @salesforcestart – we will announce our first batch on Wednesday, September 28, 2016.

      The Salesforce for Startups Team

      Salesforce World Tour: Amsterdam

      Meet Salesforce for Startups in the Startup Village

      4-13-2016 | Julia Barrett

      As you may know, Dreamforce is our annual, 4-day event, hosted in our hometown of San Francisco. What you may not know is that throughout the year, we host the Salesforce World Tour in cities all over the world. These are great events for startups, in particular, as they’re free, packed into one full day and you have the opportunity to find answers to your questions.

      Given the fact that Amsterdam hosts one of the most innovative startup ecosystems in Europe, we decided to host the first-ever Startup Village at Salesforce World Tour Amsterdam on Thursday, 14 April.
      Bring your questions to the Startup Village welcome desk – Salesforce for Startups and Salesforce Ventures will be there to welcome you!

      We’ll kickstart a day of sessions with the CTO of the City of Amsterdam, Ger Baron, at 9.00. 

      Learn more about our sessions here.

      Watching a session? Introduce yourself to your neighbor as you’ll join our partner Startupbootcamp's Smart City & Living 2016 cohort, who we’re delighted to have in attendance.

      At 15.00, we'll host a fireside chat with Neelie Kroes, Special Envoy for StartupDelta and member of the Salesforce Board of Directors, will discuss her efforts to boost the Dutch startup ecosystem.

      Throughout the day, we will showcase some of the great startups already using Salesforce to build, grow and give back. Stop by to check out what they do, and how Salesforce enables them to do it.

      Salesforce World Tour Amsterdam Startup Village

      • Connecterra: Advancing dairy farming through connected cows.
      • Cloud9: A development platform inspiring collaboration in the cloud.
      • MIND: A connected car solution for business and consumer.
      • Moyee Coffee: End-to-end fairness with the world’s first FairChain coffee.
      • Red Tulip Systems: Secure communications and identity management solutions for the government and private sectors.
      • Smartflats: The stylish Belgian alternative to bland hotels.
      • StepOrange: Customer-centric payment processing on the Salesforce App Cloud.
      • Undagrid: A fully-integrated platform to connect devices in a sensible way.

      • Autheos: The fastest growing platform for product video marketing.
      • CheckMetrix: Helping small retailers connect to and analyze data.
      • Dashmote: Royalty-free stock images.
      • LeadBoxer: Collect high-quality sales leads with no forms or buttons.
      • SendCloud: Smart shipping to connect online retailers to shipping carriers, saving them time and money. 
      • Skytree: Direct Air Capture technology that offers a highly effective way to filter ambient CO2 directly from the air around us.
      • StepOrange: Customer-centric payment processing on the Salesforce App Cloud.
      • Yippie!: A shopping app to notify consumers when products they’re interested in purchasing go on sale at any merchant.             

      Not yet registered?

      Thursday, 14 April
      RAI Amsterdam

      The SaaS Startup Founder’s Guide

      Concepts, strategies and tactics from SaaS leaders

      3-16-2016 | Melanie Picard

      Before Salesforce became the leader in enterprise SaaS, we were a startup focused on many non-traditional business strategies. These learnings, along with those from other SaaS leaders, are now shared in our recently released guide,  The SaaS Startup Founder’s Guide.

      Quote Zuora

      Our guide features advice and best practices from SaaS startup founders and long-time industry players including Aaron Ross, Elay Cohen, Jason Lemkin, Judy Loehr, Mike Wolff, Tien Tzuo and other experts. It is meant to provide you with a fundamental understanding of the business model of SaaS, as well as provide key go-to-market plays that will help your startup grow.

      Download the guide today, for free:

      Send to Kindle




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