Let me set the expectations right - this is not a SaaStr bashing post. So whoever came for a diss track, you need to shuffle your playlist further.
Like all founders, Achu pinged me a few months back - Dude! We need to do something about SaaStr. Like clockwork, I routed the idea to a folder in my Asana called - Achu's ideas.
And thus started a rolling conversation of all things SaaStr.
We calculated the travel costs, the hotel tariff, the swag costs, and the tickets. The budget worked out. The timeline did. And why wouldn't you go to SaaStr? Everyone does.
The ‘before math’
We started to talk to folks who have done this before - people who have gone and won at SaaStr. We wanted to make sure the investment made sense for us.
We also got on a call with senior folks at SaaStr to understand if the audience at SaaStr has an overlap with our tribe - the recruiters. The SaaStr folks were more transparent than we imagined. Their audience had a majority of founders, followed by GTM folks, Investors, Product, Engineering, and Customer Success.
Recruiters weren't even a rounding error in the split of the SaaStr audience.
However, the trip still made sense. Not just because of SaaStr, but also SaaSBooMi Caravan.
While we looked at SaaStr from a campaign and an ROI perspective, SaaSBooMi was much more emotional.
SaaSBooMi, as a forum, has been incredibly helpful, uplifting, and enabling for founders and SaaS as a whole in India. The caravan was a cool concept - A 10-day Trip to the US to Learn about Building SaaS Startups for the US Market.
We whiteboarded the entire thing.
But the best-laid plans of mice and men.
All three co-founders were called for an unavoidable trip, that overlapped SaaStr and SaaSBooMi Caravan. And I, Rohit Srivastav, didn't have a US Visa.
The constraints made the decision for us - We had to miss SaaStr and SaaSBooMi Caravan 2022.
So, what did we do instead?
We had the budget earmarked for the trip. Achu and I agreed, we had to do something. We thought of half a dozen guerilla marketing ideas and a handful of sponsorship ideas. Nothing really hit the right note.
That's when Achu suggested Uber rides. It was either his prior experience with Uber or just how his weird brain operates. The idea was simple yet powerful. Sponsor the Uber rides of all the founders who're a part of the SaaSBooMi Caravan group.
We got to the operational bits of it. Achu pulled some strings and got us a Uber for Business account in no time.
Our theme was simple - book an Uber, preferably with other founders, use Kula as a coupon to get discounts, and repeat this 15 times per person.
How did we do it?
We whipped up a landing page on Webflow within 30 minutes.
Asked the founders in the SaaSBooMi group to fill in their work email and the phone number they use for the Uber account.
Block 60 minutes the next day to generate personal coupons for each founder.
Send them emails, texts, and LinkedIn InMail, for easy access to the coupon.
And the most important part, name the coupon - Kula ai.
The campaign caught fire. We had 75 founders who showed interest in taking the sponsored ride. We were happy.
What did we ask in return?
Nothing too salesy. We explicitly mentioned our expectation - you'll meet a lot of founders in the next a couple of weeks, and expectedly a lot of them would mention hiring as their biggest challenge. If someone mentions hiring as their challenge, just ask them to check out Kula.
That's it. No attributions. No email drips. No follow-ups.
We meant it when we said we were doing it for the SaaSBooMi community and didn't want to leave a bitter taste with an aggressive follow-up. We got a few referrals from the campaign though, but we were equally happy when the founders took those rides and we got those notifications.
Will we be at SaaStr 2023?
Honestly, we don't know yet. But I hope whatever that decision is, it is worth writing about.