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SaaS products aren’t viral (preso)

SaaS products aren’t viral from Andrew Chen
I recently gave a short talk to the portfolio companies of a SaaS investor, and prepped some notes around the topic of SaaS products and virality.
It’s hard enough in consumer, much less SaaS
For consumer internet entrepreneurs that are working on big markets, getting to virality is hard enough. There are plenty of sectors, like commerce or moms, where it’s almost impossible to achieve sustained viral growth, just because of the dynamics and narrow nature of the audience. When you turn your attention to SaaS products that are narrow in industry and profession, it’s even harder.
The product is what matters
The main point I make in this talk is that virality has a lot to do with product category. You can stack the odds in your favor by choosing a product that has many of the following characteristics:
  • inherently social- like publishing, communication, or file-sharing
  • high retention with daily usage
  • applies to many job titles within an organization, so that anyone can use it
  • invites travel through a new channel with a compelling pitch
  • targets extroverts :)
Not every product can use virality
Of course, people don’t usually pick their product based on what they think will grow virally- so as a result, you have to analyze your own product to see what makes sense. It may be to fully embrace virality (probably not), pivot your product more towards communication/sharing, or just ignore viral altogether. For most, I think the latter option makes the most sense.
Hope you enjoy the slides! Comments welcome.
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