Report of SaaS Conference TOKYO 2017


Someone once said that “The study meeting is not complete until you write a blog.” Even though this isn’t a study meeting but since I had the chance to participate in the SaaS Conference Tokyo 2017, here is my report about that event.

About SaaS Conference Tokyo 2017

This conference has been held annually since last year by Mr. Hiro Maeda, the famous venture capitalist. Invited speakers include those who are working at SaaS startups in Silicon Valley and Japan.

This year, the slogan of the conference was “Start from zero to 10 billions of ARR, growth of SaaS Startups”. MongoDB, DoubleDutch, Stripe from the USA and SmartHR, Salesforce.com Japan, PLAID were invited to speak at the conference. By the way, this conference needed the registration fee which is rare in Japan, 6,500 yen for registration, 3,500 yen for Reception party ticket.

SaaS Conference TOKYO 2017 site : http://saastokyo.jp/

Why I was there?

Unprecedentedly, our company HDE, Inc. had become platinum sponsor of this conference. So we can get 3 tickets.

                                      HDE was one of the platinum sponsors


Starting with Mr. Hiro Maeda’s greeting speech with his hot passion for this conference.

How to create worldwide level marketing team

The session started with Ms. Meagen Eisenberg @MongoDB CMO. The earlier part was her presentation, the latter part was Q&A session facilitated by Mr. Hiro Maeda. This year, most of the sessions were organized with such style. It was very useful for me to attend these Q&A sessions since Mr. Hiro Maeda asked various questions that I also wanted to ask the presenter.

I learned why and how should startups create their web page, how to invest with limited amount of money.

Of course, they are using MA, CRM tools like Marketo, Salesforce, etc.. In MongoDB, sales manager and marketing manager have a weekly meeting to check and adjust the inquiry (including the data from free download).

In addition, she studied in Waseda University about 20 years ago, by any chance we were classmate?

Zero to One of SaaS business

The true story about how SmartHR has been growing this 2 years by its CEO Mr. Miyata. He appointed newcomer to be in charge of customer success he did not know what is “customer success.” It was a good point for him to be able to hire public relations. He wanted to hire person to be in charge of marketing but it was too difficult. He talked about why he invests in TV commercial and so on.

His tasks had changed by each stage of the company. At the first stage he worked as sales and product manager, however, now his main task is to arrange the company organization.

I think that is SaaS Native company because they are using the words “Churn Rate”, “ARR” and “ARPA”, etc. as an indicator of management.

Salesforce in Salesforce -How to construct and educate the sales-

The next one is from two sales managers from Salesforce.com Japan. Each in charge of different sales team: Inside sales and direct sales. They talked about how to organize sales team named “the Model”. Actually, I had once heard about this model, and our company’s sales team model referred to this model. However, they talked more deeply about recruiting, assessment, sales career path, incentive plan, etc..

Their group strategy was 7 members in a team. I heard the same strategy from Microsoft. So I think it seems true one manager can manage up to 7 members.

The Key of huge ACV

A session by Mr. Suzuki, CEO of PLAID. PLAID is providing the service “KARTE” that real time communication service on top of e-commerce site and website.

The question from Mr. Hiro Maeda, “If you could go back to the starting point, what should you do and should not do?” He answered, “Only concentrate one service.” He thinks the development of the mainstream service had to be postponed due to other services, and there are parts left as negative assets.

Anyway, what a tremendous ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) transition it is!

How to set the SaaS price

This session is about how to set the pricing in SaaS by Mr. Patrick McKenzie. He has been lived in Gifu prefecture in Japan. Anyway, his is so fast-speaker, the latter part of the conference, English, fast-speak, for me is slightly hard to hear.

He said Japan has significant potential for SaaS market, few competitors furthermore it’s super difficult to enter the Japanese market due to culture differences and Japanese language.

The road to achieving 2.5 billion yen

The last talk was given by Mr. Lawrence Coburn from DoubleDutch. This session was the only discussion. He said if you could achieve the ARR, Triple ->Triple ->Double->Double->Double each year it would be successful. But for me, it’s triple, triple trouble, the last session, no slide, English.

He said what his failure is that he could procure $ 8 billion and he spent a bit of money.

Lighting Talk

We were given a chance to give lightning talk as a sponsor, so I gave LT in there. (Definitely, I did the work.)

Reception party

The reception party was held at the restaurant near the conference venue. However, there are fewer people than I expected. There were lectures in the party. And I could meet some business friends. Among them, I met Mr. Murata. He is a junior from my high school club (not a direct junior) and he is now running a company, AI Travel as a CEO. His service is a booking system for flight ticket, hotels for a business trip. If you are interested, please contact him.


Most of the companies that presented at this conference were born as 100% SaaS native company. So I think there are a lot if a difference between our company and them. And I could confirm it becomes common to use the terms “Negative Churn Rate”, “ARR” that we used to use in our company.

I could learn so many things from this conference, including several topics about marketing, sales team building, assessment, education, how to grow as a SaaS startup companies. I think it was worth for paying 6,500 yen.

I hope next year we can make a presentation at the conference. We will do our best.

Reflection, memo

This time I was listening to the talks while taking notes on PC, but without power supply, the battery couldn’t sustain. Therefore, latter parts of the conference I had to take handwritten notes which were too difficult for me to do so.This is why there are lesser contents about the latter part of the conference mentioned in this article. (It’s just an excuse.) I have to consider this problem for the next time.

I had to take about 1 week after the conference to finish the blog. I hope I had prepared in advance so that it could be finished a bit more quickly.

This time, I had to prepare LT, so I participated without preliminary research. I should study the services created by the speakers a little bit more and wished I would be able to ask questions if possible.