How vibrant is the SaaS industry in Canada? Who better to ask that question and discuss how the SaaS industry is trending in Canada other than Lauren Thibodeau, founder and CEO SaaSCan. Saadian is the leading market research and benchmarking company for the SaaS industry across Canada.
There are 38 Million people in Canada. Leading SaaS companies like Shopify, OpenText, and Constellation Software are all headquartered in Canada.
There is also a growing ecosystem in Canada with 3,170 VC-backed SaaS companies in Canada, and that does not include boot-strapped or angel-funded companies. One of the common challenges for Canadian SaaS companies is expanding distribution beyond Canada to scale the company. The first need is to find avenues to expand its network outside Canada. Secondly, one of the more interesting challenges is that moving into the U.S. can crush a Canadian company that has not prepared its infrastructure for the 10x increase in addressable market that the U.S. represents.
I asked Lauren what a U.S. based SaaS company needs to know if they want to enter the Canadian marketplace. Understanding the Canadian business culture is critical to success for U.S. companies selling in Canada. Listen first and talk second, and displaying a sense of humility are crucial aspects of the Canadian business environment.
Having a North Star metric specific to your product and your customer's value is a great metric. Lauren suggested the following metrics to help measure and validate Product-Market Fit. The first is customer on-boarding and activating early customers; the second is understanding product usage metrics such as Daily Active Users (DAU)and Monthly Active Users (MAU).
Lauren shared a new metric I had not heard before; the Sean Ellis test is a survey-based metric asking, "how disappointed would you be if this product went away ."If 40% or more of companies say they would be disappointed, that is a good proxy for Product-Market Fit.
Unit economics, such as CAC Payback Period, Gross and Net Dollar Retention, and CLTV:CAC are good metrics to understand. However, they do not provide much insight or value until a company prepares to scale its investment in Sales and Marketing once a repeatable and scalable customer acquisition motion is established.
Lauren recommends prioritizing focus on churn and retention on a dollar basis are a priority. The growth rate is always a key metric, especially if a company is entertaining external investment. Lauren also mentioned the "Burn Multiple" which measures how much cash is burned compared to Contracted ARR (CARR).
Lauren Thibodeau is a great listen if you are interested in learning more about the Canadian SaaS ecosystem, or just learning more about SaaS metrics for early-stage companies.