We are building Founder Stack to help early-stage founders gain knowledge and clarity to build their start-ups. They can do this with the help of Accel India and its network of over 140 portfolio companies — without diluting any equity.
The first cohort of Founder Stack is themed around Software as a Service (SaaS) start-ups, a sunrise industry in India with boundless promise.
Let’s call this FS (SaaS).
First, some context to why we are betting the first cohort on SaaS.
There is a $400 bn global opportunity up for grabs around the world for SaaS startups. Indian Founders have a great potential to tap this opportunity to build large SaaS startups from India.
There is access to capital for good ideas, but there is a knowledge and exposure gap on how to build large scalable SaaS companies. We meet extraordinary founders who are building startups, putting in a lot of effort. Their intent is in the right place, but they face challenges in addressing the right market, getting the idea to a product market (PM) fit, and identifying distribution channels for growth.
Over the last 2–3 years we have helped many founders in SaaS through our community activities. At the end of every event, we have been asked many times by early-stage founders to engage with them for longer than just the event, even if some of these interactions run over one or two days.
Let's go on now that we're all caught up.
During their early days, founders have a lot of questions right from how to size their market and how to write JDs for the next 10 hires to larger questions such as how to sell in the US or China, how to have a strong GTM strategy, how to do product positioning or how to measure PM Fit. The questions are endless in the early days.
The answers to all these questions lie in preparation that not only gives founders a headstart but also lays a strong foundation for their future.
In short, pick the right market, suss your way to the right model and hammer out a scalable and profitable product-led business.
Listen to our partner Shekhar Kirani talk about Founder Stack for SaaS or FS(SaaS).
Who can be part of FS (SaaS)?
If you are a founder who can give 10 Weeks to aggressively work on your SaaS startup, we have put together something very interesting for you. We are looking for:
Founders who have already set foot building a SaaS startup and have high intent to build a scalable venture
Want to ease and immerse themselves into an intense 10-week phase that will shape their mindset, clarity, and conviction to build a $10Mn+ ARR business.
Who are willing to learn the fundamentals of their specific kind of SaaS business and lay foundations a high-growth, sustainable future.
Spend 10 weeks (1 day a week) on understanding the problem, market, and customers with the help of experts before deep diving into your venture for the next 5- 10 years of your life.
Who is looking to combine all this knowledge and intelligence into real-life, everyday skills that help build a large SaaS venture
How did we arrive at the Founder Stack Model?
We met over 50+ Founders to understand their early-stage challenges and current fundraising hurdles to understand how to help them. The most common answers were:
Therefore, we thought it fit to build an environment for SaaS Founders; to spend their time focusing on gaining knowledge & clarity on the market, revenue opportunity and long term plans without worrying about funding, infrastructure, resources, knowledge, etc.
Introducing Founder Stack for SaaS
When we started investing in startups with less than $1 Mn ARR, we were as concerned as the founders on how to take it to $1Mn ARR. We worked together with founders to figure it out.
Once we solved the challenge of early traction, we next tackled how to take it to $10 Mn and then to $100 Mn. We learned a lot on the way and have accumulated several learnings along with our partners over the last 10 years — which is what is on offer under FS (Saas).
Most of what we learnt took time because it was the first time in India for SaaS. We learnt what it takes to understand the problem, market needs, and build products that will be absorbed by the market much faster. That’s the back story of the 5-layer FS(SaaS). To refresh your memory from the first part of this blog:
What happens in the 10-week FS (SaaS)?
→ We have an outcome-based, intensive,10-week program.
→ For a period of 10 weeks, Founders meet every Thursday at Accel Launchpad for Sessions, Roundtables, 1–1 and go work on the remaining days of the week.
→ Accountability is the key to the program and constant progress is necessary.
→ We give you a space to work and grant of Rs 1.5 lakhs for 10 weeks, discounted stay with a hotel we are partnering, etc.
→ One of the Founders has to attend all 10 weeks, to avail all kinds of support (space, mentorship, connections, resources, etc) from Accel.
The program aims to have a strong culture code and ethos:
It is a place where clarity of your ideas and approaches get tested.
There will be no sugarcoating reality in the program. Don’t push forward your problems, tackle them today. In the end, the market wins. The question is how well can you be aligned to the market needs.
We want to push Founders to think through all angles of their business very early. To borrow one of the many insights from coach Alex Ferguson’s winning streak with Manchester United,
“We practice for when the going gets tough, so we know what it takes to be successful in those situations.”
As we all know, successful ventures aren’t built in 10 weeks. and Our engagement doesn’t end with the FS(SaaS) program. We shall support you post the program based on your involvement and progress during the 10-week program.
How do coaches help at Founder Stack?
We have onboarded about 30+ coaches only in SaaS and currently working on the curation of all the master sessions at roundtables.