Earning the right to serve your SaaS customers: key scale up lessons with the Chief Product Officer at Box

As you may already know as listeners of the ScaleUp Valley podcast or fans of our blog, we’ve interviewed over 100 leaders from top scale ups that have shared their wisdom on scaling a business from $2 million ARR to $100 million. We even had our successful investors series, where we transitioned to the other side of the table to learn how top SaaS businesses can learn about scaling from the investor perspective. 

But on the most recent episode of the ScaleUp Valley podcast – our 90th episode – we were able to take the conversation to the next level with our guest who works for one of the most prolific SaaS companies out there. 

This week, the discussion was focused on how to go from 100 million to 1 billion, when we were joined by Jeetu Patel, Chief Product Officer and Chief Strategy Officer at Box. With a little over 95,000 customers, including global brands like Morgan Stanley and Coca Cola, Box brought a completely different perspective to the ScaleUp Valley podcast, as we discussed a different part of the scale up process. 

Read my highlights from the conversation below or listen to the full episode here

Leveraging repeatability in the scale up journey

As we like to do on the ScaleUp Valley podcast, we asked Patel how the leadership has changed over the course of his +4 years with Box. 

He entered when the company had just reached the $200 million mark in revenues and was looking to move from a single product company to a multi-product company. Since then, they’ve achieved close to $700 million with around 2,000 employees. That’s a lot of scale, and we were eager to hear how this change has affected the evolution of the leadership team. 

As Patel put it, each major function change that companies see actually requires a very different mindset and evolution to the ways in which you operate. For example, the journey from 0 to 10 million is very different from the journey of 10 to 15 million. But, Patel highlighted the difference between 200 to 500 million as a the biggest transitional stage. 

Within this part of the scale up process, you no longer know every single deal you make, nor every employee in the organization. And yet, you still need to be sharing the same language in the market or risk dissipating the brand. 

This is when, according to Patel, repeatability becomes a key factor to success. Rather than going out and trying to do a lot of slightly different things for each customer, you have to build a business model where you do very few things for many customers. 

But what this inevitably comes down to in the SaaS world is earning the right to serve your customers.

How to stay innovative while scaling a SaaS business

Patel mentioned that he likes to think of Box as a 2,000 person startup. That’s because they like to keep innovative energy in the culture and in the way they operate. And, according to Patel, this has been one of their core ingredients for success. 

Because he believes that in the SaaS industry you have to earn the right to serve your customers every year. If you don’t continue to innovate your product, then you lose the right to serve them. As he puts it, you must always keep the innovative hunger present and never think that you’ve gotten too big to be innovative. 

If you’d like to hear more from Patel about his journey scaling up Box, you can listen to the full episode here

Then, keep listening, keep scaling!

Mike Dias