Every SaaS vertical has eventual limits which put an overall cap on a company’s growth. This is where successful SaaS companies need to focus on using acquisitions to increase TAM (total addressable market). It is what Netcore has done with its three recent acquisitions: Boxx to enhance its personalisation offering, Hansel to add contextual walkthroughs and nudges, and Unbxd to add search and also expand in the US market. Building organically in the US would have taken Netcore a long time and hence the decision to shorten time-to-market by adding a complementary and customers to whom Netcore’s products could be sold.
Acquisitions have long been a preferred way of growth for many SaaS companies. Indian companies also need to use the playbook much more aggressively – but only after they have got a strong foundation and free cash generation from their existing products. This is what can then create the growth flywheel. For a brief period spanning 2020 and 2021, many SaaS companies (including some Indian ones) went on a hiring and spending spree in the race for customer acquisition and growth at all costs. The assumption was that valuations would stay high and cash was always available easily. This situation changed in 2022. Multiples shrank as did availability of capital. Investors now want to see clear paths to profitability. Here are a few charts from SEG (Q3 2022 update) which provide an aggregate analysis of public SaaS companies and how marketing sentiment has changed.
Jamin Ball’s Clouded Judgement newsletter (16 December 2022) shows the change through the past four years:
The fall in public market multiples will make its way to the private markets also. In 2023, profitable (and funded) SaaS companies will have very good opportunities to expand their TAM with acquisitions. For Indian SaaS companies, acquisition can be a very good way to accelerate US expansion – as an alternative to organic growth.
India’s SaaS story is still in its infancy. The US market is a very good hunting ground for both customers and other SaaS companies. The “product” gap can be bridged through SaaS – to complement India’s historical IT Services strength. Indian companies need to build scale – from $10 million ARR to $100 million and then onward to $1B and more. LEMMMA can offer a winning framework for Indians SaaS companies to conquer new frontiers in the US, the largest market and biggest prize.