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The essential guide to growing your early-stage SaaS startup

If you’re an early-stage SaaS startup with a fresh Minimum Viable Product (MVP), congratulations!

You’ve already achieved a lot more than many, but there’s plenty of hard work and challenges ahead.

Last updated

28 Sep 2021

Reading time

1 min


As an early-stage SaaS startup founder or team member, you’re likely to be very excited about running and growing your business... and also lost, confused, and anxious because of the amount of stuff you need to focus on to make it happen.

Sound familiar? We've been there—we grew our own SaaS company, Hotjar, to $15 million Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) in less than four years without funding, and we've seen first-hand how easy it is to get distracted and overwhelmed when trying to take it all in.

Why we wrote this guide 

Books, podcasts, videos, case studies, you name it—there is so much content out there about growing a SaaS startup that you can just go on forever. We thought it would be more useful to have one resource, in one place, to guide new teams along their growth journeys, helping them focus on the fundamentals and getting their bases covered. Something they could use and come back to, over and over.  We couldn't find one, so we wrote it ourselves. 

How we wrote it

In May 2017 we hosted an event for early-stage startups whose agenda became the framework for this guide. We wrote most of the content by reaching out to and documenting the experiences of people at Basecamp, Receptive, Pipedrive, Price Intelligently, SaaStock, EnhanCV, and others who have ‘been there, done that’ multiple times. We also shared some of our later drafts with over 500 people in the SaaS space, who gave us open, actionable suggestions on what we needed to cover.

How you can use it

The word ‘essential’ in the title has two meanings: the content we share in the following chapters is crucial for growing your startup, but the focus is on the fundamentals to help you get all your bases covered. Think of this guide as a launchpad: if you’re hungry for more, we added a resource list at the end of each chapter with several hours of video and podcasts, and hand-picked links to additional books and articles by entrepreneurs and business-builders like yourself.  Each chapter can be read independently, so you can jump to any topic that is relevant to you.

What's Hotjar?

Hotjar is Behavior Analytics software that makes it easy to go beyond traditional web analytics and understand what users are really doing on your site.

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