The Control Tower for your SaaS

Sergi Gomez
Co-founder of Saivo

"Can I get a dashboard with the most important KPIs for my SaaS business already there?"

We get this request frequently from the founders we work with. They say, "You are helping many startups with the same business model. You collaborate with VC investors and you know what metrics they want to look at. It’s likely that we all prioritize similar KPIs to operate the business and report to investors. So, couldn't you leverage this experience and offer a template that benefits more startups?"

Initially, we didn't like the idea of offering "plug-and-play" templates or blueprints with predetermined metrics. We didn't want to be prescriptive. In the end, founders are the ones who steer the business, the ones who talk to customers and investors, so they know better than anybody else what metrics to track at any business stage.

Instead, we wanted to provide the data infrastructure so they can easily create any metric in the visualization format that they prefer, and creating already-made dashboardscould deviate us from this core focus.

However, given the recurring nature of this request, we wanted to see what was driving it.

Our motivation to create a blueprint for founders

After many conversations with founders, we distilled the following insights: 

  1. The daily grind wears us down: Founders are overwhelmed by day-to-day tasks and don't have the bandwidth to take a step back and ask: "Which KPIs will give me the full picture of my business and will help me identify the levers to move the needle?" They postpone it in favor of more pressing issues (...until investors request it and it suddenly becomes an urgent issue!).
  2. "Sell knowledge, not capabilities": Although our core offering is to bring an analytics platform to create any metric and derive insights, we realized the immense added value of layering our expertise on top of the technology. It multiplies the value created.

Based on the above, and since our biggest driving force is value creation, we decided to create a Control Tower dashboard, with the objectives of:

  1. Making it much easier and faster to get a good Control Tower: By providing ready-made data models and pre-calculated metrics on a nice dashboard, we accelerate the time-to-value and reduce the mental load of starting from scratch.
  2. Sharing our accumulated knowledge with other founders, creating a community of informed, data-driven decision-makers.

Partnering up with the best VC investors

We have been working very closely with VCs from the beginning of SAIVO. We help their portfolio companies craft Investor Reports, create data rooms to prepare their next fundraise, and make tailored analyses. This partnership has helped us understand what KPIs VCs prioritize, and our Control Tower is a reflection of this experience.

In particular, we want to highlight our partnership with Ivan Fernandez, founding partner at Enzo Ventures. We wanted to partner up with them as we love their approach. With a primary investment focus in Southern European Regions, Enzo Ventures infuses a Mediterranean essence into its approach. The fund values community and has an Operating Partner role dedicated to actively supporting portfolio companies.

Our partnership with Enzo Ventures is just an example of our commitment to working with the best Venture Capital players to drive value for them and their portfolio.

Why a Control Tower? 

A Control Tower acts as the centralized command center for the business, streamlining operations and decision-making. This concept, while traditionally utilized in complex environments like transportation, has become very useful in the dynamic realm of startups.

A Control Tower is more than a dashboard; it's a strategic tool for operators, and we believe that every startup should have its own Control Tower in place.

The main advantages are:

  • Brings a unified and all-in-one view: It centralizes all KPIs within a single dashboard, fostering agility and clarity in decision-making.
  • Facilitates collaboration and synergies across teams and with investors: By offering a shared platform where both internal teams and investors can access key metrics, the Control Tower enhances communication and collaborative efforts, aligning everyone towards common goals and strategies.
  • Makes analytics easier to operationalize: We have seen it with most of our clients: It's only when you start looking at your Control Tower dashboard every morning and use it for your tactical and strategic decisions that you can say you are truly "data-driven" (and when data creates tangible value!).
Generated with DALL-E using the following prompt: Tech startup founders at a coworking space, looking at a Control Tower dashboard. Don't make it futuristic.

Overview of our proposed Control Tower

Screenshot of Saivo's Control Tower

SAIVO's Control Tower is designed to provide a snapshot of your startup's health across three crucial blocks:

  1. Business Performance: This block is the heartbeat of your business, focusing on the essential metrics that indicate overall health and growth. It includes a section with the Core KPIs that show the fundamental metrics that measure the efficiency of your business operations. It also has a section called Revenue Growth, with crucial metrics that signal the financial viability and market acceptance.
  2. Product Engagement: This block covers the performance throughout the customer journey: How effectively you attract new customers, the success rate of converting sign-ups into active users, and the rate at which you're to keep customers over time, indicating the stickiness of your product (which is something that most investors really care about!)
  3. Sales Performance: The driving force behind your revenue, this block analyzes the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales strategies, including detailed insights into win rates and cycle lengths, helping you optimize your sales process and strategy for maximum impact.

Each block within our Control Tower is meticulously designed to illuminate different aspects of your startup's performance, from initial customer interaction to financial growth and sales success.

Who is it for? 

This Control Tower is tailored for SaaS startups operating on a subscription model, especially for those navigating the journey from seed funding to gearing up for Series A round.

At this stage, it's all about proving your startup can grow and scale, and that it can become a profitable and sustainable business in the future. A Control Tower is key because it highlights the areas where your business is performing good but it also surfaces the challenges, and it offers your teams and investors clear visibility and actionable insights to help.

What problem SAIVO solves

Every company has data scattered across different sources (Stripe, HubSpot, internal databases, Google Sheets,...). To build an all-in-one picture of the business, a complete ELT (Extract, Load, Transform) pipeline has to be built, and this entails the following steps:

  1. Data Extraction and Loading: You to connect to multiple APIs, databases, and spreadsheets, and load this raw data into a cloud data warehouse.
  2. Data Transformation: For each data source, you have to create clean datasets to get them ready for analysis. And, on top of that, you need to combine all these individual datasets to create blended metrics like the CAC.
  3. Data Visualization: Creating a dashboard that gather all the KPIs with a compelling narrative is like crafting your Pitch Deck, it takes time. Each chart or table individually has to give a clear message, and the whole ensemble of charts collectively have to convey a powerful storytelling of the business.

For the above, it's essential to have a joint-team of experienced data engineers working together with sharp business analysts. SAIVO offers that, as-a-service: An analytics platform with the end-to-end ELT process already implemented and a Control Tower dashboard that can be easily customized. In short, all the building blocks are in place, but they can be very easily customized.

The underlying technology stack

At SAIVO, we have been on the journey with numerous startups, learning the ins and outs of what they really need to scale and succeed. Drawing from this experience, we've crafted and bundled the data stack that's optimal for growth and flexibility. Here's the stack:

  • Airbyte: The best tool for data extraction. You can pull the data from any source, from standard ones like Stripe to niche apps. Plus, it’s open-source, so you save on the fees from proprietary vendors like Fivetran which can cost $1,000/mo.
  • Snowflake or BigQuery: A data warehouse like Snowflake or BigQuery is the backbone of any data-driven operation. They offer auto-scaling capabilities, meaning they adjust to your data needs as your startup grows, ensuring you only use (and pay for) what you need.
  • dbt: dbt has become the industry standard for transforming data. It allows us to turn raw data into clean datasets writing SQL code and adopting the best software engineering practices like version control.
  • Superset: We’ve tried every single BI tool in the market, and Superset is the best open-source one out there (better than Metabase or Looker Studio, for instance). With Superset, you can explore the data easily and craft beautiful visualizations, and you don’t have to pay >300$/mo in license fees from the Tableaus of the world.
  • SAIVO's Workstation: No-code app to create and manage your metrics and KPIs. The code is automatically generated and version-controlled. It simplifies and enhances agility in the analytics workflow, and it improves governance and gives greater control over your data.

This stack is not just a set of tools; it's the result of years of experience and success with startups. It offers the flexibility, scalability, and ease of use that fast-paced companies need to thrive.

Automated but easy to customize

While "plug-and-play" solutions offer a quick shot into your metrics, they often lack the flexibility and the customization that every business deserves. Without the ability to edit the definitions and semantics of your business, these tools fall short. Take net MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) as an example. Businesses may define it differently—some include discounts and refunds; others don't.

They are black boxes, they make calculations based on their own assumptions and definitions. Put simply, if you can't get inside the box, you won't be able to tweak the metrics. If you can't make the metric truly yours, the numbers won't be accurate. If the numbers are not 100% accurate, people will not trust it. If people don't trust it, the dashboard won't be adopted.

Our platform allows you to get under the hood, either modifying the source code that generates your data models or doing no-code in our platform (and the code is generated automatically!), see the image below.

Editing a metric using SAIVO's Workstation, accessible to technical and non-technical users

This means you can tailor the calculation to fit your specific needs, whether that involves adjusting for seasonal discounts or accounting for customer churn differently.

We believe that SAIVO's combination of end-to-end automation but easy customization is pretty unique. You get a fully working end-to-end solution, but you (or your engineers or data team) can modify any of the components - more on that below.

Opening the box - This is what you'll get

As a strong believers of open-source as a superior way of creating technology, at SAIVO we also want to be as open and transparent as possible. This is why, with our Control Tower you won't just get "a dashboard", but you'll get the following pieces: 

  • An instance of Superset open-source (the BI tool), hosted in your AWS/GCP infra, with an already-made dashboard template that is super easy to edit - see a demo below ;)
  • An instance of Airbyte open-source, hosted in your AWS/GCP infra, with the full package of the official connectors plus all the connectors that the SAIVO team has built in the past two years.
  • The dbt/SQL code for all data models and metrics, so your data / engineering team can get into the source code and edit it.
  • An account of Snowflake/BigQuery in your AWS/GCP infra.

Demo time: Try it yourself!

Explore and play with the Control Tower by accessing the dashboard here:

Use the credentials below:

  • User: demo
  • Password: 123456

Want to know more?

If you are interested in knowing more about how to implement a Control Tower for your startup, we're here to make it happen! Reach out to us for a personalized guide on integrating this tool into your business strategy: