Are SaaS Conferences Really Worthwhile?
By Nancy Hammerman
It was late afternoon in November 2022 in New York. Rain was pouring down and I knew a taxi would be hard to come by. It was the last day of the 2-day Ascent Conference. So I decided to checkout the last few attendees many of whom were gathered at roundtable discussions known as “brain dates”.
Turns out the last two roundtable discussions at the very end of the day proved valuable. I met two people that I have followed up with and we are now in discussions to partner.
To me conferences, first and foremost, are about learning and discovery. Learning about a new service, a new platform, or just ideas that are conveyed passionately as a breakthrough in the way we conduct business.
Are In Person Events Productive?
Now more than ever in-person events are important, and the virtual experience just cannot compare. The chance meeting, the introduction, the chat around coffee often lead to important new connections, new possibilities, and/or new business. And after three years of Zoom meetings most of us crave meaningful human connections.
“Best SaaS Conferences” Listed Online
If you search the internet for “Best SaaS Conferences” you will find multiple lists of all the well-known conferences. Bigger is better tends to be the approach. But I am not convinced that meaningful connections are made as easily when you are in a sea of 5,000-10,000 people. I am biased, and full disclosure here, I am the co-founder and Director of the Recurring Revenue Conference — a SaaS conference focused on founders and funders. We go in-depth with fewer speakers, and we are obsessed with ensuring the quality of content we curate. We go out of our way to think about networking and ways in which people can meet, engage, and have fun.
Are you better off to come back to the office with a stack of business cards and a blurry memory of meeting lots of people whose names and faces you can’t remember or are you better off making a few really solid connections, writing notes as soon as you’re in your hotel room, and then following up when you’re back? I’m more of a “solid connections” kind of person, myself.
While there are lots of tech conferences, there are just a few that are solely focused on SaaS.
Here’s my list of the best of the bunch for 2023.
Best SaaS Conferences 2023
1. SaaStr Annual 2023
September 6-8, 2023 San Jose, CA
The big 800 lb. gorilla. It’s very busy, at least 10,000 attendees, tons of exhibitors, multiple stages. It’s a huge and almost overwhelming meeting of all the biggest names in SaaS. It’s held outdoors “festival style” and so it lends itself to being more of a trade fair with all the action around sales and the exhibitors.
2. SaaStock 2023
October 16-19, 2023
This is Europe’s largest SaaS conference with 5,000 SaaS founders and executives. For the first time they plan to host the conference in Austin May 31 and expect 800 founders and investors.
3. SaaS North 2023
November 15-16, 2023
This is the Canadian event for rapidly-scaling SaaS founders and investors. 2,000 attendees.
4. Recurring Revenue Conference
November 9, 2023
Culver City, Los Angeles, CA
Full disclosure: I run this event. It’s intimate with 600+ attendees. Mostly founders, CEOs, and about 20% investors. We work very closely with our sponsors and exhibitors and make sure there are introductions. The largest (and only) SaaS and Subscription event in Southern California. Past speakers include: Ian Siegel, ZipRecruiter, Therese Tucker, BlackLine, Jay Fulcher, Zenefits, Tom Villante, Yapstone, Aaron Ross, Predictable Revenue, Patrick Campbell, ProfitWell.
5. Ascent Conference
May 23-24, 2023
San Francisco, CA
This conference has been offered in New York in November for several years and this year there is a summit in SF. This is a no-frills conference: don’t expect breakfast, lunch or cocktails. Instead, they do offer in addition to main stage speakers, lots of 1:1 and group “braindates”. Lots of very early-stage founders and marketers. 700+ attendees.
6. SaaS Connect
April 19-20, 2023
The Cloud Software Association hosts this conference which is all about partnerships.400 SaaS leaders—and if you are a reseller this is the place to be.