Product Management

SaaSGrid is Amazing!

Posted By on Jan 22, 2009



Sorry for the LONG period of inactivity.  Things have been extremly busy here at Apprenda.  We launched SaaSGrid for general availability back in the begining of December, and the response has been phenominal.

Let me try and explain to you in a nutshell what SaaSGrid is, and why it’s game changing:

SaaSGrid is a true cloud operating system. It’s not a software application, with some plugins.  It’s not a virtualization technology.  It’s not a full closed stack cloud offering. (Apprenda does not host SaaSGrid

It’s not like anything else on the market today.

SaaSGrid is the real deal.  It is a truly groundbreaking technology offering that allows companies to move their existing .NET based applications to a pure SaaS model, or build new SaaS applications without having to expend any effort on the SaaS specific architecture (ie: multitenancy, scalability, etc) OR the SaaS specific business components that they need to run THEIR business. (ie: billing, metering, provisioning, etc).

Much like the desktop operating system catalyzed a new era of software innovation, SaaSGrid is doing the same thing.  By providing a new layer of abstraction that contains all of the mission critical “SaaS DNA” so to speak, software companies can once again focus on writing great software and not having to worry about the intracacies of the delivery method.

If you are an existing .NET ISV, or someone looking to develop a new SaaS offering with any of the .NET languages, you absolutely owe it to yourself to check out SaaSGrid.

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I walked into Starbucks Friday afternoon for a cup of tea, and came across this:

I knew what was coming… :-)

Starbucks recently launched a new site called, powered by Salesforce Ideas.

I love it when I see a company (especially a large name company like Starbucks), utilizing technology to listen to and involve their customers in more of what they do.

I thought it was cool that they were populating ideas that were brought up prior to launching the site, like this one:

Please go back to your original idea of an European coffee house and get rid of the
extraneous items like cds, stuffed animals, countless foods and all that factory
holiday junk. I love the original Starbucks better. And Howard Schultz, I love you.

- An idea from our Annual Meeting of Shareholders on March 19, 2008 in Seattle

Jeremiah gave some good quick thoughts here, and Jim Bruene over at NetBanker added some great thoughts here as well.

Great move Starbucks, and wonderful execution on the roll out of the site and marketing campaign. Now the challenge will become being agile enough to respond and execute on the top rated ideas as soon as possible. Do it now, as early as possible. It will really pay off.

I’d love to talk to the individual at Starbucks that was responsible for making this happen.

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Freshbooks is an awesome application.

It’s an online time tracking and invoicing solution.

I’ve played with it a lot, and used it briefly in the past and I love it. Though I do not have a use for it at the present time, I plan to use it in the future when I do, and I recommend it to anyone that does have a use for it.

Aside from being an excellent application on so many levels, Freshbooks the company is in my opinion a great example of an ISV who has leveraged the SaaS delivery method very well from a business model perspective.

I’ll use some screenshots to explain.

Initial Home Page:

Freshbooks1 Freshbooks1_2

Freshbooks uses the initial homepage upon login to:

1) Post simple announcements

2) Advertise special offers for their own, useful services. (Snail Mail Invoice)

As mentioned in a previous post, this is something that all SaaS ISV’s should do. It should be done in a way that is targeted as well, based on the individual user. I wonder if I actually used snail mail invoices, if that ad would go away for good?

Now don’t get me wrong, there is a fine line between providing relevant unobtrusive announcements and advertising and polluting the application with ads. It has to be done right, and I believe Freshbooks gives us one example of how to do it right.

Refer Freshbooks:

Freshbooks2 Freshbooks3

Freshbooks gives their users a very easy way to refer their product to others, from within the application. Yet they don’t stop there. They also provide incentive AND a way to easily track the referrals you send.



Freshbooks gives their users a way to instantly upgrade their account from inside the application. They also provide access to their FAQ’s and prominently display their phone number on this page as well, to ensure that if someone is even considering upgrading, they have multiple ways to have their questions or concerns addressed right then and there.

Buy Stamps:


Freshbooks gives their users a way to instantly purchase credits for a commonly used add-on service of theirs (Snai-Mail Invoicing), from within the application. They also prominently advertise their offer to allow users to test the service out on themselves for FREE on this same page.

Report Cards in Account Info:

Freshbooks6 Freshbooks7

From the account info section, Freshbooks provides a quarterly report card for their users.

As you can see, this report card provides aggregate benchmarks for some key metrics associated with the application’s purpose and function. It shows the user what their results were as well as what the average results were for the other users in the same profession.

They also provide the user with a score that can then be displayed on their website if they desire, and they ask for feedback as to how they can improve the report card system right on the same page.

Taking it one step further, they actually get feedback from their top performers about their business practices, and share them here on their company blog.

This is one place where Freshbooks REALLY excels, and does one of the things that many of us had talked about last week in the discussion originating over at SaaSBlogs.

They create a way for their users to gain value from each other.

In case you missed it, you can view my detailed post about this here



Last but not least, they ask for feedback at the appropriate time. When someone is logging out, in most cases they have just finished working with the application. This is a prime time to get honest feedback and gain valuable insight regarding how to continue to improve the product, as well as what things users like most about the product.

Bravo Freshbooks…Keep up the excellent work!

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