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SaaSGrid is Amazing

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 intricacies 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.

Thank You Autotask

Starting tomorrow, November 6th, I will no longer be Autotask’s Community Evangelist. I’m extremely excited to be joining Apprenda as Director of Business Development. The work that Apprenda is doing is game changing, and there is no place I’d rather be at this point in my career.

I’ve been with Autotask for 2.5 years now, and it’s been an awesome ride.

Just over a year ago we launched the Autotask CommunITy, which originated as a “skunkworks” project of mine. From the initial idea, to its conception and continued improvement, the Autotask CommunITy has been my full time responsibility at Autotask for the last year. In that time, it has grown incredibly into a thriving community of over 13,000 members and has radically impacted the way Autotask as a company operates. To cap it off, last night we were awarded a coveted ITSMA Marketing Excellence Award, specifically for the work we’ve done with the Autotask CommunITy. That honor is just as much the claim of the thousands of brilliant IT professionals that make up the Autotask CommunITy, as it is any of ours.

In addition to the Autotask CommunITy, I was also able to help Autotask launch its product on the global market back in 2006 (my first project). Then in early 2007, I was able to help introduce Autotask’s first mobile solution (Autotask LiveMobile). I’m extremely thankful for the work I’ve been able to do with Autotask over the course of the last 2.5 years. It’s been challenging, fulfilling and rewarding. As their 65th employee back in 2006, they’ve now grown to over 130 people, and last week were awarded the New York Capital Region’s Best Places To Work award for the 5th straight year! No other company has ever received the award so many years in a row, and it’s really a testament to the great people that I’ve had the pleasure of working with there for the past 2.5 years.

I want to thank all of my co-workers at Autotask, and all of the members of the Autotask CommunITy for such a wonderful experience. I could name names and go on for pages thanking individuals, but I’ve made it a point to personally speak with many of you already.

Thank you all, and best wishes for continued success.

Freshbooks Announces Quarterly Industry Benchmarks

Today Freshbooks announced that they will be publishing aggregate benchmark data on a quarterly basis. They’ve been sending out this data and more to customers for some time now, but now they’re going to publish some of the data to the general public.

Check it out, and if you are a SaaS company, take note and learn from these guys. They get it, and they continue to come up with creative ways to leverage the delivery method.

Great product, great company, great service. I can’t say enough about these guys!

Here are a few additional posts of mine about Freshbooks:

Freshbooks – SaaS Through and Through

Freshbooks = Awesome

Interview with Dean Isaji of ThinkMentalModels

As someone who’s always been fascinated by the human mind and how we think and make decisions, I was very interested in the concept of multiple mental models, outlined by Charles Munger in Poor Charlie’s Almanac. Back in May, I was introduced to, and conversed with Dean Isaji, author of the ThinkMentalModels compilation.

I recently had a chance to catch up with Dean and I ask him a few questions about the multiple mental models concept, and his work.

Dean’s Background

A bit of a background on Dean before we jump into the questions. Dean is a graduate from Cambridge, England and first worked in South Africa, for Eskom (the utility company). After completing his MBA at the University of Cape Town and then, after a spell in Hong Kong, he began working in the strategy and planning department at British Airways, in London. Presently Dean is pursuing some entrepreneurial ventures in America, through his own holding company.


1) How long have you been interested in the concept of multiple mental models?
I have been reading and thinking about the mental model concept for about 9 years. In the main this has consisted of reading – a lot – and making copious notes. The initial idea of trying to think better came from reading Tony Buzan’s Mind Map book.

2) What motivated you to compile the Think Mental Models collection?
At first, I wanted it for my own reference – thinking it would be handy to have it accessible on a PDA via the internet. But after reviewing the initial idea with some friends, I thought there would be real value to others. Hence I have complied an affordable PDF available for purchase.

3) Of the 130+ models contained in the collection, are there 10 or so that you find are used the most?
The most used is the ‘disconfirming evidence’ model. I have then broken the others up into various categories – more specialized than the broader website categories – and use a memory system in order to apply them to a given issue. I cannot really say that there are therefore 10 most useful models.

4) What is the greatest benefit that you have reaped from using the multiple mental models approach to decision making/problem solving?
I have found that I’m able to think with more speed and rigor when confronting an issue. There is the added advantage of ‘confidence’. This is a little harder to quantify, but – paraphrasing Charlie Munger – the confidence comes from almost always being able to provide useful inputs in a group setting, often with people much smarter than myself.

5) Do you have suggestions for study tactics and ways to retain the mental models outlined in the collection?
I do use an extensive memory system and I practice the models on a daily basis. At this point I don’t really want to get too much into execution as I may develop it into an online course.

6) Any additional suggestions or information you’d like to share.
What I have found surprising is that many people cannot immediately see the benefits of thinking broadly across disciplines. But even considering my own education, at no point was I taught to ‘think about how I think’. This is probably true for others and may be one of the explanations for why people tend to shy away from an active mental model process. The other reason may be much simpler. In ‘Men and Rubber’, by Harvey Firestone, the author recalls a Thomas Edison quote – “There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the real labor of thinking“.

You can view a number of the mental models on Dean’s website. However, I HIGHLY recommend the ThinkMentalModels compilation PDF. At $4.45, it’s easily worth at least 10 times that.

Hidden Value in “Out of Market” Leads

Dealing With “Out of Market” Leads

Regardless of how well you target your messaging and pre-qualify your leads, you can always do better. In addition, you will always get some leads that slip through that are “out of market”, or that are clearly not looking for what you have to offer.

What do you do in those cases? I’ve seen a number of approaches. Some just flag the lead as “dead”, or “junk” and never look at them again. Some send them an automated follow up email that attempts to clarify what their product or service is, and invites them to respond if they are in fact truly interested. Your approach really depends on your business/market/product.

What if You Could Provide a Bit More Value?

What if when you receive a lead that is clearly out of market, you could clarify your product or service AND point them in the right direction if they are really looking for something else? Then, you could also ask them to refer your product or service to someone they know that may have a need for it. Maybe even include a special offer, and some kind of incentive to refer someone?

This could be done in a two step approach – clarify first, then upon response send them in the right direction, or all in one step.

For example:

Thanks for your interest in ABC Pizza Management Software. ABC Pizza Management is the only business management solution developed specifically for Pizza shop owners.

Based on the information you’ve provided, it looks like you are looking for a CRM solution for your Pet Store. While our software is flexible, ABC Software is built specifically for Pizza shop owners and may not be the best fit for you. A few possible solutions that you may want to take a look at are:

– Pet Shop Pro (
– Pet Store Control Suite (

By the way, if you know any Pizza shop owners, please let me know or send them my way. Here’s a link that you can direct them to, and if they become a customer, I’ll even send you 50% of their first months usage fees!

I hope I’ve been helpful, and all the best.

Again, how well this will work and how easily it will scale depends on your business/market/product. It also doesn’t need to be an email, as this could potentially work really well over the phone. Think about the impression you’d leave by going out of your way to meet that person’s need in an unexpected way.

Additional Value To Be Derived

One thing to also keep in mind is that over time, you will probably see some sort of trend with regards to the misunderstandings about your product. This should:

  • Tip you off as to how you can improve your messaging
  • Enable you to scale the above approach, by helping you identify the handful of solutions that you suggest on a regular basis.
  • Give you insight into potential partnerships (depending on the volume), even if only as a referral agent.

Why not give it a try for a period of time, and compare it against your current approach?

What do you do, Jesse Kliza?

Chris Brogan posted a question this morning, looking for feedback regarding what people felt new marketers and new media marketing agencies should be doing. As always, Chris’ post and the related comments are well worth the time to read in their entirety.

So what do you do Jesse?

I’ve thought about what I do, and I think it can be boiled down to this:

I help organizations explode the traps of traditional thinking about business, and realize the value of every individual.

Every individual that has any form of relationship with your organization (employee, customer, partner, prospect, etc) has value beyond what’s on the surface. Anyone can be an evangelist for your organization, anyone can bring you the “next big thing”, anyone can help you fix a business problem. It’s your job to let them, engage them and nurture them.

What is “new marketing” specifically?

As someone who’s been in marketing for almost 5 years now, having had no formal training, my thinking about business and marketing is almost exclusively shaped by my experience and personal character. I love people, and am a firm believer in the value of every individual. From a marketing perspective, this means I believe that organizations need to be as closely connected and engaged with their customers and market as possible. Marketing is a conversation. It’s not just about what YOU do as a company. It’s about what the INDIVIDUALS IN YOUR MARKET tell you you’ve done/do, what they tell OTHERS you’ve done/do, what they tell you they need and how YOU respond.

What about all the cool new tools?

New marketing isn’t just about the new tools, the new mediums, the messaging… it’s about changing an organization’s mindset and approach to how they operate and interact with their market.

Enough about what I think, what do you think?