The Rise of Product-Led Growth & Bottoms-Up SaaS

Remarkable, Efficient Strategy 

PLG and bottoms-up comprise an extremely high-leverage, bootstrapper-friendly business model that is taking share of software markets across verticals.  Furthermore, the ranks of the most valuable private and public SaaS businesses are increasingly dominated by companies following the product-led model. 

  • “…The cumulative market capitalization for product-led growth-oriented companies has grown more than 100x in the last 6 years.“ (BVP)
  • Many of the top SaaS IPOs this year have been PLG companies such as Expensify, GitLab, and Amplitude.

Why Product-Led & Bottoms-Up Are Winning

To achieve rapid product-market-fit, a product would do well to target being 10x better than alternatives, which will generally create strong word-of-mouth in the target market. This creates a foundation for highly efficient go-to-market strategies. The process of finding PMF in PLG and bottoms-up creates feedback loops that prevent “false positives” in subpar product development and inefficient GTM motions.

In SaaS, go-to-market strategy should be embedded in product strategy due to the ferocious competition of the Internet. Focusing and creating rapid “time to value” can help clarify product execution and GTM for early-stage founders. A few components that we’ve seen work well for founders in the past include:

  • Deep understanding of customer problem set and target users’ “job-to-be-done
  • Prioritizing product design & usability over revenue & monetization
  • Intense focus & ability to tune out distractions

To have tight PMF that scales, the “muscle” to measure value creation is critical in SaaS. Founders who master this early on are often highly conscientious and customer-obsessed. In our experience, many great product-led founders also prefer execution over “hype”. We find the product-led founders who can scale the furthest prefer hands-on product execution and customer development over press. Finding PMF from the impact of word-of-mouth adoption in early go-to-market motions will hook founders on maintaining it as well as prioritizing high NPS as a foundation for scaling efficiently.


Horizon Partners is a boutique M&A advisory firm for bootstrapped software & technology businesses. To learn more, subscribe to the Horizon Partners blog or email us at contact@horizonpartners.com.

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