ThriveStack - SaaS Growth Insights
#28 — Revenue Intelligence for Startups, ft. Francis Brero, CPO MadKudu

#28 — Revenue Intelligence for Startups, ft. Francis Brero, CPO MadKudu

Insights from PLG Revenue Intelligence expert Francis on building a revenue engine for PLG-First SaaS companies.

Welcome to our latest episode where we're thrilled to have Francis Brero, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer of MadKudu, share his insights on Revenue Intelligence for PLG-first SaaS companies.

Francis started in engineering and later moved into data science. He co-founded MadKudu with Sam Levan. Their vision was clear: leveraging data science to enhance go-to-market strategies for SaaS businesses. Join us as Francis shares his experiences from the early days at TechStars to becoming a leading figure in revenue intelligence, offering a fresh perspective on the growth strategies reshaping the SaaS industry.

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Castbox, Google and YouTube.

Key takeaways:

Market Trends in SaaS Growth Strategies

  • A strong movement towards PLG as companies seek scalable, user-driven growth avenues

  • The emergence of hybrid models combining PLG with traditional SLG to meet diverse scaling needs

  • Increased discussions around PLG and SLG, finding the optimal balance for efficiency and growth

  • A clear trend in recent years shows traditional SLG companies starting to layer PLG strategy

  • Anticipation of a future where PLG and SLG coexist seamlessly, leading to more dynamic SaaS growth strategies

Overview of Startup Growth Strategies

Startups journey through distinct phases, each requiring tailored strategies to foster sustainable growth

In the early stage, startups must decide between a Product-Led Growth (PLG) and Sales-Led Growth (SLG) approach, more often recently, opting for PLG due to its scalability and customer-centric nature. The critical decision between building in-house solutions or buying external ones can significantly impact the startup's agility and growth potential. Initial solutions should be developed in-house to ensure they closely align with the startup's unique value proposition and customer needs.

As startups transition to the mid-stage, the focus shifts towards strengthening the team and product offerings. Hiring decisions become crucial, with an emphasis on finding individuals who can thrive in a growth-stage environment and contribute to a culture of innovation and adaptability. Enhancing product capabilities to include features that support sales efforts, such as advanced user analytics and integration options, becomes imperative.

In the growth stage, startups leverage data to inform strategic decisions, focusing on identifying opportunities for expansion through upselling and cross-selling. The integration of PLG and SLG strategies can create a powerful engine for growth, allowing startups to maintain the agility of PLG while capitalizing on the targeted opportunities provided by SLG. This stage is about fine-tuning the balance between product innovation and market expansion to achieve sustainable, scalable growth.

For more details review MadKudu’s PLG Maturity Model

MadKudu’s PLG Maturity Model

Future Outlook

As the SaaS industry continues to evolve, understanding the trajectory of go-to-market strategies becomes essential for startup sustainability and growth.

  • Responding to Market Shifts: The ability to remain agile and swiftly adapt to market changes is critical. Continuous evaluation and adjustment of GTM strategies to match the latest customer preferences and industry trends are vital.

  • Hybrid Approaches Gain Traction: The convergence of PLG and SLG suggests a move towards hybrid strategies, blending the strengths of both to optimize market reach and customer relations.

  • Data-Driven Insights: Harnessing data for strategic decision-making will grow in importance. Startups need to prioritize investments in analytics and intelligence platforms to extract actionable insights for product and sales optimization.

  • Prioritizing the Customer Experience: In an increasingly competitive landscape, focusing on customer experience can set startups apart. A culture that actively seeks customer feedback and addresses user needs is key to building lasting relationships.

The future of GTM strategies in the SaaS sector points towards a blend of adaptability, data intelligence, and an unwavering focus on delivering superior customer experiences.


  • (00:00) Introduction to revenue intelligence for startups

  • (00:38) Introducing guest Francis Brero

  • (02:15) Background and journey of starting MadKudu

  • (02:40) The shift towards leveraging first-party data in marketing

  • (03:55) The importance of a good buyer experience over go-to-market efficiencies

  • (05:38) Transition from sales-led to product-led growth in companies

  • (07:04) Predictions on the coexistence of PLG and SLG strategies

  • (09:24) Challenges for SLG companies adopting PLG

  • (10:06) Advantages of PLG companies introducing SLG elements

  • (12:00) The role of analytics in early-stage startups

  • (15:03) Hiring strategies for mid-stage companies

  • (18:05) Identifying best signals for cross-sell and upsell in growth-stage companies

  • (28:21) A fail story: The importance of a differentiated Enterprise plan

Where to Find the Guest:

LinkedIn: Francis Brero


Where to Find the Host:

LinkedIn: Gururaj Pandurangi