Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RALEIGH, N.C. – Southern Capitol Ventures brought a widely known analyst who follows software-as-a-service companies to the Triangle to talk about how to build a successful SaaS venture. But in reality, Laura Lederman from the firm William Blair delivered a lecture that could be helpful to any aspiring entrepreneur – or even current executives whose egos are under control.

The last of five points Lederman made at the latest Southern Capitol “Entrepreneur Series” event was most telling.


She didn’t capitalize the word, but she sure drove home the point.

“Steve Ballmer is known to not listen,” Lederman told the crowd of executives and entrepreneurs crowded into the Brier Creek Country Club conference room. (The Microsoft CEO’s company increased its dividend sharply on Tuesday, trying to draw more investors, by the way. Maybe he is listening to discontented investors.)

“No matter how brilliant you are,” Lederman stressed, “many brains are better than one.”

“Concur” should be a key word in the vocabulary and a key item on the action list of CEOs, she added.

“Many brains are better than one,” she stressed again. “Discussions can be difficult, but company is collaborative.”

On that same point, Lederman noted that smart executives “hire the best and delegate.”

The best course of action to ensure success is for an entrepreneur “to always try to hire people as smart or smarter.”

An executive who is exhausted, Lederman added, is not doing his or her job and for the sake of the company needs to make a change. “It’s time to grow,” she noted when exhaustion occurs.

Other points for success included:

• The importance of smart marketing. “Don’t turn tech people into marketers,” she warned.

• Aim for what she called “total access markets” rather than niches, which can be “easily penetrated” by competitors.

• On the other hand, don’t aim to do too much. Focus on one vertical then “then add another and another.” She cited Triangle-based SciQuest (NYSE: SQI), a company she follows, as an example of a growing SaaS firm that is over time adding more and more verticals to its online procurement service offerings.

Stephen Wiehe, SciQuest’s CEO, along with Joe Colopy of Bronto, David Spitz of ChannelAdvisor and Jesse Lipson of ShareFile then participated in a panel discussion about their own horror and success stories in the SaaS space. A group of venture capitalists latest discussed what they are looking for in terms of investment opportunities in the SaaS space as well as startups.

By the time the event closed, the attendees left with a bundle of contact information from networking and notes taken by hand or on tablets and laptops about how to start or improve their own businesses – and themselves as leaders.

That is, IF they had listened.

Next event

Southern Capitol will host its next Entrepreneur event on Oct. 6 with a focus on “Health IT.” Executives from Duke Medicine, Allscripts, Intuit Health and ArchPoint Partners will be on the panel.

Check here for more details.

(Note: Capitol Broadcasting Company, the parent of WRAL Tech Wire, is an investor in Southern Capitol Ventures.)

Get the latest news alerts: Follow WRAL Tech Wire at Twitter.