👋 I’m Madhav, founder of ESM (earlystagemarketing.com). Here’s my story:
I’ve been a SaaS marketer for 10+ years and about half of that time I’ve been a Head of Marketing. I helped add tens of million in ARR for many SaaS companies and went through pretty much all the milestones of a SaaS growth journey:
- getting first customers
- building first GTM strategy
- working as a solo marketer in the company
- finding repeatable marketing channels
- scaling marketing channel
- building a global marketing team
- managing a growing marketing budget
- navigating the messy middle
While early stage marketing is an incredibly rewarding journey, it’s also a tough one in which you have to hustle every day.
After many years of doing that, I reached a point where I got tired.
- Tired of working as a Head of Marketing.
- Tired of the stress that started showing physical symptoms on my body.
- Tired of working 80 hours weeks for many years without a break.
- Tired of tackling the same problems over and over again for different SaaS companies.
The worst part was that I didn’t even know that I was tired. I was too busy hustling away.
Until I got laid off.
It was a strange feeling. You see my identity had become wrapped up in my job title – Head of Marketing. So when I was stripped off from that title, I felt like I was nothing (which obviously wasn’t true).
All my life I thought our career growth is linear. From junior marketer to senior marketer to marketing director to VP of marketing.
But when I looked closely, I realised that it’s quite common to have a career that doesn’t follow the classic “up-and-to-the right” trajectory. Instead most people’s career paths are filled with ups and downs, slow periods of stagnation interspersed with spurts of rapid growth.
Sometimes to take a step forward, you need to take a step back.
Then one day it hit me: what if I could take a step back from being a head of marketing and build a secondary source of income around something that I’ve always loved doing—blogging? I’d been doing it for years and I had built my entire professional network through blogging.
That would allow me to focus on myself and
- Give me the freedom to spend my time as I choose
- Work on my identity outside of work
- Spend more time with my family
- Get back in shape
- Learn how to manage stress
I had amassed a lot of learnings over the years as a SaaS marketer and they would be incredibly helpful for other SaaS founders and marketers.
For example, as Hubstaff’s first full time marketing hire, I helped them grow from $200k ARR to $5M+ ARR. Today, that time tracking company is making $15M+ ARR.
I got some foundational learnings from that journey and applied the same principles at a bunch of SaaS companies later on. They all worked!
- I helped grow Bonsai’s revenue from $900,000 to $2.5M ARR in 2 years.
- I helped Close’s revenue grow from $xM to $xxM in 1 year.
- I helped Continu grow their MQLs from 0 to 3000/mo which helped them go from 6 to 7 figure ARR & eventually acquire customers like Slack, Lyft & GoPro.
So, I decided to unlock those learnings and started ESM (earlystagemarketing.com). It’s built for SaaS founders who’ve reached $500,000 ARR with blood, sweat and tears. I help them get to $5M, $10M, $20M ARR and beyond.
Early stage SaaS marketing is not easy. Similarly, my early journey with ESM wasn’t easy as well.
- I had to become comfortable working without a salary for a while
- I had to build up traffic
- I had to write a lot
- I had to work with a $0 marketing budget
I came close to almost giving up almost every other week. I’m 31 and in the prime years of my career. Why waste my time on this? But my wife reassured me every single time that this is the right direction for me.
And after months of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, I somehow started making it work as a full time creator!
- 0 → 50 articles
- 0 → 5 digital products
- 0 → 50k annual visitors
- 0 → 400 email subscribers
- 0 → advising 6 SaaS startups
Every few months, my family asks me the same question over and over again – am I happy? And every time I give them exactly the same answer: I am very happy.
That’s the short story of my journey building ESM to where it is today. I live and breathe early stage marketing.
If you’ve made it this far… thank you.
To help you navigate the blog, here are some suggestions for how to jump in:
Consult with me
If you’re a SaaS founder/marketer looking for help with your SaaS marketing, let’s get on a call.
I LOVE helping early-stage SaaS products that are willing to invest in content. Why? Content IS marketing in today’s world and most SaaS companies that don’t invest in that seriously have a huge disadvantage against their competitors.
In my decade of experience as a SaaS marketer, I’ve driven growth using low CAC, content-driven programs.
I offer multiple engagement options to work together depending on your budget.
Subscribe to my Substack newsletter
Subscribe to my bi-weekly newsletter on Substack where I distill insights from “$500k to $5M ARR” journey into bite-sized guides.
Read my best content
I recommend you start reading by these posts:
- How To Plan A B2B SaaS Marketing Budget?
- How To Find SaaS Writers: 7 “Secret” Tips
- How Much Do SaaS Companies Spend On Marketing?
- How To Write A SaaS Press Release & Get Featured on Tech Crunch?
- How To Acquire Early SaaS Adopters? (17 Tactics To Try)
- 16 “Must-Have” SaaS SEO Tools That Helped Drive Millions In Traffic/Revenue
Have any questions?
Shoot me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.