Wat SaaS-startups kunnen leren van andere industrieƫn

Van gehypte streetwear tot modulair meubilair

There are best practices and top market leaders across every industry. Companies who have “been there” and “done that” can teach you invaluable lessons that can be applied to SaaS startups.

We’re big believers in this – hence our Iconic Products series.

Maar wat als we even uit de doos stappen en nadenken over de lessen die we kunnen leren van sectoren buiten SaaS en technologie?


startups buiten de gebaande paden


That’s exactly what we’re going to do. From fashion to furniture to a few things in between, let’s explore what we can learn from some of the best in other industries. 🔎

Sommige van deze bedrijven zijn verstoorders, terwijl andere bedrijven uit het verleden hebben geleerd om zich aan te passen en briljante paden voor zichzelf te creƫren in een steeds veranderend bedrijfslandschap.

Let’s get to it! 👊



Creating every company’s dream scenario

It’s nearly impossible to talk about branding in fashion and not discuss the mega-cult success of Supreme. 🤷‍♀️

Wat in 1994 begon als een skateboard- en kledingmerk in New York heeft zichzelf gekatapulteerd naar de voorhoede van de popcultuur en merkdevotie.

Hundreds of people line up for Supreme drops every Thursday (when there’s a new release of products, of course), and it’s utter chaos. 😱




People fly in from all over the world in order to stand in line for hours just to go into one of Supreme’s 11 brick-and-mortar stores and try their luck of finding that perfect overpriced t-shirt or brick or whatever other weird item they’re selling that week.

Or, fans try their luck online – this normally results in some people paying ~4000% more for an item than its retail price. 💸

Oh, and this happens outside of drop days, too. Just walk around London’s (or New York’s, for that matter) SoHo neighborhood on a Saturday morning and count how many blocks are covered with people lined up waiting for Supreme to open.

Supreme has managed to create the ultimate founder fever dream – but how? 🤔


Waarom kopen ze? De psychologie van de klant

Many people cite the “hype” around the brand, but surely it’s about more than that.

There are plenty of people who get excited about the latest Yeezy shoes or OVO hoodie (confession time: I’m kind of one of those people) – but neither of those brands even come close to the level of hype around Supreme.

Scarcity certainly comes to the forefront here. There are a limited number of items that Supreme creates and when they’re gone, they’re gone – hence the insane markups on the secondhand market. 🤑

But let’s get a bit deeper – let’s consider the psychology around the customer.

Dr. Dimitrios Tsivrikos, consumer psychologist at University College London, in an interview with Vice, said, “Millennials in particular are very aware of different consumer tribes; they look to inspire or impress peers who share the same kind of interests as them, who will recognize that particular T-shirt.” 👕




Jonathan Gabay, author of Brand Psychology: Consumer Perceptions, Corporate Reputations, goes even further in the article, saying, “[Importantly], Supreme was started in the right bit of New York by skaters. That makes it authentic, or seen to be authentic.

“The fact that they’ve brought in other designers over the years is irrelevant; it all goes back to the fact that the original people who wore this stuff were authentic—they weren’t wearing it because it was trendy.”

“A brand is an extension of oneself—psychologically, in terms of how you want the world to see you, or what you want the world to believe you are,” said Gabay. “But deeper than that: what you believe you are, through that brand.”


Boem. Daar is het.

Scarcity. Authenticity. Identity. 💪

Obviously, these three concepts are easier to say than to actually apply to your startups – but think of them as guiding points for a moment.

Do you have a new product that you’re trying to launch? Perhaps start a waitlist to get people excited about it, and offer certain perks, such as early access or special discounts. Create a sense of scarcity and exclusivity around your product.



Or maybe you’re thinking about a brand refresh – or a total rebranding? Think about your narrative and the message you want to convey. Does it encompass your company’s identity? Is it authentic? Or is it just more idealistic business jargon? 🤝

Many companies can only dream of having the success of a brand like Supreme, but as you can see, there are lessons to be learned from how they “made it” that can be applied to just about any industry – including SaaS and tech.


  • Denk na over de klant en hoe hij met het merk omgaat.
  • Vertel jij het verhaal dat je met je merk wilt vertellen?
  • Is je bedrijf authentiek in hoe het zijn aanbod beschrijft?
  • Zijn er manieren waarop je wat opwinding rond je merk kunt creĆ«ren?



Aanpassen aan een veranderend landschap

It wasn’t all that long ago when the main forms of receiving news updates came in the form of television and print media. 🗞

Of course, both of those things still exist, but let’s be real: news media, especially print media, was perhaps the most deeply disrupted industry by the mass adoption of the internet.




This led the news media industry into a crisis mode. What’s next? How do you generate revenue when people aren’t buying your paper?

Nou, in het geval van The New York Times en veel andere verkooppunten die dit voorbeeld volgden, was het een situatie van aanpassen of verdwijnen.

If you can’t beat them, join them. 😎


Alles op digitaal

The Times was bijna 150 jaar oud toen het internet de manier waarop mensen aan informatie kwamen begon te veranderen.

Dit betekende dat ze snel moesten innoveren, ondanks hun lange staat van dienst en ondanks het feit dat ze zo diep geworteld waren in hun eigen cultuur.

It’s hard enough for 25-year-old companies to innovate and adapt – imagine that, times six. 😳

Maar in tegenstelling tot veel andere kranten die koppig waren over de overstap naar digitaal, besloot de Times er helemaal voor te gaan.



In 2011 introduceerden ze hun paywall en in 2013 namen ze in Ć©Ć©n jaar meer dan 100 technische medewerkers aan.

And it didn’t just stop there. On top of their new tech employees strengthening the user experience of their website and app, they also started a products department that was tasked with releasing new apps and new revenue sources.

This resulted in three new successful apps around their opinion section, streamlined news for millennials and cooking – PLUS a huge partnership with Google by creating a new VR app for the Google Cardboard headsets.



Oude hond, nieuwe trucs

If one of the most historical newsrooms in the world can modernize and adapt to the changing times – there’s hope for the rest of us.

And no, it doesn’t mean you need to hire 100 new employees or aggressively launch a VR app.

It’s about understanding the landscape, and identifying where your customers are – and how you can effectively reach them.

And one thing we can all learn from this, or be reminded of, is the fact that you should never be against change. 😄

Het omarmen van de toekomst van hoe dingen werken en hoe klanten zich gedragen is cruciaal om je bedrijf te onderscheiden van de rest.


  • Don’t be afraid of change.
  • Startups are much more poised to disrupt and change industries than legacy companies, but that change won’t come automatically or overnight.
  • It’s about finding the strategy that works best for your company and being where your customers are (and offering the right product or service).



Een anders saaie markt verstoren

It may sound a tad dramatic, but buying a mattress or a couch can be an incredibly emotional purchase for people. 🛋

Not in the sense of people crying over their couch, but rather the fact that it’s an expensive purchase that is supposed to last you for years.

On top of that, it’s just a frustrating and overwhelming experience. Buying a couch or mattress opens you up to so many different choices and it’s hard to tell whether you’re actually getting a good deal. 😓

Plus, the logistics of getting a large piece of furniture delivered to your house or apartment is a commitment in itself – you need to pay a ridiculous fee, wait around all day for the delivery people to show up and then get everything set up.


daar is geen tijd voor


It can feel a bit exhausting when it’s all said and done.

Maar dit is precies waarom startups zoals Casper en Burrow de meubelindustrie veranderen.

Casper started as a mattress e-commerce store, but has exploded in the past few years, and now offers other items such as bed frames and dog beds. 🐶

Ook Burrow ontwerpt en produceert compromisloze meubels en andere goederen voor het moderne leven thuis. Het bedrijf lanceerde in 2017 met een modulaire bank en is sindsdien uitgebreid naar meerdere configuraties van zitmeubelen voor in de woonkamer.

Dus hoe zorgen ze voor een naadloze ervaring met iets dat voor hun klanten een emotionele aankoop met een hoge investering zou moeten zijn?


Startups nemen de hoofdpijn weg van grote investeringen

Casper herkende de bovengenoemde pijnpunten en besloot de zaken te veranderen.

With its single-model mattress offered at an affordable price, including free shipping and a 100-night trial period, it’s no wonder Casper easily surpassed $100 million in revenue in less than two years of being in business. 😲



As Casper’s co-founders have explained in multiple interviews, it was originally about disrupting the mattress industry, because it was so obviously broken.

But this eventually turned into the goal of inventing an industry around sleep. They decided to create a mattress that would fit just about everyone’s needs. 😴

En nog belangrijker, ze wilden dat de ervaring van topkwaliteit was.

In Casper’s earlier days, there was a couple who made a YouTube video about their mattress. They explained that the bed wasn’t right for them, but the experience was incredible.

For Casper, that’s the ultimate goal. 🙏

Als je je klanten blij maakt, in het geval van Casper, dan geven die klanten je meer mond-tot-mondreclame en kopen ze misschien wel andere producten, zoals kussens of een nachtkastje.

Casper heeft uitgelegd dat hun retourpercentage vrij laag is, dus proberen ze geretourneerde matrassen te doneren aan een lokaal goed doel, wat uiteindelijk kosteneffectiever is dan ze door het hele land mee te nemen om het product op te knappen en opnieuw te verkopen.

In the case of Burrow, they offer modular furniture – essentially, a customer can purchase an armchair and later decide to turn it into a larger sofa by buying a loveseat and connecting them. And vice versa – you can turn a larger sofa into a loveseat or four separate chairs.



You get the picture. 😉

On top of that, Burrow offers hidden USB charging ports in the furniture, so you never have to get up to charge your phone – handy.

Net als Casper is de verzending gratis en meestal binnen een week.

Zie je een patroon? Deze startups zijn erin geslaagd om alle pijnpunten van het kopen van groot meubilair te identificeren en het bedrijfsmodel volledig op zijn kop te zetten.

Maar hoe zit het met degenen die nog steeds huiverig zijn om gewoon online meubels te kopen?

It’s time to go physical.


Van digitaal naar fysiek

For those among us who want to feel, see and touch a mattress or couch that we want to buy – ordering one online might evoke anxiety or fear. Are you really going to be happy with something that you buy before trying?

Gelukkig is dit precies het concept dat deze bedrijven onderzoeken. Casper is onlangs een samenwerking aangegaan met winkelgigant Target en is bovendien van plan om 200 Casper-winkels te openen in de Verenigde Staten.

In the case of Burrow, the young company originally entered physical spaces in the form of partnerships with co-working spaces and breweries – you can even apply on their website to host a showroom in your space.

Now, they have a showroom in the SoHo neighborhood of New York. This gives customers the chance to experience Burrow’s products IRL.

According to an article from Fast Company, “visitors can hang out in front of a fireplace, watch movies in a private screening room, and also play around with making their own videos in a green screen studio.”

Of course, the initial goal of these store concepts isn’t just to sell products, but it’s also about giving customers a positive experience that helps increase brand loyalty. 💛


  • Een bedrijfstak ontwrichten draait om het identificeren en elimineren van pijnpunten.
  • Hoe kun je je klantervaring nog beter maken? Lopen klanten met een positief of negatief gevoel weg bij jouw bedrijf?
  • This concept reminds me quite a bit of a quote from Sujan Patel, co-founder of Web Profits, “Customers may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”


There are a ton of inspirational companies – startups and legacy companies alike – out there doing amazing things. And we can all certainly learn from them. 🧠

But it’s not just about learning from companies in your industry. SaaS companies can learn a lot from seeing how things are done across a variety of industries.

Not only in fashion or news media or furniture, but also healthcare, in the case of startups such as Capsule Pharmacy and Oscar Health. 💊

Or even in eyeglasses – with companies such as Warby Parker or Zenni Optical.

De lijst gaat maar door.

So, next time you’re interacting with a company or making an important purchase, stop and think for a moment about the things that they’re doing right (and wrong, of course) and think about how you could inject a bit of that experience into your own startups. 💉


We hopen dat je deze post leuk vond. Als je het leuk vond, vertel het dan verder!

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Ali Colwell