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Think of flywheels 🎡 and ecosystem in SaaS, not growth

Rather than focus on growth rates as a proxy for success, Accel, a VC firm that backed Atlassian among others, prompts businesses instead to think of flywheels 🎡 that fuel their long-term success. Partner #ecosystem holds a prominent role among these levers.

Flywheels that are set in company’s formative years could be more important than growth. Among most important flywheels Accel highlights:

✔️ Downstream levers

You need to see high value from your core product(s) for the core users, and then consider new utility for future products for future users.

This long-term product vision may take years to realize, but setting a plan for your Act 1, Act 2, Act 3 (and so on) is crucial.

There is a parallel question of what features and workflow you want to own, versus what you might cultivate from an ecosystem of partners.

Take a look at the image from 2015 on how Atlassian sequenced this in earlier days and how their #marketplace holds a prominent spot on top.

According to Accel, you must "Push yourself to think three years ahead on what downstream levers you might introduce, and reserve the right to reevaluate your views based on customer feedback."

🎯 A vibrant #ecosystem

Eventually, flywheel companies attract customers and IT partners to the point where a thriving ecosystem emerges, enhancing the user experience.

“Ecosystems are a flywheel amplifier because they enable companies to evolve from intrinsic network effects to inter-company network effects.”

⚡️The power of a successful ecosystem can be channeled in many ways:

inspire new use cases (Miro's Community templates)

enhance a product experience (Linear integration)

deepen workflows (Slack apps,

facilitate customer meetups (Atlassian community)

address long-tail feature needs (Figma plugins)

or even fund the next wave of technology partners (CrowdStrike Falcon Fund)

📈 While this ecosystem might start as a simple Slack channel or Discord server, a supporting commercial framework can turn it into a powerful network.

Take Atlassian Marketplace today: 1,250 partners, 28,000 weekly app installs, and $2 billion in partner sales in the past decade!

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