#309 - Masha Petrova Ph.D., CEO Nullspace  - on go-to-market execution for highly technical products.

The journey of an aerospace engineer to SaaS start-up founder.

This podcast interview focuses on the entrepreneurial journey to turn a Defense Contractor product spin-off into a scalable SaaS business. My guest is Masha Petrova Ph.D., Co-founder and CEO of Nullspace

Masha PetrovaAfter receiving her PhD in aerospace engineering, Dr. Petrova spent 15+ years in the engineering simulation and design software industry, including holding global marketing executive roles at Ansys, Altium LLC, and  IncMSC Software. She also worked at three simulation software start-ups, all of which were acquired by Ansys Inc. in the last 10 years.

In January 2023 she co-founded Nullspace – a spin-off from a Defense contractor business. Their mission: To solve the fast-worsening shortage of electromagnetic engineers needed to meet today’s radiofrequency technology demands.

And this inspired me, and hence I invited Masha to my podcast. We explore the lessons learned from spinning off a software product from a Defense Contractor business and to build a SaaS business. Masha emphasizes the importance of co-founder chemistry, and shares the unexpected lessons learned from her fund-raising process. She shares her insights on how to adapt sales and marketing strategies for the conservative engineering fields. Last but not least she elaborates why solving a highly valuable problem through product innovation alone is not enough to succeed. 

 

Here’s one of her quotes

Sure we could have grown by sales only, or by raising angel funding. But what we really want is, because we know that our solution is viable and Product Market Fit has already been tested, we really want to push the button on sales and marketing. 

And right now this space is very hot. There’s been a whole bunch of unprecedented acquisitions and engineering software that happened recently. There is a company that just announced coming out of stealth with 115 million in VC funding. Not series A or Series B, out of stealth …. in this engineering software space that no one usually talks about unless you’re an engineer.

 

During this interview, you will learn four things:

  1. How to navigate Fundraising successfully by embracing some valuable lessons in communication and resilience.
  2. How to win over conservative, facts-oriented engineers when marketing your SaaS product and optimally enable your team.
  3. How to use pricing as a key element of differentiation for your SaaS offering.
  4. How to avoid having to pivot at the moment of launching your SaaS product because of missing some technical details.

 

For more information about the guest from this week:

 

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About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.