Back in mid-2018 we decided that the Tech Adoption Index program needed a forum for conversations with some of the most interesting and influential figures in the small-business software world. From this emerged “Above the Cloud”, a podcast that tries captures thought leaders’ views on what it takes to win in SMB software, all in 30 minutes or less.

We produced 13 ATC episodes from June through December 2018. Below is our editors’ list of the top 5 episodes of 2018. These choices were made primarily based on popularity, with some consideration given to episodes we felt were very good, despite lesser audience metrics.

No. 1: “SMBs Get Lied to a Lot” Featuring Gene Marks, The Marks Group

Gene Marks writes about small business technology trends in his weekly column for Forbes magazine, as well as in The Guardian, and talks about small business issues in regular appearances on Fox, MSNBC and other outlets. He also lives these issues in his day job as a CRM reseller, where he comes face to face with small businesses owners struggling to understand how to deploy new technology in their businesses. Gene has a front-row view of how the questions we ask at the Tech Adoption Index are playing out in real life.

Top Podcast Quote

“The way I think of SMB software in 2018, 2019 is, if it is implemented the right way, it will get you where you want it to get you. It’s like there is a Ford Taurus, a Toyota Camry, and a Honda Accord. They are all really great cars and they will get you to our destination. The problem I see with my clients is, they are not using all of the features.”

No. 2: “Humans Aren’t Resources” featuring Tolithia Kornweibel, Gusto

In August, we visited Gusto’s impressive new offices in San Francisco’s waterfront to sit down with the HR startup’s marketing head Tolithia Kornweibel, who was a headline speaker at the LSA’s Tech Adoption Summit in November. Our conversation with Tolithia covered a wide range of topics, from partnerships to competition to customer experience.

Top Podcast Quote

“In a customer acquisition arms race, the winner is not always the best product. That could slow us all down.”

No. 3: “SMBs Have No Time” featuring Mark MacLeod, SurePath Capital Partners

There are few people with a broader or deeper perspective on the small business SaaS world than Mark MacLeod. Mark was the founder CFO at Shopify, which helped democratize e-commerce by enabling SMBs to become online merchants. And he ran finance, corporate and business development for Freshbooks, which has made cloud accounting accessible to freelancers and solopreneurs the world over.

Today Mark leads SurePath Capital Partners, a financial advisory firm that helps small business software companies raise capital and find buyers for attractive exits.

Top Podcast Quote

“Many vendors have this perception that they can’t afford to offer customer support. The opposite is true. They can’t afford not to offer customer support.”

No. 4: “The Art of the Demo” featuring Josh Melick, Broadly

Josh Melick, co-founder and CEO of Broadly, has small business in his DNA, with parents who were small business owners and a resume filled with stops at leading SMB-focused companies. After stints at Ingenio, YP and DemandForce, Josh and fellow engineer Assaf Arkin founded Broadly in 2013 with the mission of helping small-businesses generate more customer reviews, a key currently in driving small business success or failure.

Top Podcast Quote

“We believe in the art of the demo. For inside sales to work in this market, you need a sales cycle that is short. You have to go from start to finish in 15 to 30 minutes.”

No. 5: “Selling to SMBs is Hard” featuring Ted Paff, Customer Lobby (founder)

This episode was a combination clinic and therapy session for anyone who has ever tried to build software products for small businesses. Recorded in November at the LSA’s Tech Adoption Summit in San Francisco, our very own Neal Polachek interviewed Ted Paff, a former VC turned entrepreneur who founded Customer Lobby in 2007 and sold it in 2017. Today when Ted isn’t sharing war stories at conferences, he’s likely to be found on a beach with his surfboard.

Top Podcast Quote

“It’s hard. I don’t even know where to start. It was a long road. I kept looking for a panacea. A silver bullet. And there was none,”

Once again, we want to thank our sponsors for supporting the podcast in 2018: