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GOLD! Ask Me Anything About SaaS ( I'm building my 7th )

awestbro

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Nov 13, 2018
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West Virginia
Hey eliquid! Thanks for all the information here, it's been an informative read.

I'm launching my SaaS product in the next couple months and was looking for advice on metrics/ goal tracking. I've traditionally used Google Analytics on other projects but more and more people are using adblockers so that data seems less reliable. I'm looking at backend data collection tools and wondered if you had any experience with third party services that do this, or if you roll your own. Right now I'm looking at Keen – customer-facing Metrics but would love to hear about more.

Also what other third party integrations do you recommend over the "build it yourself" approach? I like controlling everything in my system but I'm learning to let go in favor of speed :).

Third party integrations I have so far:
- Email - Mailgun
- Payments - Stripe
 

eliquid

( Jason Brown )
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Hey eliquid! Thanks for all the information here, it's been an informative read.

I'm launching my SaaS product in the next couple months and was looking for advice on metrics/ goal tracking. I've traditionally used Google Analytics on other projects but more and more people are using adblockers so that data seems less reliable. I'm looking at backend data collection tools and wondered if you had any experience with third party services that do this, or if you roll your own. Right now I'm looking at Keen – customer-facing Metrics but would love to hear about more.

Also what other third party integrations do you recommend over the "build it yourself" approach? I like controlling everything in my system but I'm learning to let go in favor of speed :).

Third party integrations I have so far:
- Email - Mailgun
- Payments - Stripe
So a lot of things we set up years ago we had to do by hand.

Really not that many solutions around back then. Some were, but they were more complicated then today's solutions.

So with that, we didn't want to use solutions from Google ( because of privacy ) or first generation platforms ( because of bugs or complicated solutions ).

We ended up rolling a solution with Matomo which use to be called PiWik for most of our analytics.

On the backend, we rolled our own based on signals from Stripe and ChartMogul ( you could use Baremetrics too ).

We also integrate in with Amazon SES and Amazon S3.

We have a dashboard that compares with things like Keen actually we made on our own. Could be a possible SaaS in the future. But that's how we roll.

.
 
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awestbro

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Nov 13, 2018
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West Virginia
I've never heard of Matamo, thanks for the recommendation! I may end up having to roll some of my own solutions to display metrics to users anyway, but for application wide analytics this looks great.

I'll also probably drop Mailgun in favor of SES. If you incorporate with Stripe Atlas they actually give you $5k in AWS credit over 2 years so that'll help save on operating cost for a little while.
 
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404profound

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@eliquid forgive me if you've addressed this earlier in the thread, but I am nearing completion of my app (I never thought I'd say that). Do you recommend a time range for pre-launch marketing? I know it isn't best practice to just release an app with no build up.
 

eliquid

( Jason Brown )
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@404profound

I generally only do a couple weeks of pre-launch. A couple times I've done 0.

Since I stay in the same niche, I can afford to since I have a staple of customers I can hit at any time.

For anyone else, I would say you may need a couple months to do proper pre-launch.

.
 

404profound

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@404profound

I generally only do a couple weeks of pre-launch. A couple times I've done 0.

Since I stay in the same niche, I can afford to since I have a staple of customers I can hit at any time.

For anyone else, I would say you may need a couple months to do proper pre-launch.

.
Interesting, thanks for replying.
 

eliquid

( Jason Brown )
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Anyone seen these new european regulations ( they actually been around for a few months now, but the deadline is approaching soon ) for billing?

We are having to redo a lot of our code to update to the new guidelines.

Which means that potentially many of our european customers will have to reactivate their subscription to us manually.

Always be on the look out for "what could go wrong" and make sure you stay up-to-date with 3rd parties in your industry. They pass a lot of valuable info that could impact you down the road.

If you use 3rd parties for anything ( Paypal, Stripe, AWS, anything ), make sure you are sub'd to their emails. Don't skip it or throw them in the trash. You never know what you might miss out on that is important.

.
 

eliquid

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Have you tried ScalablePath/xTeam/Digitalogy for finding developers? Where would you recommend to find someone competent + agile?
I haven't used them and I would be the worst person to give you an answer to finding competent developers because I rarely find them.

In my experience, it comes down to word of mouth really on finding the good ones.

Sorry I could not be of more help.

One thing I use to do was hire a bunch at once for a small task. I'm talking sub $100 tasks. Really small stuff. I'd give them very detailed instructions and tell them to email me daily.

Whoever doesn't email me daily, or does not follow directions or complete.. I would fire and keep who was left, which was typically out of 20 people.. maybe 1 if you were lucky.
 

Bitz

New Contributor
Apr 17, 2019
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New York, New York
@eliquid - Thanks for the great info!

Had the idea to create a SaaS business to solve an issue we are dealing with at a large Marketing Agency I work for. I saw work in the M&A Finance field previously and thought hey why aren't we using something similiar.

Background, I work as digital Marketer (Search Marketing) at a large agency and used to work in Investment banking.

Issue: Inefficiencies created by the ever growing technicality with launching marketing assets.

I have thought of a solution based on what I saw work in the Finance Industry (although the pain point & security issue is less of a factor) I believe if done right can really help boost efficiency in Marketing agencies and for their clients/vendors.

Question: What are the first steps you would recommend getting this started (validation, creation, etc)? Considering I have zero coding background.
 

eliquid

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@Bitz As first steps go, I would say validation is done.

Why?

You have domain expertise ( you've worked and seen this working in the Finance field and now you see this need over in Marketing where you work now ) and you see the real life need where you are at now.

Basically, scratching your own itch ( at the Marketing agency ).

I'd go ahead and start on the creation and coding and get it to a base product that can be used by your marketing agency.

What's the worse that can happen? You build it and it works great and your company promotes you? Maybe they buy it from you? Either way, even if it is not a public SaaS you benefit potentially in other areas as a first step.

.
 

Bitz

New Contributor
Apr 17, 2019
5
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14
New York, New York
@Bitz As first steps go, I would say validation is done.

Why?

You have domain expertise ( you've worked and seen this working in the Finance field and now you see this need over in Marketing where you work now ) and you see the real life need where you are at now.

Basically, scratching your own itch ( at the Marketing agency ).

I'd go ahead and start on the creation and coding and get it to a base product that can be used by your marketing agency.

What's the worse that can happen? You build it and it works great and your company promotes you? Maybe they buy it from you? Either way, even if it is not a public SaaS you benefit potentially in other areas as a first step.

.
@eliquid

Very true, you make a valid point. the upside seems to significantly out way the down side.

As someone who has never built a Saas platform or coding platform would you have any recommendations on mistakes to avoid considering I could learn to build the base product myself? Or is it a viable path to work with a programmer to help design a platform?
 

eliquid

( Jason Brown )
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Hard to say. How fast do you want this to go live?

If soon, you will need to work with a developer for sure.

If you can wait a year or 2, then I would say go for it yourself.

As far as mistakes to avoid:

1. Code in 1 language. Don't get distracted and think you need to do part of it in PHP, part of it in Ruby, part in Go, part in Rust, etc.

2. Always be thinking about the future. What if X person signs up and needs Y? What if this API provider goes bust in 6 months? etc. I am NOT saying you need to code that expectation in now, but at least be thinking about it and now it so that when it does happen, it isn't a surprise and by then you would have thought your way around itand can code in a solution quickly when needed.

3. Don't forget to backup. Have a backup for your backup.

4. People will NOT read anything. This includes your onboarding and directions on how to use the app/saas. They won't watch videos either. So this means your interface has to act natural and flow natural. Your interface is critical and needs to be even better than the actual code you write.

5. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just needs to solve a problem well.

6. Don't get emotional. You're building something with your hands out of thin air so you will get attached to it. When someone else says something negative or bashes it, just remember they are not you and didn't create it and they are not bashing you personally.
 

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