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

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JonathanMiz

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The ones prior, I either closed down or rolled into the next SaaS.

My first SaaS, it did OK but wasn't really taking off. When I started my 2nd SaaS I closed down the 1st one and rolled all that code and it's customers into my 2nd one.

My 2nd one I had a partner. After a couple of years things didn't work out between us, so I closed that down too and rolled the ideas, code, and customers into my 3rd one.

etc, etc, etc.

So by the time I got to my 6th SaaS, it was pretty much the evolution of the all the SaaS behind it. Some of them did run by side by side at the same time, but the majority were versions of the prior SaaS rolled up into it.



I typically build everything myself, at least to the MVP. In some cases I have built past that myself too, in others someone else has helped build past that.




Getting to MVP, it is possible.

You might have overlooked that I have been building things online since 1998-ish. I started with HTML and quickly got into Perl and PHP/SQL, etc all before 2000 rolled around.

The same thing happened with marketing too. By 2000 I had already been buying PPC clicks from GoTo and manipulating pre-SEO by adjusting listings on DMOZ and Yahoo Directory.

I was doing millions on Facebook ads in 2008 as a top affiliate. I was bulk emailing to millions of emails in 2010. By 2013, I had forced Google to push out the Payday algo update for the SEO stuff I was doing.

Later I was handling the marketing budgets for Alibaba, John Deere, Virgin Group, and TeamViewer.

You start wrapping all that experience together and you find building out systems, marketing, and other stuff just comes 2nd nature to you. What might take someone a full week to do, I might get done and be confident about in 1 day.

Yes, it still takes time. But getting something to MVP might take me 2 weekends and since all my SaaS have been in the digital marketing industry, throwing my new SaaS into my existing SaaS customers and where they hang out is pretty much "already done". Managing the business, well that's not too hard either since a lot of the code, customers, and industry are related.

Even if I was building things in different fields, like Elon Musk.. I think I could pull it off too though.

All this experience means you:

1. Skip a lot of errors and mis-steps.

2. Already have frameworks in places for code, marketing, business, etc

3. Have confidence to make choices that you otherwise might stumble on or delay

4. Have answers to the most routine questions and how to answer them



Sometimes. Many times I have just kept it to myself.

Sometimes I bring on a partner.

Sometimes I hire a VA to delegate to.



Thanks

OMG thanks for the detailed answer, connected a lot of dots for me,
Now I can model you properly:--)

Inspired by your info, my idea right now is to build a kind of MVC platform where
I have everything deployed and can test MVCs fairly quickly for users,
idea -> build -> deploy -> see how users react
then once I get something good, will double down on it.

Tech stack: Java/Kotlin, Angular, Heroku, PostgreSQL
Marketing stack: direct response marketing (funnels, webinars, etc...), YouTube and LinkedIn content, paid ads

BTW is there a way to find out about your consulting services other than PM
 

eliquid

( Jason Brown )
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Hey Jason,

Did you have to hire sales rep to grow your companies or did you only used marketing and word of mouth?

If so, what would be your tips about hiring a sales rep?

Never had a sales rep, but I have had affiliates.

I wouldn't be able to answer about the sales rep though.
 

eliquid

( Jason Brown )
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OMG thanks for the detailed answer, connected a lot of dots for me,
Now I can model you properly:--)

Inspired by your info, my idea right now is to build a kind of MVC platform where
I have everything deployed and can test MVCs fairly quickly for users,
idea -> build -> deploy -> see how users react
then once I get something good, will double down on it.

Tech stack: Java/Kotlin, Angular, Heroku, PostgreSQL
Marketing stack: direct response marketing (funnels, webinars, etc...), YouTube and LinkedIn content, paid ads

BTW is there a way to find out about your consulting services other than PM

Other than PM, no not really. Meaning, I don't have the "offer" for consulting up anywhere else ( like a web page or some social media profile ).

I'm not really consulting on SaaS anymore to others. I got really busy with another project and while I do have a few left over clients for consulting on SaaS, it's not something I really push anymore.

Maybe I can help you on the side from time to time though.
 

Carnegie

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Hi Jason

Thanks again for your time, I have a pricing strategy question and wondered if you’d provide some thoughts please?

All the SaaS with which mine will compete priceon a complicated tiered scale.

Most have “unlimited users”, but then price on an “x number of items limit” (items being keywords in your case, which I'll use from now on). Like Serpwoo has say 750 keywords for the basic tier, then say 2000 keywords for the next tier.

What I’d like to try is a pay-as-you-go tierless offering like AWS or Digital Ocean. I think I can bill on a per hour basis, where costs are as shown like below:
  • Basic: $1, per keyword, per year (billed hourly per month)
  • Advanced: $2, per keyword, per year (billed hourly per month)
  • Pro: $3, per keyword, per year (billed hourly per month)
The industry tends to obfuscate pricing behind many tiers of requirements and layers say, “if you want keyword research that’s an extra $100 per month per 1000 keywords” and then says, “if you want to store those keywords, that’s another $50 per month”,’. New users, that’s $1000 per annum up front per user. Want email updates, that’s $200 per month. I think you get the picture.

The whole industry absolutely milks the users and often ties them into multi-year contracts and even has annual pricing reviews and annual “license fees”!

This is mainly due to the industry previously being mainly installed on on-site servers and they don’t want to give up those juicy “license fees”!

The industry does now have many SaaS offerings, but I don’t think it prices well, it loves laying up the extras and hiding the true cost. I'm conflicted though - I also feel like I’ll be leaving money on the table in not doing this, (over charging per month/annum would make more money - obviously)!

tl:dr is it worth trying an entirely new (to the industry) "pay-as-you-go" pricing strategy with total transparency and leaving money on the table by not charging tiered levels with fixed quantities of allowed items (keywords in your case) per month?

Using your SaaS as an example, what would the pros and cons, as you see them, be in charging say per keyword per year charged on an hourly basis, please?

Thanks again
 
Last edited:

eliquid

( Jason Brown )
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Hi Jason

Thanks again for your time, I have a pricing strategy question and wondered if you’d provide some thoughts please?

All the SaaS with which mine will compete priceon a complicated tiered scale.

Most have “unlimited users”, but then price on an “x number of items limit” (items being keywords in your case, which I'll use from now on). Like Serpwoo has say 750 keywords for the basic tier, then say 2000 keywords for the next tier.

What I’d like to try is a pay-as-you-go tierless offering like AWS or Digital Ocean. I think I can bill on a per hour basis, where costs are as shown like below:
  • Basic: $1, per keyword, per year (billed hourly per month)
  • Advanced: $2, per keyword, per year (billed hourly per month)
  • Pro: $3, per keyword, per year (billed hourly per month)
The industry tends to obfuscate pricing behind many tiers of requirements and layers say, “if you want keyword research that’s an extra $100 per month per 1000 keywords” and then says, “if you want to store those keywords, that’s another $50 per month”,’. New users, that’s $1000 per annum up front per user. Want email updates, that’s $200 per month. I think you get the picture.

The whole industry absolutely milks the users and often ties them into multi-year contracts and even has annual pricing reviews and annual “license fees”!

This is mainly due to the industry previously being mainly installed on on-site servers and they don’t want to give up those juicy “license fees”!

The industry does now have many SaaS offerings, but I don’t think it prices well, it loves laying up the extras and hiding the true cost. I'm conflicted though - I also feel like I’ll be leaving money on the table in not doing this, (over charging per month/annum would make more money - obviously)!

tl:dr is it worth trying an entirely new (to the industry) "pay-as-you-go" pricing strategy with total transparency and leaving money on the table by not charging tiered levels with fixed quantities of allowed items (keywords in your case) per month?

Using your SaaS as an example, what would the pros and cons, as you see them, be in charging say per keyword per year charged on an hourly basis, please?

Thanks again
It is worth it.

The problem you run into is, people wont understand it simply.

So, you gotta make them understand it. Which means teaching or showing them. Which means you really gotta nail it.

Similar to how AWS had to, they have lots of calculators and diagrams how "how much you will save" compared to others.

You will need to bust out a ton of those to show them the value.

Maybe even make the calculator be part of the sign up process... "See how much you will save compared to Competitor X" and along the journey show them the savings with your model. Then collect their email for a ebook or whitepaper or trial.
 

Carnegie

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Thanks for the prompt reply! Love the calculator idea as part of the signup process, thanks.

I've just thought of perhaps going with giving them the choice of tiers or PAYG. Then if they choose tiered pricing having a "see how much you could save running as PAYG" link or something which shows them saving by converting to PAYG. Maybe even then refunding them if they move as a thank you.

Having just typed that last line about a refund I quite like that idea as they'd be getting something they didn't expect like a gift. I'm prepared to go all in on the trust and transparency thing, so yeah, that makes my balls tingle.
 

iHaveAName

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Hey @eliquid ,

I'm a long time follower and fan of this thread :)

I am currently working on my new software business and wanted to get your thoughts on a few things.

1. I want to go a "consulting / software" hybrid route. So not just having a software for x$ per month that I hand out blindly to customers but coupling that together with a consulting & custom onboarding / setup service to really get the maximum results for my customers.
I have sold close to $30k in revenue with my first 4 customers, so I went the high ticket B2B route for it. And they are super happy with it. So that is not an issue.
What are your thoughts on a Software / Consulting Hybrid business model? I run an agency myself and target other agencies with my solution.

2. I currently have build out the product using ClickUp for the interface, Integromat as the backend logic and Airtable as the Database - all 4 clients got a seperate setup with seperate accounts on these plattforms. I did that to quickly deliver results and validate the idea and the results it can produce.
But this is by no means a scalable way in the future. How would you proceed with turning this into a software, that makes it easier for us to onboard new clients. Since I want to keep it high ticket (lower volume of customers) and will offer consulting services together with the solution, I can get away with leaving alot of features out at the beginning, that would take up a lot of dev resources (like sign-up processes, onboarding processes, etc - we can just take care of that ourselves in this case, at least for a while).

I hope it all makes sense. Really appreciate this thread and all the value it already provided me with. I wouldn't have gotten to this point without this thread!!!
 

eliquid

( Jason Brown )
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Hey @eliquid ,

I'm a long time follower and fan of this thread :)

I am currently working on my new software business and wanted to get your thoughts on a few things.

1. I want to go a "consulting / software" hybrid route. So not just having a software for x$ per month that I hand out blindly to customers but coupling that together with a consulting & custom onboarding / setup service to really get the maximum results for my customers.
I have sold close to $30k in revenue with my first 4 customers, so I went the high ticket B2B route for it. And they are super happy with it. So that is not an issue.
What are your thoughts on a Software / Consulting Hybrid business model? I run an agency myself and target other agencies with my solution.

2. I currently have build out the product using ClickUp for the interface, Integromat as the backend logic and Airtable as the Database - all 4 clients got a seperate setup with seperate accounts on these plattforms. I did that to quickly deliver results and validate the idea and the results it can produce.
But this is by no means a scalable way in the future. How would you proceed with turning this into a software, that makes it easier for us to onboard new clients. Since I want to keep it high ticket (lower volume of customers) and will offer consulting services together with the solution, I can get away with leaving alot of features out at the beginning, that would take up a lot of dev resources (like sign-up processes, onboarding processes, etc - we can just take care of that ourselves in this case, at least for a while).

I hope it all makes sense. Really appreciate this thread and all the value it already provided me with. I wouldn't have gotten to this point without this thread!!!

1. I have no issue with it. I don't understand if you are just bundling in ( for free ) the consult so they can get onboarded or if you are charging "extra" for the option to have it done. If it's free, I just consider it "onboarding" really. For example, I am dealing with a phone metrics company at the moment and while the service is $20k a month, they have very deep and exact 2x a week meetings/consults for "free" that is basically just my onboarding. If you offer this as an extra paid option, I think it's great too. Just dont fall into the trap of making your non-paid customer out in the dark when it comes to help too or people will look at it as a scam.

2. I think I saw this in another thread here today actually. I think to answer your question, you really need to map out what you want and what you dont want ( like onboarding, signup, etc ) at this point. It sounds like you might have that done already.

Past that, you need to figure out if you want to keep running on Clickup, Integromat, and Airtable going forward and automate that process ( getting people into Airtable, getting people into Integromat, etc automatically ) or if you want to build your own solution away from those 3rd parties.

Honestly, I would do both. I'd find me some Macro record program or way to automate how you are doing it now so you can spend more time on onboarding and sales and possibly hire someone to do the prospecting and sales too ( automate that ).

Then once good, I'd start to build out those same core assets into our own code for when one of those 3rd parties dies/quits/gets bought out/goes out of business and so you can move away and own your entire chain.

Once you can move away from the 3rd parties, I'd start planning out the onboarding and signup stuff.
 

iHaveAName

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1. I have no issue with it. I don't understand if you are just bundling in ( for free ) the consult so they can get onboarded or if you are charging "extra" for the option to have it done. If it's free, I just consider it "onboarding" really. For example, I am dealing with a phone metrics company at the moment and while the service is $20k a month, they have very deep and exact 2x a week meetings/consults for "free" that is basically just my onboarding. If you offer this as an extra paid option, I think it's great too. Just dont fall into the trap of making your non-paid customer out in the dark when it comes to help too or people will look at it as a scam.

I would like to not let anyone in without the consulting service. So it'd be the first option. Framing it as the "onboarding" and not selling just the software as an alternative.

2. I think I saw this in another thread here today actually. I think to answer your question, you really need to map out what you want and what you dont want ( like onboarding, signup, etc ) at this point. It sounds like you might have that done already.

Past that, you need to figure out if you want to keep running on Clickup, Integromat, and Airtable going forward and automate that process ( getting people into Airtable, getting people into Integromat, etc automatically ) or if you want to build your own solution away from those 3rd parties.

Honestly, I would do both. I'd find me some Macro record program or way to automate how you are doing it now so you can spend more time on onboarding and sales and possibly hire someone to do the prospecting and sales too ( automate that ).

Then once good, I'd start to build out those same core assets into our own code for when one of those 3rd parties dies/quits/gets bought out/goes out of business and so you can move away and own your entire chain.

Once you can move away from the 3rd parties, I'd start planning out the onboarding and signup stuff.

It's partly mapped out. I'll need to take some time to map everything out properly.
For the 3rd party solutions, I'd like to get away from Integromat & Airtable, and just replicate the logic & database using a custom solution. BUT I would like to continue using ClickUp. Because I do not see the value of creating my own project management solution that has millions of features, when my systems power is not in those features but rather the automation & systemization aspect. Replicating something like ClickUp would take much more dev resources than building out my actual software itself. And I wont have to deal with bugs in the UI etc. They'll take care of it. But I would build out a way to switch between project management tools, just in case ClickUp dies lol.

Do you think it would be too dangerous to keep working with a 3rd party tool?
ClickUp is just the one I like the most. I can also integrate with Monday, Asana, etc. It's really just the interface that shows tasks and projects progress for my customers. All the advanced logic thats happening on the backend is done by my system.
 

Wisith

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Hey @eliquid

Thanks for the helpful thread. Admittedly I'm asking this question without reading all the pages (planning to sometime this weekend when time permits), but would like to ask you this question for now:

A friend and myself are building a VR software (B2B). The first version is completed already and works well. The short term goal is to create a landing page to capture beta users for feedback so we can do more tweaking before charging money for it.

We don't know how to build a SAAS or web app development. I thought about outsourcing that part, but I fear about using a contractor who has no skin in the game because we'll just be another project for them to do (maybe do it half a$$ if they're busy) or maybe they'd install malware in the process.

Would love your thoughts on what'd you do. Thanks in advance, bud :)
 

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