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Dane Maxwell AMA-- SaaS, Membership Sites, The Foundation

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Vanessa

New Contributor
Mar 20, 2014
5
5
I've got lots of questions ;-) I love The Foundation's website and your sales video is awesome.

First, the tough one: Why package and market your system as opposed to scaling one of your existing SaaS offerings to 7 figures a month or building a portfolio of 6 figure SaaS apps?

How do you approach growing MRR while minimizing churn and building a loyal customer base? E.g., do you find that you put just as much or more into retention as you do into acquisition? Do you find that retention is easier because of the specificity of the idea extraction process? Have any of your students built a partner channel?

Are most of the apps that you and your students produce aimed at the small business market? Have you or any of your students broken into the mid-market or enterprise space? Have any of your students grown into or past mid 7 figures annual revenue? What about in terms of subscriber count, whats the largest you or your students have achieved? 1k, 10k, 100k, a million?

How do you handle outages? Do you credit customers for downtime or throw them perks or anything to offset the pain of an outage? What works best in your experience?

How do you set up your students to deal with operations, do you outsource it or are most of the apps of small enough scale that they are just running on a basic hosting account? Do you teach your students how to setup an operations team and tiered customer support processes?

What is your opinion on data portability, APIs and integration? Are you an advocate of the walled garden approach or open access? Do you put up barriers like fees for a data extract, etc. to slow folks from fleeing to competitors?

Have you run into compliance issues with differing laws in different countries or are your apps focused on the US market? Do you explicitly block users from countries with potentially "difficult" laws like Germany, Belgium, Ireland, etc.? Do you have any students using cloud platforms and how do they deal with this issue?

Do you teach your students anything about scaling, and scaling the technical stack as the business scales? Or is the focus of your course just on the "entry" and launch? Any plans to do a follow on course for your graduates to deal with the next stage of growth of their apps?

On business scaling, do you advocate doing as much as possible "virtually" over the internet, or have you used an in house solution sales team to sell subscriptions? Have you found that businesses are more accepting now of cloud based solutions or are you facing a challenging sales process?

Whats the highest ROI marketing channel you/your students have used for your apps? LinkedIn driving to webinars? Direct mail postcards?


Exactly. As a developer/PM/BA and a entrepreneur, these are the exact questions I concern and want to know if your system offered
 

najz

THINK BIG
Read Fastlane!
Feb 26, 2014
41
43
31
Hey Dane,

It's a pleasure to have You here. Thanks.


What do You think about my latest personal problem :

What do You think about Idea Extraction by the phone, before holiday season?
In another week we got 2 days, when people are in the "work mode' and then christmas + New Year's Event. (another 2-3 days in offices - then free time cause NYE)

It's better to wait, prepare better for IE (by the phone) or just go with the "take action, no excuse"?

I dont feel that it's a excuse for me, i dont feel any pain associated with that.
I want to know it's right to do that kind of things, before christmas seeson?
I asked many people and everybody's is telling me, that's best way is to wait till next year. (3-4 day's of January).

What do You recommend? :)

btw. Merry Christmas to You all :)
Majk.
 
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throttleforward

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Lathan

Silver Contributor
Speedway Pass
May 24, 2013
353
556
I actually listened to this the other day. I thought you meant like a list of specific questions and things. But yea the call was pretty cool. The pool guy seemed really open to share his pains.

Yea, idea extraction is what I'm interested in.
 
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ZDigriz

New Contributor
Mar 28, 2015
1
5
54
Hi, everyone.

Thanks for saving me several thousand dollars - and more importantly - several months of my time in regards to The Foundation. I've listened to a couple of Dane's podcasts and been impressed with the quality of the information and his approach to building a successful SaaS business. The process he advocates works and it's the same way I've built my own software company.

But being a successful entrepreneur doesn't automatically quality you to run a successful coaching program. I've been involved in four paid programs overs the years - real estate, marketing and fund raising. Two of them were excellent, two of them mediocre.

We live outside of Boulder and I've met many people (founders, mentors and students) from the phenomenal Tech Stars accelerator program. It's similar in scope, but is a free, highly competitive program that guarantees $100K+ in funding for every graduating company. You can imagine the quality of everyone involved and how much time and effort goes into making it work.

There's several consistent themes from this thread. Dane needs to seriously improve his coaching skills, hire better instructors and put the program content in a better format.

1. Show up on time. The comments about Dane showing up late or skipping sessions entirely are a deal breaker for me. After the 2nd or 3rd time, I'd have left and gotten a refund.

It's a perfect example of what Tom Peters calls the dirty tray problem on a commercial airline. You board the plane, look down the aisle and see it littered with garbage. The tray tables aren't even clean. His point is what does that indicate about other aspects of the business? If they can't even complete basic tasks like properly cleaning the plane between flights, what does that say about the engine maintenance? Or pilot ability? Or emergency procedures?

Most people have heard the phrase "90% of success is simply showing up." The "on time" piece is implicit. If the instructor can't even show up as scheduled once or twice each week, what does that say about his commitment to other aspects of the program? It's a complete lack of respect to the several dozen students who have explicitly PAID FOR HIS TIME. He's promising to reinvent your mindset and life, but can't pick up the phone at the right time? All the other promises immediately become suspect.

2. Outsourced mentoring. It doesn't work in general and especially when the sub-coaches haven't even started their own successful businesses using the same material. If he wants to pocket big money for coaching students, that requires showing up and doing the hard work personally until the staff is trained well enough to take over.

3. Unanswered questions. I really can't understand this at all. Two of the critical skills for creating an automated business are building systems and delegating. The successful mentors I've had replied to every call, email and forum post. It might not have been them personally responding, but every question got answered. The Foundation clearly doesn't have such systems in place.

Graduates are promised a functioning SaaS application with "at least one paying customer" after six months. That sounds great, but one of the fundamental principles is getting prospects to pay up front (pre-sell) to fund the development and avoid personally coming out of pocket. It's pretty unlikely any single customer is funding 100% of the development (although that's certainly possible with custom work), so where are all the rest of them after six months? Who paid for all the development work? Did everyone find a developer willing to trade their time for future profits?

It's easy to blame TF students for lack of effort, but only about 5% actually launched after six months. That means after spending $300K+ and tens of thousands of man hours, TF was able to create five businesses which cumulatively generate $5K monthly. Not my idea of a good investment and hardly a successful accelerator program. In contrast, 95% (sometimes 100%) of Tech Stars graduates launched by graduation. I like the concept of The Foundation, but will find other resources until the problems are worked out and it becomes a two-way revenue stream.
 

Tregan

Contributor
Jul 16, 2013
46
40
Hi, everyone.

Thanks for saving me several thousand dollars - and more importantly - several months of my time in regards to The Foundation. I've listened to a couple of Dane's podcasts and been impressed with the quality of the information and his approach to building a successful SaaS business. The process he advocates works and it's the same way I've built my own software company.

But being a successful entrepreneur doesn't automatically quality you to run a successful coaching program. I've been involved in four paid programs overs the years - real estate, marketing and fund raising. Two of them were excellent, two of them mediocre.

We live outside of Boulder and I've met many people (founders, mentors and students) from the phenomenal Tech Stars accelerator program. It's similar in scope, but is a free, highly competitive program that guarantees $100K+ in funding for every graduating company. You can imagine the quality of everyone involved and how much time and effort goes into making it work.

There's several consistent themes from this thread. Dane needs to seriously improve his coaching skills, hire better instructors and put the program content in a better format.

1. Show up on time. The comments about Dane showing up late or skipping sessions entirely are a deal breaker for me. After the 2nd or 3rd time, I'd have left and gotten a refund.

It's a perfect example of what Tom Peters calls the dirty tray problem on a commercial airline. You board the plane, look down the aisle and see it littered with garbage. The tray tables aren't even clean. His point is what does that indicate about other aspects of the business? If they can't even complete basic tasks like properly cleaning the plane between flights, what does that say about the engine maintenance? Or pilot ability? Or emergency procedures?

Most people have heard the phrase "90% of success is simply showing up." The "on time" piece is implicit. If the instructor can't even show up as scheduled once or twice each week, what does that say about his commitment to other aspects of the program? It's a complete lack of respect to the several dozen students who have explicitly PAID FOR HIS TIME. He's promising to reinvent your mindset and life, but can't pick up the phone at the right time? All the other promises immediately become suspect.

2. Outsourced mentoring. It doesn't work in general and especially when the sub-coaches haven't even started their own successful businesses using the same material. If he wants to pocket big money for coaching students, that requires showing up and doing the hard work personally until the staff is trained well enough to take over.

3. Unanswered questions. I really can't understand this at all. Two of the critical skills for creating an automated business are building systems and delegating. The successful mentors I've had replied to every call, email and forum post. It might not have been them personally responding, but every question got answered. The Foundation clearly doesn't have such systems in place.

Graduates are promised a functioning SaaS application with "at least one paying customer" after six months. That sounds great, but one of the fundamental principles is getting prospects to pay up front (pre-sell) to fund the development and avoid personally coming out of pocket. It's pretty unlikely any single customer is funding 100% of the development (although that's certainly possible with custom work), so where are all the rest of them after six months? Who paid for all the development work? Did everyone find a developer willing to trade their time for future profits?

It's easy to blame TF students for lack of effort, but only about 5% actually launched after six months. That means after spending $300K+ and tens of thousands of man hours, TF was able to create five businesses which cumulatively generate $5K monthly. Not my idea of a good investment and hardly a successful accelerator program. In contrast, 95% (sometimes 100%) of Tech Stars graduates launched by graduation. I like the concept of The Foundation, but will find other resources until the problems are worked out and it becomes a two-way revenue stream.


The thing that concerns me about The Foundation are the so called mentors, I've contacted 2 on their blogs with questions relating to The Foundation and one tried to sell me his private time 'consulting' and the other never replied. I wanted to actually talk to graduates of the program and get their take, not just listen to Dane's podcasts. These 2 are almost always mentioned when they do a new enrollment, they've both partnered and created a saas for physical therapists. But my question is what about all the others? Like your posts mentions, why would you allow someone to be a mentor that hasn't actually created successful companies? I've followed The Foundation and Dane for a few years now and have so many red flags like the mentors, success stories vs. failures rates, too much foo foo feel good crap, etc..
 

seanjohn

Contributor
Jun 15, 2012
27
30
Hi, everyone.

Thanks for saving me several thousand dollars - and more importantly - several months of my time in regards to The Foundation. I've listened to a couple of Dane's podcasts and been impressed with the quality of the information and his approach to building a successful SaaS business. The process he advocates works and it's the same way I've built my own software company.

But being a successful entrepreneur doesn't automatically quality you to run a successful coaching program. I've been involved in four paid programs overs the years - real estate, marketing and fund raising. Two of them were excellent, two of them mediocre.

We live outside of Boulder and I've met many people (founders, mentors and students) from the phenomenal Tech Stars accelerator program. It's similar in scope, but is a free, highly competitive program that guarantees $100K+ in funding for every graduating company. You can imagine the quality of everyone involved and how much time and effort goes into making it work.

There's several consistent themes from this thread. Dane needs to seriously improve his coaching skills, hire better instructors and put the program content in a better format.

1. Show up on time. The comments about Dane showing up late or skipping sessions entirely are a deal breaker for me. After the 2nd or 3rd time, I'd have left and gotten a refund.

It's a perfect example of what Tom Peters calls the dirty tray problem on a commercial airline. You board the plane, look down the aisle and see it littered with garbage. The tray tables aren't even clean. His point is what does that indicate about other aspects of the business? If they can't even complete basic tasks like properly cleaning the plane between flights, what does that say about the engine maintenance? Or pilot ability? Or emergency procedures?

Most people have heard the phrase "90% of success is simply showing up." The "on time" piece is implicit. If the instructor can't even show up as scheduled once or twice each week, what does that say about his commitment to other aspects of the program? It's a complete lack of respect to the several dozen students who have explicitly PAID FOR HIS TIME. He's promising to reinvent your mindset and life, but can't pick up the phone at the right time? All the other promises immediately become suspect.

2. Outsourced mentoring. It doesn't work in general and especially when the sub-coaches haven't even started their own successful businesses using the same material. If he wants to pocket big money for coaching students, that requires showing up and doing the hard work personally until the staff is trained well enough to take over.

3. Unanswered questions. I really can't understand this at all. Two of the critical skills for creating an automated business are building systems and delegating. The successful mentors I've had replied to every call, email and forum post. It might not have been them personally responding, but every question got answered. The Foundation clearly doesn't have such systems in place.

Graduates are promised a functioning SaaS application with "at least one paying customer" after six months. That sounds great, but one of the fundamental principles is getting prospects to pay up front (pre-sell) to fund the development and avoid personally coming out of pocket. It's pretty unlikely any single customer is funding 100% of the development (although that's certainly possible with custom work), so where are all the rest of them after six months? Who paid for all the development work? Did everyone find a developer willing to trade their time for future profits?

It's easy to blame TF students for lack of effort, but only about 5% actually launched after six months. That means after spending $300K+ and tens of thousands of man hours, TF was able to create five businesses which cumulatively generate $5K monthly. Not my idea of a good investment and hardly a successful accelerator program. In contrast, 95% (sometimes 100%) of Tech Stars graduates launched by graduation. I like the concept of The Foundation, but will find other resources until the problems are worked out and it becomes a two-way revenue stream.

Gonna bump this since Mixergy is heavily promoting this through their site because Andrew is being brought on as a "mentor."

I listened to the podcast, and Andrew pressed Dane about the low success rate. Dane said "because they're not doing it right."
And Andrew left it at that.

The problem is -- they now only offer a 30 day refund? Why?

Are they not confident in their course?
 
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Revolution

PARKED
Dec 19, 2016
1
0
111
Gonna bump this since Mixergy is heavily promoting this through their site because Andrew is being brought on as a "mentor."

I listened to the podcast, and Andrew pressed Dane about the low success rate. Dane said "because they're not doing it right."
And Andrew left it at that.

The problem is -- they now only offer a 30 day refund? Why?

Are they not confident in their course?

You get a 100% money back guarantee. If you do not like the course, you can leave and get a refund. Does any other course/university offer a 100% money back guarantee?
 

seanjohn

Contributor
Jun 15, 2012
27
30
You get a 100% money back guarantee. If you do not like the course, you can leave and get a refund. Does any other course/university offer a 100% money back guarantee?
Yep. Both universities I attended offered my money back if I dropped out before mid-terms (~45 day mark). I could also drop-in on some courses to see if the course is right for free.

So I don't get your comparison to college/uni.

Does "The Foundation" offer all of the course materials up front so someone can review the information and make an informed decision in 30 days?

Or does it "drip" content?
 
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