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EXECUTION Launched SaaS With Paying Customers in 4 Weeks

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by johnp, Dec 5, 2018.

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  1. johnp
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    johnp Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    @Andy Black did a pretty good job convincing me that I should make a thread.

    I wasn't going to talk about this business because I've been jumping around from idea to idea lately... and I felt kind of stupid for doing that.

    But he convinced me, so here it goes.

    This thread will be about a SaaS that I built and launched in 4 weeks, with paying users.

    I've been itching to get back into software for awhile now. I finally took the plunge a few weeks ago, and I'm not looking back.

    And btw - I can't code.

    My SaaS is in the lead gen /email marketing / chatbot markets

    More about how I managed to do this, what I'm doing, and where I'm headed coming soon.. I just wanted to get a placeholder up so I remember to do this.

    Stay tuned.
     
  2. johnp
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    johnp Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    For my first post... just to add a little value early on.

    When building your product (especially software), it's important to ask yourself one simple question:

    Do I really need this feature?

    One example:

    When building my platform I intentionally didn't build a self-serve sign-up process.

    Why?

    Because a self-serve signup system (i.e people signing themselves up for your service and immediately accessing features) is just one more thing that needs to be UXed.

    It's one more thing that will cost money.

    It's one more thing that needs to be QA'd.

    Ultimately, it's a distraction from the core product. From finding your product-market fit.

    Not building a self-serve signup system saved me a ton of time and it was totally worth it because I'm not building to scale right now..
     
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  3. 404profound
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    404profound Gold Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Currently working on a web app myself. I'm curious how you charge folks without them having a user profile? If they return to the site, how does the app know they've already paid?
     
  4. johnp
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    johnp Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    So they do have a profile. It's created by me on the backend.

    I use a lead gen form that's customized to look like a signup form. I then take that information and create an account for them.

    My case is a little unique. For my product, they don't need to return to the site. Setup and customization is all done for you. Although, in the future I will want people coming back.

    Aside from that, here's the reality of things:

    I've been around the block with building SaaS (product manager in past life).

    Building and launching a SaaS is completely different than scaling.

    Many SaaS founders just jump into it trying to do things that that don't yet matter. Like feature gating, user-experience, etc... I don't feature gate. Right now everyone gets unlimited everything. It not only saves me tons of hours, it's a huge value prop too.

    When launching, you really have to HYPER FOCUS on the core features.

    This means asking the right questions.

    It's nice to worry about how users will experience the product when they are paying... but the real question is... will they even come back to the site? or... maybe that's not even it. Maybe the question is even more basic. Like who cares in the beginning if the app knows whether or not they're paying. Sounds weird, but just give it some thought. Paying = self serving. Do you even need free vs paid in the beginning? Idk maybe you do. But maybe you don't.

    The key to all of this is asking the right questions and really pushing yourself to drill down on the core features. I re-worked my wireframes 3 times, consulted with a few developers and interviewed 25 developers before we even wrote one line of code.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
  5. johnp
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    johnp Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    and here's what i mean by "I create profiles on the backend"

    This is my backend. The admin profile view.

    Yes, it's ugly. But only I see it.

    The profile is uploaded to my system by me via a JSON file. Scaleable? Probably not. But it works great. Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 9.49.36 PM.png
     
  6. 404profound
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    404profound Gold Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I really appreciate this response and the one before it. I'm pretty much a novice at development, been learning / implementing for about 6 months - so every bit of wisdom like this is gold to me. I'm especially glad you explained that you don't feature gate immediately, I can understand the logic there. I think I did a decent job building an understanding of user needs, but hearing the rigor you invested before hitting the editor makes me reconsider. Again, thanks for taking the time to offer insight.
     
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  7. JamItFast
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    JamItFast Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Thanks, I'll be following along!
     
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  8. Andy Black
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    Andy Black Any colour, as long as it's red. Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Another advantage of not making it self service is that you build a much stronger relationship with each new client you signup.

    If you can jump on video calls with them then you learn so much about what they’re trying to do, why, and where they get stuck. By actually talking to people you learn things you’ll not learn split-testing a new user signup process or surveying people.
     
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  9. johnp
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    johnp Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    @Andy Black -- completely agree. Split testing is so overrated when starting out. It took me a long time to come to terms with that.

    I'm also noticing this trend in Saas where a lot of saas companies are offering Done-for-you service. Maybe it's not a trend and it has always been a thing. But I'm seeing it everywhere now - usually as an upsell.

    I think saas companies are staring to realize how much value there is in actually helping their customers achieve their desired outcome instead of waiting, hoping for them to figure it out. The amount of effort that goes into building a good user experience and removing friction is insane. Usually it's just easier to talk to the customer and do it for them.

    That's what I'm noticing and trying to apply to this. I have some competitors but none are offering completely unlimited done for you service (unless you pay a ton of money). I see huge opportunities there
     
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  10. Andy Black
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    Andy Black Any colour, as long as it's red. Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I had to chuckle at this...
     
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  11. johnp
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    johnp Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Some updates:

    - Too many sleepless nights writing sales letters. I burned myself out and got sick.

    - MRR is slowly going up. I'll eventually start sharing some numbers.

    - On the Facebook Ads side: I'm finding some success running cold ads to people who I know can use my product. For example, ads to Mailchimp users who need help building their lists.

    - Most notably - I just launched my white label service. Andy helped me realize that white labeling to agencies could be an extremely practical route to go down. I setup a landing page and I'm starting to get the reseller program out into the market.

    White labeling allows me to scale through agencies, while helping agencies add more value and/or revenue to their services.

    I can't think of a single competitor who has a reseller service. At least, not like the one that I put together.

    And most important - it will help me focus my attention.

    Focus is my biggest issue. There are almost too many industries and businesses that I can target. I really need to carve out my niche and say, "I'm the guy who does X."

    RGAs (revenue generating activity) for next 6 weeks:

    RGA #1: Join Facebook groups and other forums where agencies hang out. Make connections that way.

    RGA #2: Continue running facebook ads. Cold direct response style and full funnel ads.

    RGA #3: And maybe some lead gen/list building

    Outside of the marketing and sales end, I'm continuing to work on product updates. Just because I built the product in 4 weeks, doesn't mean that dev is done.

    I'm using an agile development methodology. We built the base of the product first, then every 2 weeks we take items from our backlog and start baking new features/improvements into the product.

    Also - it's also worth noting that I'm not profitable yet. I re-invest every penny I earn back into development and marketing.

    But I don't need to be profitable right now because I have a job to support myself and my family.

    A ton of exciting things are slowly happening. I keep having to remind myself that I don't need to rush. Right now I can say that I'm pretty happy that I made the switch from e-comm back to software, even though software does have its headaches.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
  12. johnp
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    johnp Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Some updates:

    - We built some new features related to GDPR. I also have a conversion tracking feature and some email integrations in the pipeline. All of my development at this point is based on customer feedback, rather than what I think would work nice. The challenge is pacing development so I don't go broke.

    - I had my first bad experience with a potential customer. The guy was showing some red flags through email. It got to the point where he was trying to bully me through email just to get my product for free. I ended up turning him away and it felt pretty good.

    - Awhile back I switched my funnel from a Free 30 Day Trial offer to $50/month with a 60 day money back guarantee. It feels really weird to not offer a trial because almost everybody does this in SaaS. BUT at the same time, it's keeping the tire kickers out and allowing me to keep my operational costs low.

    - Moving forward - I've split my product into two offerings:

    Offer #1: Individual businesses - starting at $50/mo

    Offer #2: Agencies - Probably leaning towards a $150/mo price point to start for unlimited clients, unlimited everything and with an annual option. I'm setting up an Agency Founder program this weekend.

    Over the next 6+ weeks I plan to put my focus on the agency/reseller market. Any signups that come in through the individual funnel will be organic.

    Finally, I came across this really good video this morning about building a profitable bootstrapped SaaS business. It's about 5 years old, but the info is still good and eye opening.

    Here it is:


    View: https://vimeo.com/74338272?cjevent=9135460c007211e98031015e0a24060e


    A few things that stuck out to me:

    - Don't offer a free trial (this makes so much sense. My day job is in SaaS and I see everyday how much of a drain FREE really puts on people and systems).
    - Make your money back guarantee 60 days instead of 30 (I immediately changed my offer after hearing this)
    - Offer an annual option - this is really important for cashflow.
    - Give two months free on an annual option
    - You should be able to get to 150 customers through outreach and basic marketing (for me that would be $22,500/mo for the agency plan before churn).
    - And a bunch of other really good advice.
     
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  13. Andy Black
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    Andy Black Any colour, as long as it's red. Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Huh? Someone tried to bully you into waiving the $50/mth?

    The line “Sales is a screening process” springs to mind. As does “Find out ASAP whether they see the value or just the cost”.


    I think “free” can bring in the wrong people, or at least doesn’t help you build features that the payers would pay for.


    I’m curious why the 60 day money back guarantee instead of a 30 day one? For those low fees I don’t mind it being 30 days, or even none at all. It’s a test after all?


    Disclaimer: I signed up to John’s SaaS and insisted on paying. I’m funding the development of a tool that will help me and my clients, I’m helping a fellow entrepreneur, and I’m building a win-win relationship. Pretty cheap for $50/mth. The other guy sounds short-sighted and bad news and I’m glad you showed him the door.
     
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  14. johnp
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    johnp Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Yea exactly, I need to keep that in mind. He was pretty crafty too. He also started offering me "funding" and contacts. That's when I knew something was up.

    I actually have no idea. I don't see much of a difference myself. I just assumed that he tested it haha.
     
  15. Andy Black
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    Andy Black Any colour, as long as it's red. Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Both those lines were dropped by Blaise Brosnan in workshops I attended.

    He casually dropped another one: “When someone tells you how great you are and how much work you’ll be doing together in the future then beware - you’re being setup.” Yep, that one resonated too.
     
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