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EXECUTION [Progress] Building a SaaS app and logging my learnings

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warrantor

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Hi everyone!

For the past 6 years I've been a software development consultant. Lots of politics and being on the bottom of the corporate food chain but, earning good money. I've had this feeling that it's not for me for quite some time now. Also, exchanging time for money is not really how I see myself spending my days until I'm 67.

I figured, maybe I can use these software development skills for something of my own. I've actually had a lot of projects I tried for myself, but none of them made it into production. Most of the time it was just my own feedback loop from hell that kept me from pushing through.

Now, I'm a bit older and a bit wiser (I think) and have learned that, there is only one good idea and that's the one you actually execute. So, I'm executing.

The app I'm building is a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) app, that I eventually want to turn into a platform. I heard it is not easy to grow both sides of a platform at the same time, the sides being, people who put their stuff on there and people who are looking for the other side's stuff. So, I thought let's concentrate on one side first, and that is the "providers" side. In my story this means people who rent out real-estate. I think this side is the first side where the cash flow can come from. I want to provide value by giving people insights into their property investment and a central place to manage the ins and outs of that.

If this side is up and running and giving some income, we can see if it's interesting to add the other side to the platform, being, the people who rent. In this way I hope to bridge the gap between landlord and occupant.

This idea came from renting out an apartment myself and not finding the tool that suits my needs out there.

So, at this moment I'm building the app and I think it goes "according to plan", if I had one. I will update this thread, hopefully pretty soon, with a go-live announcement!

Love to hear from you any questions/ideas.

Worst case I'll always have one user! ME!
 

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warrantor

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Hi all

I've been busy last week with writing the first parts of the web app. The creation of your owner profile is there. I started with this because this is the first step in using the app. I try to build the app by following the happy flow that'll get you started.
So the flow is:
  • Create your profile.
  • Add your first property.
  • Add a tenant to your property.
  • manage your property and its details.
This week, I looked a bit around to find some other apps that do this kind of stuff, just to be sure I know my "competition". Again, I found there are not a lot of these. There was a website that bundled different providers of these apps, but most of them looked awful, like, they hadn't updated the user interface in 10 years and for all of them I needed to do a lot of work to find where to signup and when I found it, it was like, "leave your details, we contact you". Not the kind of service I was expecting.

All of these were US based companies, so I don't know if I'm even able to signup. I still found only the one real competitor that is based here in Belgium, there are others smaller from real-estate agents that have built some software on the side, but it's not there core business and it shows in the quality. I tried to signup for with that one competitor, but again, "leave your details, we'll call you". They are the only ones that actually did call. I just don't like to be called, please mail me. Never heard anything from them again.

So, this was it for this small status update.
We'll keep crackin' on, to finish this ASAP.

Thanks for your comments in advance!
 
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yla

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Congrats on getting started and keeping yourself accountable with this progress thread! As someone with a software background as well, I enjoy coming across other people working in the same domain on the FLF.

From what I have learned from others, one of the biggest fears is investing lots of time/effort into building a product and then discovering that the demand for it isn't actually there.

It's awesome to see that, from your own experience in real estate, that this is a problem that you've personally encountered as this potentially means that others may have the same problem wishing for it be solved as well (and are willing to pay).

With that, have you done any further validation that this is something that others want to use? That they would pay for? Also, how do you plan to market your product? How do you plan to get your customers?

Not sure if you've come across it yet but @eliquid has an AMA thread where you can ask him anything about SaaS (he's building his 7th). Maybe it will be of use to you!
 
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warrantor

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With that, have you done any further validation that this is something that others want to use? That they would pay for? Also, how do you plan to market your product? How do you plan to get your customers?
No, haven’t done any further validation. Can you maybe give some more pointers on what I can do to get more info about potential customers?
About getting more customers, I’ve been reading @nzott his progress thread which also covers marketing with google Adwords and I recently went to a presentation of a professional marketeer where the TL;DR was, AdWords and Facebook, that’s the place to be, marketing-wise. So, I’ll have a lot of learning to do about how to utilize these platforms, but it seems to me that this is an ok starting point.

Not sure if you've come across it yet but @eliquid has an AMA thread where you can ask him anything about SaaS (he's building his 7th). Maybe it will be of use to you!
No I haven’t, thanks for the pro-tip, I’ll look into this thread!
 
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yla

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Can you maybe give some more pointers on what I can do to get more info about potential customers?
I may not be the best person to ask because I'm quite inexperienced in this department and, in general, I am very new to the space of creating profitable SaaS/software products. I can still provide some resources/information based on what I've come across and read.

A key point, for me, that you mentioned in your original post is:
This idea came from renting out an apartment myself and not finding the tool that suits my needs out there.
I think it's valuable to know where people like yourself, that rent out apartments, are hanging out online. What forums, Facebook groups, and other online communities do the people that would potentially use your product be found?

Do you know anyone right now that you could contact directly that might be someone that would use your product?

The idea here is to connect with "people that rent out apartments" as that's the high-level target audience. However, you may want to "niche down" and get more specific if it may help align your product with the right people.

A very important point that I want to mention as well, is how you communicate with potential customers/users. This is something I am personally learning more about because asking questions like "Would you use this product?" and "What do you think of this idea?" may not lead you in getting good responses that help you build the right product.

I recently came across The Mom Test, which is actually a book, but you can find a summary of it online if you want the general idea of the key ideas. I think it's helpful in learning how to go about talking to people about your product.

Again, I'm definitely not an expert in this, but I'm actively trying to build software products as well. With that, from what I've read and learned from others who have succeeded in creating profitable SaaS/software products, the stuff I mentioned above seem to be some advice given.

Hope this helps!
 
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warrantor

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Do you know anyone right now that you could contact directly that might be someone that would use your product?
I've pitched my idea left and right and found some people who are renting out apartments and are interested in trying it out when I got something testable. One of them is an actual software tester, so I hope he can give some ideas and finds some hiccups.

I recently came across The Mom Test, which is actually a book
I'll definitely look into this, thanks!
 
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warrantor

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Hey guys,

It's been too long since I did a status update. I haven't been twiddling my thumbs or anything, I've been executing my idea further. If I'm being honest, I did go out to have a meetup with fellow FLF members from Belgium and The Netherlands (which was awesome!). Got some good feedback from there which I'll definitely take into account. But other than that, working on the day-job for that steady income for now (invoices still don't pay themselves and I do have too many of them) and every other bit of spare time putting in execution. (I can't promise I didn't do some of that executing while on the job. SHH!)

So, where I'm actually at. The MVP is as good as ready. Just dotting some I's and crossing some T's. Got myself a brand new logo, using @devbe83's affiliate link from DesignCrowd.com, go check out his progress thread, he's on the verge of going into production and having his first customer!
My test environment has been up and running for quite some time now and every time I come across someone who might be interested, I'll pitch that son of a gun like there's no tomorrow! Which gave me some interested potential customers, but I'll call them customers when they put their money where there mouth is. ;)

It's my last week before a well deserved 3 week long vacation. Which actually means, executing like a ...! I plan on being in production by the end of this week, so I have the 3 weeks to getting my first real customers. If you're interested in being one of those first customers, you have some properties you like to get a handle on by getting rid of binders with documents and you want an activity log that can tell you what happened when, feel free to drop me a PM and we can arrange something.

One last thing I would like to mention is, the importance of having an accountability partner. @devbe83 has been mine, as well as I've been his. It's not a lot more than, "hey, what've you been up to and how is it getting along", but it helps wonders on keeping the fire going. From time to time I get some print screens from his progress and that's when things really get boiling to do the same too him! :humph: Which of course, I did!
Find yourself someone to be that for you, it could be your significant other, parents or anyone who takes an interest into your progress. Hey, it might even be some "random" forum member you can find right here. But really, find someone who can be that for you and you'll find, if you're real with yourself and others, there are only so many excuses you can come up with and frankley, you don't even want to.

For now, back to execution, these last bugs ain't gonna write themselves, I mean.., fix of course. :playful:

Thanks for any feedback you can give me and for following along!
Best regards.
 

devbe83

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Good progress there! Do try to enjoy those three weeks off with other things as well, but as you say they may be a very good time to work on getting a first user (and better, customer).

One last thing I would like to mention is, the importance of having an accountability partner. @devbe83 has been mine, as well as I've been his. It's not a lot more than, "hey, what've you been up to and how is it getting along", but it helps wonders on keeping the fire going
Happy to do so, and thanks for doing the same with me. I'll be sure to keep doing that in these next three weeks :cool:
 

francevalue

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Hey what's up?
 

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