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Progress Thread SAAS Product Creation - Successes and Failures

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by Martinv678, Jun 27, 2017.

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  1. Martinv678
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    Martinv678 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    I want to create this process thread to as one, a way of documenting the growth of the product and two, to help others who maybe looking to create their own tech product.

    For obvious reasons I will not be disclosing the product until it is out of beta and fully released.

    Back story:
    I am professional front end developer and get many offers to help code peoples websites and applications. I was approached by, my now business partner, last year regarding an online service they'd like to create but needed to wait 6 months before they wanted to really get on it.

    The product is 'fastlane'. We'd have full control of all the prices, marketing and customers. The entry barrier is really high and the logic needed to create the application is super technical and it will take a lot of selling to get it into the market. Once the application is up it will required less of our time and can be scaled from 0 - millions. There is a big need within a certain niche. Best of all the product will really save time and money for the client using it and can see it really helping many people globally. It should also stop shady activity in this niche.

    Current Successes:
    We now have a fully functioning MVP. For all the techies interested I have created an Isomorphic Frontend with React/Redux and a Node API as the backend. Currently as we're in beta, we are letting people use it for free. We will also be asking for feedback all the time to tailor the application to customer wants / needs.

    Current Failures:
    Here are some failures that I think could really help people:

    - If you're creating a tech product, really plan before hand. Plan the different pages you'll need, routes, user types, plan your backend. I only planned slightly and have been going backwards and forwards adjusting code I would have done right the first time had I properly planned.

    - Don't spend time on overly fancy designing. You'll need it to be functional and the UX to not be unusable, but if you're taking too long deciding on the colour of a button you're action faking. I put my hands up and say I have done this on the project and really no one cares if you're product adds value. On the flip side we got our first client because ours is simple to use, gets to the point and has a clean design.

    - Set a release date and stick to it. I started this product in March. I have done more in the last two weeks than the last two months by setting the target of getting the product released on the 3rd July. My business partner got the new client for that date so I have had to finish it. We're now testing it ready for it's release next Monday.

    - Listen to your body. I have been working 16 - 17 hour days for around 3 months to get the MVP built and as I code for my job it has been a little bit code overload. If you can't work because you're brain is no longer functioning then stop... I took one week off and my productivity when I got back sky rocketed. Breaks are necessary. I think we find it hard to stop when you have people like Gary V telling you to not sleep or work till 2 in the morning then get up at 7... It may work for some but for me there's no point me working if I'm tired.

    Next Steps:
    Our next steps are to make sure there are no bugs for the release next Monday and also plan the features that will be added after this date. I will be adding any progress we have here plus any failures.

    Thank you for reading!
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017
    inputchip, Branks, Kwikbitz and 14 others like this.
  2. NasosP
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    NasosP New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    That's great @Martinv678. Looking forward to hearing more.
     
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  3. JokerCrazyBeatz
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    JokerCrazyBeatz Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    So much value in this thread , specially about taking a break. It's deff difficult when you WANT to keep going and also like you said people preach "No sleep" and "Hustle 24/7" . I always feel if I dont do SOMETHING then im bound for failure . Looking forward to seeing where you take it!
     
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  4. James Fend
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    James Fend Silver Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Very nice action! Will be watching for sure..
     
  5. Martinv678
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    Martinv678 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    I used to feel this too. I think it comes from the industry that we follow like always trying to be ahead and better than we were yesterday. My issue is the more I stayed up and got bad sleep the worse my health and work got. So now I just focus on working and setting proper tasks that get me towards my goal when i'm working at my best each day. Once again I believe each person is different and the body never lie.
     
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  6. Martinv678
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    Martinv678 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Just a little update, yesterday was our launch date and in the week running up I was refining and getting the application secure and ready for people to use. This is now up and we're talking to respective clients. We're currently in (what MJ calls) the desert of desertion, which I find the most difficult as you question whether you're right or wrong. We're currently in a phase where we're happy to change the application based on market needs, rather than what we think is right or wrong. I'll keep updating with anything new that happens within the week.

    Biggest success this week: Making the platform secure and scalable.
    Biggest Failure: Changing how a main function worked and caused me too lose valuable time.
     
    daru likes this.
  7. Martinv678
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    Martinv678 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Big day! First user signed in and is using the product. They have already provided key feedback which we can now use to make adjustments for others..
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017
  8. Ashhh
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    Ashhh Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Following this thread. Wish you nothing but good luck @Martinv678. As you must know, its always luck that will make or break your business ;)
     
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  9. Tammy Cox
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    Tammy Cox New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    You GO! Following....
     
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  10. James Fend
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    James Fend Silver Contributor Speedway Pass

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    NICE!!!
     
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  11. Sean Kaye
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    Sean Kaye Hopium Dealer Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    So, in a previous life, I ran a SaaS product company that went from $1m in annual revenue to over $11m in about three years.

    The two lessons I learned:

    1) Have a path to profit from day one - you need to understand how much you need to charge and how much it will cost to both service that level of capability and to get you there in the first place

    2) Onboarding is critical - I dealt with construction and engineering companies mainly, but we also had architects and others in the general construction and mining industries. For the first year, we totally underestimated the difficulty people were having using our software because of how flexible it was - it was the "paradox of easy", we made it so simple it became too hard. Once we decided to include some hand holding and onboarding, usage exploded and it became self-perpetuating.

    Good luck mate.
     
  12. Martinv678
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    Martinv678 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Thanks for the information Sean. It's great to hear from someone who has had SAAS success. Number 2 is such a great point. The people who have logged into the application and have started to use it are not using it quite how we expected, so think we'll need to run tutorials and such.
     
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  13. Ashhh
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    Ashhh Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    I have a suggestion, now I don't know exactly how your product looks on the inside of course, but since I would expect feedback to be very important early, especially for a more complex product, what about having a small feedback field on every page (just above the footer), in order to obtain more feedback easier?

    As I said I have no idea how you setup everything, but I'm sure you could find a way to make a feedback field feel like a native part of your product.

    Keep rocking it!
     
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  14. Martinv678
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    Martinv678 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    This is great feedback something we'll to implement in the near future for sure.
     
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  15. Martinv678
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    Martinv678 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Hey Sean, just a quick question. How is it you went about working out your in's if you don't mind me asking? We're at the point at the moment where we need to start thinking about figures and wondered if you tried some prices and went off customer feedback?
     
  16. Sean Kaye
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    Sean Kaye Hopium Dealer Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    We were dealing with construction projects where we knew the value of the project and how many approximate users would be using our system on an average project. We had a price per user on our site that people could sign up to but we also were open to negotiating annual enterprise licenses to cover all projects and all users.

    We knew what they were willing to pay from exposure to the market and what our competition was charging.
     
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  17. Tim Allen Jr.
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    Tim Allen Jr. Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Excited to see this thread and your company grow.

    Quick question - What made you join the company/person? I'm currently looking for a tech cofounder and have been hard pressed to find one. It could be a number of things i'm doing. But what was it that made you stop and seriously think about the opportunity?
     
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  18. Elbert Dockery
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    Elbert Dockery Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Congrats.....I was in the process of building a SAAS company going into one industry, but I realize how the idea wasnt good and violated CENTS.....How many people are working on this project with you? and what steps are you taking to complete your prcoess? such as you doing picking a market, customer development, then build a MVP, etc......
     
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  19. Martinv678
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    Martinv678 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    So I joined because I really liked the idea and see it had great potential and the person who approached had a very similar mindset and get each other when it comes to business. I suppose you need to ask yourself what you are looking for and why you need a co-founder? Our relationship works really well as i'm developing the product and hes drumming up interest and traffic. But if we were both coding the application it may not grow as quick or work so well. I suppose you only need a partner if you have time issues, you're not so strong on selling an idea or you are good at selling and have the idea but need the expertise.
     
  20. Martinv678
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    Martinv678 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    So there is just two of us. I do all the development whilst my business partner does the selling, marketing to get people to look at the application. So we've actually build the product first. It first started as an MVP but we really believe in the idea so has kinda grown into a full blown product. We already know there is a market as there are other people doing this idea but they aren't doing it very well. I hope that answers your question.
     
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  21. Kwikbitz
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    Kwikbitz Contributor

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    Hi @Martinv678 I love this thread and will keep a close eye on it as I am in exactly the same position as you (OK a few weeks behind you but ..) with a SaaS product.

    I agree with you totally when you say 'don't get hung up on button colours' as I'm certain too many people do, from my experience they ofen follow a designer who thinks that design is more important than functionality - whist both are important you don't have a product without functionality and if you've got a great design with out it then realistically that's all you've got.

    The other aspect I believe is that your users will be your best designers, it will be them that use the product/service and in the usual way they will want it to be easy to use.

    Here I agree with Sean and his "paradox of easy" we can strive to make it easy but sometimes in doing that we 'loose site of the end' and it then becomes harder.

    Regardless good luck ...
     
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  22. Martinv678
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    Martinv678 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    So the last month has been intense. Around 4 weeks ago, we pitched the application to a potential client and the feedback we got was invaluable. Like MJ's book says, the market will really tell you what it wants. They told us about all the things that were missing that would seriously help them. I showed them a white label version of the application with their logos / colours and they then got seriously interested and said they would like to trial the application from the 12th August.

    Since then it has been all hands on deck to introduce the new features that they requested, which has dissolved my free time. For all the geeky coders here, one of the biggest lessons i've learnt so far is to test your code. When writing new features at speed you need to know that what you have built has not somehow introduced a bug elsewhere in the code base which has been an issue a few times.

    I think looking back it would have been better to get it in more people's faces from the beginning or market researched by walking into places and straight out asking what they would be looking for.

    The best thing is we are progressing, and with this new client on board we'll be able to ramp up the features alot quicker and provide them and others with a great product.
     
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  23. Martinv678
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    Martinv678 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Here’s our latest update.

    I have been too busy recently to update this thread as we have been working furiously to get the application up and running for our first client.

    We launched on the 12th August and the launch has provided us with key data. Our main feedback mainly was that the product is not there yet and still needed a lot more work. Especially in the UX and design side. This wasn’t said directly but seeing them using the application proved this.

    We are currently not charging for the use of the application as we’re trying to get as much data as possible. In a work smarter, not harder situation, we have decided to update the design and UX and use this as a brochure to pitch to potential clients and investors.

    We’re in this weird limbo trying not to action fake too much and instead do what needs to be done to get people using the app and especially pay for the application as soon as possible.

    One thing I would say to people starting to build a SAAS application. You need to think of server costs and how to keep these down at the start as you’ll be losing money before you have started.

    So far the process has been met with road blocks the whole way… I just have to keep climbing over them.

    :)
     
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  24. inputchip
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    inputchip Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Any tips for doing this? For someone starting out in saas, who do we go to for reliable hosting and security? The product I will be developing will have highly sensitive customer information, how can we ensure this is secure?
     
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  25. Martinv678
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    Martinv678 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Yea, so i'm hosting our platform using Amazon web services. At first it's pretty daunting at first but as you use it more you get your head around it. Also, its free until while you are developing the application. It handles security as well by handling all you firewall config and all SSL certificates.

    I would also look at making the frontend a single page application using something like React, Angular or VueJS if you can. This way you can serve you front end super cheaply using an S3 bucket. It also allows you to create many versions of the front end if you're looking to white label your product.

    There is a really good article on this here:
    How we implemented a single-page application using React

    I hope that helps.
     
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