SaaS podcast: build a web app in 2018

Build Your SaaS podcast

If you haven’t heard, on top of my MegaMaker activities, I’m building a new startup called Transistor.fm with my buddy Jon Buda. It’s a hosting platform for podcasts, so naturally we wanted to kick things off by creating our own show. It’s a SaaS podcast, where every week we answer the question: what’s it like to build a Software as a Service business in 2018?

About the Build Your SaaS podcast

In 2004, 37signals started a SaaS revolution when they launched Basecamp, their project management app. Along with the launch, they open sourced their development framework: Ruby on Rails. Now, for developers and entrepreneurs, it was easier than ever to create a web app. There was a bit of a gold rush: conferences like Future of Web Apps attracted thousands of entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and product people. Everyone wanted a piece of the recurring revenue pie.

It’s been 14 years since Basecamp’s launch. Since then, some folks have succeeded in creating profitable SaaS business. But many failed. What’s changed? Big players have emerged. Competition has become fierce. The “low hanging fruit” has been gobbled up.

Is there still space to build a bootstrapped startup now?

Jon and I are going to find out!

You can listen to the show here. (Or, subscribe on Apple Podcasts)

Listen now

Episode 1 summary: how to find a co-founder

When building a SaaS, going alone is a tough road. But finding someone to work with can be intimidating as well. Jon and I talk about how we found each other, the steps we took to safeguard each other in business, and making sure we’re in alignment as we try to build and launch Transistor.fm.

Listen now

How do you find a cofounder?

  • Go to events!
  • Build your own projects: make stuff, tell people.
  • Build long-term relationships (“I’m never going to team up with someone I just met”)

What should you look for in a cofounder?

  • Complimentary skills
  • They should have their own network
  • Trustworthy
  • Positivity
  • Values

Make sure you…

  • Sign real legal documents!
  • Use Stripe Atlas
  • Be really up-front about:
    • Your values
    • Your aspirations: what are you trying to get out of this?
  • Talk to a lawyer

Hi, I’m Justin Jackson, the founder of MegaMaker.

I’ve been working with SaaS companies since 2008. I was the Product Manager at Sprintly and Mailout, and have consulted on marketing & growth for startups in London, San Francisco, Boulder, and Portland.

Currently, I’m building a new startup called Transistor.fm (with my friend Jon Buda).

I’ve also been featured in:

Justin Jackson has been featured in Fast Company, Inc Magazine, Lifehacker, CBC

Don’t ask people what they want. Ask where they’re spending their money.

I love this quote by Jason Fried:

You can’t ask people who haven’t paid how much they’re willing to pay. The only answers that matter are dollars spent. People answer when they pay for something. That’s the only answer that really matters.So put a price on it and put it up for sale. If people buy that’s a yes. Change the price. If people buy, that’s a yes. If people stop buying, that’s a no.

You can use this approach to find new business opportunities. Ask yourself:

“Where are people already spending their money?”

For example, Eric White noticed this:

If they were already spending money on Mailchimp, they’ve got a problem they’re willing to pay to fix. Seems like a good sign?

Almost every business is spending money on email marketing. It’s one of the non-negotiables. You’d think that the space would be too crowded, but Nathan Barry’s ConvertKit has recently become wildly profitable.

Slack research hack

Slack marketing research trick

Note: shortly after publishing this blog post, Slack did an update. This hack no longer works.

If you’re selling a B2B product or service, you should be using this research trick:

  1. Log into Google Analytics
  2. Select Acquisition > Referrals from the side menu
  3. Search for “slack”
  4. See which companies are talking about your product

Decisions are being made in Slack. Teams are discussing which products and services they should buy, what blog posts to read, what training to take… and also where they should go for lunch. 😉 If you’re getting an inbound link from a xxx.slack.com sub-domain, that company is talking about you.

What can you learn?

If you click on the referring subdomain, you can also see what channels, messages and searches the inbound link came from:

Spy on other people's Slack chats

If the referral came from a room called /messages/what-products-should-we-buy you have a pretty strong signal. 😉

Interestingly, you can even see usernames that linked to you in messages:

See the Slack usernames!

Get more tips like this: