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)
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.
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
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
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.
If you’re a programmer building software, or a SaaS (Software as a Service), this post should help you answer the question: “What would make someone buy my app?”
This is the story of why I bought software from a guy named Peter.
Continue reading “Why I bought your software”
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:
- Log into Google Analytics
Acquisition > Referrals from the side menu
- Search for “slack”
- 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:
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:
Get more tips like this:
You’ve created the best product possible. It meets a legitimate need. But how are you going to get it to market? Many believe that they can grow a user base “organically”. The definition of what is organic growth (and what is not) is a bit muddy. Let’s just say this: sending a tweet to a few hundred followers is not going to cut it.
Continue reading “How user growth really works”
Trying to launch a product? Your first priority is to build something that matters. You need to create something that people want.
But your second biggest problem will be getting attention.
Building something great isn’t enough. You need to be able to reach people that care. And that’s hard.
Continue reading “Your second biggest problem”