If someone tried to hand you over a strict rule-book for your start-up, wait no-further and run in the opposite direction.
If there is a recipe already laid out for something, it means that it is no longer unique, and repeating it over and over again may not mean success. The same applies to start-ups. There should be some uniqueness and unconventional factor to them which prove as the game-changer for the companies.
Now as a first-time entrepreneur, your focus might not be in creating a next BIG thing but more or less on creating a stable and sustainable business. That’s how this article is going to take you through- first making SaaS to create a sustainable business and then scaling and targeting growth later.
Although, you need to ask yourself a few questions before you arrive at any decision.
Are you futuristic?
A lot of risks depends upon your ability to identify and solve the problem. It becomes imperative to evaluate yourself critically. If you are someone who feels there is still scope of improvement in some product which is considered the best, you live in the future. Consider yourself qualified to identify and solve future problems. If that is not the case, at the least, you should be exposed to a lot of people who face problems where you see a common pattern.
Once you identify it, give a try to the following recipe to play the game.
Traditionally, there are 2 broad approaches to creating new product companies.
1) Create a completely new and innovative product. You can find out the existing problem around and focus on the product which provides a solution to the same, something that makes life easier for your end-user i.e. the platform play. A great example here is Slack.
2) Create a specialized product for a specific vertical, i.e., the niche play. ion is a good example where they created a specialized help desk for SaaS/web businesses.
Both approaches have their own risk/reward equation. But for both the risk vs reward is in balance.
New models are approaching with a technology to reduce risks; Integration play is one such model that works really well for SaaS businesses.
There are many modern SaaS companies built on similar models; one good example is FullStory, a product that lets you see how users interact with your application, with recorded sessions.
1- Augment instead of building a platform from scratch
This is the crux of the integration play. Don’t build another collaboration app, CRM, help desk, or marketing automation product. Rather, build something that augments one and tries to fill the gap that you see. Identify the one specific feature/dimension that isn’t generally offered by most products in the category, but something that a decent fraction of customers would need. Build a product that works alongside the popular platform’s products by integrating tightly with them. Your product should feed on the platform and add value to its users.
2- Go-to-market and strengthening your fit
It’s no secret that an amazing majority of startups fail for lack of customers. That’s as a result of, for a massive majority, client acquisition is an associate afterthought and not a part of the strategy.
The integration play inherently offers you an enormous advantage in client acquisition. It permits you to ride aboard the large platform vendors.
The go-to-market strategy is clearly defined – identify one big vendor with whom your product complements well, partner with them, and be visible to their customer base (marketplace, integration listing, user groups). Clearly, illustrate however you add worth to their users, on-board them and work towards strengthening your product-market fit.
Note that the product-market match isn’t a goal, rather a process where you continuously gather feedback from customers in your primary target (not everyone, mind you) and address their most important issues.
3- Repeat and reap the co-marketing benefits
When you suppose you have got achieved the minimum viable product-market match, you can now start partnering with other major platform vendors in the space and reach out to their customers.
This is a major scaling opportunity. With a little quantum of capabilities side to your product, you open up a major new channel for customer acquisition.
Make sure you leverage all the promoting choices accessible. Get listed on their marketplace, write guest blogs on how you add value to the vendors’ customers and conduct co-webinars wherever feasible.
4- Optimize organic discoverability
A major issue that determines SaaS success is that the discoverability of your product.
As a SaaS businessperson, you have got the need to be addicted to program optimization (SEO). Visibility on Google makes or breaks SaaS companies.
Here again, the integration play offers some advantages.
By virtue of your partnership and co-marketing with leading vendors, you stand to achieve on the SEO front. The links from the high name trafficker web sites add large worth to your website, so up your program rankings.
Try and maximize the backlinks from every trafficker you partner with within the type of marketplace listings and guest blogs. This works like magic and offers you nearly instant results.
5- Expand the scope of your offering
Despite all its blessings, the combination play permits you to grow solely most. There will be a stage once it becomes arduous to scale by riding on the large vendors. It’s currently time to consider increasing the scope of your providing.
One choice at this stage is to begin being a platform. There area unit after all professionals and cons to the present and it’s to be evaluated in your context. While it permits you to supply a lot of higher worth (and raise revenue per account), it currently puts you in confrontation mode with alternative vendors you partnered with. Another option is to search out new domains wherever a similar downside you solve could have currently become vital. FullStory, once more, for instance, distended their scope to e-commerce once client support.
By and large, integration play minimizes the risks of failure on major aspects – shorten time to market, minimize competition, offer a clear go-to-market strategy and enhance visibility to target customers.
Hope this strategy let alone the ever-growing SaaS wave globally helps Indian entrepreneurs produce a lot of product success stories.