CRM · Saas

Anyone working on a CRM startup?

Kenneth Jones

September 20th, 2016

I am working on a "vertical" industry specific CRM system startup. Building CRM systems from scratch are hard, but after lots of thought and research we've decided on this method. Any tips from folks that have embarked on projects like this one (tech or business) would be appreciated. 

Bret Peters Chief Marketing Officer at Fig Leaf Software

September 20th, 2016

Before you go this route, check out the HubSpot CRM. It's free and you'll save a lot of time starting from scratch. HubSpot also has an open API so you might appreciate the extensibility. Kindest Regards, Bret Peters CMO | c: 202-658-7611 | o: 202-797-7711 x109 Fig Leaf Software, Inc. | "We've Got You Covered" Full-Service Digital Agency | Solutions Integrator | VA CVE Certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business (SDVOSB) GSA Schedule 70 SDVOSB: GS-35F-0094M DHS EAGLE II Sub-Contractor: FC1 8(a) Track US NAVY Seaport-e #N00178-15-D-8203 Learn more about our contracts:

CASEY GOLDEN powering the experience economy #retailtech

August 27th, 2019

build with your customers and shoot to be client funded.

Ryan Abreo Vice President at Couch & Associates, Inc.

September 20th, 2016

My recommendation is not to do it. I've worked on several enterprise CRM Deployments and 15%-20% of them came from failed homegrown CRM Systems. You'll really feel the pain when you start to understand the how layered CRM Systems actually are between the data, the workflows, and the reporting/analytics. The driving force behind building from scratch is usually an insistence from the business that their model, processes, requirements are too specific to be captured in a typical CRM Deployment. They are wrong, you just need someone with enough experience to coach the business how it needs to change its processes. Wish you the best of luck!

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

August 27th, 2019

@Casey has the simplest, clearest suggestion, and I agree. ("build with your customers and shoot to be client funded.") There needs to be a highly compelling reason to use a non-standard CRM product and become 100% dependent on a system that doesn't have popular development support. The amount of difference from available CRMs needs to be greater than 50% different.

The most important steps for your enterprise are going to be your marketing strategy, testing your assumptions, validating your product decisions (repeatedly), and building to suit based on tested FACTS, not ideas. Your product has to have clear personal benefits for users. Developing in tandem with actual future users is going to be essential to remain distinct. But also remember that your sample size needs to be big enough that you are getting a wide variety of input, not just a handful of similar-sounding thoughts.

Thiago Benazzi Maia Looking for a cofounder in the US for

August 27th, 2019

An ERP and CRM are very time consuming, if you take 5 years to build it will take another 5 to rebuild when nobody is using the language you think today is the best choice.

So, if I could give you a suggestion, build a framework to build the CRM/ERP

At least is what we did here (after remaking the software 3 times we have learned the lesson :) ).

Stephen Handley

September 21st, 2016

Hi Kenneth,

I have to concur with the others who say don't. Having always fallen strongly into the "don't reinvent the wheel" camp, I spent a number of years analysis various CRM offerings (Sugar, Zoho, Dynamics, etc) for our own financial services business needs. I finally settled on Dynamics and hindsight has proven it to be a wise decision.

In 2 years, on a shoestring budget, with an outsourced dev team, we've been able to build a vertical solution (soon to be released) that blows away the incumbent software offerings. The key reason is they are all founded on an in-house, limited CRM system that simply can't compete with the capabilities of Dynamics/Salesforce/etc. When you combine the capabilities of Dynamics with its ever-improving integration with Office 365 + Power BI, there's simply no point trying to build a CRM from scratch. Focus your time/money on the value add layers that sit on top. You'll get to market more quickly and your customers will have a more capable system.

My 2 cents (before currency conversion) :)


Ryan Yanchuleff Senior Software Engineer, Co-founder, and Entrepreneur

September 20th, 2016

Hey Kenneth, we built a solution for the small business contracting space that has a CRM included. We spent a good amount of time customizing it for the users of that space who were unfamiliar with a lot of the traditional terminology in standard apps like salesforce or even zohoCRM. Ultimately, its about ensuring that your target users are getting value from the solution by being able to understand it, use it, and use it efficiently.  Happy to chat more about it if you like.

Joe Walling CTO, software developer, software architect

September 21st, 2016

While building on something like Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce may give you a product with great capabilities in less development time, there is a downside. The main downside is that your destiny is not in your hands. The licensing cost alone can be prohibitive of your being able to hit any markets other than those medium to large enterprises. 

You are also tied to their timeline. I have written products tied to Microsoft products and it seemed that every time they released a new version, it broke my app. And you may find out about this broken functionality at an inopportune moment after a client has upgraded the base product.

Another issue is that their limitations become your limitations. There are some things innate in their products that may not fit with the way you want your product to behave. It may be hard to code around some of these limitations.

Finally, these enterprise products can be very confusing to many users. If they are going into an enterprise where you have dedicated users with time to learn the products, they can be good. However, go out and Google about ex Salesforce users and you will find that most of them stopped using the product because it was cumbersome and complicated. How can you build a simple, easy to use product on top of a complicated app.

The bottom line is that you need to determine what exactly is your market and evaluate your market's needs and whether they want and have the money to spend on your product. There are many great products out there, so they certainly need to be evaluated, but they have disadvantages that need to be considered as well.

priyank JAIN Digital Marketing Consultant

September 20th, 2016

Hi Kenneth,

Aria Consulting Clear, Practical, Solutions in Action

September 20th, 2016

While I fully support the idea that there should almost always be space in any market for a new "good" idea, it seems to me that, at this time, this would be a very risky market to venture into given the prevalence of Salesforce and the extremely rapid rise of MS CRM (and the soon to be released Dynamics 365 "blended" product).

In both of these leaders cases they offer such extreme configurability and customizability that it would seem exceptionally challenging to come up with a compelling sales case.  I suspect you may have to resort to the lowest motivator of just being the lowest cost option - which doesn't typically lead to a highly motivating business case.