Launch Festival · Saas

Offering Internal SaaS Application to an External Customer Base - Gauging Consumer Interest

Anonymous

May 22nd, 2013

Hi Everyone,

I recently finished a project building a very basic SaaS application that integrates with the FreshBooks API.  It's functional for my own internal purposes and this first phase essentially pays me back by saving me time.  I'm now considering making it available to a wider audience, hoping it may solve the same problem for others that I built it for myself and maybe generating a little bit of supplemental income to invest in getting a few other ideas off the ground.

Before deciding to make the additional investment to make it available to an external user base, I'd appreciate thoughts on what the right next step would be to gauge user interest -

1 - Use a landing page like Launchrock or Unbounce to collect potentially-interested user info and make the call based on that information...
2 - Just build-out the consumer facing front-end and let it fly, adapting and learning along the way...
3 - Something else...

I know there have been some related discussions on FD before, I guess what I'm trying to gauge is how cautious I need to be here or if I should just pull the trigger and treat it as a learning experience as I go.  Given the investment required, I'm somewhat inclined to go with #2, which I would typically do, and am looking for some saner minds to help me think this through to a different conclusion...!

Thanks!
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Duygu Cibik Vice President of Product

May 22nd, 2013

Why don't you survey/talk with your target users? It would give you a good starting point about how potential users would react.

Anonymous

May 25th, 2013

Thanks, everyone for the really helpful advice!  

I think I'm going to try and do a mix of #1 and #2 at the same time, rather than just charge ahead with #2.  I still have some work to do spec'ing out what the customer facing site should look like.  While I work on that, I'm also going to -

1 - Set-up the Launchrock page.  I took a pretty good course on General Assembly recently on how to build a good one.
 
https://generalassemb.ly/education/optimizing-landing-pages-for-conversion-online-class

2 - Contact Freshbooks.  I've already spoken to them about how to get approved for their add-on store.  I'm going to go back and see if there's anything they're willing to do/share about possibly polling a sub-set of users.  I'm also thinking about looking through their help forums to see if anyone's asking for help solving the problem my app solves and seeing if Freshbooks has received any feature requests that are similar to what my app does.  (I'm still thinking through whether or not doing the latter makes sense...)

3 - Reaching back-out to a developer who has an app in the Freshbooks add-in store.  It was his app that I began using heavily that somewhat inspired mine.  He's already generously agreed to answer some questions for me.

Thanks again!

Tim Scott

May 22nd, 2013

#1 or #3.  As someone always itching to build, I well know how tempting #2 is.  But... if you can’t find ten people who say they’ll buy it, your company is bullshit.

Benjamin Curtis Co-Founder at Honeybadger Industries

May 22nd, 2013

I'd also highly recommend chatting with a few potential users.  If you have a problem finding a few to talk to, then how will you find a way to talk to them when your product is available? :)

Also, send an email to Freshbooks.  They have an active addon marketplace, so they may be able to give you some opinion on the viability of your addon.  And they may be able to introduce you to potential customers.  

Kevin Adler

May 25th, 2013

Hey Christopher, great to see this post. I think #2 is the way to go, and do #1 while you are working toward #2. Let us know what you decide. Incidentally, I'm working on an idea to build a marketplace between SaaS products and enterprise companies. Would love your thoughts on the short customer survey we put together: *http://bit.ly/10bvCDy* Kevin kevin@inthis.co