The questions I’m answering as the first step in building a SaaS in 2021.
The employee to business owner transition is awkward and uncomfortable. Worse is making that transition and failing due to the primary downfall of SaaS companies: lack of product market fit.
Obvious problem? Yes. Obvious solution? Not really.
Creating software as an employee is the ONLY part, but now that is just the easy part. The hard part is answering these questions:
- Who am I helping?
- What do they need?
- What are they willing to pay for?
- Is there competition?
- How can I attract people?
I’ve struggled with this for a long time now. My first try at business was in the summer of 2020. I found my first 3 clients in a couple of weeks because I hustled. I helped each of them toward a goal. I was a health coach and the business didn’t fit my personality. Building a customized, healthy lifestyle is incredibly important, but I really love working with other developers.
Developers have lots to do with limited time. Work. Learning. A personal life. Parenthood. I must be able to help devs who are burned out, looking for the next level, or trying to get better at life.
Ok, this one is harder. Actually, this is probably the hardest question (combined with the next one). I think I know what developers need because I am one.
All developers need shortcuts of one type or another. Really, this is developer experience. Maybe not the way some people think about it, but that’s what it is. What shortcuts do they need most? That leads us to…
Seriously, I don’t know what most developers will pay for. The only thing I have to go with is a shortcut to get the correct time zone. This came from a recent episode of The Art of Product, straight from Derrick Reimer’s mouth:
I’m not taking this idea too seriously. I think of it as a small bet, an experiment, and a way to get my feet wet building a SaaS business. Will someone pay for a quicker, easier, better way to find the correct time zone? I’ll build the MVP and find out.
All the content I’ve consumed on the topic says I should validate the idea better. But, I’m biasing toward action and speed over accuracy on this one. Maybe I’ll find that was the wrong path and correct for it next time. Experiment and learn.
There’s timeanddate.com and worldtimeapi.org and of course Google. People must need this problem solved. The key is finding a way to be different enough and add some value that none of the other services have.
I have a few ideas about this. Demonstrating the utter rediculousness of time zones is one path. For example, the way time zones are always changing and how it makes development harder. Take this example:
PSA: As of today, Australia has 5 time zones once again. Apologies in advance to our overseas friends trying to make sense of this temporal anarchy.
04:47 AM – 03 Oct 2021
Do developers really want to take an extra day or two to add logic for the correct time in Brisbane on January 15th, and also Melbourne, and every other location in all of Australia? Every location in all of the world?
If I can make this explanation funny and entertaining as well as persuasive, I think it will make many people realize how crazy it is to reinvent the time zone wheel. Why not pay for a shortcut?
Find some developers to interview. I really need to get some answers to what developers will pay for. The best way to do this is one-on-one interviews. Perhaps nobody wants a time zone solution. Maybe there is a different common problem that I can help solve. Time to get to work.
What did I miss? I’m new at this, so please leave comments to plug holes in my strategy. Feedback always appreciated!