The 8 steps towards your SaaS product
You want to develop a SaaS, right? A software as a service product. Something like Facebook, Spotify, Dropbox, or any of the myriad other digital products out there. But where to start? Code? Design? Business plans? Marketing? There's so much to do and so little time.
Don't panic. We have experience with these questions and are here to help. Christian, our CTO, has given several presentations on this very topic at the Carrot Academy. We'll show you how to get started with your own SaaS.
By the way: We assume that you already have an idea, so we'll skip the whole idea generation and go straight to the next 8 steps on the way to your Software-as-a-Service product.
You know what you want to do, so next you need to figure out whom your product is actually for. Because under normal circumstances, it certainly won't work for every single person out there. That's why you create personas. You think about two to four fictional people that you want your product to benefit.
You think about what these people want, what they need, how they think and how you can help them with your product. Ideally, you also talk to real people to get to know their pain points.
If your product is a management software for a dog hotel, your personas could look like this. On the one hand you have the manager of the hotel. On the other hand, a dog owner who can't take their dog with them during their vacation and wants to know it is in good hands.
2. A canvas
You already know what you would like to do and you know who you are developing it for. Your next step is to have a plan. But you don't have to write a full business plan yet. Instead, you should do a business model canvas.
A business canvas is basically a highly reduced business plan, that you don't have to submit anywhere. Instead, it nudges you toward aspects of your product that you haven't thought about, perhaps. Maybe you’re a developer who needs input in terms of sales or you’re a designer with open technical questions.
Of course, it takes a lot of effort, but in the end you'll have looked at your business idea from all angles. This will help you when you actually start your business plan, but also when you talk to others about your idea.
3. Test your idea
It's time for feedback. After all, you can't work alone in a quiet room forever. At least not if you want your product to be successful. You need a second pair of eyes on it. And a third, and a fourth, and so on.
How does it work? Imagine your SaaS already exists, and write a press release for it. Don't publish it anywhere, just send it to people whose opinion you trust and ask for feedback. Will you like everything you hear? No. But if you listen to it, your product can only get better.
4. Build a prototype
After the initial refinement of the idea, you can move on to the first prototype. A first prototype that you will probably throw away. It's not about an MVP yet, but just about getting a feel for your product.
Our recommendation: a click-dummy prototype. With this technique, you just draw the user interface of your program. You're not developing anything yet, just designing what might come out in the end. In the next step ...
5. More testing
... you test your prototype. Sit down with potential users and let them interact with your click dummy. Either on paper with them just saying what they would click on, or you use design apps like Marvel.
Once again, you collect all the feedback and incorporate it into the development of your app or software. Best of all, you can afford to make mistakes because you haven't already sunk thousands of euros of development work into your SaaS product.
6. Find a team
This step can happen earlier, but you'll probably need help at this point at the latest. Unless you are a modern Leonardo da Vinci and can do everything. In general, you'll need a team with skills in business, design, marketing, development, and dev-ops.
It doesn't matter if you're working as equal partners on the idea or if you're getting a team of freelancers together. It's much more important to listen to the expertise of the people around you and work with them Again, it's much more important to listen to the expertise of the people around you and not to bring only people on board who think and look like you. Diverse teams are more competent, see more and work better.
7. Get funding
You have tested, tweaked and twisted. But if you want to make your product a reality, you'll need money to fund it. After all, you have to provide equipment, technologies and - not to forget - the livelihood of your team.
In Austria this works in incubators, at the Austria Wirtschaftsservice or at the FFG. Of course, something like this takes a lot of energy and time, but it can also enable you to realise your dream. At least, if you don't happen to be rich or have rich parents.
8. Develop your product
Now all you have to do is develop your product. Alright, that's a bit brief, but every SaaS product is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. No one plan that you can use to develop every product. Not even with our very versatile SaaS development tool Carrot Seed SaaS Kit.
But we can still help you. With design, branding, development, dev-ops and every other part of step 8 on your way to a successful software-as-a-service product.