14th May 2019
Since its emergence as a viable software model, SaaS has redefined the software landscape. This shift to the Cloud has lowered the barriers for budding software entrepreneurs to build and commercialise exciting new products, creating new markets that cater to nearly any market, or niche, you can think of.
A quick search for “SaaS” in LinkedIn lists over 44,000 companies registered on their site. While that is a huge number, the real figure is likely far higher. G2 Crowd lists over 142,000 SaaS software products available to review and Gartner have estimated over 250,000 SaaS companies to be in existence.
New technical developments keep opening new doors for companies to explore and lay roots.
So, whether it’s Fintech, Blockchain, AI or whatever the next big market is, new SaaS companies will rush to be one of the first to productise it and become a pillar of the niche. The speed by which SaaS companies can prototype and can get a product out into the wild is only increasing.
With a variety of new tools and methodologies to aid in building SaaS companies, as well as their products, we wanted to take a look at 5 pieces of the puzzle that are accelerating the market, changing working practises and making software development more agile.
Infrastructure – Customisable Cloud Hosting Options
The growth of Cloud technologies has given software development teams far more options when it comes to setting up the backbone of their application.
With hosting heavy weights such as AWS, Google Cloud and Azure vying for your service, achieving a solid uptime is within affordable reach.
Each of these Cloud behemoths have an array of tools and services available, allowing you to construct an architecture around your platform’s usage.
With flexible pricing options available achieving the balance of performance vs server costs has never been so attainable. Each also has incentive programmes for start-ups meaning that often costs can be absolutely minimal at the outset.
Where Are The Buyers? – SaaS Review Websites
Given the now astonishingly high number of SaaS platforms available, as a buyer how do you decide on which one to use? You may have a free trial available, but generally people don’t have time to test out every platform in a vertical market. This has led to the emergence of SaaS centric review websites.
Potential customers and stakeholders can then take a top down view of a vertical market or niche, allowing them to compare features, pricing and direct experiences through reviews. This helps them narrow down their shortlist of candidates as well as framing their potential experience.
This range of service has been growing, with staple sites including Capterra, GetApp and G2 Crowd allowing users to compare thousands of applications against each other.
As a SaaS vendor, these sites offer several opportunities. Firstly, it gives you a relatively low cost way to get in front of your audience, with several offering their own Pay Per Click advertising service to ensure you are seen.
Secondly, they allow you to take a view on your vertical market’s landscape. It allows you to accurately craft your own ‘space’ in the market and to keep this under ready review.
Exposure to your potential end-market is therefore accelerated, albeit differentiation becomes harder.
Freedom To Focus On The Core – Why Build Everything?
The times when every feature in an application had to be built in-house are long gone.
There are many things you need to manage, and deliver, a SaaS platform that lie outside of your core product.
You need to be able to bill your customers – to do so, you’d use a service such as Stripe or Chargebee.
You need to provide customer support and ticketing services to users, but why build that from scratch when services like Zendesk can do everything you need out of the box.
You need to connect to one or more of the plethora of other SaaS applications out there and therefore integration is no different. Why use your stretched development resources building out integrations when you can simply connect to one service, giving you access to hundreds more. Embedded iPaaS has enabled SaaS companies to develop out their own solution further, without having to compromise on connectivity or the experience they want to offer their users.
So if you’re looking to build your own behemoth, standing on the shoulders of giants certainly isn’t a bad tactic to get you there in a shorter time than ever.
Location, Location, Location – Remote and Co-Working
Sooner or later early stage SaaS companies have to grow their team. The manner by which they do this has been revolutionised in recent years; teams are no longer a centralised concept. Gone are the days where renting dedicated office space is a necessity to be considered a legitimate company. A Cloud company can have a dispersed, multi-national, workforce all, ironically, enabled by other Cloud applications.
Founders also have other options, If they want to create a centralised team rather than hiring office space they can opt for setting up shop in a co-working space. These offer lower overhead costs and increased scalability, despite what it feels like We-Work has not existed that long.
The global growth in co-working locations bring opportunities for teams to be built amongst tech hubs in cities around the world. Fun fact; Cyclr has been built and based in co-working spaces since day one.
This new pillar of the sharing economy give founders a far more economical way of building their team, adding to their subscription when a new team member starts or when they need meeting rooms or additional equipment.
Talk To Me – Communication Platforms
It’s not only remote teams that need dedicated platforms to keep in touch and on task. Email has all but been replaced by many teams for performing particular tasks, whether it’s using Slack for internal communications or sprint planning platforms for managing development.
Face-to-face communication doesn’t have to be shirked either. Video chat services, such as Zoom, allow teams to talk things out as if they were in the same office.
It’s not just teams that these platforms bring together, they also bring you closer to your users.
Whether through embedded chat platforms like Intercom or Drift, or even support platforms like Zendesk, it has never been easier to speak with your clients and leads.
Video chat also opens the door to performing live demos, user interviews and even commercial discussions without either party having to worry about locational logistics or travel expenses.
All in all we now have both a physical and virtual eco-system available to us to help us to prototype product, build product, get product to market and scale our teams. Although easier than ever to now ‘get going’ it is however harder to now differentiate and scale, not just getting going but then keeping the lights on…. but that’s for a future blog.