Sagar Patil was required to set up WordPress websites at his old job and was responsible for installing SSL certificates on them. He quickly found out that there was not an easy way to get a free SSL certificate for WordPress – specifically from Let’s Encrypt, a certificate authority. He was surprised that they did not offer free SSL certificates for WordPress.So, like many SaaS founders, he found a pain point in his everyday process and decided to take matters into his own hands by creating SSL Zen, a plugin offering free SSL certificates for WordPress websites.
Building His SaaS Offering
He started searching for other solutions in the market and couldn’t find anything that would meet his needs. He started to read Let’s Encrypt’s API to try to discover a solution.
“I’m not a programmer, I’m a computer engineer. I don’t program—I’m more into coming up with ideas and turning them into a business.” He said, “So I hired a team of developers and we released the first version.”
Like most entrepreneurs, Patil realized there was a gap in the WordPress market and couldn’t find a solution anywhere that satisfied his problem. Even a platform as successful and well-known as WordPress still has room for improvement and Patil capitalized on this opportunity to improve it.
There are 58,618 free plugins for WordPress currently available. These plugins help create a better user experience for both blog owners and their audiences. There are plugins that help with spam protection, application passwords and even adding preferred languages. The possibilities are endless. You can check out other plugins from WordPress’s website directly. Patil created a plugin that allows for WordPress users to add a free SSL certificate to their site.
“If you own an e-commerce website and you put yourself in the shoes of the customer, you know how important it is that the website requesting your credit card information is secure, said Patil, “Or, for instance, if you are sitting in Starbucks and you are using public Wi-Fi and entering your credit card information, your information is vulnerable unless there is an SSL certificate on the website you are purchasing from.”
An SSL certificate is helpful for anyone wanting to host a secure website, or a customer looking to purchase a product securely online without the chance of their credit card information being stolen. An SSL certificate is beneficial for any website where personal information will be collected.
“Ideally, everyone should use an SSL certificate, but the target audience for SSL Zen specifically are for people that use WordPress as their platform, as it is a WordPress plugin.” Patil continued, “Before purchasing something online, I suggest that people look for the https in the URL to make sure the site is secure.”
SSL certificates are important for e-commerce businesses or SaaS businesses where payments are being collected directly on the site.
Not only are SSL certificates important for securing websites, but your site’s rank from Google is influenced by the fact that you do or do not have an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate could improve your website’s search engine results page (SERP) ranking. Google is constantly looking for ways to better the user experience, so an SSL certificate is a no brainer for most sites nowadays.
“I am starting to see major browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox, advising that websites use an SSL certificate. In the future, I imagine that websites will not be accessible any longer if they do not adopt an SSL certificate.”
Creating a Worthwhile Solution
“I found success when I decided to scratch my own itch. I was facing a problem and I realized that a lot of other people are facing the same issue,” said Patil, “I knew that if I was running into this problem, other people were, which meant people would be willing to pay for a service if it meant they’d have a solution.”
Before Patil created the solution, he spoke to a lot of users and interviewed them to reaffirm that a solution was needed. He began to put himself in the shoes of his customers and after positive feedback, he knew it was a solution that should exist.
As a computer engineer, Patil wanted to create something that would be easy to use for people without a technical background. He realized that there were only solutions that were created for developers and he wanted to create something that could accommodate others as well.
“I tried to be that bridge where I took something technical and complex and brought it into a consumer tech product that would bring about a solution,” said Patil.
Scaling and Marketing Your SaaS Offering
Patil worked on this offering at first alongside a developer. He spent most of his time working with the developer and answering support tickets. Eventually, Patil hired customer tech support and they took over the support responsibility. This freed Patil up to work with the developer to perfect the SaaS offering. After about two years, the product itself was very stable and ready for growth.
Patil knew that he needed to set himself up for success from the get-go, and always kept his exit in mind. That is why he tried to automate most of the processes so if he were to ever sell the business, a future buyer would not have to put a ton of time or effort into maintaining the integrity of the business.
Patil also made sure that SSL Zen was committed to growth from the very beginning. He made sure that his team continued to launch new features.
“It is really important for your SaaS offering to stand out. When I launched the website, I made sure that I had a good website that communicated clearly what problems users face and how we can solve that by offering this solution,” said Patil, “I made sure that the copy on our website was clear and concise.”
When asked about how Patil initially marketed his product, he said, “I did not spend any money on customer acquisition. Almost all our traffic came through a WordPress plugin directory search,” said Patil.
The Future of SSL Certificates is Bright
In speaking with Patil it became clear that SSL certificates provide immense value to online businesses and usage of https will only continue to grow. As mentioned earlier, adoption will not be limited to sites selling products online since the SEO benefits are plentiful.