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Two years ago, Pierre de Wulf quit his job to try his hand at bootstrapping a SaaS business. De Wulf, a software developer, along with lifelong friend Kevin Sahin, joined forces to build an independent venture: Scrapingbee.com. ScrapingBee allows developers to scrape the web without getting blocked. While web scraping is not really hard, web scraping at scale is a challenge, and ScrapingBee aims to help users by focusing on the data they need, instead of dealing with proxies, CAPTCHAs, and headless browsers.
Scrapingbee isn’t de Wulf’s first venture into SaaS startups, though. Over the past five years, the twenty-eight-year-old French native has built several SaaS products and side-projects. Not all have been successful, but each has offered a wealth of learning experience. De Wulf compiled eight of his most practical tips for other hopeful SaaS entrepreneurs to save both time and money on their entrepreneurship journey.
Here’s what he had to share:
1. Finding a Business Idea in Just 1 Minute ⏱
Too many times I hear, “I don’t know what to build.” I’ve seen many talented people that are reluctant to start building something because they don’t have an idea. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend reading bad reviews of widely successful products.
This can give you an idea of what to build, what to focus on, and how to market it. But more importantly, it can also give you some traction in an already validated market as well as clues on how to set yourself apart from the competition.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Go on Capterra.com or g2.com
Step 2: Search for the most successful SaaS offerings out there
Step 3: Read the bad reviews
Et voila! You now have a business idea.
2. Testing Your Idea in 1 Minute ⏱
It is often recommended to begin your project by building a landing page or an email form. The truth is, there is an even quicker way to do it. Consider this as the MVP of MVP:
Step 1: Subscribe to relevant FaceBook or LinkedIn groups for your niche
Step 2: Find a screenshot of a UI that could be your product. It can be anything, a PowerPoint slide, a Figma mockup, anything! People just need to vaguely understand what the product is when they see your image.
Step 3: Craft a post. Ask questions. Something like, “we’ve built this homemade tool that solves X at our company, and we are considering sharing it. Anyone interested?”
The team from RocketChart did exactly this on a group I was following, and I thought it was genius! Look that the number of reactions and comments that are totally validating their idea:
3. Checking Out Your Competition in 1 Minute ⏱
Market research is a tedious and complicated subject. Fortunately for us, there are a few proxies that can help us ascertain the size of a market in a short amount of time. My favorite one is the Cost-Per-Click (CPC) of keywords on Google search.
It’s a great way to get a gauge on:
– the competition-size
– the expected customer value
– what keywords have the most buying intent
I use ahrefs.com for this. Here are some examples:
4. Deploying a Website in 15 seconds with Netlify.com ⏱
This is probably the simplest way (that I know) how to deploy a website. You won’t have to set up a git repository, a complex set of build commands, or DNS records. You’ll just need to drag and drop your HTML, no questions asked!
5. Saving $5k in 10 Seconds ⏱
Of course, it is common knowledge to avoid burning through cash while beginning your journey, yet a lot of people are unaware of some low-hanging fruits that can help you save a ton of money.
This Github page, for example, compiles plenty of SaaS deals. The AWS ones alone are fantastic!
6. Product Research in 1 Minute⏱
Knowing what to build next can also be a challenge. It can be difficult to get your users’ feedback–even more so when you’re in the early stages and maybe don’t have a lot of traffic yet. Rather than asking what people want, it can be more beneficial to just to observe what piques your users’ interest.
Begin by writing a documentation page with a clear table of contents.
Then add a section in your table of contents for each feature you consider building in your product. Every time you find yourself asking, ‘should I build this?’ add a section in your table of contents. You don’t have even have to write a lot. When people click on that specific section in the table of contents, the link can redirect to a ‘coming soon’ landing page.
Finally, add HotJar’s free plan and study how people interact with your page.
Wait a bit ⏱
Work on the red dots.
Below is an example of ScrapingBee documentation. We did this to see what are our popular features.
7. Getting Users On a Call in 2 Minutes ⏱
The tip above is a quick-win idea of what to build next, but it can never replace a true conversation with your users. It’s hard to convince strangers to talk with you (I know from experience!). This is why last year at ScrapingBee, we decided to offer ten times what our free plan offered to those who were willing to spend just 15 minutes on the phone with us.
And it worked like a charm. We had around 35 conversations in about two months. And it was feedback from people who actually wanted to use our product. Very few people abused the system—credits to my co-founder Kevin Sahin for this one.
8. Knowing when to answer on Reddit and HackerNews in 1 minute ⏱
Set-up your brand and industry keywords on f5bot. You’ll receive those emails as soon as they appear on those two websites.
It’s a great way to see what people say about you.
When you set an industry keyword rather than your company name, you will gain insights into what people are talking about, their problems, and their current solutions. You will also get a chance to chime in and add value to the conversation and potentially earn a few customers along the way.
Oh, and it’s free! 🔥
Of course, all of those quick wins and low-hanging fruits can never replace a true conversation with your users or thorough market research, but in the early days of your entrepreneurship journey, you will want to make decisions made on data rather than intuition. Even then, you might not have the time to gather as much information as you want before making a move.
I hope these tips give you just the confidence that you are doing the right thing while making the best use of your time. You know what they say–time is money–and hopefully, you could save a bit of both with these tips.
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