Dear SaaStr: What Should Be The Priorities of SaaS Founders During The Early Stages?

Some ideas:

  1. Find a truly great co-founder. Slow it down until you do. There is too much to do in SaaS — sales, customer success, product, engineering, demand gen, etc. If you don’t have a great co-founder, slow down and find one.
  2. Get those First 10 Customers — However and Whenever. We all get the first customers differently, based on who we are and what our app does. Outbound? Events? PR? Content Marketing? Try it all — and lean in on what you are good at. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure where the Next 10 will come from. Just get the First 10 however, whenever, wherever.
  3. Understand the Market Better. Most founders don’t understand their markets well enough in the beginning. They don’t do enough interviews, meet enough potential customers, do enough work, etc. They shoot from the hip too much, and assume too much from their own experiences and what they read on the internet. The downside: early releases that aren’t Minimum Sellable Products. You need an MSP, not an MVP in SaaS. One that addresses a true market need, with a good enough product that provides some sort of truly unique or differentiated value in the space. That customers will actually pay for. A little more here:…
  4. Get on more flights and visit more potential customers. Don’t just stare at the monitor. Go meet prospects and potential customers. Wherever they are.
  5. Charge. Free, 95 times out of 100, is both a terrible marketing strategy and a terrible market research strategy. You will never learn if your product has value if it’s free. And free is not PR. Businesses don’t want free-er products. They want cost-effective products that make some important part of their business work 10x better.
  6. Commit.  It almost always takes at least 24 months even to get to enough customers to pay everyone a comfortable salary.  Is everyone on the early team at least that committed?


(Note: an updated SaaStr Classic answer)

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