I have been following up several early / growth stage product companies and amazed by their similarities. Obviously there are several characteristics. I can quote the top 4 here:
- Focus on critical business process – don’t try to do too many things
- Leave the SaaS engineering to specialists
- Make the product really simple and easy to use. Focus on usability.
- Reach the market quickly. Take help from the customers for giving finishing touches
Focus on critical business process:
More and more companies are trying to solve one business problem and generate a niche positioning out of that. They don’t try to become “do it all”. In a way, it is good. Brings in focus. For example, Totango focuses on just customer engagement; Aria focuses on subscription management. Marketo focuses on marketing automation. They all have chosen one business process and make sure that they solve it well. What impresses me is the focus and solution approach. This helps a start-up / early stage company to do their job really well.
Leave the SaaS Engineering to specialists
Building a SaaS product is challenging. Before you start focusing on your business problem, you have to handle several things – data security, configuration, workflow, business rules, tenant provisioning, billing, metering, cloud deployment, scaling, etc. These are extremely important while building your product. But, it is time consuming to build such expertise and experience. There are specialized frameworks and services available to take care of these. Successful startups use such specialists – and focus on their core competency.
Make the product – ultra simple
Usability and End user experience are the mantra for rapid growth. Key for acquiring customers quickly. Simple products keep your end users happy; reduce your support cost. Look at 37signals…all their products are amazing; very simple and easy to use. While they are simple to use, it does not mean that they don’t solve complex problems. They just hide the complexities from end users.
Reach the Market quickly
This is another quality that early stage companies thrive on. Build the feature and release to market early. They take help from customers to do the finishing touches. Trust me – while it sounds like treating your customers as testing grounds, in reality, it is not. Actually, these product companies work closely with the customers and customer focus groups; investing the R&D, but, building “most required” features by customers instead of arbitrarily building the product.
Techcello focusses on helping early stage and established ISVs build SaaS products / migrate their on-premise products to SaaS. It provides all the essential requirements of SaaS engineering and SaaS operation management in the form of ready to use components / API / Services. It allows the ISVs to focus on solving their business problems and allow them to innovate on their core competencies. For more information, please visit www.techcello.com