The SaaS Podcast - SaaS, Startups, Growth Hacking & Entrepreneurship
AJ is the founder of Carrd, a SaaS platform for building simple and fully responsive one-page websites.

In 2010, AJ was designing and creating website templates and themes for a living. Around that time, responsive web design was growing in popularity and it was a skill AJ wanted to acquire.

So he set out to design and build his first responsive site template. When it was done, he put it on his website and let people download it for free.

People liked his template, so he kept building more. And people kept downloading those templates and using them to build websites.

Some people started asking if they could pay him for additional features and support. So he started charging them a one-time payment of $19.

It wasn't a lot of money, but he'd been doing such a great job creating so many templates and built a loyal following that he was quickly generating 6-figures in annual revenue.

But by 2015, AJ was bored of building templates and themes. It had been fun learning a lot of new skills. But he was now ready for a new challenge.

He was intrigued by the idea of site building software that made it easy for non developers to create websites. But companies like Wix and Squarespace already had products in the market.

He knew he couldn't compete with those companies. So he looked for a different way. And eventually, he narrowed down his idea to a site builder for really simple one-page websites.

And it turned out to be a good idea that caught on with a lot of people.

Today, his business is doing around $30K in monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and is profitable. In this interview, we talk about how he's built a one-person SaaS company with no marketing.

And in case you're wondering, it's not a mistake that I didn't mention AJ's last name. He's pretty much anonymous online. No one knows his last name or what he even looks like.

But he's a great guy and I had a lot of fun talking to him. I hope you enjoy it too.


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Direct download: 225_-_AJ.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Suresh Sambandam, is the founder and CEO of OrangeScape, a leading B2B Indian tech company focused on SaaS solutions for workflow automation.

The company's flagship SaaS product KiSSFLOW is a business process management (BPM) and workflow automation tool with over 10,000 customers and 50 Fortune 500 companies.

Suresh was working as an engineer for a startup when he spotted an opportunity for a business idea. He eventually quit his job to launch his startup in 2003.

Things looked promising at the start. Before he knew it, he had at team of 40 people. But the product just didn't get the traction he'd hoped for and he eventually had to pivot.

With his new idea, he raised $1M from angel investors. But he was too early to market. And by the following year he was running out of money and had to layoff most of his employees.

And then in 2013, a customer helped him see the potential of his product...

A UK based design company bought his product for $50K, but then spent another $90K on building a great user interface for it. That was when Suresh had his aha moment.

He realized that as an engineer, he'd been focusing too much on features and technology. Instead he had to get his company building great user experiences.

And that's when things started to click with his third pivot (which became KiSSFLOW). The more the team focused on creating a great user experience, the more their product resonated with customers.

Today his company is doing close to $10M in ARR and has over 200 employees.

We talk about his multiple pivots, the 10 years it took to find product/market fit, his strategic approach to search engine optimization and how that now drives over 50% of leads. And we talk about what Suresh calls "Desk Marketing & Selling" which his team based in Chennai, India is using to landing customers around the world.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 224_-_Suresh_Sambandam.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Mark Thompson is the co-founder of PayKickstart, a shopping cart and affiliate management platform for online businesses.

Mark got started as an entrepreneur in 2009 by selling online training and coaching products. A couple of years later he started getting into building and selling software products.

Over the next few years, he built a dozen different software products (most of which failed). But a couple of them did well and generated some decent revenue for him.

But one thing that he noticed when selling these products was how there wasn't a really good shopping cart solution. He always felt that he was leaving money on the table.

He and co-founder Matt tried different shopping cart products, but none of them met their expectations and gave them the flexibility to sell products the way that they wanted.

So eventually they decided to build their own shopping cart solution. And once they started using their new internal shopping cart, their revenue started to skyrocket.

Before they knew it, they had colleagues and partners asking how they could get the same checkout experience for their products.

That was the aha moment when PayKickstart was born. Today the company is to exceed $1 million in annual recurring revenue and is continuing to grow at a fast rate.

But the founders also had their fair share of challenges along the way. For example, they wanted to build a product that had a lot of functionality and flexibility.

But that resulted in a big customer churn problem for them because after signing up, many customers where overwhelmed and confused about how to use the product.

So they also had to figure out how to find the right balance between flexibility and a simple to use product. They also had to figure out a better onboarding process.

We talk about how they've grown the business so quickly, the importance of being focused and how they went about solving their churn problem.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 223_-_Mark_Thompson_-_PayKickstart.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Alex Yakubovich is the co-founder and CEO of Scout RFP, a SaaS product that helps companies with their strategic sourcing and procurement.

Alex started a web development company when he was still in college. Initially it was just a way for him and a few friends to make beer and pizza money. But over time, it evolved into an online ordering software product that the team sold to restaurant chains.

By the time they graduated the business was making 6-figures in annual revenue. And over the next 5 years, as they all worked full-time on the business, revenue grew to several million dollars and eventually they sold the business.

While working on this business, Alex had to deal with hundreds of requests for proposals (RFPs) and quickly became frustrated with how clunky and manual the RFP and procurement process was for most companies.

So in 2014 he and his co-founders started working on their next startup. With a successful exit and money in the bank, it would have been easy for the team to feel confident that they could solve the problems and start building a product right away.

Instead they agreed that they wouldn't build anything until they'd talked to at least 200 people who worked in procurement. They actually end up talking to almost 300 people and those conversations helped them to build a much deeper understanding of the space.

Although there were a lot of players in the market including some really big companies, the founders decided to focus initially on a really small problem. Their MVP was a one page application and so minimal that prospective customers would often say is that it?.

But once people used the product, they loved the simplicity and how this one feature saved them so much time. And from that simple, almost too minimal MVP, their company now has grown into a business with over 150 employees and they've raised $60M in funding.

There are some great lessons in this interview about the importance of listening to your customers, not jumping into building a product straight away and being really focused with your MVP by solving a really small problem at the start.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 222_-_Alex_Yakubovich_ScoutRFP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Timothy Campos is the co-founder and CEO of Woven, an intelligent calendar to manage your schedule and get the most out of your meetings.

Tim worked as a software developer for well over a decade. Over time he took on more management responsibilities
In 2010, Tim was hired as the CIO (Chief Information Officer) of Facebook.

He'd only be on the job for 2 weeks when he was summoned to Mark Zuckerberg's office.

Tim was excited that his CEO was so motivated to get into the details of IT, that just two weeks in, he was taking time to meet with Tim.

But when Tim arrived, there was no sign of Zuck. Instead, he was met by a group of executive assistants who wanted to complain about the company's internal calendar app.

They told him he had to get it fixed in the next week or he was done.

From that moment, Tim set to work designing creative tools that would help Facebook employees easily find optimal times and places to meet.

Tim's experience managing productivity for the entire Facebook workforce helped him realize that traditional calendars are broken.

And in 2016, he left Facebook to co-found Woven, an intelligent calendar that helps busy professionals maximize their most valuable asset - their time.

In this interview we talk about Tim's experience at Facebook, why he feels the world needs another calendar app, how he tested different marketing channels to acquire users and why we should trust Woven with our data.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 221_-_Tim_Campos.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Reilly Chase is the founder of HostiFi, a SaaS platform that helps IT providers to manage all their customers' networks from a single server.

In early 2018, a listener of this show mentioned me in a tweet. He told me how the podcast was such an inspiration for him and that he was about to start his own SaaS business.

He was a single founder, bootstrapping a SaaS business for the first time and he was learning to code as he went. And over the next few months, he'd started sharing what he was doing.

I'd often see tweets or LinkedIn posts from him about what he had just tried, what worked and what didn't work. He was a completely open book and you couldn't help but root for him.

Once he shipped his product, he got a few early customers but wasn't making a lot of money. But it was interesting to watch him from the sideline as he tried all kinds of things to grow.

Around December 2018, he tweeted that one of his goals for 2019 was to be a guest on The SaaS Podcast. So I told him, get to $100K annual run rate and I'll invite you on the show.

He told me that at his current growth rate, he could probably get there in about 2 years time. But I told him that based on what I'd seen of him, I was pretty sure he'd get there sooner.

So that was the new year resolution he set on January 1st, 2019. But a week later, his life turned upside down. He was fired from his job because his employer didn't like him moonlighting.

And he had some tough decisions to make. Eventually he decided to go all-in with his SaaS business. He even sold his house to give him a longer runway.

Now his SaaS product wasn't just a side-project, it was everything to him. And it was amazing to see how getting fired from his job, gave him even more motivation to succeed with his SaaS.

And in 8 months, he achieved the goal that we set together. His business is currently doing over $10K in monthly recurring revenue. And I'm delighted to have Reilly join me on the show.

I hope you enjoy the interview!


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Direct download: 220_-_Reilly_Chase_of_HostiFi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Geoff Atkinson is the founder and CEO of Huckabuy, a SaaS platform that takes SEO to the next level by automating the creation of structured data to help search engines better understand your website.

In 2015 Geoff started an affiliate website. It was a simple business model -- promote other companies' products and get commissions from the sales.

So his priority was to do a great job with search engine optimization and drive plenty of traffic to his website. And in order to do that, he needed to create lots of content. So he built a software tool to help him generate content.

He struggled wit that business for the next two years and he got nowhere. He knew that he had to either shutdown the business or pivot quickly.

And he had two interesting insights at this point:

1. Even though his affiliate business was a failure, he had several people asking him if they could license the software tool that he had built for himself.
2. After doing so much SEO, he realized how important structured data was becoming for Google and wondered if he could get ahead of the curve.

So based on those two factors, Geoff decided to pivot into a SaaS business. This was something that he knew nothing about.

And it became even more challenging when he had to try and sell his new product. Initially there was no user-interface, so he was going to sales meetings and trying to explain to prospects what his product would do for them but he had nothing to show them.

It was too much of a leap of faith for many prospects, but a few decided to give him a shot. And finally after three and a half years of working on his business, he started to get sales.

Today is business is almost $1.5 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR).

So in this interview, you're going to hear Geoff's story and how he went through three and a half years of lean times for his business, how he pivoted into a SaaS business, what he learned about sales and the importance of structured data and how it could help you with SEO.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 219_-_Geoff_Atkinson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Derek O'Carroll, the CEO of Brightpearl, a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) product for retailers and wholesalers.

In 2016, a SaaS company founded in a small city in the UK was struggling with a business model that was unsustainable. After almost 10 years in business, the company was struggling to retain customers and was quickly running out of money.

That same year, Derek O'Carroll was hired as the new CEO to help turnaround the company. He spent a lot of time talking to employees, partners and customers to figure out the issues.

He started building a list of things that needed to get fixed. And the more conversations he had, the longer his list got. He quickly realized that he wouldn't be able to fix everything.

He needed to focus. So he eventually identified 3 key areas of improvement. And he decided to focus the majority of his time and his teams' time on solving those 3 things.

It looked like a good plan. But it wasn't smooth sailing. In fact, when they started executing on the plan, they actually made the customer churn problem even worse for a while as they lost a lot more customers very quickly.

But they stayed the course and kept executing the plan. And eventually it paid off.

In the last 3 years, revenue has more than doubled and is growing at almost 50% year over year. And they've significantly reduced their customer churn.

The key lesson here is that if your business is struggling, or you feel like revenue has flatlined, or you have high churn, sometimes it can be overwhelming.

Where do you start? What do you solve? You might have a super long list of things. But identify the top 2 or 3 things that you believe will make a difference and do a really great job to execute relentlessly in those areas.

I hope you enjoy the interview.


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Direct download: 218_Derek_OCarroll_Brightpearl_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Josh Ho is the founder and CEO of Referral Rock, a SaaS product that helps businesses to design, launch and manage a customer referral program.

You've got a great idea for a SaaS product, but no one else seems as excited about it. Does that mean it's a bad idea and you should move on to something else? Not necessarily.

In 2013, Josh was at a car dealership waiting for his car to be serviced. He overheard a conversation which got him curious about how brick and mortar companies like car dealerships got referrals and if there was a way to automate word of mouth referrals.

He did some research that evening and thought he'd found a gap in the market. He was excited about his idea but he didn't like what he heard when he interviewed prospective customers. No one seemed excited about his idea.

But being a bit stubborn, he decided to build an MVP anyway.

He kept things really simple and cobbled together a few different tools and technologies to quickly build an MVP. And he started getting the word out anyway and every way he could.

And slowly he started getting people signing up for his product. About 18 months later, he had around 500 users signed up.

But there was one big problem. Josh wasn't charging any money for his product. He had hundreds of users but no customers and no revenue.

One day, a close friend told Josh something that he needed to hear. He didn't have a real business until he was charging for his product and generating sales.

So reluctantly that weekend, he added a paid plan. And to his surprise, a week later he had his first customer paying him $59 a month.

Today, Josh runs a 100% remote company with 12 full-time employees and he's generating $70,000 in monthly recurring revenue. And his business is totally bootstrapped.

At every step, he kept second guessing himself and questioning how big his business could become. But he kept executing, trying new things and taking action.

There was no magic bullet or hack that helped him grow. He kept doing small things to see what worked and if they did, they figured out how to scale them. And that's what he's still doing today.

It's a great story and Josh talks candidly about his successes and failures.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 217_Josh_Ho_ReferralRock_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Shawn Finder is the co-founder and CEO of Autoklose, an all-in-one outbound sales automation platform.

Competing in a crowded market can be really tough. Having a great product and clear differentiation is super important, but sometimes that's not enough. You also need a great product launch that helps you stand out in the market and drive rapid product adoption.

In 2016, Shawn had an idea for a new SaaS product. He already had an existing business and realized that many of his customers were struggling with the same issue.

So he started thinking about how he could build a SaaS product to help them. After doing some research, he decided he was going to go all in' with this new SaaS business.

But there was one big problem. Shawn was building a sales automation product and so he was about to enter an extremely crowded and competitive market.

No matter how good his product was, he knew it was going to be a challenge to stand out in that market. So he knew that a successful launch was going to be critical for his new business.

In this interview you'll learn:

* How Shawn started promoting Autoklose 6 months before it launched and how he had 1000 demos booked when they launched the product.
* How Shawn worked with industry influencers and partners to help promote Autoklose and get in front of a much bigger audience.
* How Shawn used social selling on LinkedIn to position himself as an authority in the space and attract prospects.

As a result, the business has gone from zero to over a million dollars a year in about 18 months.

There are a lot of great lessons and insights in this interview. I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 216_Shawn_Finder_Autoklose.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Cedric Savarese is the founder and CEO of FormAssembly, a SaaS platform that helps businesses to create web forms and collect data.

In 2002, Cedric moved from France to the USA. And he landed a job as a web developer at a higher education college in Indiana.

He found himself spending a lot of time building web forms to capture data. It was tedious and boring work. But he realized how important these forms were from a business perspective.

He started spending his evenings and weekends developing a form builder - an automated way for his end-users to create these web forms themselves. It was just a side-project.

He shared the project on Hacker News and people started signing up. After a while, he added a paid plan and before he knew it, he was earning coffee money from his side-project.

It was slow going, but Cedric kept working on his side-project. He listened to feedback he was getting and kept improving the product.

The cost of living in Indiana was pretty low compared to places like San Francisco. And after 2 years, he was making enough money to quit his job and focus on his product full-time.

But there was nothing unique about Cedric's product. There were already a number of similar form builders on the market and it seemed like new ones were being created every week.

So how big could his little side-project get? And how could he stand out from the crowd?

He kept listening to what his customers told him. And eventually he found one simple thing that helped him differentiate his product.

In this interview, you're going to learn what the one thing was. And you'll learn how he doubled down on that differentiator to bootstrap his little side-project into a profitable business with 65 employees.

It didn't happen overnight, it's taken Cedric 13 years to get here. But it's an inspiring story on how you can turn a simple idea into a successful SaaS business.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 215_Cedric_Savarese_FormAssembly_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Aaron Zakowski is the founder of Zammo Digital, a marketing agency that specializes in using Facebook ads to help SaaS companies grow and scale their businesses. His clients include companies such as InVision, Digital Ocean and Treehouse.

Have you struggled to make Facebook ads work for your SaaS business?

Maybe you read every blog post you could about Facebook ads. You identified your target audience and put together great copy and images for your ads.

And then when everything looked good, you put the campaign live. Facebook quickly started eating up your advertising budget, but your investment didn't turn into many leads or sales.

If that's happened to you, then you're not alone. A lot of SaaS companies struggle to make Facebook ads work. And many B2B companies dismiss Facebook ads because it's a B2C platform.

But with the right knowledge, mindset and approach you can use Facebook ads to generate leads and sales for your SaaS business.

In this episode, you're going to learn about the SaaS Scaling Framework for Facebook Ads. After spending millions of dollars and generating nearly a million signups and leads for their SaaS clients, Zammo Digital developed this framework to help them consistently deliver the results that they're clients were looking for.

We're going to talk about how to test, optimize and scale your Facebook ads. We'll look at how to identify your target audience, how to clarify your message, how to optimize and automate your ad campaigns and how to scale your SaaS business faster.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 214_Aaron_Zakowski_-_Zammo_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Tope Awotona is the founder and CEO of Calendly, a simple and beautiful scheduling tool that helps you schedule meetings without all the back and forth emails.

Tope grew up in Nigeria and and moved to the US when he was a teenager. After graduating from the University of Georgia, he landed a job at IBM as a sales rep.

He spent the next seven years working in sales, but deep down he always wanted to become a successful entrepreneur. So he spent his evenings and weekends trying to build a business.

First he decided to build a dating site after reading an article about PlentyofFish.com. But he quickly realized he didn't have the resources or skills, so he never launched the business.

His second startup was an e-commerce site selling projectors. But he didn't sell many and the margins were terrible. He also had no interest in projectors.

His third startup was another e-commerce site selling grills. But he found himself dealing with the same problems. And he just had no passion for that business either.

Tope realized that he was just focused on ways to make money. He told himself that he wasn't going to succeed unless he focused on a problem that he was passionate about solving.

It took another year before he found that problem. He'd spent a day wasting a lot of time going back and forth over email to schedule meetings. So he started searching for a scheduling tool.

But all the products he found were slow and clunky. After months of research, he decided to go all in with this idea. He put every single dollar he had made into this new business.

This time, his bet paid off. Today, Tope's company does around $30 million in annual revenue.

In this interview you're going to learn how he took that idea, overcame the challenges of 3 failed startups and successfully grew a SaaS business that has over 4 million users.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 213_-_Tope_Awatona_Calendly_-_SaaS_Failures.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

In this episode, I talk to Dennis Mortensen, the founder and CEO of x.ai, an artificial intelligence driven personal assistant that schedules meetings for you.

Dennis had just sold his company and now had plenty of time on his hands.

When we have more time than we know what to do with, we sometimes do silly things. And that was no different for Dennis.

As he sat in front of his computer, he opened up his calendar and started counting the number of meetings he'd had in the last year. He counted a total of 1,019 meetings.

But what really shocked him was that 65% of the meetings he'd setup, had to be rescheduled.

So that got him thinking about a solution. But there were already lots of SaaS products that helped people to schedule and reschedule meetings.

He knew how easily he fell in love with new business ideas. So instead of trying to validate his idea, he spent the next few months trying to convince himself not to work on it.

When he couldn't talk himself out of working on the idea, he decided to move to the next step.

He validated his idea by building a concierge MVP' which turned out to be really smart. And we cover what exactly he did to test his idea without writing a single line of code.

And that's how x.ai was born. Today, the company has raised over $44 million.

Dennis is a serial entrepreneur who's already had 3 successful exits and one failed startup. He shares some fascinating insights in this interview.

I think you'll really enjoy it.


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Direct download: 212_-_Dennis_Mortensen_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

BJ Lackland is CEO of Lighter Capital, a Seattle based company that specializes in providing financial capital to early stage SaaS companies.

Let's say your SaaS company is generating revenue...

Your business is still in the early stages and you want to raise money to help you grow faster.
But you know that raising angel or VC funding is going to take a lot of time and effort.

You're already busy enough working on your business, product and marketing. You know you need to raise money but how are you going to find the time to fundraising?

Well, there's another way to finance your startup that you might not have considered.

It's called revenue-based financing and it allows you to quickly and easily raise funding without giving up equity or providing personal guarantees.

In this episode, we help you understand what exactly revenue-based financing is and why it's emerging as a leading alternative to equity financing for startups.

We talk about how Lighter Capital works with SaaS companies, what they've done to streamline the fundraising process and how you can raise money without ever doing a pitch.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 211_-_BJ_Lackland_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Kyle Poyar is the of VP Marketing Strategy at OpenView, an expansion stage venture capital firm that helps build software companies into market leaders.

Your SaaS pricing strategy can make or break your business.

But getting your pricing right is really hard. And many companies struggle to understand what they're worth to their customers and how to clearly communicate that.

In this episode, we talk about 5 common pricing mistakes that SaaS companies make. And we provide recommendations to help you avoid making the same mistakes.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 210_-_Kyle_Poyar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Chris Ronzio is the founder and CEO of Trainual, a SaaS product that helps companies to onboard employees, automate training, systemize processes, and put everything about your business in one place.

Paid advertising doesn't work. That's what I often hear from founders of SaaS companies.

They tell me that they tried Facebook and Google ads, but it was too expensive to acquire customers and so they focused on other growth strategies like content marketing instead.

And when we hear things like that, it's easy to dismiss a growth channel and do what everyone else is doing. But sometimes, we find success by doing what everyone else is not doing.

Chris Ronzio was running a consulting business in Arizona. He realized that many of his clients were struggling with the same issue. So one day he hired a developer to build a simple tool for him. And he started using that tool to help his clients run their businesses better.

Some years later, Chris decided that he'd had enough of consulting. He really wanted to build a product business. And he realized that the simple in-house tool he'd been using with his clients all those years could actually be turned into a SaaS product.

He decided to go all in with this new business. And he quickly got to a few thousand dollars in monthly recurring revenue by selling his product to his consulting clients.

But finding more customers beyond his consulting clients wasn't so easy. He tried a bunch of things that either didn't work or had disappointing results. But he kept looking and trying different things and eventually he found a way to get customers - by using Facebook ads.

Initially, it was expensive to acquire customers using Facebook ads. But Chris kept at it and eventually he figured out how to get customers profitably. He knew how much a customer was worth and how much he could spend to acquire a new customer.

And once he had that working, he took a calculated risk. He started spending as much as he could on Facebook ads. At one point, he had over $300,000 worth of credit card debt. But it enabled him to grow the business much faster.

He went from zero to over $2 million in annual recurring revenue in less than 18 months.

In this interview we talk about the ups and downs that Chris experienced. We explore some of the mistakes he made and what he learned from those mistakes. And we dig into exactly what he did with this Facebook advertising campaigns to acquire those customers.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: SaaS_Growth_Marketing_-_Chris_Ronzio_209.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Max Kolysh is the co-founder of Zinc.io, an ecommerce lab that builds products to help Amazon and eBay sellers.

Every SaaS founder knows that finding product market fit is really tough.

You might have to pivot your SaaS business multiple times before you find the right product for the right market. So what can we learn from SaaS founders who failed repeatedly before they found success?

When Max and Doug were students at MIT, they talked about building a software product to help eBay sellers. And eventually, they both dropped out of college to start their business.

They got accepted into YC, but pretty soon realized that their idea wasn't that great after all. So they pivoted and built a product that saved people money when buying on Amazon.

They got some good traction and it looked like they were on their way to finding product market fit. But that all changed when they received a cease and desist letter from Amazon.

So they were back to square one again. They needed another idea.

One day they received an email out of the blue from an ex-customer who told them that he wanted to use an API but wasn't technical. He asked if they could help him out.

That email led to Max and Doug pivoting again and creating a new product. But this time it wasn't just an idea they'd come up themselves -- it was something a real customer needed.

And the product resonated with the market and helped them get traction.

Today, their company generates over $5 million in annual recurring revenue.

It's a great story about persistence, flexibility, listening to your customers and how to successfully pivot your SaaS business.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 208_-_Successfully_Pivoting_a_SaaS_Business_-_Max_Kolysh.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Tyler Tringas is a General Partner at Earnest Capital which provides early stage funding for bootstrappers.

You want to start a SaaS company. People keep asking you how big the market opportunity is and if your idea will scale.

But maybe you don't want to build a huge business. Maybe you just want to create a sustainable and profitable business that gives you more freedom.

In 2011, Tyler quit his job to start a venture backed software startup called SolarList. He was a first time founder and non-technical. So he also started learning how to code.

Getting his startup to take-off was slow going, so he started doing some freelance work. Several of his clients wanted a way to add store locator functionality to their websites.

So on a 30-hour flight from San Francisco to Buenos Aires, Tyler built a store locator SaaS app as a side-project. When he landed, he deployed the code and launched the product.

He emailed some of this clients and within 24 hours he had a handful of people paying him $5 a month. The product was terrible and had a lot of missing functionality, but it did the basic job.

A year later, SolarList still wasn't getting traction and had be to shutdown. And Tyler was left with over $50,000 of credit card debt and uncertainty about his future.

He had to dig himself out of a financial hole. So he started doing more freelance work and putting more time into his StoreMapper side-project which was now doing around $1000 MRR.

By being able to spend more time on StoreMapper, Tyler was able to grow it over $5000 MRR in about 9 months. And eventually got it to over $40,000 MRR a few years later.

But he built it as a sustainable and profitable micro' SaaS company. It helped him to pay down his credit card debt, travel the world and spend more time on projects he found interesting.

And if building that type of business appeals to you, then you'll love this episode.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: Tyler_Tringas_Micro_SaaS_-_207.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Rob Fitzpatrick is a tech entrepreneur and author. He ran various tech startups for about 10 years, has raised funding in the US and UK and is a YC alum.

He's the author of The Mom Test: How to Talk to Customers and Learn if Your Business is a Good Idea When Everyone is Lying to You and also the author of The Workshop Survival Guide: How to Design and Teach Workshops That Work Every Time.

One of the biggest challenges you face as a SaaS founders is validating your idea. It might be an idea for a new company or something that you want to change in your existing business.

You're excited about the idea. But how do you know if your prospective customers will love it too? And more importantly how do you know if people will pay money for your idea?

Most founders know that they've got to talk to customers to validate their idea. But it's easy to screw up customer interviews and hard to do them right.

In this episode, I talk to Rob about his book The Mom Test and we go through a step by step process to improve how you run customer interviews.

We talk about how to ask good questions, how to avoid collecting bad data and how to know when people are lying to you or telling you what they think you want to hear.

By the end of this episode you'll know how customer conversations can go wrong and you can do a better job at learning if really have a good idea or not.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 206_-_Rob_Fitzpatrick.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Tim Soulo is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Ahrefs.com, a SaaS startup that provides SEO tools to help grow your search traffic, research your competitors and monitor your market niche.

In 2015, Tim joined a SaaS startup as head of marketing. The company had spent several years building their blog but it still wasn't generating much traffic or leads.

Tim decided that publishing higher-quality content regularly on their blog was going to be one of his top priorities. But after a year he still had little to show in terms of traffic and leads.

Eventually Tim figured out the problem. They were creating high quality content, but they weren't it optimizing for SEO. They weren't doing keyword research or doing on-page optimization.

Now that's not uncommon. A lot of companies make that mistake. But the startup that Tim worked for was in the business of SEO and their product helped their customers to grow search traffic! So it was pretty crazy that they weren't thinking about SEO on their own blog!

Once he figured out the problem, Tim made a simple change - he started by doing keyword research to find out what people were searching for and then focused on creating the best content around those keyword.

And in a couple of years, their blog traffic grew from 15,000 to over 250,000 monthly visitors and has become one of the biggest drivers of new customers and revenue growth.

But the real story here is about a SaaS startup that's incredibly product focused and breaks a lot of rules and conventional wisdom about marketing and growth.

For example, they don't have a target customer or persona. They don't do growth hacks. They don't use analytics software or track conversion rates. They don't even to do proper' SEO.

They focus on building a great product and educating people on how to use that product through their blog. And that approach is working -- they're bootstrapped and doing over $40M ARR.

It's a great story. I hope it'll inspire you to think differently about your business and give you some insights to grow faster by ignoring conventional wisdom and trying something new.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: Tim_Soulo_-_Ahrefs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:22pm PDT

Rob Kall is the co-founder and CEO of Cien, a product that helps sales teams get an edge using AI to enhance the quality of their data and improve their productivity.

As every founder knows, building a SaaS business is rarely easy. And if you're doing it for the first time, it can be particularly hard and you often wonder if you should keep going or not.

So can we learn anything from serial SaaS founders who've built and sold several companies?

In 2001, Rob Kall and his co-founder talked about starting a SaaS business. They liked building websites and were interested in real-estate, so decided to build websites for realtors.

They didn't put much thought into it. It seemed like a good idea and they thought they could build better sites for realtors than the ones they'd seen. So they started a business.

3 years later, they sold that business for $80 million. Rob says he was lucky. He had a great idea at the right time and sold the company at the right time.

But then he started a second SaaS business and sold that a few years later for $15 million.

Was it luck again? Was it really just about being in the right place at the right time?

Rob is now building his third SaaS business. He seems to be a natural serial entrepreneur and on the surface it seems like it's been smooth sailing from one company to the next.

But when you look below the surface you start to get a picture of how tough it's really been for Rob. It's the same roller coaster ride experienced by first time SaaS founders.

At every step, you're faced with a big problem and then you find some breakthrough. And then you hit another big problem and another one. It doesn't stop.

While luck plays a factor, it's really about your mental resilience, having faith in yourself and the ability to keep going. Those are the factors that create a successful founder and company.

In this interview we talk about that journey, some of the challenges that Rob has faced along the way and what keeps him going through the tough times.

I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: Rob_Kall_-_Cien.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Omer Artun is the founder and CEO of Agilone, a predictive marketing platform for business to consumer brands.

AgilOne allows marketers to understand and predict customer behavior to deliver automated, personalized experiences across all customer touch points, online and offline.

What do you do if you spot a market opportunity for a SaaS product, but you don't have the money or resources to build the product?

Well that's the situation that Omer Artun found himself in. He was working as a consultant and seeing the same recurring issues with his clients.

He knew that a machine learning based SaaS product could help these clients use customer data to improve their business strategy and deliver a better customer experience.

But he didn't know where to start or how to build that product.

So he took a different path. He launched his own consulting practice and started solving these problems for clients one at a time. After a few years, he built a productized service' and started charging a subscription for his service.

It took him 7 years to finally turn his idea into a SaaS product, which he shipped in 2012. And he bootstrapped them his SaaS product from the proceeds of his services business.

Today, he's raised over $50 million. His company is doing almost $20 million in annual recurring revenue and he employs 115 people.

So if you've ever felt like you're being held back because you have an idea, but you don't have the money or skills to build your SaaS product, then this episode is for you.

Of if you're currently running a services business and dream about transitioning into a full time SaaS business, then you might just get some insights to help you get closer to your goal.

It's a great story and I hope you enjoy the interview.


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Direct download: 203-Omer-Artun-AgilOne.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:02pm PDT

John Stojka is the co-founder and co-CEO of Sertifi, a SaaS product that enables companies to electronically sign contracts and collect payments quickly and easily.

You've got a great SaaS product, so why aren't more people buying it? Well, it might be because you're targeting a market that's too broad. Maybe you need to narrow your focus.

But how exactly do you narrow down a market without going too small?

In 2008, two brothers in Chicago (John and Nick) had the idea of building a SaaS product to let companies electronically sign contracts. They did some research, built a prototype and quickly landed their first customer.

Things were looking good for their business, until one day when they turned up to work and were served papers for patent infringement. They were being sued by a big competitor. Many people would have given up at that point, but the brothers decided to fight the lawsuit.

And they eventually won, but they had to work on it almost full time for 8 months and it cost them close to $150,000.

It was a huge distraction and in those 8 months they did very little to improve the product. The market started slipping away from. Their product was quickly becoming obsolete while their competitors kept innovating and raising lots of money.

They knew that something had to change. Eventually they decided to narrow down the market and focus on a really small segment. Instead of competing in a market with millions of prospects, they chose a market with about 300 potential customers.

It helped them to get super-clear about their target customers and exactly what problems they had. And that bet paid off.

Today, their company generates over $10 million in annual recurring revenue and has 60 employees. And their business is totally bootstrapped.

It's a great story with a ton of ups and downs and great insights.


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Direct download: SaaS-202-John-Stojka.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Thomas Smale is the founder of FE International, an M&A firm that helps business owners to sell their SaaS, e-commerce and content businesses.

FE International offers comprehensive exit planning services, as well as direct access to an established network of pre-qualified international investors. And Thomas has consulted with hundreds of internet entrepreneurs on exit strategy, growth and business development.

You're hoping to sell your SaaS business in the next year or two. But you're not sure where to begin and how to put yourself and your company in the best position for a sale.

In this episode, we're going to teach you how to make your SaaS company more sellable, so you can get the possible outcome from a future sale.

You'll learn what the overall sales process looks like. And then we'll look at the typical mistakes that SaaS founders make and share some key lessons with you.

By the end of this interview, you should have some great insights and know exactly what you need to do to build a SaaS business that you can sell.


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Direct download: SaaS-Podcast-Thomas-Smale-201.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:46pm PDT

This is a special episode and I have three guests on the show today!

We're going to teach you something that I believe is so important to building a successful SaaS business, yet very few people talk about it.

When you're asking for a sale from a potential customer (whether in person or on your website) you need to present an attractive offer. You need to tell them about your product, how it will help them and what you'd like in return.

It sounds simple. But most of us know that it's not.

When you're struggling to make sales, a poor offer can often be the cause. And many businesses have dramatically improved sales by simply creating a better offer (without actually changing their product).

And a strong (or power) guarantee makes your offer even more attractive and helps close more sales.

So in this episode, I'm joined by two direct response marketing experts and copywriters who are going to show us how to create an offer and power guarantee that your prospects can't refuse.

And then we're going to look at a real-life example with one of my SaaS Club Plus members and how he's developing an offer and power guarantee for his SaaS business.


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Direct download: 200-how-to-create-a-saas-offer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Christian Owens is founder and CEO of Paddle. Paddle is a SaaS product that helps other software companies sell their products. It provides checkout, subscriptions, taxes, licensing, and insights in one unified platform.

Christian learned to build websites when he was 12 years old. He started walking into local businesses and asking them if they wanted a website. Some business owners just laughed at him, but others hired him to do the job.

At the age of 15, Christian built an invoicing application for Mac. But he had no idea how to sell software and no money to spend on marketing. So he started contacting other people with Mac products and persuaded them to do a special 2-week promotion where they'd combine all their products into a heavily discounted bundle and promote that to all their existing customers.

The promotion was a huge success and they made over $400,000 in sales in 2 weeks. At the age of 16, Christian dropped out of school and focused 100% on this business and kept running these bundle promotions. By the time he was 18, he had already made his first million dollars.

In 2012, Christian founded Paddle with his co-founder Harrison. They wanted to make it easier for software companies to sell their products. But they quickly realized that they had a big problem and it seemed like no one wanted their product.

Things weren't looking good, but they kept at it. And one day they had a surprising insight about their product. They realized that most of their customers only cared about one feature. They didn't want everything else.

And that insight led to the founders throwing away 90% of the product and focusing on that one feature.

Today Paddle generates over $10 million in annual recurring revenue. And Christian at the age of 24 has become CEO of a company with over 140 employees.

In this interview you'll learn exactly what the co-founders did to take a business that looked like it was going to fail and turn it into 8-figure SaaS business.

It's a great story and I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: SaaS_-_Christian_Owens.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Dave Rogenmoser is the co-founder and CEO of Proof, a SaaS product that helps build social proof and increase conversion rates by displaying recent customer activity on your website.

Dave started as an entrepreneur about 5 years ago. He paid a developer on Upwork $10,000 to build a software product, but he didn't know how to get customers and so the business quickly failed.

He started learning as much as he could about marketing. And as he developed those skills, he was able help local businesses get more customers. So he started an agency. But he quickly realized how much he hated the agency life.

Next he and his co-founders launched an information publishing business and sold courses and coaching. But deep down, he still longed to have a software business with recurring revenue.

One weekend, Dave and his co-founders built a widget for their website to help them sell more courses. The widget showed you names of people who had just purchased the course. It was social proof and it doubled their sales almost overnight.

Dave started testing this widget on his friends websites. And they all reported back positive results and improved sales conversion rates. And that's how Proof was born.

In this episode we talk about how Dave and his co-founders turned that widget which they built in a weekend, into a SaaS business doing $250K in monthly recurring revenue.

We talk about how they've grown, how they've dealt with competitors and some of the biggest mistakes they've made along the way and what they learned from them.


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Direct download: 198-dave-rogenmoser-saas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:40pm PDT

Olof Mathe is the co-founder and CEO of MixMax, a productivity tool for Gmail. MixMax lets you track emails, set up meetings, save time with email templates, and schedule emails to be sent later.

You've got a great idea for a SaaS product. But there's just one problem - your target market is dominated by a well funded and highly profitable 800 pound gorilla. How can you possibly compete in that market?

In 2011, Chanpory Rith was a UX designer working at Google. His job was to make the Gmail iOS app better. He proposed adding features like scheduling and email tracking to make Gmail more useful for businesses. But those features just weren't a priority for Gmail's broader user base.

Chanpory loved his job but hated the killer 2-hour commute. Eventually he left Google and joined a local startup. That's where he met two guys who would later become his co-founders. Olof Mathe was a product manager and Brad Vogel was an engineer.

All three considered themselves communication geeks'. They would often talk about how difficult some of their tools were and brainstormed how to make better communication tools. And that's when Chanpory told them about the idea he'd had years ago to make email for work' better.

There was just one BIG problem. The email market was dominated by Gmail. And Google already had a consumer and business version of Gmail. How could they possibly compete with Google?

They realized that the answer wasn't to compete with Google, but to build a product that would make Gmail better. And that's what they set out to do with MixMax.

And their strategy paid off. In 5 years since they launched, they've grown MixMax to over 10,000 customers and generate around $5 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR).


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Direct download: SaaS_-_Olaf_Mathe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:29am PDT

Bart Lorang is the co-founder and CEO of FullContact, a SaaS product that helps you manage your contacts and relationships better. It transforms partial contact information into complete profiles and more useful customer data.

Bart came up with the idea for his business when he looked at how well his wife organized her contacts in Outlook. And he started thinking how great it would be if he could build software to enrich his own contacts data.

He and his co-founders developed a simple tool called Rainmaker that would automatically update your Google contacts with data from social networks. They launched it in Google's Marketplace and it didn't take too long to find a few customers.

But then they did what many of us have done - they had another product idea that they were excited about, so they started working on that instead. And for many months, they pretty much ignored Rainmaker other than fixing a bug or two.

After a few months working on that second product, they had another idea for a third product. So they started working on that. Now they basically had 3 products and very little focus on what exactly they were trying to achieve.

And then one day they had a conversation that changed everything. It was when they realized that with all 3 products they were trying to solve the same problem but in different ways - they were taking partial contacts and turning them into full contacts.

And that's when they finally committed to focusing on one product. Today their company generates 7-figures in monthly recurring revenue and has raised over $55 million in funding.

It's a great story and I'm sure you'll get a ton of great insights from this interview.


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Direct download: SaaS_-_Bart_Lorang.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:18am PDT

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