The SaaS Podcast - SaaS, Startups, Growth Hacking & Entrepreneurship (formerly ConversionAid Podcast)
Steve Benson is the co-founder and CEO of Badger Maps, a sales routing software that helps salespeople be more successful.

The product enables sales reps to map their CRM customer data, integrate with their calendar, plan routes and find nearby leads. Badger Maps is a SaaS product and mobile app.

Badger Maps was founded in 2012. The company is based in San Francisco and to date has raised just about $1M in funding.

Prior to founding Badger Maps, Steve worked in sales for companies like IBM, Autonomy and Google. In 2009, he was named Google Enterprise's Top Performing Salesperson in the World.

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This episode is a story about a sales guy who had an idea for a SaaS startup. He realized that there was a lot of time being wasted as sales people drive from one customer's location to another. And he figured he could make them more efficient.

So he started with a really simple idea -- take all those customers that a salesperson has to see each day and map them as points on Google Maps.

That simple idea has grown into a SaaS business with over 6000 customers today.

In this episode we talk about how he came up with the idea, what he did to build his business and some sales lessons that have helped him grow his business.


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Direct download: Steve_Benson_-_Badger_Maps.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Nick Francis is the co-founder and CEO of Help Scout, a simple help desk product designed for small and medium sized businesses. Help Scout was founded in April 2011 and now powers over 8,000 support teams in over 140 countries.

Its customers include companies such as Basecamp, Trello and Grubhub. Help Scout has raised just under $13 million in funding. The company has offices in Boston & Boulder, but most of its employees work remotely in 40 cities across the world.

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This is a story about a three guys who started a small consulting company in 2006. They were building websites for their clients. And on the side, they were building small products for fun.

One of these products, a tool to manage your RSS feeds, got a little traction. It grew to over 200,000 users, but it was free and made no money. But it did generate a lot of support and feature requests.

And the founders realized that trying to use a shared Gmail inbox for support didn't work too well. They needed a helpdesk solution. But they couldn't find exactly what they were looking for.

And this wasn't an overnight thing. My guest spent about 2 years on this problem. He spent time thinking about the ideal solution. And he also tried out a number different support tools during that time.

My guest realized that he wanted a helpdesk that didn't feel like a helpdesk. He wanted people to be able to send an email and get a reply, without the need for a support portal, ticket numbers etc.

And that's how the idea for their business was born.

Today, they have a multi-million dollar business. They have over 8000 business customers in 140 countries. And they've raised $13 million in VC funding to date.

But for the first 4 years of their business, they survived on a seed round of a few hundred thousand dollars. They put a lot of focus into becoming self-funded and building an efficient business. And when they did raise money, it was the 'rocket fuel' they needed to help them grow faster.

There are a lot of great lessons here. I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: Nick_Francis_-_HelpScout.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Janna Bastow is the co-founder and CEO of ProdPad, a product management tool for product managers. ProdPad helps you to build product roadmaps, uncover the best product ideas to work on next and build what matters most to your customers.

ProdPad was founded in 2012 and its customers include companies such as Disney, Automattic and Ebay. The company has been bootstrapped since day one and is based in the United Kingdom.

Janna is also the co-founder of Mind the Product, an international product community which has grown to consist of 50,000 members and sold out events in 100 cities around the world.

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This is a story about two product managers, who were looking for software that would help them do their jobs.

When they couldn't find what they needed, they decided to build a tool themselves. It started with some very simple functionality.

After two years, they had an insight. They realized that there were other product managers who would pay to use their tool.

So they finally had the guts to quit their jobs and work on this idea full-time. They had no customers and had raised no money. They figured they could bootstrap the business for 6 to 12 months.

They had their first customer in about 6 months. And from there, they kept improving the product and getting more customers.

It took a lot time and hard work to grow their business to around $30,000 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR).

Things were looking good, until they lost focus.

They ended up wasting a year trying to do too many things, instead of doubling down on what was already working.

At the end of the year, they started thinking about raising money. It wasn't something they wanted to do, but felt they had to.

It was around that time that they had another 'aha' moment. They identified ONE metric that could make all the difference for them.

They decided to have everyone on their team focus on improving that ONE metric. And that's all they did for the next 3 months.

And amazing things started to happen once they focused. And they also did a number counter intuitive things to get more customers.


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Direct download: Janna-Bastow-ProdPad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Greg Mercer is the founder and CEO of Jungle Scout, a product that helps sellers on Amazon to research and find profitable product ideas and market niches.

My guest launched Jungle Scout in 2015 as a tool to help him find product ideas to sell on Amazon. With just $1000 and no coding skills, he's grown it into a business doing multiple 7-figures in annual revenue and a fully remote team of over 30 people.

He and his wife, quit their corporate jobs once the business took off and sold their home. Today, they live in different Airbnb's around the world and manage the business from anywhere and everywhere in the world.

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This week's episode is a story about a guy who was working as a civil engineer, but wanted to become an entrepreneur.

But he didn't have a business idea and no business experience.

One day he heard about people who were selling products on Amazon. And he decided that he was going to do the same.

Over the next year, he built a decent business as an Amazon seller. But he realized that he was wasting a lot of time doing research on what types of products to sell on Amazon.

So he hired a developer to build a Chrome extension for him. He figured that this would same him time and if he was lucky, he might be able to sell it to another Amazon sellers too.

A few weeks later, he built a one-page WordPress website with a PayPal button. And he had his first sale within a month.

He had a modest goal of making 1 or 2 sales a day.

Today, he's running a multi-million dollar SaaS business. And it's taken him 3 years from the day he had the Chrome extension idea.

He wasn't technical and he didn't have business experience. But he knew the value of starting small and making daily progress.

It's a great story which I hope will inspire you. And there are some great lessons that you may be able to apply yourself.


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Direct download: Greg-Mercer-Jungle_Scout.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Tukan Das is the co-founder and CEO of LeadSift, a platform that mines publicly available social media data to help B2B businesses generate qualified leads.

LeadSift was founded in 2012 and to date has raised $1.8 million in funding. The company is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada.

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This is a story about a couple of 'data nerds' who were playing around with the Twitter and FourSquare APIs one day.

They discovered that there was a lot of social media data about people who were looking to buy something. So they decided to build a product and sell these 'signals' to automotive brands.

It seemed like a winning idea. But they soon realized that it wasn't.

First, they weren't solving a customer problem. They were trying to find a market for a 'cool idea'. And that is never easy to do.

Second, they didn't understand how automotive brands work. Ford isn't going to have a salesperson call you because of your tweet.

After a year of getting no where, they pivoted. They started selling data to help consumer brands run better advertising campaigns.

They started to get customers and revenue. But their product wasn't sticky so revenue was unpredictable and customer churn high.

After two more years they decided to pivot again. But this time they interviewed many customers and kept searching for a real problem.

They didn't write a single line of code until they were confident that they'd found the right problem. And that approach paid off.

Today, they have a business that generates recurring revenue. And they are very close to hitting a million dollars a year.

This is a great story about persistence. And there are some valuable lessons on the importance of understanding your market.


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Direct download: 156-Tukan-Das-LeadSift.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Randy Rayess is the co-founder of Outgrow, a platform that lets marketers build and launch interactive calculators and viral quizzes that help engage your website visitors and generate more leads.

Outgrow was founded in May 2016 and is based in New York. The company has over 3000 paying customers and has been bootstrapped from day one.

Previously, Randy worked in venture capital, private equity and at startups in financial services, transaction processing and machine learning.

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How do you market and sell a SaaS product that your prospective customers don't even know they need?

These customers aren't searching for your product or any product like it. But if they knew that your product existed, they'd buy it.

This week's episode is a story about two guys who were in that situation. They were running a services business and helping their clients with software projects.

And they kept hearing the same question from their prospective customers i.e. "how much does it cost to build an app?"

It was taking their sales team a lot of time to answer this question. So they built an interactive tool and put it on their website.

Then they started customizing the tool, so their clients could use it on their websites. And that's how a new SaaS business was born.

But marketing the SaaS product beyond their clients proved to be challenging. No one was looking for a solution like this.

So they had to figure out how to reach new customers and help them understand that they needed this product.

There are some great lessons here on customer development. And we explore how to market a product that no one is looking for.

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Direct download: Randy-Reyess-Outgrow2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Fred Stutzman is the co-founder and CEO of Eighty Percent Solutions, the company which builds the innovative productivity software Freedom.

Freedom helps you to get more focused and improve your productivity by blocking your access to websites and apps.

The product is used by over 450,000 people and its users report gaining an average of 2.5 hours of productive time each day.

Freedom was founded in 2011 and was bootstrapped for the first 4 years. The product has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR and other publications.

Previously, my guest was co-founder of ClaimID.com and a technology researcher at UNC-Chapel Hill and Carnegie Mellon University. He holds a Ph.D. in Information Science and is currently adjunct professor at UNC's School of Information and Library science, where he teaches courses about privacy and social media.

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This is a story about a college student who was wasting too much on Facebook. He realized that he needed a solution to reduce the daily distractions and to help him focus. So he built a simple tool in a couple of hours which did the job.

He also shared the tool with a few people and it just took off from there. A year later with zero marketing, he had over half a million users - just through word of mouth.

When he started getting multiple feature requests a day from users and people offering him money to add features, he knew was onto a great business opportunity. So he took a week to improve the product and setup a website with a PayPal button.

Today his little tool has turned into a business doing over a million dollars a year.

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Direct download: 154-Fred-Stutzman-Freedom.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

David Abrams is the co-founder of Demio, a webinar platform that helps businesses to engage, communicate and build relationships with their prospects and customers.

The company was founded in 2014, but it took them 2 years to develop the beta and launch. And so the product has been in market for about a year. The company is self-funded and based in Tampa, Florida.

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This episode is a story about two guys who decided they were going to build their own webinar software. They spotted a gap in the market and believed their idea could succeed.

But neither of the founders were technical. So they hired a company to build the first version of their product. They spent almost $100,000 and ended up with a buggy and poor quality product which they had to throwaway.

Having learned a very important lesson for $100,000, they decided to start again and this time did a much better job hiring the right developer and being more involved in the design and development of the product.

It took them a long time to get things right. Their product was in beta for 2 years. But in the end, the hard work and patience paid off. Currently, they're generating about $500,000 in annual revenue and are growing fast.

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Direct download: 153-David-Abrams-Demio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Allan Wille is the co-founder and CEO of Klipfolio, a SaaS application for building and sharing real-time business dashboards on browsers, mobile devices and TVs. Klipfolio helps you stay in control of your business by giving you visibility into your most important data and metrics, wherever you are.

Klipfolio is based Ottowa, Canada and was founded in 2001. To date the company has raised over $16 million dollars. And it has over 8,500 customers including companies such as Jet.com, Zendesk and Ikea to name a few.

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This episode is a story about 2 co-founders who struggled for 3 years to get their first paying customer. And to make ends meet during that time, one of the co-founders even had to sell his car to be able to put food on the table.

These guys spent 3 years building a business to consumer (B2C) product. And they had almost 300,000 users. But the problem was that they had zero revenue. But they kept telling themselves that they just had to keep going.

Then one day the received a call from someone at Lufthansa, the largest airline in Germany. The company had a number of their employees using the B2C product to track soccer game scores. They wanted to know if the app could also be used to display business data in a dashboard. And that was the day that they co-founders pivoted to a business to business (B2B) model.

They built what Lufthansa wanted. And then went out to find their next corporate customer and then the next one. It wasn't easy. It involved a lot of cold-calling in the early days, which both the co-founders hated. But slowly they started to get traction.

And it was really slow growth. After 10 years of being in business, the company had 14 employees. But finally their persistence paid off and they started to see the elusive 'hockey stick' growth after year 10. The company now has over 90 employees and does over $8 million in annual run rate.

Do you want to learn how to build, launch and grow your SaaS product? Get Our Free Learning Guides.
Direct download: 152-Allan-Wille-Klipfolio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Bastiaan Janmaat is the co-founder and CEO of DataFox, an artificial intelligence and prospecting platform. DataFox helps sales and marketing teams prospect smarter and have thoughtful, personalized conversations at exactly the right time. DataFox's algorithms structure information on millions of businesses and deliver reliable data and machine-learned suggestions where and when they're needed.

Prior to launching DataFox, my guest was an investment analyst at Goldman Sachs. He and his co-founders launched DataFox in 2013 and to date have raised $9 million in funding.

The company's investors include Goldman Sachs and Google Ventures. And their customers include companies such as Twilio, Box, Google, Amazon & SalesForce.

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This episode is a story about 4 co-founders who decided that they could use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help sales & marketing people to make better decisions.

They saw first hand how the explosion of information available to sales & marketing people was overwhelming and making it harder for them to do their jobs.

They decided to use data science and machine learning to capture millions of data points about companies and people. And turn that data into actionable insights.

But they also knew that they needed to move fast. So they started building the AI technology, but also did a ton of work manually to process the data they collected.

In other words, they focused on solving customer's problems however they could.

The first version of their product was sold for $49 per month. Today, their customers pay them anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000 a year.

In this episode we talk about how they came up with the idea, how they got started, what they did to get customers and how they've continued to grow the business.

We also talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how they're using AI technologies to help real-world problems for businesses trying to prospect and generate leads.

Do you want to learn how to build, launch and grow your SaaS product? Get Our Free Learning Guides.

Direct download: 151-Bastiaan-Janmaat-DataFox.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:47pm PDT