Starting a SaaS Startup in One Month: Acquiring Your First 100 Users
Getting your first 100 users in just one month as a Software as a Service (SaaS) startup may sound like a daunting task, but with the right strategy, focus and sweat equity, it's entirely achievable.
In this blog post, we'll share what we have learnt in building our web collaboration & productivity SaaS startup, Beep, and outline a step-by-step guide to help kickstart your own SaaS venture and acquire your first 100 users in such a short timeframe. We'll cover essential aspects like ideation, studying your target market, MVP launch timing, marketing, and reaching out to your first users.
1. Define Your SaaS Idea
The first step in launching your SaaS startup is, of course, to have a clear and viable idea. Whether this idea comes as a result of active brainstorming, or from finding a solution to a problem you see yourself or others facing, or even perhaps while in the shower - it is important to take note of them as they come. Your idea should solve a specific problem or pain point for an identifiable target audience. The best ideas should be:
Unique: It should offer something different or better than existing solutions for the target market you want to sell to. Competitor research counts a lot at this stage. After all, there's little point building something that already exists or can be copied and scaled faster by bigger companies - that's an uphill climb that can be avoided from the get-go. While doing research online, if you want a quick way to bookmark webpages and easily view them all on one page (with automatically generated screenshots as shown below), you may be interested to try Beep's bookmarking feature. To watch a video explaining how it works, click here.
Feasible: Ensure you have the skills, resources, and technology to bring your idea to life. There's no point over-investing in equipment, subscriptions to online tools or hiring more team members at such an early stage when the idea has not yet been tested.
Scalable: Consider future growth potential to attract investors and users. Depending on what you have to offer, it is important that your identified target market is viable in that they either (1) are numerous enough, (2) are willing and able to pay for such a solution, or (3) a mix of both.
If it helps keep you inspired, feel free to come up with potential SaaS names or logo designs, but don't set anything in stone yet - this should ideally be confirmed only after the next step (and we'll tell you why then).
2. Study Your Target Market
If you haven't already identified your target market, a few questions you can ask yourself to get the ball rolling would be:
Who faces the problem your SaaS addresses?
Are there specific industries or niches that would benefit the most?
How large is your potential customer base?
Once you have your idea narrowed down, it is time to really do the research on the target market you identified earlier. It isn't the sexiest of steps for most, but this may be one of the most crucial. Whether this means doing online research, doing face-to-face interviews, or even spending a day in their shoes, you must study their:
places / channels were they can be reached or contacted
devices they use (which they use the most, at what times are each used most, etc.)
purchase decision-making process
Keep in mind, you aren't yet asking them what they think of your idea, you're only aim is to get to know them in depth. In terms of market research, a great book we'd recommend reading is "The Mom Test" by Robert Fitzpatrick - but here's a nice summary written by Ivaylo Durmonski.
After you're able to build a solid customer persona from the research gleaned, you can now settle on a SaaS name and potential logo. Here's some tips how:
The name or logo can represent a solution to their predominant pain points.
Not naming your SaaS something offensive (in your target market's language), nor resembling something they dislike.
Using colours in your logo that appeal to most of your target market, or at least avoiding colours most of them dislike
If your target market come from an industry or profession that have a specific lingo, a word or combination of words from this list can serve as inspiration to find favourable names.
The name or logo could resemble or symbolize the target market's main motivations in life or work
The logo's overall style can be inspired from the target market's industry
3. Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Now comes the fun part for most - building the actual product. An MVP is basically a stripped-down, no-frills version of your software that addresses the core problem your target users face. Focus on essential features and functionality to get your product into users' hands as soon as possible. Remember, perfection can come later; speed is key at this stage.
How complex and numerous the features an MVP should possess before launching varies from one SaaS to another, but overall, as long as it gets users from Point A (pain point) to Point B (alleviate or get rid of the pain), that's good enough. Henceforth, any further iterations should only be made once you have user feedback - not made in isolation, under a rock. You are building this tool for them after all, not for you..
4. Develop a Marketing Strategy
Alongside creating an MVP, you will also dive into one of the most critical aspects of acquiring your first 100 users within a month – marketing. Here's how to go about it:
Pre-launch Buzz: Start generating excitement before your MVP is ready. This should ideally start alongside your MVP-building process. Create a landing page or teaser website that collects email addresses from interested users. Use social media, forums, and blogs to build anticipation. In Beep's case, we started out launching in Product Hunt to generate buzz and gain those initial users.
Content Marketing: Create valuable content (i.e., blog posts, videos, infographics) related to your SaaS's problem-solving capabilities. Share this content on your website and social media channels to establish yourself as an industry expert. Content should be either informative, entertaining or both to provide the most value to visitors. In most cases, content marketing only helps improve traffic and reach - it rarely helps convert visitors to users/customers. Don't be disheartened in the beginning, content marketing is not a short term strategy, it has a compounding effect and is a way to build a brand's image for the long term.
Leverage Email Marketing: Use the email list you've built to notify subscribers about your MVP's launch. Provide sneak peeks, early access, or exclusive discounts to incentivize sign-ups.
Networking: Attend industry-related events, webinars, and forums to connect with potential users and partners. Engage in discussions and share your expertise. For example, Beep participated in Baku Investment Day 2023 (see the CEO's vlog of the event here), Buildspace's "nights & weekends", and at TechCrunch's Startup Battlefield 2023.
Paid Advertising: This may not be for everyone, but if your budget allows, consider running targeted online ads on platforms like Google Ads, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Be strategic in your ad spend to maximize ROI (return on investment).
5. Launch Your MVP
Timing is crucial when launching your MVP. Consider factors such as market trends, seasonality, and competitor activity. Aim to launch when there's a heightened interest in your niche. Again, your MVP doesn't have to be perfect, but it should be functional and deliver value.
Those moments before and shortly after you go public may be gut-wrenching, but you've made it this far - welcome to the club! And don't forget to broadcast your launch (a.k.a. your win) across your social media channels.
6. Reach Out to Your Target Audience
Once your MVP is live, focus on reaching your target audience:
User Onboarding: Ensure a seamless onboarding process to make it easy for users to understand and use your SaaS (e.g., How-to's, FAQ sections, tutorial videos, help buttons, etc.)
Feedback Loop: Encourage users to provide feedback and suggestions. This not only helps you improve your product but also builds a sense of ownership among early adopters. You can even integrate ways to reward users who leave useful feedback. Positive feedback sure feels good on the ego, but the real treasure for improvement lies in the negative feedback.
Referral Program: Implement a referral program to incentivize users to spread the word about your SaaS. Offer discounts or free access for successful referrals.
Engage on Social Media: Stay active on social media, respond to user inquiries promptly, and share success stories and updates. Oftentimes, just a simple recognition of a user goes a long way to building loyalty.
The Journey Never Ends...
Starting a SaaS startup and acquiring your first 100 users within one month is an ambitious goal, but it's achievable with careful planning and execution. From here, it's all about further improving the product you have based on user feedback, and maintaining contact with your userbase. Remember that building a SaaS business is a journey, and continuous improvement and user-centricity will be key to long-term growth.
From all of us here at Beep, we wish you good luck with your SaaS venture!