First off: I’m not going to delve deep into the SaaS itself, because I'm not writing here to get feedback on the idea, but rather what you would've done if you were in my current state.
UPDATE: I've written a follow-up article: https://www.indiehackers.com/@insats/getting-down-and-dirty-validation-budget-and-mvp-6001c46804
A few months back I decided to try out an idea I'd had for a while. I did all the appropriate things:
Performed a survey regarding the problem I wanted to solve. The data I gathered indicated that others were having the same problem.
Interviewed a couple of the survey participants in order to get a deeper understanding - which further affirmed my initial belief, although in hindsight it might as well have been due to confirmation bias.
Created a landing page which I drove traffic to via Adwords to see if anyone would be interested. I got about 5% “early access” signup rate.
Wrote an MVP specification
Started development of the MVP
Started to get in touch with companies to get them to want to try out the MVP
So - I’m currently on point 6, and nr 5 is ongoing. I figure that I want to get some users to try it out during the MVP for two reasons: To make sure that it works as intended (i.e. better than existing solutions) and to gather feedback that could lead to improvements. But basically it’s a way to prove that the product “works” and is something that the testers want to continue using.
This part has proven more difficult than I imagined.
The first thing I did was get back to the companies that I had interviewed initially. Their interest this time was mild. Now - I hadn’t actually spoken to them earlier about the product itself, only about their problems (because I only wanted to gather data, not propose a solution). But they were also acquaintances of mine - business contacts and such - and not random companies. This means, as I’ve learnt, that they might have gladly helped when I wanted a short interview about their problems, but that they were not as eager when I wanted them to try out my solution. So, I figured that I had to try another way, not using existing contacts.
I bought a list of ~200 e-mail addresses matching my target audience (certain execs at companies with > 25 employees and in specific industries) that were local, i.e. in my city - to make it easier to get a more personal message across, and also to be able to offer a personal presentation of the product.
Last week I sent out messages, and so far it has yielded nothing in return. A little less than 10% have responded and they’ve all been negative.
And that’s where I am right now. I don’t have any pilot customers for my MVP (which is under development, circa 50% ready for initial tests) and I’m not sure what I should do. I could spend more time getting potential customers to agree to try the product, or I could decide that I should accept the fact that my product might not have a market fit and kill it before it costs me more time and money. I'm not really the sentimental type, so killing it off is currently closer to mind since it's also the "easy way out" rather than start making cold calls..
I would love to hear your thoughts!
Ps. I’m also alone in this venture for the first ever and I’m a bit surprised in regards to how much more difficult it is to handle setbacks when you have no one to bounce ideas around with (which led me here! :))
Ds. For those interested, this is the project: http://trench-app.com/