November 16, 2020

How to start finding 1-person SAAS niches and implement related SAAS ideas? For anyone looking to build $1K MRR to $10K MRR

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No fluffy content. If your goal is to build a $100m ARR business, this is not the right post. Here I am are NOT going to talk about the building the next Facebook or Twitter. If your goal is to make a $1K to $10K MRR, continue reading.

This will cover one SAAS area and talk about multiple niche in this space. This also explains in detail about how to do tech implementation, do market analysis, how the current players are doing and also ends with cost analysis to understand the overall cost for 100 users.

The market for form builders is huge.

Don’t believe me? Goto Upwork and search for “Forms”. You would see many people asking for people to build forms. Forms are here to stay for a long time and everyone needs forms.

Type of forms :

  • Simple forms to capture generic fields: Like a typical contact form
  • Complex forms: If the user selects this value in field 1, show this value in field 10.
  • Surveys, Quizzes: Fun kind of surveys, quizzes that capture user's attention.

Major players:

  • Gravity Forms: The strongest option for payment forms. Close to $25M revenue.
  • Wufoo: \- Started in 2009, $5.8M ARR
  • JotForm: \- Started in 2009 - $4.5M MRR
  • Ninja Forms: Best for basic WordPress forms - $740,000 Revenue in 2015 alone
  • Google Forms: The free, flexible form builder.
  • Pabbly’s Form Builder: Strong features and affordable if you only need one or two forms.
  • FormCrafts: One of the most affordable options if you only need 5-10 forms.
  • FormKeep: The API form builder you can use for websites, mobile apps, and software.
  • FastField: Quick, easy forms but not the cheapest option on the market.
  • SurveyAnyplace: A premium option for interactive forms and surveys.
  • Contact Form 7: The ideal plugin for basic, flexible WordPress forms that look the part.

New players (in last 2 years):

  • ConvertCalculator \- Started in 2019 - $12K MRR
  • Formito : Started in June 2019 - $200 MRR
  • Blocksurvey : Started in 2019 - $1.2K MRR
  • Paperform: Started in 2018 - $82K MRR

Negative Nancy says - “This is a crowded market”

Me : ‘It is crowded because there is a demand for this. Niche down to a specific segment. Or even niche down do a platform like WordPress, Shopify, etc”

Negative Nancy says - “I can use Google Forms, why would I pay for forms”

Me : ‘ Google forms exist for a long time but people still look for alternatives because of a lot of features that Google forms don't have’

Unique niches

1) Forms to PDF merge: PDF merge is nothing but filling the empty values in a PDF with some data. Imagine there is a sample PDF template with fields like Name, Address, Age and Gender to be filled. Creating multiple PDF files from this template by filling Name, Address, Age, and Gender is called PDF Merging. There are many small businesses that need something like this. Build a small product that takes the predefined data from the form. In this example, create a form that takes Name, Address, Age, and Gender. Once the data is filled, you would need to automatically create a PDF file by merging the base PDF Template with the actual data filled in the form.

Create automation around forms to PDF merge. Users filled forms will be automatically converted to predefined pdfs.

2) Forms to Bot: Create a form with a drag and drop tool. The form automatically gives a bot that takes the same inputs as form but in a conversational language. For example, in a form if you first enter name, then age , followed by Address. The bot will automatically convert this and first wishes you and asks for Name, then asks for Age and then address. For people who find it difficult to build bots, this would be interesting. Built a form that acts like a bot.

3) Calculator Forms: This is more inline of ConvertCalculator currently making more than $10K MRR. A GUI based no code calculator form is what we are talking about here. This typically handles dynamic changes in form elements/values. For example, if user enters age greater than 60 years, show more questions and ask for inputs. A very good use case is for restaurants and business that need to provide quotes. Providing an initial estimated quotes is a big part of most small business. If this can be automated to dynamically calculate an estimated quote based on user values, its a big thing for most small businesses.

Tech chops

The whole setup can be pretty much implemented using the latest front-end stacks like React, Vue, Angular, etc. For the Drag and Drop functionality, there are a good number of npm packages available. The final script can be hosted on AWS, GCP, or any cloud platform or managed services platform like Render.

1) Forms to PDF merge : To implement this, first we need a way to create forms. Forms can be created easily in any programming language.

Now you need a backend API that takes the data from the submitted form and inserts that into a PDF. Below two resources will help you with sample code to create PDFs from data.

Technical resources :

https://jsfiddle.net/upen9/awy9btku/ \- To create a PDF file using code

https://www.npmjs.com/package/pdf-creator-node \- NPM package to create a PDF from data

For hosting your frontend script (if written in vanilla js, react, vue, Angular or in similar frameworks) you can host on top hosting platforms like AWS, GCP, Vercel, Netlify and Render.

Start with this post https://blog.logrocket.com/8-ways-to-deploy-a-react-app-for-free/ if you are totally new to setting up a front end project in the major platforms.

For backend API that takes the data from the form and creates the PDF, you can write the API and again host it on any of the above platforms. Hosting backend API (typically server based APIs) will cost you money for hosting on platforms like Render.

To avoid cost, you can use cloud functions like AWS Lambda or GCP Firebase for your back end call.

The next question would be where to host the data. As this data has dynamic schema, the best database choice would be to pick a NoSQL database instead of SQL database.

If you are new to SQL vs NoSQL, start here.

https://medium.com/@itIsMadhavan/sql-vs-nosql-databases-whats-the-difference-a05492b48d99

2) Forms to Bot : Lets see how to build something like Forms to Bot.

As mentioned above, for building forms you could use any of the latest frontend technologies to make it much faster to develop.

Once you have the form ready, save the form elements (not values) into a database or a json from where you can read these configs.

Use https://jsoneditoronline.org to validate your json if you see any issues

After the form is created, save this in any NoSQL database like GCP Firebase or MongoDB. Or you could just save it to file storage as well or use one of the cloud storage services like AWS S3 or GCP Cloud Storage or Render Disks.

Now we are left with converting above json data into a a bot. There are many chatbot frameworks to build chatbots. One of the chatbot builder tools is https://botui.org

Read through you saved form configurations from database or json and create elements that displays questions and captures inputs using https://botui.org. Look through the docs at https://docs.botui.org/ and examples at https://examples.botui.org

After the form is created, save this in any NoSQL database like GCP Firebase or MongoDB. Or you could just save it to file storage as well or use one of the cloud storage services like AWS S3 or GCP Cloud Storage or Render Disks.

Now we are left with converting above json data into a a bot. There are many chatbot frameworks to build chatbots. One of the chatbot builder tools is https://botui.org

Read through you saved form configurations from database or json and create elements that displays questions and captures inputs using https://botui.org. Look through the docs at https://docs.botui.org/ and examples at https://examples.botui.org

Marketing Chops

As mentioned earlier, instead of making something generic, make a form with some unique features as mentioned above.

Would be a tough game unless you niche down this. As mentioned earlier, create your own niche and build a super small tool for forms that do one thing the best instead of providing 100 features. Start validating with real users. Write a big medium post reviewing all the existing tools and start driving traffic to a small email subscription. Gather leads.

I would also highly suggest to make a landing page explaining what you are going to build. Post the landing page on relevant forums. Use tools like Syften.com to see user threads around form and PDFs.

If you are building something around Forms and PDF, hit here https://www.reddit.com/r/pdf/ and hang around the users for a couple of days and talk to a few people. Post on IndieHacker and ask for feedback.

If you are building something around Forms and Chatbots, hit here https://www.reddit.com/r/Chatbots/ and post your landing page. Get atleast 10 signups.

Setup calls with people who signed up and LISTEN. If you are new ton user interviews, read “The Mom Test” book on how to ask questions. Again, LISTEN as much as you can.

If you are building “Automating Complex Forms” like ConvertCalculator, I would suggest you to pick any sub niche, it could be ‘building forms for restaurants to take orders’

See examples below to pick a sub niche to talk to actual users.

https://www.convertcalculator.co/use-cases/lead-generation

https://www.convertcalculator.co/use-cases/price-quote-calculator

https://www.convertcalculator.co/use-cases/product-configurator

https://www.convertcalculator.co/use-cases/online-quote-builder

Also, land in forums from Wix, Squarespace, Wordpress and see if can post this idea or find people who are asking for similar help.

Cost Analysis

Firebase has a generous free tier you can use for DB. Alternatively, AWS also gives a lot of freebies with DynamoDB. Render gives you 100GB of free static bandwidth and for almost at $0 you can cater to about 100+ customers. For any backend service/API calls, even if you use a small server, it shouldn’t cost more than $5/m. You could use GCP Cloud functions/ AWS Lambda as well for building APIs.

If you are non-technical, just understand that the probable cost to cater to 100 customers with about 10000 form views/month would be about $10/m or less.

All the packages that I have shown in example are completely free to use and are open source packages.

For Pro subscribers, I am posting every week with 1 new niche and ideas around it with data backed analysis, technical implementation, how to find initial users and cost analysis. (Similar to this post). If you are serious about building a SAAS and reaching $1K to $10K MRR, subscribe for Pro.

If you are looking for high quality newsletters like this every week, subscribe at https://gumroad.com/l/the-next-idea-pro

You can follow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/upen946

In my next newsletter for Pro subscribers, I will be talking about building SAAS products around Twitter audience.

(Originally, posted on Reddit that hit 300+ votes)

  1. 5

    Who are You, Who are so wise in the ways of Marketing ? Seriously this is one of the best detailed analysis I have ever seen.

  2. 2

    The advice on finding niche use cases on specific platforms is spot-on. There are dozens of lesser e-commerce platforms that have underserved plugin ecosystems.

  3. 2

    Well researched and useful information. I like to read posts like this because they inspire and motivate me.

    1. 2

      Thankyou. Comments like this make my day!!

  4. 2

    Really informative and insightful post!

  5. 2

    Awesome read, thanks for sharing!

    1. 1

      Np. I am writing a similar one around building products for Twitter audience for Pro subscribers.

  6. 2

    Thanks for writing and sharing this post. I was impressed to see Formito in your list! I enjoyed reading your post and already got some new ideas for Formito.

    Also, turning a table into a Form/Chatbot might be another unique niche. I already started this for Formito where you can turn a QuickBase table into a chatbot. My app for converting Airtable to Formito is under review. A similar app is ready for Monday boards, converting Google Forms to chatbot is almost ready, and Google Spreadhseet to Formito has planned.

    Would love to hear your feedback or suggestions for Formito if you had a chance to take a look. It's a chatbot builder at the moment, but it will grow. API form submission is almost ready, but I'll probably launch it in 2021. Traditional forms and calculator forms are also planned for 2021.

    1. 2

      Looks like you are on right track. Just be there. It could be slow to start with but there is market for these niches.

      Keep me informed on the new features you are introducing and happy to support.

  7. 2

    Amazing post, thank you for this!

    1. 1

      Happy to hear that

  8. 2

    This is really superb! I just wish I had access to this type of guided and curated info earlier .....specially the the technical part is amazing.

  9. 1

    Judging from the comments, you have a paid newsletter business here. :-)

    1. 1

      Yeah. I validated this and just registered a domain this week and launched Micro Saas Idea

  10. 1

    This is the worst post so far in 2021! I was just about to get into the form industry, and now I'm going have 150 new IH and Reddit competitors. :) Seriously, great post though - we're on the same wavelength with how much opportunity is here.

    1. 1

      There is still a lot of market for forms :)
      Don't worry. Pick any niche in forms and validate with real users/businesses.

      Just registered a domain this week to continue writing more ideas and launched Micro Saas Idea

  11. 1

    If you need a simple contact link or form for your website, please check out https://contact.do

    1. 1

      That sounds like a cool idea!!

      If you want to try and experiment more ideas, you may read my newsletter at MicroSaasIdea

  12. 1

    What an awesome post! Thanks for all the detail & insights. 🙌 I'm new to IH and have just done my first post -- a curated list of 120+ resources to learn enterprise sales. Figure that might be a good supplement to your post for anyone going after bigger deals with b2b SaaS. Would love your feedback!

    https://www.indiehackers.com/post/a-collection-of-120-incredible-resources-to-learn-sales-83d0d2b601

  13. 1

    Awesome writeup. Another strong player in this market is Typeform, who managed to differentiate themselves on UX/Design.

    1. 1

      Thankyou. Yeah, Typeform got missed.
      My bad. So many people notified me about missing Typeform. Feels embarrassing :)

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