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51 Comments

My first 2 SaaS failed miserably 💀

I spent over a year building complex full-featured products that cost me thousands.

I never got users involved because I was sure I knew what they needed, but in the end, nobody wanted to use my software 😩

On my 3rd try, I did it differently 💡

Instead of wasting time and money, we built the MVP in less than a month.

It was truly an MVP. It only had one of the features of the planned final product. Nothing fancy, just the very basics.

Then I put it to the test

I immediately launched a closed beta so users could try it out and provide feedback.

Based on user feedback, we built a couple more features and went live with an open beta.

We got more feedback, so we improved and built a couple more features

Then the real test came

We officially launched with paid options. In the first month, we got our first two paid users 🤩

Sure, it wasn't a lot but it was validation for me 👌

Even with only 2 paid users, katlinks.io had already made more money than my first SaaS product 🤯

3 months after the initial launch, we now have 40 paying users and counting 🔥

We are nowhere near where I want to get and not even close to what others have done, but I'm happy with our growth so far.

What I learned 👇

Don't wait until everything is perfect and don't assume you know what users want and need. You are probably wrong and will only waste time and money 🙄

Launch quickly, get feedback from users, improve, and repeat 🔥

If you want to follow along on my journey, you can find me on Twitter at:
https://twitter.com/robertodigital_

And if you are building a SaaS or digital product and want to improve your SEO, check out katlinks.io 🚀

  1. 4

    hey man,

    what differentiates katlinks from ahrefs or semrush? do you have a database as huge as theirs?

    1. 1

      Hey Curtis, we definitely do not have the huge database they have, and we are not even trying to compete with them. If you need a pro SEO tool with more advanced features and can pay $99 per month, then SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz could be better options.

      On the other hand, if you are not an SEO pro but want to work on your SEO with a simple and affordable tool, then KatLinks could be a good option.

      1. 2

        Interesting, it sounds like I'm your target customer then (total SEO newb). I'll be checking it out. 👀

        1. 2

          Awesome! Reach out if you have any questions :)

        2. 1

          keysearch.co is another good one to if you're just getting your feet wet.

  2. 3

    How you got much attention on twitter (testimonial.to widget shows that on you site)

    1. 1

      Mostly from early users that I got from Twitter and from the PH launch.

  3. 3

    Nice one Roberto 👌 I'd love to hear more about the things that worked well on the third try: How you brought in the first few beta users when it was just an MVP.

    1. 1

      Hey Tom! I reached out to people from Facebook and Twitter that I knew would be close to being in my target audience. I was already connected to them, so it was easier to approach them.

  4. 2

    Is this similar to MonitorBacklinks?

    1. 1

      I have not used that tool, but by looking at the website I could say that we have some feature overlap, at least on the backlinks monitoring part. The difference is that we have many more features not related to backlinks. Also, our price point is lower.

      1. 2

        Great - thanks for sharing.

  5. 2

    Cool project, landing page looks great! I'm curious, how do you handle the technical complexity of gathering tons (millions?) of websites and scraping them often (everyday?) to gather the data needed for finding backlinks. I couldn't even imagine where to begin with building something like that.

    1. 1

      Thanks! 3rd party APIs and other data sources 🔥

  6. 2

    Great story about perseverance, hard work, but primarily intelligent work! You can hustle all you want, but if no customer wants what you have built, it was all in vain.

    Also great post title haha.

    I will be following your journey - you were already on my "Indie Hackerz" Twitter list 💪 https://twitter.com/i/lists/1431004027827929088

    1. 1

      Thank you, I really appreciate that!

      And yeah, I really likeed how the title came out 😅

  7. 2

    Love it! Thanks for sharing.

  8. 2

    Curious...how are you managing the ones that failed? Are they in a kind of maintenance mode? Do you plan on shutting them down? In a similar boat with a previous product and not really quite sure what to do with it.

    1. 1

      Hi Corinn, that is a great question! The CRM software is fully functional. People still signup for the free plan, but everything is as-is. No one has tried to upgrade to a paid plan, so either the free plan is good enough or the CRM is not that good lol

      On the dental software, I closed registrations. Since it has decent SEO work, people still find it and email me asking for a chance to try it, but I tell them that we are rebuilding the software, which is not a lie. I plan to rebuild and relaunch early next year.

      What is your previous product about?

      1. 1

        It's a prioritization tool for product managers. It's in the same boat as your CRM tool. There's a free plan and no one has recently upgraded to the paid one.

        I suppose I could just let it go on as it is now, but it does take up a small amount of mindspace knowing it's out there and I feel like it's abandoned and not loved that just makes me want to take it down.

        1. 2

          Why don't you guys just get rid of the free option. I mean if people use the free option but won't pay for pro that basically means they would maybe pay for the free option and the pro has features they don't need

          1. 1

            I've been thinking of doing that. Just end the free plan.

  9. 2

    Wow! we are experiencing the same situation, I completely agree with your new approach, good luck with it 😉

  10. 2

    Thank you for sharing your story Roberto 🔥

  11. 2

    Thanks for sharing.

    I can very much empathise with you. For a number of years I wished for more funds to build my saas products. Then I figured that over a 6-month period I can learn coding and build it myself. I was so excited and spent months on developing something (almost) nobody was interested in.

    My general feeling is that these days everyone can build saas apps, the technology and resources are there. The only real problem remains the same: does it solve a real problem? The competition is bigger and faster than ever before. The tech world is crowded. And real-life problems at the core of the product remain a true differentiator between succeeding and failing.

    1. 1

      You nailed it! Anyone can build software, but the difficult part is to build and selling something that provides a solution to a real problem that people would actually pay for.

  12. 2

    Nice reading Roberto, best of luck for future success, one question - "How much your product (KatLinks) is helpful for you (KatLinks) to improve SEO?"

    1. 1

      I eat my own dog food 😂

      I use KatLinks on all my website to track and improve my SEO.

      1. 2

        Ah! sounds good, Keep it UP

  13. 2

    Congratulations, How did you get your users to try your Beta app?

    1. 2

      I reached out to people from Facebook and Twitter that I knew would be close to being in my target audience. I was already connected to them, so it was easier to approach them.

    2. 2

      I have the same question. How did you get your users to try your app?

  14. 2

    I have kind of the same thoughts as you, especially in the early days of building my software business. I thougt I knew everything what the customers want, and then proceeded to build full-fledged software.

    Little did I know that I was completely wrong.

    Congrats on your feat Roberto! I believe it's going to get even better for Katlinks!

    1. 1

      Thanks Welly, I appreciate your words!

  15. 2

    Sorry to hear that, been there too. That's why I am now building tool that can "at least" dogfood to myself, at least I will be much happier afterwards.

    1. 2

      Yeah, that's good. I use my own CRM and my own SEO tool.

  16. 2

    The first two sentences had me, saying "So I'm not the only one". Glad to hear you managed to find a way out. Congratz on KatLinks. All the best!

  17. 2

    Awesome! Trial and error it often is. I really like your product and will hopefully use it soon regularly as well :D

  18. 2

    Cool story Roberto, I learned from it. Thank you for sharing

  19. 2

    Congrats! What was the initial feature you built? I am curious to see what MVP exactly is that.

    1. 2

      The first 2 SaaS were not MVPs. I built the full software for both. Here are the links:

      https://www.odontalify.com/
      https://www.katleads.com/

      The MVP for katlinks.io only had the backlink manager feature.

  20. 2

    Hi Roberto, thank you for sharing. "I never got users involved because I was sure I knew what they needed, but in the end, nobody wanted to use my software" --> I felt that too.

    1. 1

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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