Starting a SAAS by building an audience. Hype or truth?

  1. 5

    It’s definitely hype in my opinion.

    I won’t waste the time and energy finding and listing examples, but just apply common sense. Look at all the SaaS companies out there - even just start with the ones that you personally use. Do you know the founder? Do you follow them? Did you, before you signed up.

    You only need to build an audience if YOU - the person - is the product. Like if you plan on generating income by doing speaking gigs, blogging or having a personal newsletter.

  2. 3

    In some cases yes, it might be a distraction and it totally depends on what you're building and how you're planning to approach the market. But I'm kinda leaning more to the conclusion that it's very important to have some audience, even a very tiny one (5 quality people is totally fine imo) for indie devs/entrepreneurs.

    I n his tweet Ruben says - ignore building an audience. And instead he proposes to do things, that are absolutely easier to be done with the audience of your product.

    You build better products by interacting with the outer system - it's users. How do you know you're building the right stuff? One way is to build it and do it post-release. Just fingers-crossed, you know. Not a very smart solution, but it might work. Another is to know it while you're building it (or even before you start). You can't do this without some audience to prove it. He basically said you don't need it, but you need it. 😏 I don't see a valid, rational alternative to making startups without audience.

    That said, I must confirm that I see some folks go to the extreme, spending significantly more hours talking, than doing. That's a no no. I also don't like the term "audience building". It has some negative feeling to it, at least for me. In the pursuit of "building" followers, many people approach simple human interactions like science and do crazy shit experiments. Follow, than unfollow. Comment stupid shit. Share things that are merely not interesting just to get to the big numbers. It's not right. Doing marketing with these things is tricky and can easily go wrong. I can sense when someone is not genuine in twitter from miles. It's a bit disgusting to me sometimes.

    I would suggest to focus on quality, when finding and interacting with your audience. Not quantity. Who cares if I have 3K followers who are interested in painting and I make a CRM for B2B customers. It has to make sense.

    These were my 5c. :)

    1. 2

      Good points!

      In my mind, audience = hundreds/thousands of people regularly interested in your content, meaning you can share ideas and/or promote products to them. Sharing ideas helps you get feedback. Promoting your products gives you "free" distribution.

      If we talk about community, I imagine a similar number of people interacting between each other in an online space that you create and manage. In this case, I guess you get the extra benefit of learning from their interactions. So it's not only about getting free distribution and feedback about concrete ideas, but also about discovering new needs/ideas based on what the members of your community talk about.

      The 5-10-25 people you mention are, to me, the first batch of early adopters that I can get to via marketing, cold emails... In this case, the main benefit I see is that you get much more direct feedback about a concrete idea. No distribution benefit since the way to get to this initial group might not be scalable.

      Would you agree with this?

      1. 1

        ...audience = hundreds/thousands of people regularly interested in your content...

        I'm curious what do you think about the following thought experiment.

        I have, say 1 follower. Only 1. Elon Musk. I build batteries for cars. Is my audience Elon, or Elon's audience?

        What I'm trying to say is that the audience is not a single layer.

        The audience is multi-layered ;).

        That's why I think that, yes, you need an audience, but more importantly, you need an audience with as many layers as possible (quality audience).

        Now, do you still think of an audience in terms of numbers or in terms of layers? :)

        ...in an online space that you create and manage

        Why? Twitter is free. Reddit is free. There are literally interactions to learn from everywhere. :) I wouldn't say that having a space that you create and manage is a prerequisite to having a community that can give you valuable insights. It's easier than ever to find like-minded/interesting people and I don't think we need to incubate them in our own space :)

        I agree with you on the last point, but still, it depends on who you reach out to via email. If you reach out to people who have massive audience (again, in terms of layers, not merely numbers), and your idea is worth it, it takes exactly one shot to get the ball rolling. ;)

        What do you think about these :)

  3. 2

    My company serves gym owners and our founding team has a lot of clout in the space. Even though our software is nothing special yet, we've been able to grow from $0 -> $160k in MRR in a year. There is no way we would've been able to do this without leveraging our network and our connections. That said, it took us 8 years to build that audience. In 8 years, you can build a solid product.

    So, my .02c is that if you're a great engineer you can grow your company a lot faster by partnering with someone who has a strong audience in your target market. But if you're growing a little slower, you're probably alright just focusing on building a good product that solves a problem for your niche.

    1. 1

      What's your product? I couldn't find it on your page.
      160K MRR is a dream. Great Job!

  4. 2

    My opinion this is so true! Kind of depends on what your product is.

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