Software as a Service January 13, 2021

Thoughts after closing my last SAAS project

Vladimir Esaulov @Esaulov

It should be a good thing, to start a productive year with a post about the project that failed last year.

Let's story begin. A few months ago, exactly right after the almost whole world had been locked in their apartments I decided to spend some time on any new, fresh ideas. My previous experience was from software architecture and development with a wide range of roles and projects. So, I don't remember the moment but somehow, I got a question in my head:

"How marketers search for trends and measure their success(or not) on TikTok?".

Hmm... interesting, getting answers from data is always was interesting for me, and TikTok has so much noise and grows so crazy fast. So, let's do that quick! The next step was almost right, and I did some research, found competitors, worked on a few interviews with potential customers. A week later, everything looks promising and I was full of optimism about the idea.

Want to cut my original post here, and go directly to the most important part of that post, the lessons. Here is a simple list of the 4 most interesting, I think.

  1. Work on idea validation much more, first couple of proofs by possible customers is not a final answer, it's the first result to get motivated to work harder!
  2. Create a detailed plan with real deadlines, but same time be flexible, and of course, keep it, and no matter you work as a solo founder or not, it can save a lot.
  3. Prioritize your work and put just two simple lines on the top - "1. Get more customers", "2. Grow revenue". That's it, quite simple, right? Any other tasks should be a much lower priority, which is especially relevant for the tech founders.
  4. Spend time to understand that you will work on that idea(not exactly probably, but close hah) for years. Need time to fill that you are ready for that, or not. If not, just forgot and move on.

So, that's it. I know it looks too obvious, right? We all know about that and often read something like that and still make mistakes like these.

The full version is on

Thanks for reading!

  1. 6

    Hey Vladimir,

    Do you explain somewhere why Toki is closed? I don't understand why you shut it down unless I'm missing something?

    1. 3

      I agree, I am lost as well.

    2. 1

      good question! The main reason is the bad product-market fit. Like almost all possible customers told like "awesome, great! will pay for it" but nothing later.

      1. 3

        I can recommend reading before doing your next user interview.

        Basically. Focus on past events and past problems, rather than ask for feature predictions.

      2. 2

        I'm sorry to hear you close the project. I was following your product since your Product Hunt launch.

        • What was the product market fit you were targeting?e.g. influencer, agency or brand?

        • Were you planing to add more features for follow-up actions? e.g. influencer management, influencer reaching out and etc?
          The MVP of Toki seems focusing on influencer research which is low frequency activity. I assume there should be some follow-up actions to keep customers more active and stick to the platform.

        • Were you planing to add more analytics metrics? e.g. audience age segmentation, campaign analytics.

        Like almost all possible customers told like "awesome, great! will pay for it" but nothing later.

        • Did any of these customers mention why they were not paying for it?
        1. 1

          Thanks for such a detailed comment. Mostly I'm targeted to the agencies, but it looks like they have not so many pains in that area.
          Your point about working more on features for follow-up action is great!
          Also, the reason why I decided to stop working on that project was motivation, and after days of reflection on that, I got lesson #4.
          I mean, when you do a lot of mistakes, and the journey is not so fancy, but you feel "it's a great project!" and you match with that idea you will work harder. Right now, I think that I didn't have that connection with the idea.

      3. 1

        I sounded to me you asked wrong questions... Mom Test book at your service as @elitan noted. Also, not clear to me how much time went since you launched your app.

        One more note - PMF and having customers are different things :) you mentioned PMF but it looked like you didn't have any customers at all. There is ALWAYS gap between those two.

        1. 1

          That's right, but it linked, in my opinion.

  2. 2

    Don't give up :-) I can't count my fails :)))) yet still trying to make something scalable, recently :)

    1. 1

      Thanks!!! We are in the same boat, hah

  3. 1

    Thanks for sharing your jorney. Your idea seems nice but I am surprised the agencies did not have much pain in that area.

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