Ideas and Validation October 13, 2020

What product does your business need the most?

Courtland Allen @csallen

Paul Graham used to email YC founders to ask what product they wish existed, what they needed help with the most as founders. Then he'd take those responses and use them to help new founders come up with B2B business ideas. So let's try the same thing as indie hackers!

What product do you wish existed, that you need the most?

  1. 13

    Open ended course creator. A way to make a course without it having to be linear in the first place. I want to upload videos, tag them and create relationships later, not before I make them.

    1. 1

      Interesting! Are you thinking of something like Substack but more course-based and searchable?

      Why not just post on something like Udemy? (edit)

    2. 1

      What type of courses do you make?

      1. 1

        Video tutorials on doing better google sheets.

    3. 1

      What sort of tools are you using now for courses? Any other pain points other than what you mentioned?

      1. 1

        I use Loom, gumroad, and memberspace

  2. 8

    Payment solution that allows crypto and fiat in both end with conversion, which is not limited only to US/EU.

  3. 7

    Simple, self-serve multi-currency payment processing at a fixed monthly rate instead of % of sale.

    1. 2

      This would require every major CC company to adopt this model. That's where the % fees originate. Credit cards have no incentive to do this, since their customers are the consumers, not the vendors they are buying from. This will never happen without government intervention.

      1. 1

        Why not just pass the cc fee to customer but still keep the main service a flat rate?

        1. 1

          Yep that's possible. That's just shifting the placement of that charge though. Your product is still X% more expensive. There's no way to avoid the processing and interchange fees. I'd also add that no one does this, so it would probably create a real WTF moment for your customers.

          1. 1

            Not really. All processors already charge a % fee to cover transactions. Then they charge on top of that % of revenue so they can scale their business.

            One could come in and do away with a revenue based charge and just do flat tiers per volume level.

            I hope it would create a wtf moment because this startup would eat up a lot of other’s customers.

            1. 1

              Oh sorry, when you said customer I thought you meant end-user. I do think there are probably processors with this model, but no big ones I know of. It's a good question!

    2. 2

      Hahaha. You wish. Don't think that will happen.

      1. 1

        I feel like there is a HUGE opportunity for whoever makes this. Pretty tired of all the % of sales schemes out there.

        I KNOW they want their revenue to scale.. but its getting ridiculous. I bet there's a business in every one of these % of sales verticals. Charge a flat rate, provide a good WORKING product, and you've got yourself customers.

        1. 1

          How will you factor in fraud?

        2. 1

          They'd still need to offer it in tiered pricing, surely, to make sure they are not pricing out the smaller companies, nor losing huge revenue on the larger customers.

          1. 1

            Yeah that could work

    3. 1

      Hey Gene, we @ paybro.now.sh are working on a no code payment processing platform with fixed pricing instead of % of revenue. Still accepting early beta users but let me know how bad you need it and we can get you on top of the waiting list.

      1. 3

        I haven't checked yet .. but that name.. "PayBro"? haha.. this does not inspire confidence if I may be 100% frank.

        1. 2

          Haha its ok Gene! Have you heard of "Paypal"? well...kinda similar but bro instead of pal

          1. 1

            Big difference. I hate to break it to ya but you’re gonna rebrand eventually. Might as well do it now.

            1. 1

              I hate to break it to you Gene, but my paying customers like the branding, so for now im sticking with it since it seems to work.

              On a side note: what was the difference between pal and bro when Paypal merged? Ill tell you: none.

      2. 2

        Maybe you don't add a fee on top of the CC network costs. But at minimum you will still have to pass on those % fees. This is misleading.

        1. 1

          Maybe you can register for the early beta, get a beta key, try it out and then say whether it's misleading or not :) Just some advice.

          I will save you the time: It's not misleading. And its profitable. Hope to see you on the beta list!

          1. 1

            Are you saying that you actually offer payment processing without passing on the CC transaction fees? How can you do that profitably? Do you charge the end-user instead or something? I'll happily sign up for the beta - but you'll have to be a little less mysterious about it, haha. I'm not trying to be a jerk - when someone tells me they have a perpetual motion machine, I think it's reasonable to be a little skeptical.

  4. 4

    An opinionated stack for bootstrappers.

    A software stack wired up and ready to go, with solutions for common stuff like front-end/seo, auth, payment/subs and trials, an ORM, a logging/monitoring solution, easy deployment. Ideally biased towards micro-services and SaaS offerings where it makes sense, but without breaking the bank.

    Like those awesome-lists on github. I see people here have strong preferences towards a software stack - curious if there are people that would find such a list helpful.

    1. 2

      So, how about Identity, user management, ticketing, support, live chat, subscription, billing, blogs, news-letters, crm + may be project management, accounting. All of them in one would be hard but would imagine if there is an opiniated edition that integrates the select / best of each so that you don't spend weeks or even months researching and then integrating. Github has quite a few of those awesome lists where I start my research and version 2.0 of that, that comes wired , ready to run on say aws lambda or netlify i.e serverless with couple of clicks would be nice.

      These are things almost all saas or digital product startups need and each doing it again is such a waste. And here I am looking more than starter dev stacks. I mean integrated stacks. We built quite a bit of this on Vue + Nuxt + Node and in fact considering to open source it.

      1. 2

        You summed it up nicely: nowadays, you need all of that just to get started.

        I would add docs. The trouble with a fullstack approach like this is that you will lack experience with certain components/libs/SaaS apps/etc. Each lib has docs but an outline explaining how everything is wired up would be :awesome:

    2. 1

      There are so many of these already!

    3. 1

      These exist, here on IH too. Divjoy and Gravity come to mind.

    4. 1

      I started https://www.npmjs.com/package/asterix-react a couple of months ago, still a lot to go and not biggest priority but I do feel your pain. I also did some interesting research about the similiraties in some of the components you mentioned before. Tt, might be worth it to publish it at some point.

  5. 4

    I wish there is a platform where I can post my product, then others people (influencer, or even just anyone) helps to sell it. With a transparent pricing.

    We can boost more sales.

    1. 4

      Like an affiliate market place, I believe there are a few of those. Like click bank.

      1. 1

        Thanks Rami. Do you know any good site?

          1. 1

            The thing is, clicks are not actual sells. Though thanks for the suggestion!

            1. 1

              I think there might be a language barrier. That website contains many products that people list and affiliates can get a link to sell those products.

    2. 3

      lol, I JUST mocked this idea up and even pitched it on my site or podcast.

      Imagine a marketplace where anyone can grab your product (Open affiliate), and promote it on their own channel / space.

      1. 1

        We're creating the infrastructure needed for this. Currently in beta.

        If you're interested in getting help for your business and paying as you grow your revenue, see here: https://pactero.com/labs

        If you're interested in investing time, resources, and hands-on support to help others to grow their revenue and get paid for the upside, see here: https://pactero.com/

        Let me know if you have any questions.

    3. 1

      Hi @hieunc, I like your idea. I'm facing a similar problem to own the process of increasing my audience in Social Media first: https://twitter-growth.netlify.app

      1. 2

        Hey (are you Santiago?), nice app you got. I bet many people want to know more about Twitter trends.

        Have you lauch it somewhere?

        1. 1

          Yes @hieunc, I'm Santiago and I'm glad you enjoyed the app :)

          It's still in the prototype/define idea/find audience stage.

          But, I very much appreciate your encouragement, and will let you once I launch. Thank you!

          1. 1

            Awesome man 👍

  6. 3

    I wish there were better solutions to everything that's not sexy or interesting when building your startup. Accounting, tax/VAT stuff, government paperwork. It's always cool to come across a tool that helps you do want you want to be doing better, but man when there's a good product that helps you do something you hate doing, that's the best feeling there is.

    1. 1

      I am considering building something in this space. Can you please give me examples of concrete problems you've had?

    2. 1

      Anything you hate doing aside from accounting, tax/VAT stuff, government paperwork? 😅

      1. 1

        Haha for sure! There are big areas like those, which are usually administrative in nature, which I think most founders find unsexy. But there are also subsets of things to do within anything from programming to sales to marketing where some parts just sucks to do. Take lead generation: If I just magically got a perfect list of people to contact, I wouldn't miss the process of creating that list myself. But if we just magically got a working product, I would actually miss building it.

        How about you @jonathancai, anything you have to do that you'd rather not if someone would do it for you? :)

        1. 1

          Lead generation is definitely a big one.
          But the flip side of that coin is, you probably shouldn't try to solve a problem if you don't know of anyone who has that problem.

          For me, I hate maintaining social media accounts. I understand how Twitter/IG/FB is so important for building audience and the "flywheel" effect, but it might just be my shyness or fear or whatever that prevents me from using it, even for personal purposes. I'd much rather have someone do that for me :)

          1. 1

            @jonathancai
            I agree that social media marketing is not everyone's cup of tea but we all know this is a very valuable marketing strategy. Working at a startup, this is something we kind of struggle with actually... This is why our team decided to build our very own AI social media marketer that learns and mimics our behavior on social media and likes/shares like we do. 🙌 So we don't have to focus too much attention on doing social media marketing.

          2. 1

            Agreed about the part of not trying to solve problems you don't understand. With that said, I think that every founder can come to point pretty quickly where they should be doing a lot of cold calling as well. I think patio11 even mentioned it on a IH podcast that Stripe got started by doing lots and lots of cold emailing, and that they probably still do.

            Great example with the social media stuff as well. I think that's especially true for companies with higher average employee age where they might just employ a young person to handle the social media stuff for them. That's really the kind of "we know we should be doing this but we really don't want to or understand how to do it well" problem that could be valuable to solve.

  7. 3

    Since I use various products for different purposes, I think It'd be useful to group them into broad topics, for me the essentials are:

    • Emails, I use Sendgrid for transactional and Fastmail for my inbox.

    • Infra, I use AWS, GCP, Linode or DigitalOcean depending on the project.

    • Payments, I use Stripe but heard good things about Paddle.

    • Monitoring: I use a mix of Prometheus in my Kubernetes cluster and Healthchecks.io for scheduled jobs.

    • Analytics, I used to use Google Analytics, but (shameless plug) I recently switched to my own solution Panelbear.com

  8. 3

    A simple funnel analytics tool to more easily illustrate how 'hot' or 'cold' new users are in terms of converting, and then suggest areas of improvement based on how users behave in particular conversion funnels.

    1. 1

      Funnels by themselves would show you which steps were “hot or cold.” What am I missing about your wish? Are you looking for suggestions in the context of your specific app?

      1. 2

        Not suggestions for my personal app -- at my day job I'm often looking at large amounts of small-value conversion data. So, while I'm able to look at a funnel in Google Analytics and see broadly where drop-off points are on our websites, this doesn't seem to provide a ton of info on the human reasons for why those drop-offs occurred.

        It's a bit hard to describe what what I'm thinking, so maybe an anecdote would be better 🙈.

        Let's say I have page leading up to a conversion that has 4 different sections of text content. Maybe if a user spends the time to read section 2 they are 25% more likely to convert, but if they only read section 1 they have a 75% chance of dropping off and exiting on that page. Google Analytics would tell me that I have a drop off point on the page but not why that drop off occurred (to the best of my knowledge).

        I could always use user recordings and maybe heatmapping to figure some of this out, but it would be great if I had an analytics tool that was smart enough to make these discoveries for me.

        Does something like this exist? ...or am I a mad man shaking my fist at the sky?

        1. 1

          Gotcha! You're not crazy. I've only seen this at the enterprise level, as a feature in Adobe Analytics called Contribution Analysis.

          Basically, it's running a big linear-ish model on (in this case) conversion, against all your captured variables as inputs, and stack ranks the biggest deviations on conversion and what variables they related with. If it turned out that you captured a Scroll Depth variable, and Section 2 is strongly associated with higher conversion, that would show up in the model's output.

          Under this arrangement, it's critical that you capture a ton of data in the tool, so that the model has it to work with.

          Amplitude, which is actually maybe within pricing reach for some IHers, may move into this space as well, given that they acquired a ML company and have started integrating it into the product. Here's my review of their announcement of targeted cohorts using ML:
          https://twitter.com/blakerson/status/1306973076177981442

          The weakness in quantitative models of any kind is that they can't answer why. You need qualitative data (i.e. user feedback or a UX interview) for that. But often, a correlation will do.

          1. 1

            Ah - great to know that there is at least something out there, even if it is likely out of reach. I really appreciate the time you took to help me out here & I agree on your assessment of quantitative models. I'll be on the lookout for Amplitude.

            1. 2

              It’s a pleasure to get to talk shop here :D have fun!

    2. 1

      There are a lot of CRMs out there

      1. 1

        I was trying to describe something that would help track events leading up to a small conversion (like a small purchase) on my website, not a CRM.

        1. 2

          Have you ever looked at drip? Always thought this was part of the offering.

          1. 1

            I'm checking it out now - looks interesting. Thanks!

  9. 2

    I'll throw my hat in the ring since I just spent a couple hours this morning trying to compare some currently available software options. I work in a professional services / consulting capacity. I'd like to set up shop and go out on my own, so i'm trying to find one piece of software that can handle everything - essentially combining accounting, financial reporting, project management, task allocation / workload balancing, CRM, timesheets, payroll, invoicing, costing / estimating / quotes, etc. Essentially combining some accounting software like Quickbooks / Xero with a project management tool like Teamwork / Asana. I think it's unlikely to ever happen given how complex both accounting and project management can be.

    I'd settle for a way to clearly show the abilities of each app in each category, and where another app in a separate category can compliment it with minimal redundancy (ex: Xero can do some stuff, Xero Projects can do a bit more, but lacks certain abilities that only become apparent if you really dig deep, Xero Practice Manager can do more still, but is geared towards accountants, Xero WorkflowMax is more like a project management app, but then needs the basic Xero account to do the accounting / financial side. Teamwork is a solid project management tool, and can generate invoices / do some budgeting and time tracking, but can't really do accounting work, payroll or timesheets. Would I be able to get by with Quickbooks Plus and Teamwork?). Many of these apps also have add-on's for additional features at additional costs (ex: Quickbooks Online, Quickbooks Online Plus, TSheets for timesheet ability for Quickbooks, Payroll add-on to QBO online to pay staff etc). I'm completely getting paralysis by analysis, especially the more different app's I try to take into consideration.

    Maybe an alternative option - give someone a list of must-haves and let someone else figure it all out. Or tell them the preferred couple of apps and let them sort out the integrations / zaps / IFTTT to patch it all together? Crowd survey current users of the apps to get them to vote on whether an app can do a specific task well or do it at all, then aggregate that data so the apps can be compared more easily?

    1. 1

      Maybe ManyRequests would help somewhat? That wishlist is heckin’ long but I’m also curious about them as I consider productized consulting.

      1. 1

        yep this is pretty close. in the right ballpark anyways. there's some wordpress templates i've come across as well, like Freelance Cockpit, but it would also still be missing some features and I'd be nervous about trying to keep that working while doing the core consulting business at the same time.

  10. 2

    I wish there was a product, to help me make the first Software sales for free. Then pay as the business scaled!

  11. 2

    An easy AB testing tracking tool that can show the assumption you are testing and how many times did you test it. Maybe this tool would have a built in AB testing sprint.

    1. 1

      I think Google Optimize might be worth looking into for you

  12. 2

    Stripe, but available in South Africa.

      1. 3

        Wow... and just like that, Stripe has acquired PayStack. Coincidence?

  13. 2

    Something like https://www.researchgate.net, or uses a similar data source / meta-analyses, but to be more prescriptive / has a diagnostic flow (makes clear that the flow is not medical advice).

    Currently, any ailment that you search for on Google leads to way too many home remedies that don't have any legitimate scientific research to back up the claims. And doing a search on Google Scholar forces you to become an expert in many fields that you don't know well enough to ask the right questions.

    Having an ordered list of scientific research papers that logically flow from ailment to treatment (with brief explanations about why the paper is the next logical step) would be much more helpful.

    Edit: Oh! For business. Some way to handle all of my clients' disparate servers and websites in one place, BUT, that doesn't pose a risk to any of the others once they're all in one place.

    1. 1

      Can you articulate more "handle"? which operation would like to do?

      1. 1

        Not exactly an easy task, nor as lucrative, probably, as it would cost in time to make -- "handle" would be the AWS of disparate software dashboards.

        I find myself logging into 20+ AWS accounts to check stats, 50 or so servers via FTP, 10 different WordPress dashboards... all for legacy support / maintenance. Currently, it's backing up databases, updating WordPress/CMS + plugins, backing up the software on the servers ... saving that all to an external hard drive, and then encrypting those files + backing up that hard drive to the cloud.

        I could move all of their databases/sites to AWS, but some of those folks are happy with the hosting solution they already had (GoDaddy, DigitalOcean, HostGator).

        An MVP might be an AWS CloudWatch dashboard aggregator + a SQL browser with backup buttons for the databases, and listing each site with a quicklink to the WordPress/CMS admin dashboard (this is already something I use locally with some other features like customer contacts, invoicing info etc.).

        Not sure I'd immediately trust any solution with access to that much info though either, so possibly something else to consider.

  14. 1

    -Converting remaining airtime from local prepaid SIM card to cash or points when leaving a travel destination.
    -Paying for crypto with sms
    -Transcribing voicemail and have the text sent to my phone via email/sms/whatsapp

  15. 1

    Off the shelf audio streaming.

    1. 1

      I've worked on a super-basic solution for this using go. It can be done, but it is only really worth it for very large files, such as audio books. Otherwise, with today's bandwidth, streaming doesn't make sense, as audio is much smaller compared to video, and people are already streaming youtube HD on 4G.

      What's your use-case?

      Mine was I wanted to build a local version of Audible, but alas! there's no demand for that!

      1. 1

        It's more for a security aspect. I don't want the files served statically in the browser.

      1. 2

        Hmmm no not quite. I think they provide streaming in the "live podcast" sense. I'm looking for a solution I can implement into SongBox:

        1. Audio file is hosted somewhere
        2. User presses "play"
        3. Audio is streamed to the browser
        1. 1

          I'm sure I'm misunderstanding your requirement, but the html5 <audio> element supports exactly this already. Much like the <video> element, it can start playing before the entire file is downloaded.

          1. 1

            But the file is still downloaded and ultimately served statically. I want to stream. This is why I emphasised it in my other comment:

            However what I'm looking for is a way to STREAM (that's the key thing)

            1. 1

              Yea I got it - it sounded like your issue was maybe about being able to start playing before the audio file finishes loading, but clearly it's not!

        2. 1

          Hey Primer, mind sharing a bit more details with me as to what you're looking for here? I've worked on some side projects that have a lot of overlap with this and have wondered about how I could package them into a product.

          1. 1

            Not sure Could make it any simpler than I have above with the 3 step breakdown. However what I'm looking for is a way to STREAM (that's the key thing) audio to my user's browser rather than serving the audio file statically.

            Turns out its trickier than I first thought to do that.

            I want the user to click "play" on a track and it immediately begins to stream into their browser. as opposed to clicking "play" which triggers the process to download the file and the track can't start playing until after the whole file is downloaded.

            1. 1

              Gotcha, I understand the issue. Thanks for explaining!

            2. 1

              This comment was deleted 6 days ago.

  16. 1
    • G Suite (email, docs, drive)
    • Hosting (AWS, Digital Ocean, etc.)
    • Slack
    • Zoom
    • Anything to talk to customers (Intercom)
    • Something to organize stuff (Trello or AirTable would do)
    • Mixpanel
    • Stripe
    • Webflow

    Time to time LinkedIn Sales Navigator and various lead-gen software

    I'd consider these essentials, and we actually pay for most of them

    1. 3

      I updated my post to make it a bit more clear, but what product do you WISH existed? (as opposed to what are you already using)

      1. 1

        Ahh, sorry for misreading the question. It's harder then :)
        I'd say most of the stuff we needed we found quite easily. We do look into bundles though and did switch products just to save some money.

        I can think of one area though where I often spend significant time and energy and achieve mediocre results: producing marketing content, and especially videos.
        I'm not in the position to spend good money on professional creators, and I'd really appreciate tools that could make me more productive there.

        Specifically, I'd pay for a high quality text-to-speech for voiceovers (with prosody, different voices, etc.)

        1. 3

          Check out https://www.synthesia.io/
          Their tool takes a script and creates video with good sounding text-to-speech and all that.

          1. 1

            At the first glance, though, it looks like they focus more on their video avatars, and their speech synthesis is rather generic. I can get something similar out of Google API, but it's just not enough for professional looking videos. I think the AI technology is barely there (I've seen some state of the arts demos that are good enough). Now someone has to turn it into a compelling product ;)

            1. 1

              That's a fair point. The avatars look really good but the voices are still noticeably stinted. We'll just have to wait and see what becomes available in 2021 😁

          2. 1

            Wow! Thank you for the recommendation! I think I've seen them before, but at that time they didn't have much to offer. Their current website looks very compelling, so I'll give them a try 👌

  17. 0

    More sales for business and that means software that can expand my market access besides of course software for tracking etc. Sales broadly will fall into a few buckets. Direct SEO, Content, Partners, Referrals, Affiliates and of course paid ads.

    Shameless plug; started Linkra (https://linkdra.com) to add a direct outreach marketing. Works very well in the early days with precise reach. But once beyond that affiliates are turning out good to drive growth.

    The problem is affiliate sites are either expensive to just list product (Partnerstack starts at $xxx - 3 figures per month) or simply tracking or processing like wordpress plugins.

    A combined model that is linked to sales like stripe would be good (no monthly charge unless there is a sale). We are looking for one right now and exploring. Do suggest if you have come across any. If not, then ready to start building one with focus on digital products like SaaS or subscription - a model that drives traffic and processes it as well say with Stripe.

  18. 0

    I think product development is similar to conducting a clinical trial. Entrepreneurship is like a science experiment. If you think about clinical trials, participants are meticulously recruited and often compensated for being in a trial. I wish there was a product that allowed me to conduct a product development "trial" with a specific group of people and compensate them for their time.

    Some features would include recruiting participants, conducting interviews, live chat, etc. Almost like a combination of User Interviews, Pollfish, Dovetail, and Slack.

    Product Hunt's Ship feature is the closest thing I've found.

    The goal would be to validate an idea as quickly as possible with an audience you believe could benefit from your product or service.

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