Early SaaS Startup Product FAQ

Product, VC, market-fit.

Questions to ask about your SaaS Startup?

If you are a new startup in the SaaS industry, what kinds of questions should you be able to answer and focus on? What does VC want to know and as a CEO what should you be able to answer? What are metrics and issues you should be on top of.

-1- Is the product on Product Hunt?

How has it been received. Product Hunt has gone pretty mainstream. Topproducts and hunters.

-2- Is there a shipping product

Is it ready, or is it more like a product in beta. What percentage of the intended features are actually ready and in the product?

-3- Are there users or customers?

Is it 100, 1000 or 10,000? Confidence in your product is about how many and how much they are using it. Are you just talk or is your product viable and valuable?

-4- What’s the experience like?

Is it easy to “activate”, “navigate” and does it engage with as a software product and the goal of its use? Can it do what it is supposed to do better than other solutions?

-5- How many users are “active” and keep coming back?

What’s the actual engagement of your product (not what your friendly customers say or tell you). Engagement, retention and sign-on frequency in a given week is the key metric of if your product is actually useful.

-6- What channels are currently working & scalable & profitable?

Speed of customer acquisition is the critical metric here. If there are bottlenecks here, it’s quite serious to grow your startup and improve your product.

-7- How do we get sustainable and scalable growth or sustainable scalable revenue?

This is the bottom line, and you can never take your eyes off of this, it’s the soul of your strategy.

-8- How to keep burn low and “cut to scale” for your cash balance?

One strategy is to start raising early, since at later stages it takes longer.

-9- Compromise with VC

Capital matters more than maximizing price, so have confidence but also the wisdom to accept a lower price or lessor target investor if the round is too slow.

-10- Track MoM Organic growth

Track your month on month organic growth very carefully. You’ll want to be in the 20–50% range. Related to this have numbers for retention, referral and churn.

-11- Justify to the Board

Always justice to the board the quality, ideas and capability of the team you are bringing on board (70%) and secondarily, the market opportunity (30%). This is because a capable team can overcome market challenges.

-12- Metrics are Nearly irrelevant for Early Startups

This is because there is too much unpredictability. Engagement metrics are less useful than finding some users (core users) who are heavily engaged with the product. If there aren’t enough customers on the product yet, the sample size will skew the results.

-13- Optimize Growth First, Focus on Profitability later

If you cannot focus on growth first, how far can your product make it? If it’s not useful enough to the end-user, it won’t scale. If it doesn’t scale, how can it be profitable? Use some common sense.

-14- Build Organic Growth

If you do not have organic growth in your product, people that are adopting organically, and they love it, and it stays as one of their go-to software tools or apps, then you have a problem.

-15- Pivot, Refine, Growth-Hack

You need to adjust constantly, your go-t0-market assumptions may be just dead wrong. You need to refine the product, otherwise users won’t find it engaging. If you don’t have data on this, how can you adjust? Guessing? Wishing? Hoping? Selling your own fluff? No, you need to be strategic.

-16- Identify the Mainstream Value Proposition

Maybe your product does not have a strong USP, maybe it has too many. Focus on one. Focus on the right one. And Market the hell out of it. Make your product synonymous with the solution needs of your market. This doesn’t have to be a customer pain point, it can be a customer “ah-ha” moment pure and simple.

-17- Focus on the User Experience

Products are experienced, one user at a time. Each user’s journey is unique. If your product is not optimized to your users, it WILL fail. Is the UX as good as it can be? Is it visually appealing? It is easy to use? Can it do cool stuff? Is it addictive in its engagement? What can it do that no other product can? What can it do better than any other product and why?

-18- Have Built in Metrics & Reports on Customer Actions

If you don’t know what customers are doing in your product, it matters little what they are saying. DO NOT put to much emphasis on what they are saying. Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric of your own “star customers”. Look at the metrics of how segments of your customers use the product. Segment by age, gender and industry vertical. This will give you a decent idea of where your product is missing out.

Mar 12, 2016
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