5 Lessons I Learned When I Created My App or SAAS, with Mike Lysecki and Mitch Russo

Mitch Russo
Oct 23, 2019 · 12 min read

Excellent developers are pricey! But they are worth every penny. Finding cheaper, less-skilled developers can be a tempting way to reduce costs — but you’re only truly looking at the development costs. When you factor time spent on analysis, design, QA, support, customer satisfaction and churn, it’s imperative that development is done right, the first time. Why spend money preventing, finding, and supporting development mistakes when you have the option to spend the money that can mitigate those issues in the first place.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Lysecki. Mike heads up software development and drives innovation in his role as CTO for LMN. Now the landscape industry’s most popular business management software, LMN was built from his need to streamline efficiencies as the Director of Operations at TBG, one of North America’s Top 100 landscape companies. What began as a proprietary system to centralize and organize everything from estimating and scheduling through to invoicing quickly grew into a platform that met a broader market need. From there, LMN was born. Today, Mike’s primary focus is to develop and expand the software in a rapidly evolving industry. Mike studied Commerce and Software Engineering at McMaster University and is frequently invited to speak on many business management topics at events worldwide.

  1. Features/Function — it is important for our customers to have fewer systems in their business. No one wants to have 7 different applications handling 7 different departments/business functions. Expanding our product features to ensure that our application touches everyone in the company is not only good for our customers, it’s also played a key role in expanding our user base.
  2. Education — from the day we launched, we sold our software through education. It’s helped our customers internalize why they want to use our software and a better understanding of their business has certainly helped them get better results from the software. Education has played a huge role in acquiring new customers, and it’s also really helped us reduce churn.
  1. Be very careful with partnerships. We first launched our product in Canada — and our first 100-or so customers were primarily Canadian. It’s where we were located and its where we had very strong relationships and education partnerships. When we made a concerted effort to grow our US customer base (which now represents over 80% of our revenue), we sought out a partner who could help us get our name out there. The potential partner was promising — they had really great credentials in our space, lots of pre-existing relationships, and they were great people to work with. But… they wanted a significant percentage of all US sales because tracking business back to them was going to be prohibitively difficult. We spent a lot of time considering the deal. It was certainly plausible that it might be better to give away a percentage of US sales vs. not having those sales at all. At the end of the day, we walked from the deal as the percentage was just too high for our comfort. Not only did we meet other, larger partners who didn’t ask for any percentage of our revenue, but that decision would have cost far more than I care to calculate today.
  2. Pay very close attention to UI/UX as it pertains to user adoption/churn. It’s an expensive battle to market and sell your application. But confusing UI/UX can turn an interested prospect into a frustrated cold lead in a heartbeat. Whatever you spend on UI/UX is likely to pay you back over and over again, if it’s effective at reducing churn. Losing a customer is very expensive. You lose your base revenue, you lose any additional revenue you might be able to generate from extra services, and you incur acquisition costs to replace your lost customers. It’s more expensive upfront to get your UI/UX done right, but it’s far cheaper in the long run to have done it right.
  3. Build less and release more often. Most things in life are over-engineered. Software, for sure, is one of them, but so are our appliances, electronics and more. It sounded great that my washing machine had 24 different modes depending on what we were cleaning, but 95% of the time, we just set it to Normal and go on our way. Washing machines become a little more complex with all these modes — they are still simple enough for most people to figure out. Software, on the other hand, gets very complicated, very quickly as you add more features and functions. Most of the features we build rarely get used — and that’s a good mindset to have going into every feature request. When you do add features, let your first release be ‘just enough.’ Release smaller chunks more often and you’ll end up with a less complicated software that actually does what users need versus what they think they might want.
  4. Excellent developers are pricey! But they are worth every penny. Finding cheaper, less-skilled developers can be a tempting way to reduce costs — but you’re only truly looking at the development costs. When you factor time spent on analysis, design, QA, support, customer satisfaction and churn, it’s imperative that development is done right, the first time. Why spend money preventing, finding, and supporting development mistakes when you have the option to spend the money that can mitigate those issues in the first place.

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Mitch Russo

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Author of The Invisible Organization — How Ingenious CEOs are Creating Thriving, Virtual Companies & Power Tribes — How Certification Can Explode Your Business

Authority Magazine

In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.