When I first started I had no idea what I was doing. I quit my job, read a book about entrepreneurship, and went ahead and launched my first SaaS. I quickly learned my first lesson – don’t sell to people famous for not wanting to spend money – restaurants.
My second attempt was an improvement – I sold to programmers. I had a hard time finding enough of them though so I quickly tied together a few scripts and made a tool that helped me find them. I published those scripts on Indie Hackers, and what do you know – they proved to be much more popular than the tool they were meant to grow! I switched full time to that, launched a product called Syften, and now I’m at $7000 MRR. (disclosure: this bright story does not include the emotional roller coaster and me quitting temporarily in the middle)
Transitioning from programmer to solopreneur required becoming a product owner along the way. At first I launched a product that only I knew how to use. And to solve that I wrote documentation that only I knew how to read. I spent my career with some of the smartest and most technically minded people in the world who spent 10 hours a day coding. I discovered that I didn’t know how to communicate with people who were not that.
So I did video calls. Lots and lots of video calls, where I asked someone to sign up to my little tool and tell me when they have to think. (The key to a good product is not to make the user think. I can recommend the book: “Don’t Make Me Think”). Every time the user encountered friction, I’d write it down and fix it before the next interview (I explained the whole process in detail here ).That really helped, I boosted my activation rates from 42% to 74%!
Today Syften is a whole different product, based on tons of feedback. Most users can find their way around, but some prefer to be shown. I’m happy to do video calls with my users and help with the initial onboarding – I do around 3-5 of those per week. Four years ago I would have hated it. I’d fear video calls, and avoid everything that’s not coding. But now I treat it as a chance to meet cool new people (I sell to other founders) and I couldn’t be happier!
Picking the right audience was the key :)”