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Under Construction: The Live SaaS Resource List

Pardeep Kullar
Pardeep Kullar

This Live SaaS resource list is being built as we develop, launch and grow a new product. At first there will only be a few links available to click in this list but it will expand day by day.

What's unique about this SaaS resource list?

We'll list our current SaaS lessons learned by referencing the blog posts, podcasts and videos we've read AND state how we're using those lessons learned for a new product we're launching later in 2021.

What will it contain?

We'll do a Q&A for each resource, explain what we tried and learned and the specific techniques we're using to develop the new product. Later we'll use our newly built product itself to provide a unique new type of learning experience.

What will you get out of this?

You'll see all the assumptions and adjustments we made to build this new product and, if successful, see a rough blue print for product development and marketing.

Who are we?

Upscope is an 8 person SaaS company based out of London which provides no-download interactive screen sharing for support, sales and success teams.

What's the new product we're building?

It's a unique way to explain anything on the web. Right now people create blogs, videos, help sections and more to explain things. This takes time and effort. We believe we've found a new 100X simpler way. This idea came about because our existing product "Upscope co-browsing" is live interactive screen sharing for explaining things. However, not everyone is available for live screen sharing so you also need automated guidance. This new extension to Upscope co-browsing is the automated guidance part.

How have we broken down the resource list and why?

We first list the priority parts of our SaaS journey, each with a Q&A session on lessons learned. Below that is a more conventional resource list.

Most important lessons learned

Positioning

Positioning correctly can mean the difference between 1X and 100X.

Go-to-market strategy

Go-to-market strategy does not equal marketing strategy.

Enterprise sales

Enterprise SaaS sales is weird and obvious but first it's weird.

Creating new products

Creating new products takes heart and maths.

Talking to your customers

Talking to customers is the fastest way to grow.

Total Addressable Market

You don't think about TAM that much early on but later it hits home.

Security and sales

Bug bounties, ISO, HIPAA, SOC2, Audits and filling in security forms.

Features and competition

Comparisons, moats, worrying about competition, your own path.

Health scores

Why have them, what do they do to your perception.

SaaS Metrics

The metrics we see quoted. The ones we understand.

Funnels and ratios

In the early days we had no idea how many leads we needed.

Content marketing and SEO

Time taken. Strategy. SEMRush.

Copywriting

APP, Bucket brigades, FAB, PAS, the 10 questions.

Pricing and value

SaaS pricing based on underlying value.

Remote working

This takes dedicated effort and ownership as it's easy to half do it.

Software we use and why

Intercom

Vitally

Salesforce

Oribi

SEMRush

Using Slack

Camtasia

RoamResearch

SaaS blogs to read

SaaStr

For Entrepreneurs

TomTunguz

SaaS podcasts to follow

SaaStr

A16Z

The Startup Chat

SaaS Twitter accounts to add to a list

Tomasz Tunguz

Jason Lemkin

David Sacks

If you're just starting

It's just chaos in the beginning of the SaaS development journey and there's really no easy way around that sometimes. Below we'll capture what we did then and what happened.

Our early marketing

Our early sales

Our early tech

Our early hiring

Our early support

Our early software

Our early team development

Mental models

This section will contain the underlying thought models we use. This stuff can seem subjective but it's something we might think about daily when approaching new or working on existing products.

What would this look like if it was easy?

The best part of Tim Ferris's Tools of Titans was the advice to ask yourself "What would this look like if it was easy?" as that's a great mental model to visualise other ways of building products without fighting obstacles we didn't need to fight.

For example, we're building a new form of automated guidance for websites. It's very tempting to imagine this vast system of features to make it happen. However, if we think back from the outcome we want and also think "what would it look like if this was easy" we suddenly realise we're putting up cliffs to climb that we don't need to.

It does not mean it will be easy but it means we won't do it the extra hard dumb way that we first imagine it'll require.

The market is the primary decision maker

In an age of automation and rapid distribution you can have two identical teams, identical in skill, personality and luck, working in two different markets and one can be earning 10 times more than the other.

The market you build a product for makes all the difference. You can be a genius but if you're working in a tiny market, while you might eventually pivot, you could spend years making less money than the idiots in the fast growing market.

Our relationship with that market is then really important. We're either making something we wish we had and it turns out millions of others want it too or there are enough people directly or indirectly indicating they need a product and we build it for them. The greater the number of people or the value of fixing that problem, the greater the success.

You are not the chosen one. The market is the chosen one. Unless of course you build a product for yourself and it just so happens that millions of others have the same problem and buy it. In which case YOU ARE kinda THE CHOSEN ONE.

First principals and positioning

Elon Musk mentions 'First principals' thinking and Paul Graham says that first principles thinking can cause damage to new startups. Why do they differ?

If you're launching a new cheap rocket ship where you need to find brand new cheaper ways to build parts then thinking of rockets as just being made of atoms that need to be re-arranged differently, as long they obey the laws of physics, is probably right.

If you're building a new CRM then you don't need to re-arrange atoms, you might need better positioning.

If you thought from first principles you might say a CRM is made of fields in a database and a database is stored in memory and you've come up with a new form of Random Access Memory (RAM) and that's why your CRM system is better.

The problem?

It's hard to sell a CRM called 'Advanced RAM CRM' where it is faster and better but no-one really wanted that, they wanted a better gmail integration. The advanced RAM CRM may in fact be better positioned as a new form of RAM right? Seems obvious but it's strange how many times hard core devs have worked on projects without thinking about positioning.

For our new product we are doing some ground up reconfigure the atoms type thinking but most of the iterations are focused on making it simple to understand and use and we've already researched potential markets or problems to position against.

Thinking backwards

Thinking backwards is the now Amazon classic model of writing your press release first and then working backwards to building that product. It's a simple way to focus on outcomes.

It's strange how writing that press release consequently impacts the product's front page header which impacts the customer experience the product provides which impacts the features we prioritise to achieve that customer experience.

Inversion

“Many problems can’t be solved forward.” Charlie Munger. You might actually live longer if you just avoid stupidity.

Example one. Rather than figuring out how to be innovative, we should look at what might be stopping innovation in our company.

Example two. Rather than thinking about the best way to live, also consider what will definitely be a bad way to live and could get us killed. Addiction to narcotics kills a lot of people so don't do that.

Example three: How is our new "Flows" product going to succeed? There's a number of different ways. However, let's also consider how we'd screw it up. We'd screw it up by making it too complicated to use by thinking we need to add all these features when they don't even understand what it is.

Pardeep Kullar

Pardeep overlooks growth at Upscope cobrowsing and loves writing about SaaS companies, customer success and customer experience.