Improving productivity with Accountability & Loss Aversion.
Building a new SaaS can be fun, time-consuming, and rewarding. The challenge is to deliver a quality product as quickly as possible so you can test the idea and either invest more time or move onto the next one.
Before you start building the next unicorn, take a moment to consider if your primary goal is to learn something new or if you want to quickly test ideas until you find a profitable business that can help you quit your day job.
There are a ton of choices when it comes to libraries, services, frameworks, infrastructure, and just about everything else. It's important to recognize that delivery speed can be greatly improved if we use a well define tech-stack that we are familiar with.
If the speed of delivery is at the center of your goal, then consider using the tools and frameworks that you have used before (within reason). Also, consider how long it will take you to learn and implement something new. You might find that you can save time and improve quality.
The technology choices are either based on time and quality or your desire to learn something new. Set a goal of when you want to launch your MVP and do what you need to get there.
Most SaaS will have a core set of features, including Authentication, Infrastructure & Email amongst others. We have used many competing products & services in each of these categories and want to share a few handpicked suggestions. Here they are ...
NOTE: We are not affiliated with any of these products & services. They are genuine recommendations based on our experience.
You can hand-roll this one yourself, but do you really want the added responsibility of security? Keep in mind that the time you take to implement your own solution, test it (for performance and security) may well be more than using an OTS (off the shelf) option.
We like Auth0 because they have a generous free plan that will meet the needs of your early-stage idea. Auth0 allows social logins, SSO & other typical authentication features. They also provide an SDK for almost all of the major programming languages.
Most SaaS products will have a Front-End that communicates with an API that has a direct connection with the Database. Of course, not all apps work the same way - so take time to consider how yours will.
Keep your initial design/concept simple and test your business idea. This isn't the time to test serverless architecture or something completely new (unless, your primary goal is learning rather than building a business).
We have found that creating CloudFormation stacks allows us to repeat the process of creating infrastructure in our dev/test/prod environments with ease. This also forms a basis of our tech stack when we move onto the next idea. CloudFormation uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide all the required infrastructure that you define in your scripts.
Some notable alternatives include Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. There are other tools like Docker and Terraform that have their purpose (but in our opinion, this isn't likely to be in a SaaS MVP).
Email is often a really important part of a succesfull SaaS product. It's a great mechanism for making your product sticky and encouraging user interaction with your SaaS. We split email sending into two categories, as follows:
Transactional email is for things like booking confirmation, password-reset & other in-app actions. For this, we PostMarkApp. The email is delivered quickly and they also have free tools that allow you to check the rejection / open / click rates.
Sales & Marketing email is typically when we are trying to encourage a user to follow the onboarding steps and upgrade from a trial to a paid plan. For this, we love UserList, they provide an easy to use GUI that allows the creation, editing, and management of user flows.
Think about your goal before you start building and consider using readymade solutions where possible.
This is our part 1 guide on how to build a new SaaS quickly. In the next posts, we will dive into detail about how we built some of our ideas - including code & resources to get things moving quickly for you.
Feel free to reach out to us if you have any suggestions or questions.