If your goal is a side project that could eventually turn into a full time gig, a SaaS is still one of the best options for technical founders. At this point, it’s probably one of the best options for non-technical founders as well.
If you’re still wondering what to build, I’ve got some good news. That’s the easy part. Here’s how to go about discovering ideas for a side project SaaS in 2020.
Start by scanning the org chart at your existing company. Look at the titles and research what those people do. Each one of those employees represents a sizable B2B market people in the US. Some of the markets will be smaller depending on how specialized the role is, but this audience will provide the jumping off point for your project.
I’m in marketing, so I’ll use that department for this example. A typical marketing department might be made up of these roles:
- Head of marketing
- Affiliate Manager
- Paid Search
- Paid Social
- Organic Social
- Lead Gen
- Link Builder
There are plenty more, but that’s a decent start. Marketing is one of the more developed segments to create a SaaS for, but that’s only because it’s still an incredibly lucrative audience.
So let’s start with the basics. The goal of a marketing department, if you really boil it down, is to generate leads that eventually turn into revenue to fuel the company.
If you can help automate any part of that process, you’ll be adding value and you will find an audience ready to purchase.
It’s so important to start with existing roles and the jobs to be done. If you try to create something brand new without an understanding of the market you’re serving, it’s a recipe for disaster.
So snag one of those roles from the list and start researching their roles and responsibilities. I’ll use the “Affiliate Manager” for this example.
First, a little background on what an Affiliate Manager does. Their job is to work with partners to get them to write a review, comparison post or something similar and include a cookied link back to the company’s site.
A user reads the affiliates review, clicks the link, signs up to the company and the affiliate gets a portion of the commission. As I’m sure you can imagine, one of the hardest parts of being an affiliate manager is finding new affiliates.
Just today, I saw someone following this exact strategy in a marketing Facebook group. He posted in several groups and had hundreds of people commenting with “I’m interested”. This is the post.
In the screenshot above, the poster is sharing a link of aggregated details for affiliates of competitors. Affiliate managers can use this info to reach out to new potential partners and onboard them onto the program. That’s potentially hours a week saved and you may even steal a competitor’s affiliates which is a noteworthy twist.
Hundreds of people have responded and that's from a single post in one group. I found at 5 other groups where the same post was made, all with a positive response.
Who knows if the poster actually built it yet. If they didn’t, it should be pretty easy to solve. Get competitor's names, search for a few common phrases in google, dump the page results into hunter then resolve details with ClearBit. A motivated dev could wire those APIs together in a day and you could probably do some hacky no-code work to make it happen through Zapier or Integromat as well.
So to recap:
- Find a role
- Discover their job to be done
- Find a relevant FB group
- Post a valuable outcome of the JTBD and ask if there’s interest
- Collect emails and onboard users manually until the project is able to be streamlined into a software business
The biggest mistake you can make is trying to create a new market segment. By starting with an initial role and job, you've already hit an established market willing to purchase similar services.
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