On the Ephemerality of SaaS
It’s June 2015, and everyone has at least thought about creating a startup. Thankfully, Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery model makes the execution easier and cheaper than ever. Working part-time for a couple of months, a small team of fairly talented people can build something good enough to bring to market.
Sometimes it works well, but most of the times…
The entrepreneurial enthusiasm burns out, leaving you tired of chasing new users and optimizing for the supposedly existing market fit. Adoption curve flattens, and although you have a few hundred premium users, they bring a measly return for an enormous amount of work. At some point you talk it out with your co-founders and decide to shut down.
“Don’t worry; you’ve tried, you’ve failed — good for you, try again,” — your friends in the Valley would say. No one is likely to mention all the users who now have a gap in their workflow. After all, they weren’t worth your time.
Sense the problem? In a public craze startups forget their true purpose and whom they are serving. The number of users has become a mere competitive metric, each person dehumanized to an arabic numeral on a screen. We forget the value of someone who took the time to research the industry, pick your company out of dozens, and trust you enough with their daily business to become a paying user.
I’m not proposing dragging dead ideas along, but I’m advocating for a mindful approach to business and appreciation of those who rely on you. Instead of rushing in the hope that everything somehow works out — do proper research, think of your target market, sketch out a [strategy](avc.com/2013/06/product-strategy-business-model) and a business model. Devise a sound plan for sustaining the company in the long run.
Today’s culture seems to support expedited demolition. However, before acting — think hard. Multiple accelerators can help you achieve a market fit and provide enough resources to create leverage for growth. Minimizing involvement to “support only” frees your time but keeps the company afloat. A more mature product could potentially be sold or even spun off. There are always options to chew over — you owe your users at least that.