How To Build A Successful SaaS MVP
Launching a SaaS startup is not an easy task. You have to validate your idea, build a working product, acquire users and scale your business. It’s a lot of work and it takes time.
But what if you could build a smaller, toned-down version of your SaaS product and see how your target market responds?
That is how a SaaS MVP or minimum viable product works.
In this article, we will talk about the SaaS MVP, why you need one, and how to build a successful minimum viable product that would jumpstart your SaaS company.
What is a SaaS MVP?
A SaaS MVP is a basic version of your SaaS software that has enough features to be usable by your potential customers. It is primarily used to validate your idea and get feedback from users.
Why do you need a SaaS MVP?
Building a SaaS MVP has a lot of benefits. Let’s go through them one by one.
It Validates Your Product Idea
Building a SaaS MVP follows the validated learning process, which views product development as a series of experiments.
You start with a hypothesis about what kind of products your potential customers want. Then you build a prototype product, distribute it, and gather feedback from your early customers.
This feedback would then help you validate or invalidate your hypothesis.
If the feedback is positive, then you know that you’re on the right track. If it’s negative, then you can go back to the drawing board and make the necessary changes.
Following this process would help you establish product-market fit, which is essential for any SaaS product.
It’s Faster and Cheaper to Build
Another benefit of SaaS MVP is that it’s faster and cheaper to build than a full-fledged SaaS software. This is because you’re only building the basic features that your target audience really needs.
You don’t have to worry about adding all the bells and whistles just yet. You can always add more features later on as your SaaS platform grows.
This also makes SaaS MVPs perfect for startups as they usually have limited resources. A SaaS MVP would allow them to validate their idea quickly without breaking the bank.
It Attracts Investors
If you’re planning to raise funds for your SaaS startup, then a SaaS MVP would be essential. This is because investors are always looking for startups that have proof of concept and a lot of potential to grow exponentially.
A SaaS MVP would show them that you’re serious about your business and that you’re not just talking about an idea. It would give them the confidence to invest in your SaaS startup.
It Generates A Starting Revenue
If you’re able to acquire paying customers with your SaaS MVP, then that’s a good sign. It means that people are actually willing to use your product and pay for it.
This would give you the motivation to continue working on your SaaS product and turn it into a full-fledged business.
It Gets You Feedback From Users
Another benefit of SaaS MVP is that it allows you to gather feedback from users quickly. This feedback would be essential in fine-tuning your SaaS and making it more user-friendly.
You can use this feedback to add or remove features, improve the user interface, or make other necessary changes. Without a SaaS MVP, it would take much longer to gather this feedback as you would have to wait for your full SaaS product to be completed first.
The Different Types Of SaaS MVP
There are different SaaS MVP approaches, and the one you choose would depend on your goals and resources. Let’s go through the most common types.
- The Landing Page SaaS MVP
- The Concierge MVP
- The Wizard of Oz MVP
- The Piecemeal MVP
- The Single-Feature MVP
Let’s talk about them one by one.
The Landing Page SaaS MVP
This type of SaaS MVP is used to validate your idea and gather feedback from users. It is a single page that explains your SaaS product and has a sign-up form for interested users.
To create a landing page, all you need is a domain name and hosting, a landing page builder, and copywriting skills. You don’t need to build an actual SaaS product just yet.
The Concierge MVP
A Concierge MVP is a manually-operated SaaS product where you offer the service yourself instead of building an automated system.
For example, let’s say you’re planning to build a SaaS product that helps people book appointments. With the concierge MVP, you would manually schedule the appointments for your early customers instead of building a full-fledged software for it.
This type of SaaS MVP can be helpful in validating your idea and gathering feedback from users. It’s also a good way to generate revenue quickly as you can start charging for your service right away.
However, the challenge with this SaaS MVP approach is the labor it takes to manually operate the SaaS product. You would need to hire people to help you with this, which would increase your costs.
The Wizard of Oz MVP
You know how in the movie The Wizard Of Oz, the wizard projects himself as this all-powerful being whose speech is accompanied by fire, smoke, and all those theatrics?
But then Dorothy and the other characters discover that, in reality, it is just a regular man controlling a contraption behind the curtain.
That’s kind of like what a Wizard of Oz MVP is.
A Wizard of Oz MVP projects your SaaS product as a fully automated solution. But in reality, there are humans behind it manually providing the services that your customers enjoy.
For example, let’s say you’re planning to build a SaaS product that helps people book appointments. With the Wizard of Oz MVP approach, you would create an automated system where people can select their preferred appointment time and date.
But behind the scenes, there would be a human operator who would manually schedule the appointments for your customers. This way, it would appear as if your SaaS product is fully automated when it’s really not.
Since this MVP approach also requires human labor, it also shares the challenge of the concierge MVP where you would need to hire people.
What’s more, there’s the risk of being discovered as being only “a man behind the curtain” which can damage your SaaS product’s reputation and lose your customers’ trust.
The Piecemeal MVP
Using a Piecemeal MVP, you can provide new services by using other existing solutions as needed.
In other words, you’re building your SaaS MVP by putting together a combination of tools and products to provide a new service. All without building everything from scratch.
For example, let’s say you want to build a SaaS product that helps businesses with their social media marketing. With the Piecemeal MVP approach, you would get the post-scheduling feature from one solution, the analytics tool from another, and different sources for other features.
You would then create your own custom solution on top of these existing platforms and tools. This way, you don’t have to start from scratch and can launch your SaaS product much faster.
The drawback of this SaaS MVP approach is that you’re reliant on other existing solutions. If one of those solutions goes away or changes its policies, it could adversely affect your SaaS product as well.
What’s more, you would be paying for licenses for all these different tools you’re using.
Still, it’s a great MVP approach for validating your idea and establishing product-market fit.
The Single-Feature MVP
The Single-Feature SaaS MVP approach is exactly what it sounds like. You build a SaaS product with just one feature and offer it to your users.
For example, let’s say you want to build a SaaS platform that helps businesses with their social media marketing. With the Single-Feature MVP approach, you would start by offering only the post-scheduling feature.
You would then add more features over time based on feedback from your users.
This SaaS MVP approach allows you to validate your idea quickly and efficiently without spending too much time and money on building unnecessary features.
However, you need to have a clear roadmap for the other features you plan to add. Otherwise, you would risk losing your users’ interest once they realize that your SaaS product only has one feature.
Key Steps In SaaS MVP Development
Now that you know the different SaaS MVP approaches, it’s time to learn about the key steps in SaaS MVP development.
This will help you create a successful SaaS MVP and take your business to the next level.
- Identify your target market
- Understand your target market’s pain points
- Identify the core feature of your SaaS product
- Research your competitors
- Choose a SaaS pricing model
- Build a product roadmap
- Promote your SaaS MVP before launch
- Launch your SaaS MVP and gather customer feedback
- Analyze your SaaS MVP data and iterate
- Grow and scale your SaaS product
Let’s go through these steps one by one.
1) Identify Your Target Market
The first step in SaaS MVP development is to identify your target market. This means understanding who your SaaS product is for and what needs and pain points they have.
Are you targeting businesses? Are you looking to serve everyday consumers?
Once you know your target market, you can start understanding their needs and figure out how to address those needs.
That brings us to the next step.
2) Understand Your Target Market’s Pain Points
The second step in SaaS MVP development is to understand your target market’s pain points. This means understanding the needs and problems they have that your SaaS product can solve.
For example, if you’re targeting businesses, what specific problems do they have that your SaaS product can help with?
Do they need help with social media marketing? Do they need a better way to manage their projects? Do they need help with customer support?
Having a deep understanding of your target audience’s pain points is essential for developing a successful SaaS MVP. It will help you focus on the right features and ensure that your SaaS product solves a real problem for your users.
3) Identify The Core Feature Of Your SaaS Product
Your core feature is the one essential feature that your SaaS product must have.
Everything else is secondary.
For example, if you’re building a SaaS product for social media marketing, the post-scheduling feature might be the core feature. Or if you’re building a SaaS product for project management, it could be the task management feature.
Identifying the core feature of your SaaS product will help you focus on what’s important and ensure that your SaaS product has a clear value proposition.
4) Research Your Competitors
The fourth step in SaaS MVP development is to research your competitors. This means understanding what SaaS products are already out there and what features they offer.
But how do you research and analyze your competitive landscape?
Study basic information about their companies and products: You can start by looking up information about your competitors’ companies that are readily available online. These include things like their company size, team composition, mission statement, and more.
Then, take a closer look at their SaaS products. What are their features? How are they priced? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Do a SWOT analysis on your competitors: A SWOT analysis is a powerful tool that can help you understand your competition. It stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
To do a SWOT analysis of your competitors, start by listing their strengths and weaknesses. What are they good at? What could they improve on?
Then, look at the SaaS market as a whole and identify any opportunities or threats.
For example, is there a trend of SaaS products moving towards artificial intelligence? Is there a new regulation that could impact SaaS products?
Look at reviews from their users: Another great way to learn about your SaaS competitors is to read reviews from their users.
You can find user reviews on sites like Capterra, G2, and TrustRadius.
These reviews will give you insights into what users like and don’t like about your competitor’s SaaS products. They’ll also give you ideas for features and improvements that you can add to your own solution.
5) Choose A SaaS Pricing Model
The fifth step in SaaS MVP development is to choose a SaaS pricing model. There are several pricing models you can use:
Freemium model: The freemium model is when you offer a SaaS product for free with the option to upgrade to a paid version. It’s a great way to get early adopters to start using your SaaS MVP.
But there are also quite a few variations of the freemium model.
For one, you can offer a SaaS product for free with the option to pay for premium features. This is popular for business-to-business (B2B) SaaS solutions like HubSpot and Mailchimp.
Another variation is to run ads on the free version of your SaaS app. The popular examples of this type of freemium model include Spotify and most free mobile apps today.
Tiered pricing model: The tiered pricing model is when you offer different levels of service at different price points. This is a popular pricing strategy for SaaS products because it allows you to upsell customers on more expensive plans.
The most common type of tiered pricing model is a basic, standard, and premium plan. But there are also variations like free, standard, and customized pricing tiers.
Usage-based pricing: The usage-based pricing model is when you charge customers based on their usage of your SaaS product. This type of pricing is popular for SaaS products that have a lot of different features or integrations.
For example, you might charge customers $0.01 per API call or $5 per month for each additional user.
6) Build A Product Roadmap
The SaaS product roadmap is a document that outlines the features and functionality you want to include in your SaaS product.
It’s important to have a product roadmap because it will help you prioritize which features to build first. What’s more, it will also give you a timeline for when to add more features to your SaaS product.
To create a product roadmap, start by listing out all the features you want to include in your SaaS product. Then, prioritize them based on importance.
After that, assign a timeline to each feature. This will help you determine which features to include in your SaaS MVP and when you plan to launch it.
7) Promote Your SaaS MVP Before Launch
Promoting your SaaS MVP before launch will help you generate interest and excitement for your SaaS product before it’s even available.
There are a few different ways you can promote your SaaS MVP:
Get coverage from tech bloggers: Another great way to generate interest in your SaaS product is to get coverage from tech bloggers. This is because they often write about new and upcoming SaaS products.
To do this, reach out to tech bloggers and give them information about your SaaS product. You can also offer them a free trial of your SaaS product.
Generate buzz on social media: Social media is another great way to generate interest in your SaaS MVP. This is because you can reach a large number of people with your message.
To do this, create social media accounts for your SaaS product and start posting about it. Make sure to use hashtags so people can easily find your posts. You can also run ads on social media to promote your SaaS MVP.
Offer a SaaS lifetime deal (LTD): One of the best ways to generate interest in your SaaS MVP is to offer a lifetime deal (LTD). This is when you offer customers a SaaS product for a one-time price instead of a monthly subscription.
This type of deal is popular because it’s a great way to get early adopters to try your SaaS product. Plus, it’s also a good way to generate revenue for your SaaS business.
You can offer your LTD on popular digital product marketplaces like Appsumo, Saaszilla, and Product Hunt. These sites already have well-established audiences and communities of SaaS buyers who are looking for great deals online.
8) Launch Your SaaS MVP & Gather Customer Feedback
After you’ve promoted your SaaS MVP and generated interest in it, it’s time to launch it.
Make sure to announce your SaaS MVP launch on your website and social media channels. You can also reach out to tech bloggers and other influencers to let them know about your SaaS product.
After you launch your SaaS MVP, it’s important to gather customer feedback. This will help you improve your SaaS product and make it more successful.
To do this, you can use surveys, polls, and user testing. You can also read reviews and comments on social media and online forums.
9) Analyze Your SaaS MVP Data & Iterate
After you’ve launched your SaaS MVP and gathered feedback from users, it’s time to analyze your data.
This data will help you understand how people are using your SaaS product and what areas need improvement.
To do this, you can use analytics tools like Google Analytics and Mixpanel. These tools will give you insights into things like user behavior and engagement.
Based on this data, you can iterate on your SaaS product and make changes to improve it. This might include adding new features, redesigning the user interface, or changing the pricing model.
10) Grow & Scale Your SaaS Product
Okay, this actually goes beyond the SaaS MVP stage, but it’s still important to mention here.
Once you’ve launched your SaaS MVP and gathered feedback from users, you can start growing and scaling your SaaS product.
To do this, you’ll need to focus on things like marketing, sales, and customer success. You’ll also need to continue iterating on your SaaS product based on user feedback.
As you grow and scale your SaaS product, you’ll eventually reach the point where you can start generating revenue. This is when you can really start building a successful SaaS business.
Final Thoughts About Building A SaaS MVP
A SaaS MVP is a great way to validate your SaaS product idea and get early adopters to try your SaaS product.
To build a successful SaaS MVP, you need to know the pain points you want to address and the core features that would get the job done. You also need to focus on generating interest in your SaaS MVP and gathering customer feedback.
Once you’ve launched your SaaS MVP, you can start getting your early adopters’ insights and implement changes that meet a real demand in your target market.
Still, it’s important to stay true to your SaaS company’s mission.
It’s easy to get caught up in the many different demands from your customers and target audience. But being a jack of all trades will only make you a master of none
So, focus on your SaaS product’s core features and continue to add value for your users in the long run. This way, you can build a successful SaaS business that meets a real need in the market.
If you really need to make changes to your product roadmap, make sure that it is a significant need in your customer base and target audience.
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