When building a startup, it's important to make a distinction between vision and strategy:
- The vision is the long-term future state of the company. It justifies the company's existence and sets the overarching goals it wants to fulfil. The vision is "where the company is going".
- The strategy is a set of short to mid-term goals whose achievement will bring the company closer to its vision. The strategy is "how the company gets there".
The vision should be fairly stable, but the strategy must be updated on a regular basis according to information such as customer feedback, market conditions, or the results of previous experiments.
Start small and aim big
Let's be honest. It's not possible to go from "nothing" to "fully automated SaaS product creation" in one go. It would be like attempting to climb Mount Everest without ever even having tried to run a 5K. The laws of physics don't prevent it, but we all know it would be suicide.
So, what's Apocode's equivalent to running a 5K? There are two possibilities:
- (A) Build a complete feature with all possible configuration options. Then, ask potential customers "If we had 99 more features of the same quality, would you use us to build your SaaS product?" After that, select the next big feature to build.
- (B) Build a few simple features with only one or two configuration options. Then, ask potential customers "Is this enough to create your product? If not, what's missing?" Finally, make a few changes to the product and repeat the process.
Unfortunately, (A) is just another all-or-nothing strategy. It wouldn't be the equivalent of running a 5K; it would be like saying "I trained my left arm to climb Mount Everest. Next, I'll train my right foot."
In my opinion and experience, (B) is a better approach as it is much more iterative and delivers value to customers throughout the process.
Therefore, the best strategy is to focus on a small market segment, serve its needs, and expand over time. For Apocode, that initial market will be micro-SaaS.
What is micro-SaaS?
Micro-SaaS businesses are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) businesses with the following characteristics:
- A narrow scope: They offer a limited number of features that solve a niche problem.
- A small team: One to five people.
- Low external funding: The Total Addressable Market (TAM) of most micro-SaaS businesses is below $100M. This makes them unattractive to investors. Consequently, most micro-SaaS businesses are bootstrapped/self-funded.
- Low competition: Micro-SaaS businesses don't have much competition as they solve problems that are not worth the time of larger companies.
- Low maintenance: Their simplicity makes them easy to maintain.
- High profitability: The incremental cost of serving additional customers is very low, which can lead to high profit margins.
It is these characteristics that make the creation of micro-SaaS businesses through no-code the ideal first market segment for Apocode.
To better understand the needs of micro-SaaS entrepreneurs, we will start by creating a few micro-SaaS products of our own. Although not absolutely necessary, we believe this will make our discussions with the community much more productive.
Over the next 100 days (September 12 - December 20, 2022), we aim to launch 10 micro-SaaS businesses using Apocode.
They will be:
- Self-serve: Customers will be able to go through the full product experience without manual intervention on our part.
- Real: They will solve real problems. They won't be one-off proofs of concept - we will continue to maintain them after the challenge.
- Free and paid: They will offer either a free plan or an initial free trial. The goal of the challenge is not to make money but, of course, it would be a welcome outcome.
This will help us create Apocode's features, showcase them, and facilitate discussions with potential customers.
(Edit: The first micro-SaaS was launched!)
If you want to follow the story of Apocode or our progress in this challenge, you can subscribe here.
If you are interested in using Apocode, sign up here.
If you want to provide feedback, discuss the idea further or get involved, email me at email@example.com