Table of Contents
- Tell us about your product and what inspired you to start it?
- How long did it take you to acquire your first 50 customers, and what was your growth strategy?
- Which technology stack are you using and what challenges and limitations does it pose?
- What are some of the most essential tools that you use for your business?
- What have been some of the biggest insights you've gained since starting your entrepreneurial journey?
- Your recommended books/podcasts/newsletters etc.:
Geoff Roberts is the founder of Outseta - Shopify for SaaS and membership businesses
Tell us about your product and what inspired you to start it?
We scratched our own itch—my co-founder and I worked together at another SaaS company where we integrated 5-10 different tools just to support the basic day-to-day operation of a SaaS company. We recognized through that process that there was a huge opportunity cost here—technical founders spending time integrating software tools rather than building their core product!
We saw this happening in every SaaS company and said "This may be the status quo, but this is nuts. All SaaS business require the same basic tooling, so why is everyone reinventing the wheel just to deliver the table stakes?" So we set out to build the tech stack that we wished existed when we started as founders.
How long did it take you to acquire your first 50 customers, and what was your growth strategy?
It took us a really long time to reach 50 customers due to the nature of the product we're building—almost 4 years. As a true all-in-one tech stack, Outseta is really more like 5 software products than one—it took us 2 years just to deliver the MVP. And then we had to make the feature set compelling enough that other founders would trust us with the entirety of their business.
Our first 50 customer came primarily through content marketing, email prospecting, and community marketing. We've since launched a course that outlines how we landed our first 500 customers.
I think everyone asks this question looking for some semblance of how long it should take them to reach 50 customers, but it's just so context dependent. A massive scale venture like Outseta is going to move at a very different pace from more of a micro-SaaS type of idea—this is something you should consider early on as you are considering start-up ideas!
Which technology stack are you using and what challenges and limitations does it pose?
Our software is primarily written in .NET and Angular/React.
But almost the entirety of our business runs on our own product—we use Outseta for authentication, payments, CRM, email marketing, help desk, and reporting.
Being our own customer and being limited to the functionality that we've built as we've scaled the company has been a massive advantage in terms of prioritizing the most important features. I actually think constraints are a key to growth, especially in the context of an early stage SaaS company.
What are some of the most essential tools that you use for your business?
Outseta, Wistia, Gsuite, Trello. That's pretty much all we use to run our business.
What have been some of the biggest insights you've gained since starting your entrepreneurial journey?
1) If you commit to working on something long term in a durable market, it's almost hard not to be successful.
2) The growth in your market will determine how fast you grow more than anything else.
3) Trust you gut, do it your way, and stop copying other. Your unique take on any idea is what will make you stand out.
4) Publishing content and being deliberate about how you'll build your company is the ultimate growth hack when it comes to hiring. We've done this extensively since day one, and a pipeline of amazing people that want to work with us is now perhaps our biggest competitive advantage.
I've written a few additional articles that may be of interested to other bootstrapping founders: https://www.outseta.com/posts/the-unspoken-hard-bits-of-bootstrapping
Your recommended books/podcasts/newsletters etc.:
Reinventing Organization by Frederic Laloux—This book will challenge you to challenge the status quo of how businesses are built. It's been a huge influence.
Life Profitability by Adie Pienaar—This books begs an important questions that too few entrepreneurs ask—is you start-up actually enriching your life?