I am a seasoned tech professional who has had a reasonably successful fin-tech consulting firm with contractors and strategic development partnerships. I want to bootstrap as long as possible to maintain control, and have self funded to date through a low volume high margin businessmodel. I realize that to grow this product successfully it will take a decent support and dev staff. My strong suit is product development and user experience. Raising capital and sales and marketing are not my strengths and I have been reluctant to partner or take capital due to bad experiences in prior startups. Maintaining control has become a major mantra and I want to continue to grow as a business and as an entrepreneur.
Market to your niche, talking about the same problems your beta clients signed on to get fixed.
These are called "pain points" and are valuable language. Anyone in the situation will instantly pay attention to you.
Note that I am saying you should talk about the problem(s), not the features of your software. People want to get out of bad situations, not buy features.
Yes, retain equity. Once given away, it's difficult to recover. And it can easily be worth much more than the capital raised...which is meant for operating expenses anyway, not your personal use.
If the beta clients have paid you for their involvement, then it would seem you've proven the economic viability of the solution. Either way, your next job is to filter for people having the same problem the software solved for your beta clients, and get new clients to pay for the solution.
I have been scaling software as a service products for the past 10 years and I totally get where you are coming from. My current company is bootstrapped and on track to crack 10mil in ARR. Never had to get any VC money!
Now to answer your question about scale... Most experts will agree with me when I say that you need to get to 100 paying clients before you can really say you have a viable product (i.e. that has market value and fair potential).
Where do you start? By getting the first 10
Right now, as you are probably experiencing already, it is all about hustling, talking to ideal customers, showing your product, getting their feedback, implementing their ideas into your MVP, and doing this over and over until you get to 10 paying clients. Then you can start growth hacking and content marketing activities based on this early success.
Also, selling over the phone is great, but if you can meet these customers face to face, that's even better. You can't really build a relationship over the phone, at least not as good as in person. This step will help you build champions/ brand ambassadors, that will hopefully spread the word about your product, give you great testimonial, and agree to a case study (maybe a video one next time you meet them in person)
Nobody wants to be a guinea pig and most buyers will want to see demonstrated value before buying a newish product/service. Use these early customers as your social proof, and let their success stories do the selling for you.
Not sure about your price point, or even if you have a SaaS product. If you tell me more I can give you some quick metrics and pointers to help you along the way.
Best of luck!
Hi, I hope you are doing great!
First of all congratulations on your software development and your two successful beta clients.
I've been fortunate enough to develop some software too and help some solopreneurs pass the barrier from a couple of clients to scale.
You may already know that there are different ways for you to monetize your software, sell it, license it, charge an installation fee and a per user monthly or yearly fee, etc…
Now let’s say your software’s business model is to charge an installation and a monthly per user fee. If your two successful beta clients are big companies where they have let’s say 200 users each and they have been using your solution for more than 4 months, then I agree with you, you might be able to scale and I would gladly help you create a strategy to scale it.
However if your business model is the same and you have had only 2 successful beta tester with less than less users, I would probably wait to have more successful beta testers until you have a representative sample of the market you want to reach.
As per the idea or mantra you want to have control, there are many ways to accomplish this but you have to align it with the business model you define, that’s the baseline.
If you feel this answer was useful for you please upvote it and I’ll be glad to bounce some ideas regarding your issue, just contact me and we can also figure out a free clarity session.
Have a great day!