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Congratulation, you've failed again with your SaaS

I've posted a blog post yesterday that frankly touched a couple of entrepreneurs it seems. So I thought it would be another good place to post this.

I had failed yet another time, and I've wrote a cumulative  list of marketing actions/tasks that worked, does not worked and did very little differences. I'm not implying in any way that those tasks will have the same results for any products, it's just what I've learned from 2008-2013 with my 4 software as a service products I've tried to make successful.

http://www.dominicstpierre.net/2013/11/congratulation-youve-failed-again-saas.html

For those of you who are working hard and see little results, you're not alone, continue and do not abandon. I did but I thought it was the right thing to do. And now, I'm certain it was the right things to do.

I will probably be going to try something different than SaaS this time. I've been there and done that, I might not be fit to run that kind of software business.

Dominic
Dominic St-Pierre Send private email
Friday, November 29, 2013
 
 
I don't remember who said it, but "good software takes 10 years to make".  It's true.  None of the "overnight" successes were that -- I think the company that made Angry Birds had tried for _many_ years for example.

You've heard of the 80/20 rule?  As it turns out, coding is the 20%.  Marketing is the 80%.

You can do it, but you need a lot more persistence.  That's why everyone says to work on something you're passionate about -- that passion has to carry you through many years where it doesn't feel like you're successful.  Success comes, but it is a WHOLE LOT OF WORK.  If it was easy, everyone would be doing it :)
Doug Send private email
Friday, November 29, 2013
 
 
Yep, that's about what my article says ;)

Truth is, how one can sustain a 10 years software business without making any revenue or extremely slim amount. That was primarily my main point, I know it take times, but you should at least have something after 1.5 year?

And that's what I will do from now on, trying product that I'm really passionate about period.

As for the 80/20, I would even say that development is exactly nothing... Everyone is able to develop a piece of software. It's hard to sell something when you are not enthusiast about it and do not have a passion for it, for me that is ;)

Thanks for your reply,
Dominic
Dominic St-Pierre Send private email
Friday, November 29, 2013
 
 
> As for the 80/20, I would even say that development is exactly
> nothing... Everyone is able to develop a piece of software. It's
>  hard to sell something when you are not enthusiast about it
> and do not have a passion for it, for me that is ;)

That strikes me as interesting; I'm the reverse.  The development is hard, but I feel more at ease with human to human work, design, copy, etc.  I'll take honing a turn of phrase over an off by 1 error any day.
Racky Send private email
Saturday, November 30, 2013
 
 
Hmm, SaaS is very interesting. The money making SaaS seems to be some kind of unicorn I've only encountered two or three times in my life.

While there's a lot of smaller devs who make metric shittons of money from desktop software I have yet to meet smaller devs who do the same with SaaS.

The only ones who seemingly can make it work are bigger devs with large marketing budgets who can either build up a hype (37signals, Bingo guy) or who can throw money at advertising/are backed by bigger companies.

I'm glad I find the web stack repelling so I haven't burned myself with SaaS yet.
Jeremy Morassi Send private email
Sunday, December 01, 2013
 
 
@Doug ... that Angry Birds example is always a bad example. They only made it after they found a publisher who knew someone at Apple. The publisher called Apple and asked them for a app store feature in the UK. From there the game became a hype.

Wouldn't those guys have found said publisher they probably still would be not very successful - or even bankrupt. 10 years, 20 years wouldn't have mattered.

You can read it all here: http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2011/04/features/how-rovio-made-angry-birds-a-winner/viewall
Jeremy Morassi Send private email
Sunday, December 01, 2013
 
 
> The only ones who seemingly can make it work are bigger devs with large marketing budgets who can either build up a hype (37signals, Bingo guy) or who can throw money at advertising/are backed by bigger companies.

The bingo guy is just one guy and doesn't have a huge marketing budget. There are also countless others, wufoo, freshbooks, salescast, etc. Perhaps you just haven't been paying attention or have selective hearing.
IdeaSkeer Send private email
Sunday, December 01, 2013
 
 
"that Angry Birds example is always a bad example. They only made it after they found a publisher who knew someone at Apple. The publisher called Apple and asked them for a app store feature in the UK. From there the game became a hype."

WTF? Have you read the article?

That Angry bird example is right on the money. Yes they found the right editor... after developing an insanely addictive game over the course of several years, getting 30 to 40 thousand downloads on other smaller markets and doing a huge number of other things right so that when they pitched their product to the right editor, instead of laughing at their face, the editor went straight to Apple and made a featured deal with the AppStore.

The main reason it worked is because they had a great game that appealed to a very wide audience. Chillingo was the tipping point and made them into an "overnight success", but guess what, that's only because everything else was smooth as silk as a result of years of development and marketing, and with 40k downloads already, they would most likely have reached the tipping point no matter what, they were on their way.

If you think that having the right editor is the secret sauce that made them millionaires, what's stopping you from contacting Chillingo? They are not hard to find and they still know someone at Apple... go for it!

Except, oh, right, to pitch a game properly, you need a great game where everything works just right, along with a decent existing user base which validates the concept and shows people actually like it. In other words, you need years of work before you get a shot at that sweet "featured deal".

Angry Birds is a perfect example of an "overnight success" that actually required years of development and efforts. Don't cheapen it, those guys earned it.
Sylvain Galibert Send private email
Sunday, December 01, 2013
 
 
@Sylvian

Yes, but the thing is: They couldn't have made it without an inside contact to Apple. If that's your business plan ... well ... good luck.
Jeremy Morassi Send private email
Sunday, December 01, 2013
 
 
"Yes, but the thing is: They couldn't have made it without an inside contact to Apple. If that's your business plan ... well ... good luck."

@Jeremy You are just looking for an excuse, aren't you?

ROVIO did not have an inside contact at Apple. CHILLINGO had good relations with Apple. So Rovio went to see them and everyone else can do the same.

Rovio had no contact at Apple, but they made something great, THEN they went to a good game publisher for the AppStore.

See http://visual.ly/iphone-appstore-top-game-publishers for a list of game publishers who have a proven record for getting Apps at the top of the AppStore - call that "inside contact" if you like, doesn't matter.

So, yes, if you want success selling a game on the AppStore, this is the plan used by Rovio (according to the article):

Step 1: Create an awesome game over several years. 

Step 2: Produce 52 other games until you have a game that's so addictive that your granny who's never played a game in her life spends her days playing your game and that your developers can no longer test new features because if they do then end up just playing the game.

Step 3: Translate your game, attack smaller markets first, and get a decent user base. Fix every issue that comes up.

Step 4: Contact a good game publisher for the AppStore and pitch your game.

TADA: "OVERNIGHT" SUCCESS

Ad now for bonus points:

Step 5: Follow up with savvy marketing strategies like giving out free levels to existing users to keep them using the game even though they haven't paid yet, offering in-app purchases (like that mighty eagle that allows users to pass a level if they are stuck for about $1 each time), develop seasonal variations to take advantage of Christmas etc., create merchandize around the game characters...

Is that the "Business plan" for the AppStore? I don't make smart phone apps, but at a glance, it DOES look like a pretty sound business plan to me.

Things have evolved a bit since that time, and the top games have replaced upfront payment with in-app purchases to generate revenue, but the overall strategy is still valid.

Steps 1, 2, 3 are the reason why Rovio made it big with Angry Birds. Step 5 is the reason why they broke all records for a mobile phone game and stayed at the top so long.

Inside contact? LOL they didn't have it, they just went to see a publisher. Had Chillingo not been interested, they would have gone to see any of the 20+ other game publishers who have an "inside contact".

It's easy to convince a publisher to give your game a chance if your game is so good the publisher spends hours just playing and if you already dominate several smaller language markets.
Sylvain Galibert Send private email
Monday, December 02, 2013
 
 
Hi Dominic
It's a great post and thanks for sharing your lesson with us

Two questions
1.Have you tried video demo before?
2.About content marketing,where did you hire writer and how much di you pay?

Your table told me that your revenue are doubled year by year so I don't think it's a complete failure, at least you have learned a lot from that, right?

One suggestion:
You should learn how to evaluate a idea before you implement it next time

Good luck
GerryLu Send private email
Monday, December 02, 2013
 
 
@GerryLu

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

> 1.Have you tried video demo before?
Yes, I for my last project I had one "promo" video and was starting to create "training / how-to"  video.

> 2.About content marketing,where did you hire writer and how much di you pay?

I hred a writer I've known (read) from a long time from FreelanceFolder. I cannot say names and exact amount though. it was costing me low 3 figures per article. 150-250 would be the right range.

> You should learn how to evaluate a idea before you implement it next time

Sure, I already knew that :). But even when you test and get positive indication, the work is not finished yet.

Depending on how you measure the success of testing an idea. It's still not really the finial indicator of your conversion rates. You might test by having a landing page and getting email subscription. It's still far from being the same as getting real customers and having them pay you money.

Osmosis was tested, and monthly revenue started to ramp up in the last month. But for the marketing effort I had to put, it was too much for me, not enough interests in the product / niche anymore.

I called those failure in terms of revenue / month metric. No in terms of was I even able to get paid customers.

I was not able to get a minimum revenue point after one one and a half which could have allow me to have energy to continue. It's hard to continue when your revenue is low and no profit at all.

Good luck to you too,
Dominic
Dominic St-Pierre Send private email
Monday, December 02, 2013
 
 

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