We want to create a docker hosting solution for freelancers and web development agencies.
To serve this niche, we will prioritize ease-of-use, flexibility and affordable prices.
In the last episode I mentioned that building such a product will probably take a while in order to be viable in the competitive hosting market.
So the question arises whether we should do some sort of validation first, since we have no idea on whether there will be sufficient demand or not.
Short answer: We won't validate our product idea first. And there are several reasons for that...
We are two passionate developers from Germany on a journey to building our own profitable SaaS startup from scratch. In this series I will share everything we learn along the way, from coming up with the idea, coding a prototype, getting our first users and scaling to infinity. We are starting from absolutely nothing but our coding skills. We will not rely on any external funding. We are Lukas Mauser and Jonas Scholz and this is Zero to Startup.
There are several ways to validate interest in a product. Here are some ideas that I picked up online:
Create a social media account around the product, start posting about it, be active in communities and try to grow the following.
Conduct surveys and interviews from your existing following, email list, through cold outreach or reaching people via collaborations and ads.
Create only the landingpage explaining the product and a form to sign up for early access. Drive traffic via social media, ads, collaborations and outreach.
The Fake door test. Basically exactly like point 3. But the difference is, that instead of having just a landingpage create the frontend of you application, but without functionality. If people click on functions, prompt them to sign up for early access.
The main reason: It's not fun.
We are both technical founders. Coding is our passion and it's way more fun to just build something than trying to grow an email list, social media following or doing cold outreach. This would postpone our launch for months and motivation might have left us then already.
Yes, I know, we need to do both anyways and obviously we can not hide in the building stage forever. But to kick off this project, for us it will be way more fun to just dive straight into it and start with building. That early stage development of a project is the most fun. Bugs are easy to find and you make huge progress every day.
Probably not the most efficient way to get first users though. And it seems like everyone else screams out there: "Don't make this mistake of building first" but at the same time 90% of these people made the same mistake of building first. Maybe it has to be like this, just to really know what it feels like to pour in months of work just to realize, that no one uses the product at the end.
The build first approach also provides a different kind of motivation for marketing. We don't just sell hot air, but we can show our users something and walk them through with real functionality. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't have to be the fully fleshed out product, just enough to be a bit closer than an email form.
After all, just because you collected a bunch of emails doesn't mean you can be sure about your product becoming a hit. The single validation that counts in the end is recurring usage and you won't get that out of a "fake door" product.
Enough said about reasons, and as I am writing this, we have of course built something already. Next episode, I will introduce you to our prototype :)
We will not validate our product idea first. The biggest reason for that is, we are so hyped about it, that you can't stop us from just diving into building first. But we have to keep in mind, that we can't stay in this building stage forever and need to start marketing as soon as possible.
As I am writing this, we have of course already build something. Next episode, I want to introduce you to our prototype and give you some background info about how long it took to build, what features we implemented and how they are tied to the requirements we have set in the last episode.
Check out the product on https://sliplane.io.
Feel free to comment or get in touch with us to talk about any topics you are interested in or questions you have about the project in general.