How I almost killed our SaaS product until I realized this one thing
I almost killed the entire product a year back, but things quickly changed the moment I learned what I was overlooking. Like how Ted from How I met your mother would say, “This is the story of how I almost killed my product”.
The thing about standing out in the crowd#
The power of the Internet paired with a good computer is infinite. This makes you feel like you can do anything on the planet, which tends to put an assumption in the head that the whole of the Internet users are watching you build things that ‘you think they need’ as a founder.
Since the cliche today is to ‘be different’, many founders (including me), usually overlook the term ‘basics’ when we start building a company or a product.
You need to understand physics before you can launch a rocket#
Yesterday, I was having a conversation with my friends, Swaathi and Varun about the amount of overlooking I have done while setting the roadmap of Hellonext. We struggled to generate any revenue for the first 6 months of launching the product. This time period was super frustrating, raising all sorts of doubts about the very idea of the product itself.
I just didn’t know what was going wrong, and what should be fixed, though I had the energy to do what’s right. We generated hundreds of leads, but 99% of them dropped out. I reached out to a few, only to realize something that we didn’t get the basic features right.
For a product like Hellonext, this meant features like SSO, widgets, embeds and so much more. People liked the quality of Hellonext to manage their feature requests, but they switched to our competitors for features that they assumed that it existed in Hellonext as well.
Once I had this realization, everything we were doing was paused, and all of our energy was focused on getting the basic features right first, before moving to a new unique feature.
Even if you are building SpaceX, you need to get the basics right first. Sales, marketing, finances, everything around it, before you can launch.
Learning: For you to complete, you first need to have the basic features that your industry requires, before you can focus on building that unique feature that would set you apart.
How has our feature prioritization changed since then#
Today, we are home to over 4,000 unique companies from various industries using Hellonext for feature request management, idea management and such.
The moment we flipped our head to get the basis right, the MRR saw a 41% increase (since January 2020), and it has been growing sine then. Today, here’s how we prioritize our feature requests that get submitted in our Feedback Portal:
P0: Any show stopping bugs#
The quality of software we product is pretty good. Thanks to the decades worth of experience our team is carrying, the trial and error period is crossed for now when it comes to code stability. But, the bugs that slide in are the most hurtful ones, not just for us, but for our customers. This is our Priority 0;
When a nasty bug hits the server, the alerts go out to all the team members in the company, making sure that everyone is aware. Right from customer support to the test engineer. This makes it easy for us to go from “Live bug” to “Dead bug” quickly.
P1: Basic features#
The next immediate priority goes to the basic features that a customer is expecting which we might be working on. One good example is the SSO support, which is currently offered via our customer support, but the support for SSO should be easily configurable by our customers without having to contact our customer support.
Any feature that a customer considers basic, which could hinder their experience goes in into this bucket. And of course, we manage the entire product roadmap from within Hellonext.
P2: The unicorn features#
These are the features that are necessary to have to differentiate from the competition and to help our customers. For example, we announce the support for guest post submissions and guest feature voting to support the customers who didn’t necessarily need their users to login to vote or submit a new feature request. This is unique to us at this point, and there is so much more coming in this direction.
Our strength is in the speed and quality of developing a product. That’s where we came from.
How does the future look for Hellonext?#
The lessons we have had while building Hellonext has been incredibly eye opening. If you are a new founder, always remember to get the basics right. Not sure what the basics are? Look around. Look at your competition. Try them out.
You might not realize that a feature existed because we would automatically take it for granted because it was a very basic feature. For example, social logins like Google, or Twitter login. This would exist in your competitor’s product, which you might not have.
Our goal is to make Hellonext the operating system for customer feedback management. This is happening slowly and progressively. Thanks to the ones who pay us to build the right thing for them. Always humbled.