How to Start a SaaS Company Without a Technical Background

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Wondering how to start a SaaS company without a technical background? You are at the right place!

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has taken the world by storm, and the SaaS market is lucrative. Your innovation can address the real pain points of customers. Getting a great team on board is crucial, and companies that hired DevTeam.Space can attest to that. Review the following case studies:

  • Medicoin: A blockchain-based web application to manage transaction information regarding healthcare service delivery;
  • Adventure Aide: A tourism and recreation app that allows users to book unique outdoor adventures;
  • A high-speed vehicle identification system: An AI (Artificial Intelligence) solution with capabilities like image recognition, machine learning (ML), and neural networks to identify car number plates in a video stream.

Let’s dive deeper.

Contents

1. Understand that you indeed can start a SaaS company without a technical background
2. Identify the business problem or opportunity for your proposed SaaS product
3. Identify the target market segment for your proposed SaaS business
4. Define the solution that your SaaS start-up will provide
5. Analyze whether other SaaS start-ups offer similar solutions and how they do that
6. Identify the differentiator you will offer in your SaaS application
7. Build the marketing strategy for your SaaS company
8. Decide your pricing model and strategy
9. Hire a small team to kick-start the software development project
10. Finalize the functionality and features to offer in your SaaS product
11. Plan your MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to validate your business ideas
12. Oversee the formulation of a SaaS product development approach
13. Sign-up for a cloud computing platform for your SaaS start-up
14. Ensure the selection of an effective technology stack for SaaS solution development
15. Have a project plan created for software product development
16. Hire a complete software development team for your SaaS company
17. Ensure the design of an effective user interface (UI) for the potential customers
18. Oversee the design and implementation of a robust information security solution for your SaaS product
19. Keep a tab on the software development process
20. Manage the SaaS product lifecycle

1. Understand that you indeed can start a SaaS company without a technical background

You might occasionally hear that you can’t start a SaaS company without a technical background. I want to emphatically tell you that it’s not correct.

You need the following skills and competencies to start a SaaS company:

  • Researching your business ideas;
  • Validating your business ideas;
  • Visualizing your product;
  • Giving and receiving feedback that’s objective and honest;
  • Creating a robust and convincing business plan;
  • Pre-sales skills and competencies;
  • Sales skills and competencies;
  • Appreciating good work done by your team;
  • Motivating your team and keeping their spirits up;
  • Familiarity with modern project management tools including collaboration tools;
  • Financial management;
  • “Servant leadership”.

I listed “Servant leadership” at the bottom, however, this is the most important competency. You need your team to deliver excellence. That can happen if you genuinely help the team members to succeed. Read a testimony from Alex Turnbull, a successful and non-technical founder of SaaS companies.

Note: You can get software designers, developers, testers, etc. later, and we will shortly talk about it.

2. Identify the business problem or opportunity for your proposed SaaS product

What business problem or opportunity will your proposed SaaS company address? Define this. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Whose experience do you want to improve? Who is your target audience?
  • Which problems do they face, alternatively, what is the business opportunity?
  • Who bears the maximum impact of the business problem? Alternatively, who will benefit the most if you address the business opportunity?
  • What are the current pain points of end-users?
  • How will solving this problem or addressing this opportunity help your own company? Can you make money adequately to meet your strategic objectives?

An IBM guide to business opportunity statements can provide you with more information.

3. Identify the target market segment for your proposed SaaS business

You now need to gain a deeper understanding of your target audience. Who are they? Where do they live, and where do they work? What do they need? Why might they be your paying customers?

You need to create a buyer persona to answer these questions. A buyer persona is a fictitious person. This person is one of your potential customers, and you need to define the attributes of this individual in detail.

You don’t create a buyer persona out of thin air though! Business owners need plenty of market researches, interviews, and data analysis to create a buyer persona. Describe the attributes of this fictitious paying customer with as much detail as you can.

Do the following to create a buyer persona:

  • Use an established template. HubSpot, the renowned provider of marketing, sales, customer service, and CRM software provides a useful template.
  • Enter the basic demographic data.
  • Provide the insights that you have gathered about the buyer persona. These include their objectives, business problems, etc.
  • Assist the sales team of your company so that they can have meaningful conversations with potential customers.
  • Create appropriate messaging for the buyer persona.

HubSpot offers a guide to creating a buyer persona, which you can refer to.

4. Define the solution that your SaaS start-up will provide

You need to think from the perspective of potential customers. Analyze what they need and craft your solution around that. You need to ask several questions, e.g.:

  • Which key functionality will you offer?
  • How will you offer your SaaS product? Should you offer a mobile app along with a web app?
  • After you onboard new customers, how will they use your SaaS application?
  • Which information security standards and regulations should you comply with?
  • How will you offer customer support?

5. Analyze whether other SaaS start-ups offer similar solutions and how they do that

As a part of researching your business idea, you will likely use tools like market research. Include competitor research in the scope. Ask key questions, e.g.:

  • Are there companies already addressing this business problem or opportunity?
  • What do they offer to customers?
  • Which business model have they adopted?
  • How successful are your competitors?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?

Check out the HubSpot guide to competitive analysis for more insights.

6. Identify the differentiator you will offer in your SaaS application

You have defined your SaaS solution, subsequently, you have analyzed your competitors. Do you plan to offer what your competitors are already providing?

That could make customer acquisition harder for you. That’s especially true if your competitors are already established in this space.

The key to this puzzle lies in offering differentiators. Your SaaS product should stand out from the crowd. You need to go back to the drawing board so that you can find differentiating features.

7. Build the marketing strategy for your SaaS company

Your marketing strategy will depend on the industry or market you are targeting. It will depend on the kind of SaaS product you plan to build. You need to think through several aspects, e.g.:

  • What is the key message that the landing page of your website should convey?
  • How will you tailor your messaging for early adopters?
  • Which content marketing tools should you use?
  • How will you create case studies?
  • Which social media marketing tools can you use?
  • Which metrics should you use?
  • How will you improve the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of your product?

For insights, refer to the Barematrics guide to creating a SaaS marketing plan.

8. Decide your pricing model and strategy

You need to decide on a pricing model for your SaaS company. The common SaaS pricing models are as follows:

  • Freemium;
  • Flat-rate pricing;
  • “Pay-as-you-go” or usage-based pricing;
  • Tiered pricing;
  • Per-user pricing;
  • Per-active user pricing;
  • Per-feature pricing.

You need to choose a pricing strategy for your SaaS product. The commonly available strategies are as follows:

  • Cost-plus pricing: You calculate costs. Subsequently, you add a profit margin to arrive at the price. This ensures that you get a profit. However, this strategy might not reflect the true value of your SaaS product.
  • Competitor-based pricing: You study what your competitors did. You set up the price based on that. This strategy is helpful when you don’t have a benchmark to refer to. However, it might not reflect the value you offer.
  • Value-based pricing: You conduct extensive research and analysis to arrive at a price that truly reflects the value you offer. As a part of this, you get direct inputs from customers. Implementing this pricing strategy can be hard.

9. Hire a small team to kick-start the software development project

You can now undertake a software development project to develop your Software-as-a-Service product. Hire a small team led by a project manager (PM). The PM should have the experience of leading a SaaS application development team.

You need a software architect in this team, furthermore, you need a few business analysts (BAs). This team should do the following:

  • The PM should initiate, define, and plan the SaaS product development project.
  • BAs should gather and document the functional requirements.
  • The architect should define the non-functional requirements (NFRs) like scalability, performance, security, etc.
  • You need the architect to define the technical solution.
  • The PM needs to implement a structured review of the requirements and technical solutions.

Hire competent people for these key roles from a trustworthy software company.

10. Finalize the functionality and features to offer in your SaaS product

You have defined your SaaS solution at a high level. Therefore, you can now finalize the functionality that you will offer. BAs in your team need to work on gathering the requirements now.

They need to engage end-users in detailed conversations. Often, they need to take structured interviews. BAs might need to have dedicated brainstorming sessions with the business stakeholders.

They need to write the project specifications effectively. The architect needs to ensure a thorough review of the requirements. The PM needs to get formal requirements approval from the business stakeholders, furthermore, the PM needs to implement a requirements management process.

11. Plan your MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to validate your business ideas

Now that you have a finalized list of features for your SaaS product, you need to validate your business idea. You need to get market feedback.

Your customers need to use a functional product to provide that feedback. The product can have fewer features than the final version, however, it should work. That’s a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP).

Analyze the impact of the features. As I have explained in our MVP guide, prioritize features for your MVP.

12. Oversee the formulation of a SaaS product development approach

You should expect the architect to formulate an application development approach. I recommend the following:

  • Use a cloud computing platform: You can save plenty of time by using one of the trusted cloud computing platforms. Since you don’t need to manage the IT infrastructure, you can spend time on more important matters.
  • Develop native Android and iOS apps instead of a cross-platform mobile app: Native Android and iOS apps deliver superior user experience, performance, and security than cross-platform apps. Developers use languages like Java or Kotlin to develop native Android apps. They use Swift or Objective-C to develop native iOS apps. These technologies work seamlessly with the respective operating systems.
  • Use a balanced mix of your own APIs and 3rd party APIs: I recommend you create your own APIs for the core features. This makes your software development process scalable. However, you can use a few 3rd party APIs for non-code features like social media integration, push notifications, etc.
  • Use a mobile device lab on the cloud: Your proposed mobile app should work on all relevant mobile devices. For this, your team should test the app on a wide range of mobile devices. They should use a mobile device lab on the cloud for this. An example is pCloudy. The company provides many mobile devices on the cloud for testing.

13. Sign-up for a cloud computing platform for your SaaS start-up

You are the non-technical founder of a SaaS company, and your company is a small business initially. You haven’t invested in an in-house data center. Cloud computing technology can help you so that you don’t need to manage IT infrastructure.

Cloud computing enables your software development team to focus on application development instead of IT infrastructure management. Sign-up with a “Managed Cloud Services Provider” (MCSP) like AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, etc.

Your PM and architect should choose the right kind of cloud platform for you. They have the following options:

  • IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service): The MCSP manages the cloud infrastructure only. Your software development team needs to do the rest.
  • PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service): MCSPs manage the cloud infrastructure, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment. PaaS platforms provide services like database, API integration, DevOps tools, etc. Your software development team brings the code and data.
  • MBaaS (Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service): MCSPs manage the cloud infrastructure and persistent storage. An MBaaS platform reduces the mobile back-end development and management work for your application development team.

14. Ensure the selection of an effective technology stack for SaaS solution development

You should expect the architect to choose an effective technology stack. I recommend the following:

A. Front-end web development

Your team should use JavaScript. This open-source programming language is versatile, and programmers can take advantage of the large JavaScript ecosystem.

Your team can create the front-end using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Alternatively, they can use open-source web frameworks like Angular and React.js.

B. Back-end web development

I recommend your team uses Node.js for back-end development. This open-source runtime environment for JavaScript helps to develop scalable and performant web apps.

You can find Node.js developers easily since many JavaScript developers know it. A vibrant developers’ community has created many open-source Node.js development tools. Your developers can gain productivity by using them.

C. Native Android development

Your team should develop the native Android app using Java. This popular, performant, and secure programming language has been a mainstay for Android development for a long time. Many developers know it, and Java has a great ecosystem of tools.

D. Native iOS development

I recommend your team uses Swift for native iOS development. Apple prefers this modern language since it offers powerful features.

Your team can gain productivity by using Swift, furthermore, the language offers great performance. It enables software engineers to avoid many common programming errors.

E. API development

I suggest that your team develops RESTful APIs. REST (Representational State Transfer) is the de-facto standard for API development, and many developers know it.

F. Databases

Your team should use MySQL or PostgreSQL if it needs an RDBMS (Relational Database Management System). These 2 SQL databases offer powerful features, and many developers know them.

I recommend your team uses MongoDB or Apache Cassandra if there’s a need for a NoSQL database. These open-source NoSQL databases are scalable and performant.

Note: Your product development roadmap might include milestones where you will offer cutting-edge capabilities. Intelligent automation powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is an example. Your architect should recommend the right technology stack for them. E.g., Python is a great programming language to develop AI and ML software.

15. Have a project plan created for software product development

You should expect the PM to create a comprehensive project plan. I recommend that the PM uses the “Scrum” framework. It helps to manage “Agile” development projects, and programmers develop a product in iterations. We call these iterations “Sprints”.

The project plan should define the “Sprints” at a high level. You should expect the project plan to cover aspects like human resource management, risk management, quality management, communications management, etc.

16. Hire a complete software development team for your SaaS company

You now have a comprehensive project plan and technical solution, therefore, you can hire software developers now. Hire competent people for the following roles:

  • UI designers;
  • Web developers;
  • Native Android developers;
  • Native iOS developers;
  • Testers;
  • DevOps engineers.

Business owners might toy with the idea of hiring freelancers. I recommend you choose a dedicated development team over freelancers though.

I say this due to the following reasons:

  • As a non-technical founder of a SaaS business, you will need to focus on adding value to potential customers. Managing freelancers is not what you should do.
  • Dedicated development teams have full-time developers. That’s an advantage over part-time freelancers.
  • A software company providing a dedicated development team will provide project management support. However, freelance platforms don’t offer any management support.
  • You can get replacements if a developer from a dedicated development team leaves the project mid-way. Freelance platforms don’t provide a replacement in the case of a turnover.

The PM should build a Scrum team. The Scrum framework focuses on customers, and it emphasizes collaboration and empowerment.

17. Ensure the design of an effective user interface (UI) for the potential customers

When you conceptualized your SaaS product, you might have created wireframes. You might have thought about the landing page and other design parameters. The BAs in your team should have captured these inputs during the requirements management process.

Your UI design team should now create effective user interfaces for the proposed web and mobile apps. The PM should monitor this process.

You need to keep a tab on it. The architect needs to ensure that the UI design follows appropriate guidelines, e.g.:

18. Oversee the design and implementation of a robust information security solution for your SaaS product

Your SaaS product might process sensitive data. Ensure that the architect designs and implements a robust information security solution. I recommend the architect to focus on the following areas:

  • Multi-faction authentication (MFA);
  • Data encryption;
  • Incorporating an antivirus solution;
  • Implementing a next-generation firewall;
  • Securing APIs;
  • Mitigating the top application security vulnerabilities proactively;
  • Proactive security and compliance testing.

19. Keep a tab on the software development process

The PM should manage the software development activities, and the architect should assist the PM. You need to only keep a tab on it. The activities involved here are as follows:

  • Your programmers should develop RESTful APIs by following appropriate guidelines.
  • The team needs to develop the web app. It needs to integrate your own APIs and 3rd party APIs.
  • Software engineers should develop the native Android and iOS apps, and they need to integrate the APIs.
  • Your team needs to have a structured code review.
  • The PM and architect should ensure thorough testing of the web and mobile apps.
  • The team needs to follow appropriate guidelines for deploying and publishing the apps.

Monitor the following product development KPIs to keep track of the project:

  • Story points retired;
  • Team velocity points;
  • Sprint burndown;
  • Errors per 1,000 lines of code.

20. Manage the SaaS product lifecycle

You have launched your SaaS product. Has it achieved a broad product-market fit though? Monitor the following product management KPIs to assess this:

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT);
  • Customer retention rate;
  • Customer churn;
  • Conversion rate;
  • Customer lifetime value;
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC);
  • The number of customer support tickets;
  • “Daily Active Users” (DAUs) and “Monthly Active Users” (MAUs);
  • Stickiness;
  • Session duration;
  • Bounce rate;
  • Monthly recurring revenue (MRR);
  • The average revenue per user (ARPU);
  • Net promoter score (NPS).

Final Thoughts

I explained how to start a SaaS company without a technical background. Need help with your project? Contact DevTeam.Space, subsequently, a dedicated account manager will explain how we can help.

FAQs

1. Which are the top SaaS companies?

Some of the top SaaS companies are Salesforce, Microsoft, Adobe Creative Cloud, Box, Amazon Web Services SaaS, Google Workspace (formerly known as Google G Suite), Slack, ADP, and Oracle. This isn’t an exhaustive list. Many other SaaS companies have created their niche in the SaaS market.

2. Can I create a SaaS start-up without a technical background?

Yes. You conceptualize your SaaS business, product, SaaS model, marketing strategy, pricing model, etc. Leave the software development part to a trusted software company like DevTeam.Space. We support enterprises as well as start-ups at their early stages.

3. Can DevTeam.Space provide software developers as well as project management support?

DevTeam.Space can help you in the entire spectrum of software development. We can provide individual developers to business owners like you. We can provide a complete software development team. Finally, we can manage and deliver your project from end to end.

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