How to make your SaaS startup stand out from the crowded cloud landscape
The SaaS model has lowered the barriers for budding software entrepreneurs to build and commercialise exciting new products, creating new markets that cater to nearly any vertical or niche you can think of. Gartner Inc. currently estimates the number of SaaS companies in existence at around a quarter of a million and predicts that the worldwide public cloud services market will grow 17.5% in 2019 to $214.3 billion, up from $182.4 billion in 2018, with cloud application services by far the largest market segment.
The availability of new tools and methodologies that help with the building of SaaS products and companies are enabling this accelerated growth. There are a number of core elements that are accelerating the market, changing working practices and making software development more agile.
The emergence of SaaS for SaaS
More than 50% of Forbes’ latest Cloud 100 list is made up of ‘SaaS for SaaS’ companies, i.e. those that provide services for SaaS and Cloud products which enable SaaS startups to accelerate their developments. These include infrastructure options, analytical tools and security services, each of which eases the burden on development teams. They provide tried and tested solutions to common SaaS needs, all ready to be slotted into the product.
Including business management tools in this pushes that percentage up further. Billing, customer support and sales management: these are all activities which out-of-the-box solutions can manage, rather than having a development team work on solutions that don’t directly contribute to the product’s bottom line.
Integration is no different than connecting to one or more of the plethora of SaaS applications out there. There is no need to use already overstretched development resources to build out integrations when it is possible to simply connect to one service which provides access to hundreds more.
Embedded iPaaS has enabled SaaS companies to develop out their own solution further, without having to compromise on connectivity or the experience they want to offer their users.
Internal and external comms
Dedicated platforms keep remote teams in touch and on task, but they also work for internal communications just as effectively. Email has all but been replaced by more agile solutions for performing particular tasks, whether it’s using Slack for internal communications or sprint planning platforms for managing development.
Face-to-face communication doesn’t have to be difficult either. Video chat services, such as Zoom, allow teams to talk things over as if they were together in the same office.
As well as bringing teams closer together, these platforms can also help connect a SaaS company to its users. Embedded chat platforms, like Intercom or Drift, and support platforms like Zendesk, means it has never been easier to speak with clients and leads.
Video chat also opens the door to performing live demos, user interviews and even commercial discussions without either party having to worry about location logistics or travel expenses.
A host of infrastructure options
Achieving a solid uptime is within affordable reach thanks to a number of hosting heavyweights that include AWS, Google Cloud and Azure. There are many flexible pricing options available to help find the perfect balance of performance vs. server costs. Each provider will also have incentive programmes for start-ups, meaning that costs can often be absolutely minimal at the outset.
The top-down view
When faced with the sheer volume of SaaS platforms available, how do buyers decide which one to use? This question has driven the rise in SaaS-focused review websites, including industry staples Capterra, GetApp and G2. These allow potential customers and stakeholders to take a top-down view of a vertical market, enabling them to compare features, pricing and direct experiences through reviews.
For SaaS vendors, there are several opportunities to take advantage of:
- The ability for the startup to stand out in its niche
- A relatively low cost way to attract an audience through PPC offerings
- A way to better understand a market’s landscape in order to carve out a specific niche
By participating on these sites, a SaaS startup can accelerate its exposure to the potential end-market. Product differentiation becomes much more important, however, in order to avoid being lost in the crowd.
The range of tools and services available to help a SaaS startup to prototype, build, get a product to market, and scale its team has never been broader or more comprehensive. Being able to equip a team and product with scalable services allows development teams to focus on what matters: building new and innovative applications and experiences that will help elevate their startup to the next level.
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.