In 2023, launching a SaaS is easier than ever. If you are software engineer, the options are limitless. There are so many frontend frameworks (VueJS, React) so many backend technologies (Rails, Node, NextJS, Laravel), so many hosting options (AWS, Google cloud, or Firebase or Render, or some new serverless service).
For those who don’t want to start from scratch, there are SaaS templates that you can buy and deploy.
Yet, we find that there is something still missing. This is because the so many tools out there are made mostly for developers to use. For a non-developer SaaS founder, or simply a business owner who is busy with customer work, the time and mental cost of launching a SaaS is still high.
You need to choose the right tech stack from many options, you need to hire a team who will put it all together. You need to launch a product and iterate on it, shepherding the developers to implement the right features. Since you are not the one building the solution, you will have to rely on the developers to make every change, putting you into a dependent state making your SaaS a perpetually costly endeavor.
One of the unsolved areas is putting all the technologies together: Let us assume the main functionality you need takes up 4 pages of the application in total. Many other functionalities are needed, a user authentication implementation, billing management, user account management to name a few. From the many user authentication services out there, someone needs to integrate the chosen one with your application. The same is true for billing. SaaS onboarding is another crucial and often left out part that is key for acquiring happy users.
Someone needs to deploy your application, then monitor it and update it from time to time (dev ops). Perhaps the same engineer who developed your application can spend some of his/her time on dev ops?
What if the dev ops work is taking too long from time to time (e.g. upgrading the version of the backend stack takes weeks)? Do you even know how long it should take? For this you need to understand the problem to judge… But do you even have the time?
Misalignment between you the founder, and your technical team
You want your SaaS to be completed with the lowest cost possible, with minimal waste on developer resources. It doesn’t necessarily need to be cheap. You just don’t want to waste money for nothing. The opposite is true for the 3rd party contracting team you have hired. They would very much prefer and need to be on your payroll, for as long as possible. This misalignment from the start creates additional risk, that makes launching a SaaS an endeavor only for the brave…
It is not uncommon to hear stories of naive founders spending $200K (or unfortunately even more, way more) only to abandon their SaaS application in the end or restart from scratch.
A solution to all this
To remedy this frustration for SaaS founders, we rolled up our sleeves in 2020 to come up with a solution that can simplify launching a SaaS company, and is totally aligned with the founders.
The first insight was, whatif we could build a platform that already has most of the features a SaaS needs, minus the custom application? After all, integrating many services is a daunting task. Take something as simple as user authentication. There are workflows, arrows going in all directions during the journey of an authenticated user, that you need to know about in order to integrate a “ready-made” authentication service. Security is another aspect that needs to be implemented correctly.
Billing is another one. The workflows, prorations and other details need to be worked out when a user cancels, or upgrades their plan in the middle of their plan period. (For this we initially rolled our own billing, then replaced it with Stripe’s billing portal and checkout. Stripe specializes in this, with frequent updates on payment options and a local experience in each country).
What matters with SaaSBox is that these functionalities come as turnkey, in an already integrated manner so you don’t have to do anything. Since we host these functionality, we get to roll out updates without you spending time on them.
A full service solution
What about the custom application? Building the custom application is the part that will make your solution stand out. To make this experience turnkey end to end, we offer a custom development service for completing your SaaS. We start by designing your UI/UX prototypes, then implement each page in html, introduce a custom database and APIs that you need in your application. We host and take care of the dev ops.
How is this different than hiring a developer team?
The biggest difference is the alignment on your success. We don’t make money from developing your SaaS. We see the development as an initial cost of adding you as a customer. This is different from hiring any developer team, because we are vested in completing your application and enabling your SaaS as quickly as possible. Delivery of a custom application still make sense for us, because we have an efficient internal process. We ensure this in several ways.
The SaaSBox platform functionality is common across many SaaS companies. Many SaaS companies share and fund the development of the platform instead of individually,
We work on a very specific case of a SaaS company, where a service is delivered to a user through a set of protected web pages or application dashboards. By specializing in this, we make the development process efficient and fast.
Expertise. We are experts in building SaaS applications, and no technical challenge is too challenging. Expertise means we can deliver an initial prototype faster. We can guide you on what the next step needs to be.
These points allow us to provide you with a much better solution, and at a lower cost.
The founder - SaaSBox alignment continues after the initial delivery of your application by reducing your technical risk on a monthly basis.
There is a fixed monthly fee for the maintenance, bug fixes, feature updates, and hosting of your application. This amount is usually a fraction of hiring a single developer, and saves you from hiring up to 2 developers monthly. With a fixed cost model, technical costs remain in check for your SaaS, which means you have visibility into the future and the risk is manageable. We take on the technical risk of delivering your solution as your technical partner.
What if you wish to move away from SaaSBox for any reason?
For any reason, you may later wish to move your software elsewhere. In this case you are not locked in. Your contract with SaaSBox is as follows:
The custom software developed to deliver your SaaS use case is licensed to you with a software license for you to deploy and use anywhere, provided that you complete a 2 year subscription contract on the SaaSBox platform. To give you an example, an application that takes 4 man months to deliver might cost an average of $30K. If the SaaSBox subscription costs $800/month on average, you roughly pay $19,200 for an application that you would have had developed for $30K, plus used the hosting and services for 24 months.
There are a number of SaaS companies on the SaaSBox platform, that have been founded by non-technical folks we talked about, who were too busy serving customers with their service. (Here is Sila - an analytics platform for businesses in middle eastern countries, and Tradewyx - a global merchant of record provider for physical products, to name a few.) The best way to find out if SaaSBox works for your use case is to schedule a consultation session, then if you like the promise, get a SaaS prototype built at no cost to you (subject to vetting your SaaS use case).