Okay, so you want to build a bootstrapped SaaS startup so you could have complete control over the creative aspects and the final product without compromising on revenue but don’t know where to begin? Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered.
ruttl is Brucira's bootstrapped Saas tool for remote work. As a bootstrapped startup, Brucira has extensive experience building the perfect product and service to attract great clients and increase user retention.
We built ruttl to be the innovative remote work tool solution to the currently existing, clunky and tiring design review process involving numerous marked-up screenshots and lengthy email feedback. From the time we’ve opened signups for the beta user waitlist till today, we’ve crossed 440 users!
So, in this blog post, we’re taking a moment to share our tips to build a successful bootstrapped SaaS startup.
1. Identify the product’s market fit & customer need
First, you need to identify the market your product fits into as well as the customer expectations it addresses. For ruttl, we were the frustrated designers and developers; we were the target customer base, so we decided to build a product that not only solved our problems but also could be used by other creators.
Without identifying your product’s market fit, you risk making something that a large, existing, and successful competitor has already accomplished. If you don’t take customer needs into account and build a new and unique product, you won’t have any use cases, rendering it useless for almost anyone except yourself. At this stage, it’s also important to acknowledge the limitations of your experience, skills, funds, and resources due to being bootstrapped. The product may take a longer time to launch, with some unaddressed bugs, or a different shortcoming. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to create something that solves a problem; you can figure out how to solve any internal issues as the product takes shape.
2. Create a comprehensive marketing strategy
Let’s say you’ve managed to create a version of the product you want to make and are on the fast track to finish the final product. You now want people to know what you’re doing, so you need a marketing strategy to attract users from different channels. Social media, digital, and content marketing are the three most important methods that can drive users to check out your product’s website, information, and sign up to use the beta product.
For ruttl, we began by establishing Brucira’s experience as an industry leader through content and social media marketing. Clear visual branding and consistent engagement led to our target audience following us and joining ruttl’s waitlist to try out an early version. Find your target audience, the customer base you’re solving problems for, and the best channel to engage with them. Consistency is key when it comes to marketing; don’t expect to see efforts overnight. As a bootstrapped SaaS startup, you will most likely have to use ads, targeted posts, and other useful tactics to build a strong audience base from scratch. Your audience will be an extremely valuable tool to leverage should you ever want to gain funding in the future.
3. Launch the beta product
It’s always a good idea to test your product with a few users before you formally launch the product to public users. This enables you to get every single bug and fix any issue you might have missed. Use this time to test your pricing, improve the ways you want visitors to convert into paying customers, and make your product better.
ruttl began handing out beta keys to the users on our waitlist a few months ago as we worked on introducing new features and fixing bugs behind the scenes. Our early users' valuable feedback has been instrumental in the latest additions to ruttl and has massively improved the overall user experience.
4. Design a customer experience strategy
Speaking of user experience, when it comes to a bootstrapped SaaS startup, your user is the main thing you need to focus on. Designing a customer experience strategy is key to user retention and scaling your product. You could have the best product at the lowest prices, but without a strategy to win over new and existing customers, there will be fewer users and negative or negligible word-of-mouth, something instrumental in getting people to try out your product.
Personal recommendations are the best way for a new user to find your product. That’s why it’s important to engage your current customers and find ways to get those who have left to return. For instance, when it comes to ruttl’s customer experience strategy, we make it a point to manually email every new user when they first join, offer them one on one sessions with our founders, and focus on proposing their user experience through demo calls and dedicated support.
5. Incorporate customer feedback
As a feedback & review tool, feedback runs in our blood. We take what our users have to say very seriously and want them to share even the smallest areas of friction so we can make the entire design review process a quick and easy process. We introduced an in-app feedback button that sends us screenshots and places the problem right on our Trello board to incorporate and encourage customer feedback. Customer feedback is the key to addressing pain points and developing new solutions that keep your users coming back for more.
Building a successful bootstrapped SaaS startup is hard work. But it’s also wholly rewarding when you see your product take off, when customers email you with positive feedback, and when new users join through your marketing and customer engagement strategies. The lessons you learn when working on a bootstrapped startup are not offered in any other environment. The limitations on you force you to seek innovative, cost-effective solutions that empower your team members and their efforts. These skills are the very ones that propel you to success, allowing you to take full credit for the growth of your SaaS product.