Kevin Conti is the owner of SoftwareIdeas, a weekly publication that provides readers with tested SaaS company ideas. It has earned almost $8,000 per month from 400 paying customers in just four months. Kevin’s background includes a professional software developer who started CoderNotes.io as a side project. He learned from this project that making something fascinating is not the same as making something people will pay money for. The speaker started a market investigation to learn more about SaaS principles.
Kevin is the owner of SoftwareIdeas, a weekly publication that provides readers with tested SaaS company ideas. The site’s income has climbed to more than $8,000 per month from 400 paying customers in just four months since its introduction in July 2020. Only Twitter and Indie Hackers were used for this, but Kevin is keen to try out more platforms.
What are you currently working on and who are you?
Good day! I’m Kevin Conti, the owner of Software Concepts, a premium newsletter that sends hand-selected, verified SaaS concepts to your inbox. In just over four months, it has earned almost $8,000 in MRR, and I adore it!
What is your background, and how did you come up with this idea?
I had no intention of creating Software Ideas.
Professional software developer here I am. I started CoderNotes.io as a side project so that engineers may take searchable technical notes. Even though this product attracted a lot of attention (and was the second most popular product of the day on Product Hunt), its MRR is just about $50 right now.
I learned from this project that making something fascinating is not the same as making something people will pay money for. I’ve also come to appreciate how important the market you choose is. You want to do business where people are already making purchases.
I go into great depth about what I learnt from the process in this IndieHackers piece titled 5 Lessons learnt from Launching My First SaaS.
I’ve made the decision to put the knowledge I’ve gained to use in a new effort rather than trying to change CoderNotes.io into something else. I thus started my market investigation.
It started by looking at job postings. If they can afford to engage staff, they must be doing something right. Although they might cost up to $1,000 per year, paid databases of corporate information are substantially more effective than job postings.
Everything started to get in order at that point. I was inspired to try to market the research I was doing (so I could pay for the databases) because I recognized it may be useful to others.
As a result, Software principles was never meant to be a finished product; instead, I only wanted to learn more about SaaS principles.
How did you turn a concept into a finished product?
I worked with techniques to lower the risk involved with concept validation after CoderNotes.io. By amassing an email list with 200 subscribers, more than 400 votes on Product Hunt, and almost no transactions, I had done myself harm. This time, I made it a point to use pre-sales to hasten the success or failure of my company.
Pre-sales, in my opinion, are a useful but underused tool. Pre-sales are a potent weapon, in my opinion, if you go into it with the idea that “Pay me now and you’ll get in on the ground floor, and I’ll build the product to be exactly what you want at a fraction of the cost of hiring a contractor,” Additionally, it shows you whether you are heading in the right direction as quickly as possible.
As a result, I established a monthly objective of selling at least 10 newsletters for $19 to every 100 qualifying prospects. I already had 10 qualifying prospects after 33, so I launched the product after that.
I’ve made these email exchanges freely accessible to anyone who is curious in how I handled pre-sale interactions. This Notion template has all of them, naturally with their names masked.
What marketing techniques did you use to grow your company?
The accompanying template serves as proof that one of the components I examined during the pre-sell process was distribution networks. In addition to finding out if people would buy the newsletter, I also wanted to see if I could contact them.
I experimented on several channels to obtain this. I distributed a free, proof-of-concept edition of my newsletter on Reddit, Indie Hackers, and Twitter. This is how I found the first 33 qualifying prospects for pre-sales.
Since then, my two most productive outlets have been Twitter and Indie Hackers, although both take a lot of work. My goal in both places is to create excellent material that helps other entrepreneurs get to the same place I am. I’ve also provided my data, which many have found to be intriguing, in the Milestones area of Indie Hackers. Though it’s continuously changing, my Twitter approach typically follows the same format.
I’m looking for a new distribution route right now. I’m looking into a number of chances, just as I did the previous time, and ideally I’ll find one or two that constantly bring in new clients. Search engine optimization and newsletter sponsorships are two channels I am really exploring, but I won’t know which ones work until the end of the month, when my tests with them are finished.
What are you doing right now? What are your long-term goals?
A linear expansion has occurred at the firm as a consequence of the addition of about 100 new customers each month. Over 4,000 people are on the free email list (to whom I deliver a weekly preview message), and their most recent email had a 50% open rate.
Helping as many founders as I can is my main business goal. I don’t want anyone to do the error I did with CoderNotes.io, which was to spend months creating a product that no one will buy. I’m creating a pre-sales and validation course to help startups with this. I refer to it as The Foundation, and I’ve thrown it in for free for Software Ideas subscribers.
My main metric-based goal right now is to increase marketing and distribution through a new channel. Within the next three to six months, I believe the discovery of one to two additional channels will propel our growth into the $10,000–$20,000 level.
I anticipate being sufficiently financially secure and emotionally enough by then to resign from my full-time developer job and devote my whole attention to Software Ideas.
What have you discovered to be your most significant lessons since establishing Software Ideas?
Software Ideas has taught me a lot of new things. It is difficult to express in words. Here are a few crucial examples:
CoderNotes.io took me eight months to make $50, but I worked just as hard—if not harder—on Software Ideas, which brought me +$4,000 in only one-fourth the time. The market and concept you choose are crucial.
It takes discipline to write a weekly newsletter that gets paid. You don’t have any weeks off, so you have to make sure that every issue is excellent. Despite the considerable potential for recurring income, you need to be aware of what this business plan implies.
And a few particular ones:
It is quite challenging to recognize achievements. I’ve worked hard each time to step back, breathe deeply, and have fun. I have to consciously reward myself, else I never take the time to enjoy the results of my labor.
Starting a business may be stressful, nerve-wracking, and even depressing. I thought these things were worse when you didn’t have success, but the more successful you are, the heavier these bad feelings are and the lower you might fall. It’s important to concentrate on your physical and mental health, and I can do better in this area.
What were the toughest obstacles you overcame? What were your biggest mistakes?
Although Software Ideas has achieved sudden success, it was founded on a foundation of prior mistakes. I’ve talked about CoderNotes.io, but I’ve also founded and run unsuccessful home cleaning services, textbook resale companies, and auction-based reselling companies.
Nobody ever hits a home run on their very first try. Start your first three enterprises as soon as you can, says Ben Orenstein of Tuple.
What actions would you do differently if you had the chance?
Although I think I’ve done well in my first two months, it’s probably too early to provide a precise response to this question. I would advise myself to prepare for the content mill as my main piece of advice. Without support, it is quite challenging to keep up a high-caliber, thoroughly researched magazine. I’d like to be ready for it as well.
What equipment and sources would you recommend?
The following are the two most important books I can suggest:
People can learn how to conduct productive customer discussions by using The Mom Test. You will learn how to avoid getting swayed during customer discovery sessions from this book.
This book, Obviously Amazing, teaches you how to evaluate markets and appreciate how customers communicate their needs and wants. The author uses the term “positioning” here, but I don’t think anybody else would. In any case, I think this is the most crucial tool for shaping the ideal business viewpoint.
Where can we find further details?
I would love to meet you at SoftwareIdeas if you are actively looking for your next software or SaaS firm. If you’re looking for a full guide to pre-sales and early product validation, go here for The Foundation course as well. The first video is now accessible, and the remaining ones will be out in about a month.
Even if you already run a successful company, I’d be happy to talk to you! My handles on Twitter and Indie Hackers are @kevcon80 and @kev_Conti, respectively.
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