The SaaS App Startup Journey


1.3: Serving Customers


In the dynamic landscape of new entrepreneurial endeavors, initial customer interactions hold a pivotal role in validating and refining products or services. Even when engaging them with free services, customer involvement is paramount. At this early stage, insights from customer feedback often outweigh immediate revenue. Customer feedback guides development, acting as a compass for the viability of your offerings. Customer Revenue and Satisfaction serve as validators, affirming your offering’s authenticity.

As the customer base grows and diversifies, the canvas for refining your Value, Revenue, and Business Models widens. Varied insights from a diverse customer base aid in crafting a more comprehensive business framework.

Real-world examples highlight the effectiveness of this approach:

  1. A marketing analytics firm initiated its journey through sales and marketing consulting, strategically aligning its services with a specific need and value proposition.
  2. A fintech enterprise emerged from the frustrations associated with spreadsheet-based financial diligence and the intricate task of aligning buyers and sellers for investment banking transactions.
  3. Another fintech innovation sprouted from the realm of strategy consulting, ingeniously transforming a pivotal aspect of consulting into a scalable and user-friendly application.
  4. A healthtech venture found its genesis in the success of a paid pilot project for a major hospital. This pilot not only helped define their value proposition but also provided empirical evidence of its practicality.

Gathering Feedback Before Building
Before embarking on the costly journey of MVP development, it’s paramount to amass Before developing an MVP, gather market insights. Seek feedback from potential customers, partners, investors, and experts. Transparency in sharing your idea invites invaluable feedback that can reshape your path. Market research shows that sharing more leads to more honest feedback. Collaborating with entities like Up Metrics illuminates hidden collaborative opportunities.

The Value of Customers and Feedback:
As an aspiring entrepreneur, it’s essential to recognize the significance of customer feedback. At the early stages of your startup, the insights gained from customers’ experiences and perspectives hold immense value. Even if you choose to offer free services during the initial phase, the knowledge gained from their feedback can be more valuable than immediate monetary gains. Additionally, customer revenue and satisfaction act as powerful indicators that validate your value proposition, affirming your offering’s relevance in the market.

Building a Diverse Customer Base:
To ensure a comprehensive understanding of your target market, it is crucial to identify your ideal customer profile or persona across various demographics. This diverse customer base will allow you to gain insights from different perspectives, helping you refine your offering to cater to a broader audience. For B2B startups, consider engaging with customers from various industries, offering different types of products or services, and varying company sizes to gain a comprehensive view of market needs.

The Beta Phase and Frequent Communication:
Before launching your product or service, consider starting with a beta phase where you offer your solution for free or at reduced pricing. This approach allows you to gather feedback from real users, enabling you to identify areas for improvement and refine your offering. Maintaining frequent communication with your beta customers is essential to continuously gather input, track progress, and make necessary adjustments.

Immediate Customer Service

Zooming in on the third step of the SaaS startup journey, we ask a pivotal question: can we serve customers from the get-go? This query, emphasized for decades, carries a wealth of transformative potential. Even if your app is still immature,, early customer service can stimulate  problem-solving and relationship-building. 

The Value of Customer Engagement: The insight gleaned from customers, even when services are provided gratis, eclipses the revenue that could be generated by charging them. Consider a scenario where a basic SaaS app is priced at $29 per month. Opting for an initial free offering to a hundred customers, rather than losing out on $2,900 in potential earnings, translates to an investment in invaluable insights that can mold your idea to perfection.

Real-World Startup Tales: Drawing from personal startup experiences, these anecdotes underline the essence of early customer engagement. The journey from software acquisition to sales consulting unveils a transformative pivot that eventually led to a software application’s success. Similarly, the evolution of templated financial analysis tools into a flourishing SaaS app reiterates the importance of refinement, feedback integration, and early customer service.

Crafting Success: Early Customer Engagement’s Lessons

Incorporating insights gathered through customer interaction at an early stage is the bedrock of startup triumph. This iterative process fosters idea validation, uncovers customer needs, and refines the value proposition, revenue model, and overall business approach. Understanding your customer deeply before embarking on MVP development is a fundamental tenet. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to commence customer service during the gut-check phase to reap these benefits.

As we conclude this illuminating journey into the realm of early customer engagement, we open the floor to your questions. Feel free to inquire about tailoring these strategies to your unique situation. Remember, the secret to a successful startup isn’t just in your idea but in your proactive engagement with the customers who will bring it to life.

Engaging with customers from the outset of your startup journey is a critical step in validating your idea and crafting a successful venture. By serving real customers, even if it involves offering free services during the beta phase, you gain invaluable feedback that can shape your value proposition, revenue model, and overall business strategy. The diverse insights gained from a varied customer base provide a strong foundation for refining your offering to meet market needs effectively. Embrace customer feedback, continuously iterate, and let their insights be your guiding light on the path to success.

Action items

  • Define ideal customer profiles/personas across diverse demographics (e.g., industries, company sizes, offerings) for a varied customer base.
  • Compile a list of potential beta customers based on identified profiles. Offer free or reduced pricing to incentivize selected beta customers for feedback collection.
  • Establish a consistent and proactive communication plan with beta customers. Utilize various channels to solicit input, suggestions, and insights.
  • Develop a prototype of your offering. Secure a commitment from selected beta customers to participate in the full beta phase upon prototype completion, ensuring their engagement for thorough testing and feedback.
  • Engage real customers, including those using free services, prioritizing customer input over quick revenue generation.
  • Use customer revenue and satisfaction metrics to confirm the value proposition.
  • Expand the customer base to refine value, revenue, and business models by gaining richer insights from a broader range of customers.


Here are some frequently asked questions

How do I know my Idea can be invested in?

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How do I know what my idea is worth?

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When do I start pitching to Venture Capitalists about my idea?

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