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E262: Uncovering Real Problems: Key Steps to Building a Successful B2B SaaS Product

by Sean Boyce

In this episode, Mac Martine discusses topics such as persistence, mental hurdles, and sustainable approaches in business. They talk about the importance of talking to people, understanding customer needs, and following the money in building a B2B SaaS product. The benefits of bootstrapping and the freedom it provides, as well as the ability to pivot quickly, are explored.

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Meet Mac Martine, a dynamic entrepreneur and co-founder of Aware, a revolutionary platform providing in-depth personal and team analytics for LinkedIn. Mac’s journey spans founding and exiting Castanet, an automated outreach SaaS platform, to launching The SaaS Bootstrapper, where he offers invaluable insights through his podcast, newsletter, and consulting. With a knack for fostering growth and clarity, Mac’s impact on the SaaS and entrepreneurial landscape is palpable. Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Product Launch:
  • Timing, luck, and market factors play a role in success and are often beyond our control.
  • Strategy, smart decision-making, and knowing what to do each day contribute to greater efficiency and productivity.
  • Building solutions to non-existent problems is a common challenge in the B2B SaaS industry.
  • Talking to people and understanding their needs is crucial before developing a product.
  • Iteration and feedback from potential customers are essential for successful product development.
  • Bootstrapping allows for independence, control, and the ability to prioritize personal goals.
  • There’s an advantage in being able to outmaneuver and adapt more quickly than funded startups.
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Connect with our host, Sean Boyce:
  • 11:01 – “So I think it’s being able to, trying to find a way to slow down and enjoy the process and you know, I think you can move fast ’cause you know there are going to be a lot of people that are like, you have to move fast, you have to go. It’s all about speed. Yeah. Like it’s not all about speed and speed comes from counterintuitive things sometimes it’s about making smart decisions, not stupid decisions where you have to undo this stuff all the time and having a strategy and knowing what you’re doing so that every day when you get up you know exactly what to do.”
  • 15:45 – “And so now I’m getting into a particular industry and then before too long with sales teams it’s very quickly lead gen. Because that’s what it’s all about. And so, okay, now we’re talking about like lean gen, lead gen tools. What are they using? What do they need? What are the pro? And so it just went further and further that way. And there were some different ideas that I would experiment with. Sometimes it’s going home and like spending a few hours or a few days coding something to see if I could even do something, a particular thing. And I might take it back to ’em and be like, is this kinda what you were thinking? And then see and oftentimes like a big lesson there was like people suggest things that they think are cool but cool doesn’t sell.”
  • 18:20 – “Essentially, these answers lie with your customer or your market. If you do that research, if you talk to people, especially businesses like know who you’re talking to, searching for these problems, you’re following the money, money usually follows the problems they’re trying to solve, solve. You can eventually uncover, well here’s an opportunity, right? I know these, this group of people or these businesses are trying to solve this problem and this is the way they’re trying to do it. I know I can do better than that or I could build something that will impress them, right? Provide them with a return. You spoke to that if built to provide that ROI, right? You can, you can essentially iron out a lot of that, at least in theory based on the data you’re collecting back before you even start building. You’re so far ahead of the game when compared with the masses in terms of what they’re doing with products.”
  • 08:26 – “So like I think there’s misconceptions out there where folks think this should happen in like days or weeks when in reality a lot of people that have done so successfully, it takes many months or years sometimes and that’s okay, right? But like what can help people that want to do this be on a path that’s more sustainable that doesn’t create this like situation where there’s this immense pressure and stress where I call it the like struggle porn aspect where it’s like everybody’s in this like startup life and you have to be like ramen noodles and working like 20 hours a day or something crazy in order to actually achieve success. Yeah, I feel like that has not been my experience.”
  • 20:27 – Mac: “There are people are, everyone’s on Facebook, I love Facebook and that’s where people are and I might as well just use that. I don’t need a website. I’m like, oh my god, first of all, I think that’s terrible but fine. Like I can’t really, like I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you otherwise. But it really crushed my assumption, right? That like I thought was a totally valid assumption. I never would’ve, I never would’ve guessed that that was the case. But little did I know. So yeah, we can think we’re brilliant, and we’re onto something and little do we know like people are going the opposite direction of what we thought was the right way to go.”
    Sean Boyce: “That’s some excellent advice too, right? Because it can create you, it can prevent you from wasting time money on something that we think might be a good idea, but ultimately it doesn’t connect with our target market audience for whatever reason. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s, whatever they’re doing is the, is the best solution or the optimal solution, but it is what they see or what they’re willing to use essentially.”