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From Zero to SaaS

Janis Kelemen May 23, 2019

💡Let‘s make a startup!

In the following article, I’m going to write about our first few months starting a new business and going over the main questions we had along the process.

It’s intriguing to just tinker around with a new product idea and imagine how it ends up as a solid SaaS solution, right?

Having something which is your own, where you are responsible for all decisions and hopefully for the success, is great and challenging at the same time. We recognized, that we have a great working spirit together. So…

…why not give it a shot?

That’s what a friend and I were thinking when we finally decided to take that big step, create software and make it available as a service. We both were working as contractors for several companies and we knew that at some point, we need to start our own thing. The first question we asked ourselves was:

What product do we want to build?

We had lots of ideas and experience in certain areas, so it wasn’t easy to pick one idea and just go with it. Of course, there is a solution for almost everything already, but this shouldn’t keep you from building our own and make it special in its own way. All we needed, was to find something to focus on and burn for.

One issue we had, while working on other projects, was to find a modern and easy to use customer support software. Sure, there are plenty of big players in the market but none of them felt just right for us so the idea of HelpSpace was born! A customer support system with beautiful and intuitive UI and intelligence in the backend. So far so good but:

How much time can we spend every week?

We decided to dedicate two days every week to solely work on HelpSpace, making it our first class side project. Working only two days a week, on our project, turned out to be super productive for us. We are so focused and decide things way faster, then we used to when we had all week, to figure things out.

Remote, coworking space or own office?

Working remotely was no option because the best of us comes out when we are sitting right next to each other. We wanted to work at a coworking space but shortly found it to be too expensive having dedicated desks there so we took it a step further and got a small office which is cheaper compared to most coworking spaces in our area. That really was a huge step for us since it made it so much more real and of course it’s a bigger commitment to the whole project.

We finally got a small office for very affordable rent and after a few Ikea trips, it became like a home for our ideas, thoughts, and partnership. Keeping everything small and affordable felt best to start building the basement for our business.

Our small but very bright office.

Our small but very bright office.

Setting up our tables.

Setting up our tables.

How do we start?

Having everything set up and sitting in our very own office was very exciting but it also came with a ton of pressure. What do we need to do first? We were sometimes a bit lost at the beginning since we didn’t really have a plan how to tackle things, so we just started to design the first prototype of HelpSpace just to get a feeling for what we are actually going to build. Many people might say that this is the wrong way to go about it but for us, it was essential to have something to look at together instead of having a big business plan or just a list of features.

It took quite a while to get the design to a point where we both were satisfied, but when it finally got there we were super motivated to start coding. The decision to do a (probably way too big) prototype first, was a great motivation, especially in the early days, to see where all the hours of work will hopefully lead to.

Now that we had our design ready and the picture in our heads wasn’t blurry anymore we decided to build a landing page first, so we can share our idea and hopefully get some folks to sign up to our newsletter in order to gain interest.

It took us about two months to finish the landing page which was way longer then we expected. We changed the design several times in the process but it helped us to find our workflow and was an important time for us to grow as a team. The biggest benefit of having the landing page ready was to have something to show to our family and friends since all of them were super supportive when we told them about our startup plans and getting their feedback was awesome.

The first version of our landing page.

The first version of our landing page.

The launch of the landing page was quite silent. All we did was tweeting about it but since we both didn’t have many followers on Twitter the reaction was predictably low.

How do we promote HelpSpace?

Well, that is the question which we are at right now. My next article will cover that question and some other interesting topics like our final desk setup and the tools we use.

If you want to follow our progress follow me or sign up to our newsletter and I will keep you posted.

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