Ask HN: Can anyone share cases study of successful SaaS getting into the market?

46 points by ArielYang0102 2 months ago


The background is we are a startup working on IoT development framework and we've just started to launch our product. The result of current advertising and promotion in the North American market is not up to much so far.

So anyone can recommend some worth-learning cases of SaaS products getting into North American market? (Actually we are doing PaaS stuff but considering SaaS is more common and easier to be as a reference)

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!


skaber 2 months ago

Have you met potential clients yet? Get on the phone, have a face to face meeting with them, and make sure you understand what's the problem they're facing before presenting your solution. Repeat 20 times, then summarize your findings by drawing a value proposition canvas. After you've manually onboarded a few customers, heard their feedback and have a clear sense of which persona uses and buys your product, then you might be ready to start investing in advertising and scaling your go-to market strategy.

puffybeignette 2 months ago

I see so much emphasis on SaaS but think more startups need to focus on Managed Services. SaaS is built for scale, likely on a problem you’ve solved for the masses. The reality is most startups aren’t there yet, and need to focus on a hands on managed solution for < 10 clients. And then build out a SaaS version of their offering.

donkeyd 2 months ago

Not North America, but my SaaS start-up grew mostly through networking and just cold and luke warm approaches to potential clients. We got a very extroverted team mate that didn't have any from of restraint in approaching people. This guy also had a goodwill factor surrounding him. He really helped in getting us in with a lot of companies.

It also helped that we had a very clearly defined market so we knew exactly who to approach. We also had no real viable competitors, so if they liked our proposition, we were an easy choice. So when we got in, we would set up an account with them, get them started and let them use the app for free for a month. Most would be convinced after that, some wouldn't.

Due to the interactivity, our up-front cost was quite high, but through word of mouth we started getting organic growth, which saved us from spending a lot in advertising.

dgant 2 months ago

MicroConf publishes a lot of (free!) first hand talks and case studies that are up your alley.

  • rwalling 2 months ago

    Thanks for the MicroConf shout!

    Check out and for a long list of SaaS founder stories/case studies.

    • z3ugma 2 months ago

      Rob and the Startups for the Rest of Us podcast are excellent. If you’re a bootstrapped sustainable-growth small partnership, their advice is golden. And oftentimes counter to the splashy stuff on Medium and Twitter.

tixocloud 2 months ago

With something like an IoT development framework, advertising and promotion is certainly not the way to begin. Have a look at the book called "Traction" by Gabriel Weinberg to get an idea of the different GTM strategies.

You should have a target customer in mind and that will guide the strategies that you'll need to reach them.

juancn 2 months ago

You need to find a model customer that's representative of their market and establish a close working relationship because they'll be instrumental on understanding what customers actually expect.

They'll help you get your product-market fit, and expand from there.

At first you usually have some huge blind spots in your product offering and you need someone to help you validate.

Focus on the problem you're solving for them, the product will grow from there.

amelius 2 months ago

Adobe Photoshop comes to mind, probably the most successful SaaS until today.

Users are generally not so happy about the monetization model, though.

tiffanyh 2 months ago

I assume the OP means bootstrapped companies because there are countless VC backed and/or existing enterprise companies in this space.

Some bootstrap companies that come to mind include:

- Mailchimp

- Zoho

- Atlassian (before IPO'ing)

- Qualtrics (before being acquired by SAP)

These are all billion dollar businesses.

IndieHackers is also quite good for smaller companies. They have a podcast and blog articles. Nathan Latka has a great podcast as well.

thrownaway561 2 months ago

You are selling a framework, not an application, so why in the world are you comparing yourself to a SaaS which means literally "software as a service", which you are not. No one is going to pay for your "framework", less of all developers.

  • fhd2 2 months ago

    Sounds like they're aiming for PaaS with a proprietary framework? Works for and others - and if they found a growing niche and are targeting it well... I can picture some of the same techniques that work for B2B SaaS work there.

simne 2 months ago

From my marketing knowledge, IoT is NOW very special thing, You must do widely used hardware to make additional services for it. Or You could stay on shoulders of somebody, who have very successful hardware, but in this case, your business will be depend on them.

I know very few examples of successful IoT businesses, and they all working with model I said: Ring (now Amazon Ring), Ajax (home security).

May it will change in nearest future, but now I know lot of unsuccessful IoT businesses, who tried to use others hardware as foundations.

I'm electronics and software dev with lot of experience, if you wish to talk about hardware, I'm open. Thanks.

dewey 2 months ago

Have you identified your perfect customer and are you in contact with them already? That would be your first step before spending money on advertising and promotion.

  • ArielYang0102 2 months ago

    Haven't got any customer in North America market cuz we based in nonEnglish country. so we think the first thing to do should be let some potential customers notice us

    • dewey 2 months ago

      Judging from the outside it feels like you are falling into the "build and they will come" trap.

      Find out where our customers are, talk to them. You can have the best product, but if it's not solving a pain point for the customer, it's not worth much.

fxtentacle 2 months ago

Maybe start with a Show HN to get some independent feedback?

  • ArielYang0102 2 months ago

    I just did so but didn't receive any comment :(

    • jherdman 2 months ago

      I just checked your comment and submission history but couldn’t find anything.

      • dewey 2 months ago

        It got flagged, that's probably why it doesn't show up.

        • quickthrower2 2 months ago

          I am tempted to vouch it (I am not a mod but have enough karma).

          Before I do have I missed something where it deserved to be flagged?

gandalfgreybeer 2 months ago

It really depends on the what the service is (some might be doomed from the start for some markets), and other factors such as alternatives, competition, etc. People can share cases here but might not be applicable to what you’re doing. Hopefully someone shares something that you’ll find helpful but maybe adding more details can help increase the chances of hitting the mark.

diogopublio 2 months ago

I like using, try making advanced search with keywords similar to your strategy