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Old 10-12-2021, 12:27 PM   #1
rand
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AMA: founding-building-launching a SAS business

Dear BFI,

This seemed like a good time to share some of the twists and turns I've been on going from poker to business. My partner and I recently founded our business and launched our website and mobile app. One of the things that was most important to me was the idea of a process from which I could extract myself (more or else ), and the process would continue to function (unlike poker). This is how I decided on software. Another cool thing about software, you have no cost of goods sold.

website
-serverless architechture

product
-iOS mobile app for poker players

database.
-original work
-took 12 core computer 5.5 months
-all Omaha starting hands ranked (billions of trials)

I think this community will find the business stuff most interesting, but I'd be happy to answer questions about poker, grad school (engineering), and bioinformatics as well.

-rand

Last edited by rand; 10-12-2021 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 10-13-2021, 06:01 PM   #2
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Re: AMA: founding-building-launching a SAS business

Ha, this was a big hit huh?

I'll keep checking this periodically for now. FWIW, I think that the most interesting things that I've learned revolve around people, hiring, contracting, etc.

Another interesting and related point, I used to think that the valuable thing was the idea. But I no longer do. I mean it is important and objectively valuable, but it is so much more about execution. If I had to pick between two projects (all else being equal) I'd pick a strong team over a strong idea any day.
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Old 10-14-2021, 04:53 AM   #3
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Re: AMA: founding-building-launching a SAS business

I just saw this thread, thankfully you bumped it. SaaS businesses are really interesting to me but with no programming experience it's always seemed like a very expensive undertaking.

I assume you or your partner were the developers. How long did it take to build? How much would something like this cost to make if you were to hire someone to do it?

What is your monetization strategy? I can't find anything about subscription costs on the website.

How many downloads have you gotten to date?

I give you tons of credit for getting this off the ground. The site looks great and if I were still playing poker I'd definitely use your service. Omaha seems like the best use case for this.
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Old 10-14-2021, 01:40 PM   #4
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Re: AMA: founding-building-launching a SAS business

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Originally Posted by jwd View Post
I just saw this thread, thankfully you bumped it. SaaS businesses are really interesting to me but with no programming experience it's always seemed like a very expensive undertaking.

I assume you or your partner were the developers. How long did it take to build? How much would something like this cost to make if you were to hire someone to do it?
I generated the data and prototyped it, but wasn't too interested in building the production software (I was in graduate school). Unfortunately, after hiring bad contractors, I got angry and just decided to own it. So yes, I am the developer.

-If you are asking about the data, probably 10s of thousands of dollars (probably not quite 100k).
-If you are asking about the website, thousands of dollars, if not low 10s of tousands.
-If you are asking about the app, I heard a good rule thumb (from a good American dev) is about $1,000 per screen. So ours would have been tens of thousands of dollars (the UI on the odds calculator screen is particularly complicated...).

I have bids on the Android version of the app for about $10k, but that is because I am thinking of letting a shop in India take a shot at milestone development. US based would probably be twice that.

*All in, you can probably bring a relatively simple SAAS product to market for $100k. But I would find it hard to believe that one can really succeed without a technical partner except a good (non-technical) friend of my built MedPreps.

**another thing about this question, testing for this would probably have been in the 10s of thousands of dollars as well. That $1,000 per screen doesn't take into account the complicated functions that we are running to figure out if a hand has a a wrap on a 349T board.

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What is your monetization strategy? I can't find anything about subscription costs on the website.
It is a subscription model. There is a two week free trial at which point you are signed up for whatever subscription you choose.

There is basically Texas, Omaha, or both. And they are like $5 or $10 / month and 20% less for annual billing. As a consumer it seems high, but we are quite confident in our value proposition. If we positively impact one hand a month we have more than paid for the subscription. Also, the data tracking stuff is not trivial. We have a beautiful charts library and built a really simple UI.

Quote:
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How many downloads have you gotten to date?
I haven't looked in a little while. But short of a fat check in our bank account next month, we have 10s or low hundreds of DLs. We have basically plateaued within our social circles and now need to get the word out publicly.

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Originally Posted by jwd View Post
I give you tons of credit for getting this off the ground. The site looks great and if I were still playing poker I'd definitely use your service. Omaha seems like the best use case for this.
Thank you, that is very kind.
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Old 10-18-2021, 11:13 AM   #5
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Re: AMA: founding-building-launching a SAS business

What are your marketing plans in the near future ?
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Old 10-19-2021, 01:25 AM   #6
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Re: AMA: founding-building-launching a SAS business

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What are your marketing plans in the near future ?
The short answer is social media and search. We will spend a little money on all of the major platforms and see what is working.

We were going to get a booth in Vegas for the WSOP, but COVID really killed that.
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Old 10-19-2021, 01:31 AM   #7
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Re: AMA: founding-building-launching a SAS business

I’d also really like to improve our SEO game. We should rank first for “mobile odds calculator” kinds of searches.
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Old 10-19-2021, 03:16 PM   #8
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Re: AMA: founding-building-launching a SAS business

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Originally Posted by rand View Post
I’d also really like to improve our SEO game. We should rank first for “mobile odds calculator” kinds of searches.
Then those kinds of keywords need to be in your hero-H1 as opposed to:



Don't reinvent the wheel with this; stick with what works:



So with your above-the-fold hero section, something along the lines of:



Just starting out it's okay to use your homepage as a landing, squeeze or jump page because initially you're after the low-handing fruit, i.e., those searching for your exact product essentially as a solution to a problem they're aware of. So the idea being that content should be kept to a minimum, with the emphasis on what your product will do for them, social proof, what it is and what you want them to do. I get it's your new baby (and serious congrats for that!) but people just don't care to hear or feel like they're expected to read every little detail before deciding they want it. They'll get to that and jump threw plenty of hoops to find info once the desire for your product arises. Plenty of info/videos on that but think more along the lines of amzn product pages than wiki. Later, you'll want to rank for other keywords such as "GTO calculator," or further up the funnel for "what's GTO?" or even way up to "how to improve at poker." And to do that you'll need multiple landing page iterations whose H1 is inline with those searches, with your homepage becoming more generic and operating in the background for additional info... if/when prospects are looking for it.

All that leads to your traffic sources or where and how to get people into your funnel. The thing to keep in mind here is that orders on magnitude of more people will buy your product than will search for it. So the objective is to figure out where those people are and how to get your product in front of them. One way is to advertise on poker related sites. Another is to create an affiliate program so that poker related and poker product review sites will do the heavy lifting for you. There are plenty of platforms out there and plenty of videos describing, reviewing, comparing and promoting them. One you might want to look at is systeme.io, mainly because it's basically free to get started and fool around with or was the last I looked. But the idea is rather than building up all the components from scratch, those platforms allow you to build the funnel, run an affiliate program, run email campaigns, etc. all in one place, which is great to give you a holistic sense of the entire process without getting bogged down in the weeds. Have fun.
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Old 10-19-2021, 04:57 PM   #9
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Re: AMA: founding-building-launching a SAS business

Quote:
Originally Posted by John21 View Post
Then those kinds of keywords need to be in your hero-H1 as opposed to:



Don't reinvent the wheel with this; stick with what works:



So with your above-the-fold hero section, something along the lines of:



Just starting out it's okay to use your homepage as a landing, squeeze or jump page because initially you're after the low-handing fruit, i.e., those searching for your exact product essentially as a solution to a problem they're aware of. So the idea being that content should be kept to a minimum, with the emphasis on what your product will do for them, social proof, what it is and what you want them to do. I get it's your new baby (and serious congrats for that!) but people just don't care to hear or feel like they're expected to read every little detail before deciding they want it. They'll get to that and jump threw plenty of hoops to find info once the desire for your product arises. Plenty of info/videos on that but think more along the lines of amzn product pages than wiki. Later, you'll want to rank for other keywords such as "GTO calculator," or further up the funnel for "what's GTO?" or even way up to "how to improve at poker." And to do that you'll need multiple landing page iterations whose H1 is inline with those searches, with your homepage becoming more generic and operating in the background for additional info... if/when prospects are looking for it.

All that leads to your traffic sources or where and how to get people into your funnel. The thing to keep in mind here is that orders on magnitude of more people will buy your product than will search for it. So the objective is to figure out where those people are and how to get your product in front of them. One way is to advertise on poker related sites. Another is to create an affiliate program so that poker related and poker product review sites will do the heavy lifting for you. There are plenty of platforms out there and plenty of videos describing, reviewing, comparing and promoting them. One you might want to look at is systeme.io, mainly because it's basically free to get started and fool around with or was the last I looked. But the idea is rather than building up all the components from scratch, those platforms allow you to build the funnel, run an affiliate program, run email campaigns, etc. all in one place, which is great to give you a holistic sense of the entire process without getting bogged down in the weeds. Have fun.
Thanks so much for sharing this. I have done next to no work on the SEO front but completely agree with you about keywords in the H1.

I maybe touched our database page a bit. My main plan there is JSON-LD...I think that we should be able to rank in some niche searches because the PF Omaha stats are valuable and original.

We don't really have any sales funnels yet. We have a bit of a product page. And I have not given much thought to not using our home page as our landing page.

I have been slowed down because we do not currently have a UI or a backend to accept redemption codes. But the more that I learn about our potential channels, the more I think that it would be valuable to us.

These are for my notes as much as anything:
presentCodeRedemptionSheet()
How to set up offer codes on the backend
Promo Code overview

Do you consult? It sounds like you have valuable experience in this arena. Thanks again.
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Old 10-19-2021, 05:30 PM   #10
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Re: AMA: founding-building-launching a SAS business

Quote:
Originally Posted by John21 View Post
Then those kinds of keywords need to be in your hero-H1 as opposed to:



Don't reinvent the wheel with this; stick with what works:



So with your above-the-fold hero section, something along the lines of:



Just starting out it's okay to use your homepage as a landing, squeeze or jump page because initially you're after the low-handing fruit, i.e., those searching for your exact product essentially as a solution to a problem they're aware of. So the idea being that content should be kept to a minimum, with the emphasis on what your product will do for them, social proof, what it is and what you want them to do. I get it's your new baby (and serious congrats for that!) but people just don't care to hear or feel like they're expected to read every little detail before deciding they want it. They'll get to that and jump threw plenty of hoops to find info once the desire for your product arises. Plenty of info/videos on that but think more along the lines of amzn product pages than wiki. Later, you'll want to rank for other keywords such as "GTO calculator," or further up the funnel for "what's GTO?" or even way up to "how to improve at poker." And to do that you'll need multiple landing page iterations whose H1 is inline with those searches, with your homepage becoming more generic and operating in the background for additional info... if/when prospects are looking for it.

All that leads to your traffic sources or where and how to get people into your funnel. The thing to keep in mind here is that orders on magnitude of more people will buy your product than will search for it. So the objective is to figure out where those people are and how to get your product in front of them. One way is to advertise on poker related sites. Another is to create an affiliate program so that poker related and poker product review sites will do the heavy lifting for you. There are plenty of platforms out there and plenty of videos describing, reviewing, comparing and promoting them. One you might want to look at is systeme.io, mainly because it's basically free to get started and fool around with or was the last I looked. But the idea is rather than building up all the components from scratch, those platforms allow you to build the funnel, run an affiliate program, run email campaigns, etc. all in one place, which is great to give you a holistic sense of the entire process without getting bogged down in the weeds. Have fun.
Again, for my notes to some degree:
1. social proof on landing / product page is somewhere between valuable and reasoanble
2. consider additional landing page with: content should be kept to a minimum, with the emphasis on what your product will do for them (more along the lines of amzn product pages than wiki)
3. multiple landing page iterations whose H1 is inline with those searches, with your homepage becoming more generic and operating in the background for additional info... if/when prospects are looking for it.
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Old 10-19-2021, 05:34 PM   #11
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Re: AMA: founding-building-launching a SAS business

Quote:
Originally Posted by John21 View Post
Then those kinds of keywords need to be in your hero-H1 as opposed to:



Don't reinvent the wheel with this; stick with what works:



So with your above-the-fold hero section, something along the lines of:



Just starting out it's okay to use your homepage as a landing, squeeze or jump page because initially you're after the low-handing fruit, i.e., those searching for your exact product essentially as a solution to a problem they're aware of. So the idea being that content should be kept to a minimum, with the emphasis on what your product will do for them, social proof, what it is and what you want them to do. I get it's your new baby (and serious congrats for that!) but people just don't care to hear or feel like they're expected to read every little detail before deciding they want it. They'll get to that and jump threw plenty of hoops to find info once the desire for your product arises. Plenty of info/videos on that but think more along the lines of amzn product pages than wiki. Later, you'll want to rank for other keywords such as "GTO calculator," or further up the funnel for "what's GTO?" or even way up to "how to improve at poker." And to do that you'll need multiple landing page iterations whose H1 is inline with those searches, with your homepage becoming more generic and operating in the background for additional info... if/when prospects are looking for it.

All that leads to your traffic sources or where and how to get people into your funnel. The thing to keep in mind here is that orders on magnitude of more people will buy your product than will search for it. So the objective is to figure out where those people are and how to get your product in front of them. One way is to advertise on poker related sites. Another is to create an affiliate program so that poker related and poker product review sites will do the heavy lifting for you. There are plenty of platforms out there and plenty of videos describing, reviewing, comparing and promoting them. One you might want to look at is systeme.io, mainly because it's basically free to get started and fool around with or was the last I looked. But the idea is rather than building up all the components from scratch, those platforms allow you to build the funnel, run an affiliate program, run email campaigns, etc. all in one place, which is great to give you a holistic sense of the entire process without getting bogged down in the weeds. Have fun.
What do you think about funneling directly to the iOS product page, in what cases would that be appropriate?

Our home uses JavaScript to determine what button the user sees (iOS link if on iOS, Droid-signup if on droid, or both if on PC).

Also, while I am on the reverse AMA train, any good SEO consulting firms that you would recommend?
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Old 10-20-2021, 06:40 PM   #12
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Re: AMA: founding-building-launching a SAS business

Who are your main competitors?
What does your product offer that your competitors don't?

What are you goals with this project? ie: sole source of income or side project

What have you done to receive feedback on your product's functionality and UI/UX?

What do you do for software testing? - manual QA, unit tests, integration testing or all 3?
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Old 10-20-2021, 10:28 PM   #13
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Re: AMA: founding-building-launching a SAS business

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Who are your main competitors?
PokerIncomePro (which inspired us to do better...) and Galfond's "Vision" or whatever it is are probably our main competitors.

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Originally Posted by dylance View Post
What does your product offer that your competitors don't?
1. The main thing that we offer that our competitors do not is the ability to do range based odds calculations on software built specifically for mobile (and therefore live play).

2. Another thing that we offer that our competitors do not is the ability to track and visualize your sessions in any of the world's major currencies (including Bitcoin).

3. And finally, we offer a really unique and sophisticated set of charts and filters with which the user may visualize their sessions. Most notably this includes an equity curve, a probability mass function, a scatter plot, and a pie chart describing different dimensions of session data. You can see this under the "Reports" tab here.

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What are you goals with this project? ie: sole source of income or side project
1. We are the market, and we built this because we wanted it. So one of our goals was to be able to use it.

2. I originally wanted to automate Contract to Close (think real estate). But decided the scope of the project was not wise for my first. So another goal was to succeed, to ship it, to finish, to close etc. We are not quite done (and in a sense never will be), but we have reached some very significant milestones about which we are proud.

3. We are a for profit business, but are not willing to profit at our user's expense. I believe in our value proposition, we are a very sophisticated and specialized set of tools. You would need both of the competitors I listed above to even come close to providing the value that we do, and we are an order of magnitude cheaper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dylance View Post
What have you done to receive feedback on your product's functionality and UI/UX?
We did some iterative testing through Apple's TestFlight program (which is actually really cool).

Quote:
Originally Posted by dylance View Post
What do you do for software testing? - manual QA, unit tests, integration testing or all 3?
We did both the above and quite a lot of internal testing. I'd say that if you know what a unit test is...that our testing was closer to manual from your perspective.
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