benefits of saas model
Project Ignite Podcast by Derek Gehl How To Develop And Launch Your Own Software-As-A-Service (SAAS) Business - With Gabe Alves
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  • Episode  99
  • Gabe Alves


Discover the lucrative SAAS Business Module and how you can produce and launch your own software as a service product. In this episode Derek interviews Gabe Alves about his SAAS business and what it really took to get it up and running.

Transcription Episode 99: How To Develop And Launch Your Own Software-As-A-Service (SAAS) Business – With Gabe Alves

Welcome to the Project Ignite podcast, a podcast designed to skip all the hype, skip all the BS and just give you guys real actual tips and strategies to help you grow your online business.

This is your host Derek Gehl and today we’re gonna dive into, well, what it takes to really bootstrap and launch your very own piece of software. Actually more specifically a SAAS solution and for those of you unfamiliar with the term that stands for, “software as a service.” Which, if you’ve used the internet these days and you’ve subscribed to any kind of piece of software, well, that’s what that is. That’s a SAAS solution.

This episode excites me because SAAS businesses are probably one of the most valuable businesses you can start these days.They definitely take a little bit of run-up and time to get them going. But once they’re running they can be really, really profitable.

One of the reasons I love these business models is because they’re one of the most valuable business models from an exit standpoint. Whenever you’re selling a business it’s value based on a multiple. SAAS businesses get one of the highest multiples so you hear 5, 10, 15 times revenue type thing for these types of businesses.

The second reason this episode excites me is because the person that we’re going to be learning from today is someone who’s spent really the last few years building and launching their very first SAAS product. He’s done it on his own, no outside investment, no big marketing budgets. His business is now well over his first year into it.

It’s growing like crazy. It’s a very cool tool. I love interviewing entrepreneurs that have done it on their own. Have bootstrapped this, have built it, have overcome the odds and we can learn so much from them. So without further ado I’d like to welcome the founder of a cool SAAS solution called TrackMySubs. All the way from Perth, Australia, which is the most isolated city in the world, I’d like to welcome Gabe Alves.

Gabe, thanks so much for being here today.
Thanks Derek. It’s really good to be here.
Awesome. Give us the rundown, give us your background. I always like to start this with the interviews, how did you end up on this journey, how did you come up with the idea, what’s your background? Give us the Coles Notes version
Yeah sure. By accident is the short version. I’ve spent the last 20 years in IT from working desktop to port, that sort of thing. I finished up working on large resource projects as the IT manager. My last job was a major oil and gas project. I had a team of 35 people, a budget of $50 million. It was crazy. From a career perspective it was fantastic.That was my life.

I guess where this came about was my wife runs a graphic dot dot design business. She’d been running it from home for say the last 10 years and we had this crazy idea that we wanted to automate some of her stuff with all these new cool tools and apps that come up. So we’re going back two and a half years now.

We had this idea of, what if we could get her clients to just fill an online form that then we could just automatically create a work order from that form, put it into our project management tool, and we’re using Redbooth. And then assign it to one of our graphic designers that contracts to us and if we could do this automatically.

There was so much time and effort involved in just getting the scope together and getting all the images and all these sorts of things. We thought, “Maybe we could automate this.” So we started it and through this process we started signing up to all these apps and all these tools and form builders and WordPress this and WordPress that. You can see where this is going, right?

I remember thinking to myself that, “I’m signing up to so many things here, I’m going to lose track of it.” It’s just going to happen, I could just see it happening. But as we all do it was like, “Yeah, but that’s all right. I’ll deal with it later. I’m going to just focus on doing this and doesn’t matter. I’ll throw it into a spreadsheet or something,” which I never did.

There was a particular subscription to Dropbox that was the trigger for all of this. We had signed up into December of 2015 with this. We needed it to attach the files, to hook it into Redbooth and it was the enterprise plan or business plan and it was the only one that had the features that we needed. So we thought, “Yep, no worries.” And then we got distracted. But in January of 2016 $850 came off the credit card and we were signed up for a year. I was just like, excuse my French, but, “Shit. There’s 850 bucks I really didn’t need to spend right there.” It sucks that you need a trigger. I’ve often wondered, why does shit have to go bad for you actually to sort stuff out?

Because we’re human.
Yeah. That was the point where I thought, “You know what?” I was thinking about this earlier. A few months back I was thinking like, “There’s got to be a better way.” That was the trigger point where I went, “Well, let me start looking online for starters. There’s got to be an app for that, there’s got to someone out there who’s already done this or had this problem because there’s an app for everything.”

Sure enough there were a few apps out there that did the job. There was probably four that I picked up. There was one called Trim, another one called Truebill. These were apps that you would connect to your bank account and it would trawl through every transactions and it would say, “Here’s your subscriptions and things that you’re paying for.” My first reaction to that was, “Well I actually know what I’m subscribed to.

“I don’t need to give you all my access to my bank details and all my transactions so you can data mine it for whatever purposes.” I actually just need a tool that’s better than a spreadsheet for sticking all this stuff in to and set myself some reminders.

Then there were a couple of other apps that were IOS or Android-based. One was called “SubscriptMe”, there’s another one called I think BillyApp. Billy or Bobby or something like that. They were just on your phone. Really good for putting in your Netflix account or something like that.

One of these apps had a feature around where it’ll go through your phone and pick up any apps you had installed and then load them up as subscriptions and then it would pull some data in and off it goes. I thought, “Well that’s pretty cool.” So I tried that. But the problem is that it loaded in information that was incorrect.

So for example it pulled in LinkedIn and said, “You subscribed at $70 per month.” As I was going through it I’m like, “Well no, this is wrong.” So I had to fix that. I went to another one, “This is wrong.” It just pissed me off. I was like, “I didn’t sign up to this app to get it going to then have to spend half my time correcting it.” I thought, “Well, I just want something I’m going to put in myself.”

We came to the point where, I’m not a software developer, I’ve never been a software developer. I have zero experience in that. So there was a young guy who’s a consultant that worked for me in my day job. His son was at uni and he was into his third year in software development. I was chatting to him about it and he said, “My son might be interested in doing some work for you or helping you out.” So we had a chat and yeah, we decided to give it a go.

He would do all the development and I’d give him the direction and I’d fund it and we’d just give this a crack. That was in February of 2016 we started and three months later we hired another student because we just had more work and we just didn’t have the time. The guys were at uni and in August of 2016 we had an app that we put online and yeah, it turned on. It was great.

Just to be clear though, because I think there’s always an assumption that if you’re going to launch a piece of software you need to be a developer or programmer. You said you have an IT background but not in development?
Yeah, not in development. My experience that’s helped me here is more about managing people and managing technical people. But I have zero experience in software. I came from an infrastructure background and all of my experience was managing infrastructure. I’m managing people, I don’t even know the tech. I don’t understand it at all.

I mean I can get on a whiteboard and thrash it out, I can understand how it flows and how it all goes together. But I am 100% dependent on my developers which is a really interesting place to be.

The other thing that I found interesting there, and I think it’s a big one to pick up for the listeners. You didn’t go out and hire some crack shot programmer with years of experience. There’s a perception that, “Oh, I want to build software,” a common path is go out there, get VC money or bootstrap or you get big loans, go out there, hire expensive programmers and stuff. You literally took a kid out of uni on a part-time project to build this one?
And you bootstrapped it and paid this guy to put the first version together.
Yeah basically. So I just paid him an hourly rate. He was cleaning boats as his job. He was studying software development and he didn’t have any software development work. I mean for him it was great.It was like, “I can get this experience doing what I’m studying and get paid for it.”

He was fantastic, an absolute superstar. Unfortunately he’s not with me anymore, he’s moved on to other things. But he was the key to this thing getting off the ground.

That’s amazing. I think back to, I don’t know, let’s go back 15 years plus. We didn’t have the same amount of programming talent in existence period. To find somebody that you could hire to do something like that, programmers were in so much demand the minute they had any skills they were snapped up and hired right?

We’ve got so much talent out there that you can do that. And I love the fact that you were able to launch this company effectively starting with a university student. That’s huge.

Yeah. And still, my guys now, they’re all uni students. I found them, an absolutely amazing resource of talent. And it comes down to hiring people. I’ve always done it on gut feel and attitude and there’s so many other things that come round rather than just hardcore talent and it makes all the difference.
So here’s a question that I think a lot of people want to hear the answer to. Is communicating with these technical people when you’re not the tech person, you don’t have that … I mean you don’t know how to create yourself right?
So how do you communicate effectively with these guys so they deliver what you’re looking for? I mean what’s your secret there?
I just focus on the outcome. I know what I want it to look like, I know what the function needs to be and I need to really understand that. That’s the piece I communicate. I don’t really mind how you deliver it. I expect you to do it the best way that you know how and I know that that’s going to evolve over time. But the outcome that I want has to be this and I’m just rock solid on that.
Do you give them almost like a UI mockup? Are you at that level? So they’re like, “Okay, when they click this button this happens.” So they’re just building functionality to a front end that’s already been defined?
Yep, absolutely. This is where having a wife as a graphic designer really comes in handy.
Yes, yes it does.
Literally we’ll do the mockups and my wife Belinda, she will get it exactly the way she wants it. I mean she’s quite particular about certain things and we’ll just get it all up. I can hand that to the developer and say, “I want the front to look like that.” They just go, “This is amazing, I don’t even have to think about it. I just can build the functionality in, make it work.”
I think that’s a bit takeaway for everybody who’s listening. When you are working with technical people, because I’ve been down this road myself. If you just sit there and try and explain to them what you want and verbalize that the likelihood of them translating that into what you had envisioned in your head is slim to none. By actually creating what you want it to look like.

Now you have the advantage of having a spouse that’s also a graphics designer, which is great. But if you can at least give them … Draw it on a piece of paper. You’re going to get so much closer to that result that you were looking for. You’ve been through this, you’ve hired these guys, you’ve never done software development. Looking back on this now that you’re this far into it what would you have done differently?

There’s probably two things I would have done differently. One would be listen to what my friends and family say and I guess my very first customers. Listen to what they say and believe them. I’m thinking around the design.

One of the issues I had was, the first design I came up with, I’ll be honest right? It was crap. It looked horrible. Because it was my baby though and it was something that had come out of my head I’m thinking, “This is amazing, it’s fine. I don’t see what the big deal is.” It’s just knowing that when you do hear some stuff over again you’ve got to take it on board. That’s one thing I wish I’d done earlier. It took me five months to get someone to redo my UI. I don’t know where I’d gone through but certainly when I look back on it now I kind of cringe.

In fact I’ve done a few presentations lately for the startup community here in Perth and I showed my first theme for a segway. You can see the audience just go, “Oh my God, it’s horrible.” Like, “You put that up?” I guess the second thing that I’ll do differently is I wouldn’t try to make it so perfect. I’d just get it up.

This is hard for me coming from a technical background and wanting things to always be working precisely and 100% and all the bugs fixed and all that sort of stuff. No matter what I do, and it just actually doesn’t matter. Getting it up there and getting feedback and to be able to make those changes is so much better. If you wait to be perfect well you’ll never get any product up. That’s one thing I realize now, that we do a new feature, we get it 90% of the way there so the common stuff that I know is going to be sorted. And I let my customers find out and tell us about it. It’s so much quicker

saas business model

Totally. I think that’s become a more common process to. Development process or whatever you want to call it is going for that minimum viable product. Just putting something together and getting it out there and then letting people use it and then going from there

I see too often that people get into the, in the software world and any product world. Trying to develop the product that’s going to be the ultimate perfect product and it never gets launched. You put all this time and effort into where you think the value is only to find out that’s not really what the people are even focused on.

It doesn’t make sense to be trying to keep every single one of your customers happy and if they don’t like your product I think it’s … And it’s taken me a little while to learn this. It actually doesn’t matter, and that’s feedback. I think even having someone walk away and not tell you anything or give you any feedback whatsoever is still really good feedback because you know they weren’t your customer.

If you know who they were, even if you don’t know who they were you can look at the people who do stick around and find out that they’re your customer. So it’s all good information

Absolutely. I mean it’s all funny though. When you first start off in business it’s hard not to take it personally. I mean when you have a customer and somebody says either something negative or they leave, I mean you do. You take it personally. You put all this blood, sweat and tears into this and then they kind of snap at you. I think that’s a pretty valuable lesson is, one of the key things you said there is talk to the people that do stay right? Why are they staying?
And then ask them what you can do better for sure.

Let’s shift gears now, let’s talk a little bit about marketing. You got the software off the ground, you’ve developed your minimum viable product if you will. Now, in the world of software I’ve seen so many good programs that are developed but they never fly because let’s face it, the majority of programmers are not marketers. They just never get it off the ground.

You’ve gotten it off the ground though. So let’s talk a little bit about that. Walk us through your journey of marketing. How did you get the first customer and then the first hundred customers and then the first thousand customers?

This is probably my first lesson, you put the imaginary thought in my head. When I started I had no idea of the online space. I mean I’d been in tech for so long but not in the online space. Now I had this preconceived notion that if I just put an app up there and a website the world would just find it, come to it and buy it and my job was done. I just had to make sure the product was good. As you know Derek, that’s the furthest from the truth?
Yes, that’s a tough one. That won’t work.
So I had my amazing launch to crickets if you will where I put it up there and I, “Oh, no-one’s even visiting my site. No-one’s even seeing it.” And so as I do with everything you jump on Google and you start searching. “How do I get traffic to my site?” You start, I guess just start researching and that was how my journey started. But it really started after I had a product up.

I tried different things, I signed up to different products and landing page products and looked at paid ads and Google ads and Facebook and stuff like that. I really was just floundering in the dark and going, “You know what? I’m spending some money here and I’m getting absolutely nothing. I don’t really know what I’m doing.” I just did not have a clue.

I guess that’s where towards the end of 2016, after doing this for four or five months I was chatting to my brother who had actually seen you Derek.

And said, “Gabe, you know you should really go and get some help for this. Maybe pay someone, get in a course or do something or other.” I guess that’s where I started learning about marketing because I signed up on your program Derek. And then I started going through your course and went, “Holy shit, that’s why nothing works. There’s just so much here I have no idea about and that … No wonder nothing worked.”

You can search all you like and try and put pieces together and eventually you’ll probably do it. Man, I think the advantage of having your course there Derek was just my learning curve went up huge. That was really the turning point for my marketing anyway.

That’s great to hear. Don’t feel bad, I can’t count how many times I’ve seen entrepreneurs launch a product, put it up on a website and then face the dreaded crickets. I mean at the end of the day what I’ve learned is it’s not the greatest product that wins in any market. It’s the product that’s the best marketed that typically wins. That’s why the marketing is so important. That being said, marketing too … And I think, tell me if you’ve found this, but I think marketing, once you get into the marketing it really drives the product creation too.

how you can produce and launch your own software

Well it does 100% because you’re communicating the message of what the solution is to a problem right?
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Your whole marketing is geared around your ideal customer and what that looks like and what their problems look like and how are you going to help them solve their problem? As part of that marketing research to understand that you understand the problem better, which should feed back to the product to then modify and tweak that product to better solve that problem.

It’s like this feedback where they both have to work very closely together to think that you’ve got a standalone product and the marketing just goes and sells it. It’s crap, it’s just not going to work.

That’s right. And a lesson for everybody listening to take away here is when you’re developing the product the marketing process should be being defined at the same time. Because those need to be entirely in-sync or what happens in many cases, and I think it didn’t affect you too badly but I’ve seen it happen in too many cases. The product goes in one direction and then once the marketing starts to happen you figure out that, “Oh, the product has to change and evolve to actually deliver to what the market wants.”

One of the interesting things that I kind of remember a process of you going through was actually figuring out who your target market was. I mean your product basically came from you found a problem and it frustrated you and so you decided to create a solution to that. Let me ask you.

When you first decided to come up with this product who did you think your customer was going to be versus who is your customer now?

Maybe I can add to that too is, here’s another lesson learned Derek. I’ve built this to solve a specific problem for me and the problem was very niche in us subscribing to a lot of products in the online space to create another online product.

My first mistake was, “Hang on a minute, the world is filled with subscription. Everyone signs up to Netflix and Amazon and everything else. Everybody needs this product.” And my first mistake was to go, “This product is for everybody,” which, completely and utterly wrong because up until the point I had that particular problem, well I had subscriptions to Netflix and other things too and I never needed this product.

It took an $850 mistake to realize the importance, yeah.
Exactly. It took me a little while to refocus that again because I guess it’s through excitement. “Hey, this is it.” And you get so focused on your own solution rather than the problem that you’re solving that you think that everyone needs it. Pairing that back has been quite a process.

I think I’m still doing that to a certain extent. But I think my key niche now as we were talking about earlier Derek is really that web professional, the person who uses in the online space, they sign up to all sorts of different tools and plugins and hosting and just so many that add up that it’s a natural fit for them. Which was exactly where I was with my wife developing this platform that we were developing. What’s interesting is how it’s evolving.

Our problem that we were solving was for ourselves but I’m finding a lot of my customers now are coming on who they’re more the agencies or the web developers who are doing work for others. In that sense they’re building websites for other people and so they’re managing all the subscriptions for other people and they’re just on-billing. So the tool’s becoming I guess more of a business tool for managing so many subscriptions for people’s clients as well.

It is a fascinating evolution. I think for everybody listening there’s a lot to take away from that. I mean it was the typical, everybody’s going to want this. That’s normal, I’ve seen a lot of people start. Everybody needs this. Here’s the thing, you can say, “Everybody needs this these days,” and you’re right. But it doesn’t matter because they don’t want it. I mean that’s the kicker. We’re all moving into this subscription economy but for the average person, so they forgot to cancel Netflix, that’s $8 or $10. They don’t care.
Well the problem isn’t big enough.
It’s not big enough right? And so through this process you’ve discovered that your market is digital entrepreneurs.” Because we have a million subscriptions that we’re trying to track, you name it. I mean the average even simple I think digital entrepreneur these days has dozens of subscriptions that you’re trying to track.

What I found fascinating as you’re saying, it’s now niched down even further and the real clients that are going to get the maximum value out of this aren’t just single-soul entrepreneurs. It’s the guys that are managing this for multiple people and multiple subscriptions. And so it’s a really interesting process as you begin to niche down. I think one of the things though that scares a lot of people starting out is the, “Well is that market going to be big enough?”

The reality is that now that you can sit in the most isolated city in the world and provide this service to people globally, that market is enormous. A perfect example is the gentlemen over at … I’m not sure if you’re familiar with, huge company, they run Traffic and Conversion Summit. They launched their digital marketing training program, stuff like that. They used to focus on training programs for everybody doing business online but again, they’ve paired down and now they’re focused entirely on digital marketing agencies. And you think, “Well how many could there be?” But globally there’s hundreds of thousands of them now. When I look at that and then I hear about who your client is, I mean that’s who you’re going after as well.

It’s a massive market on its own. And here’s the beauty of it, I mean where I see you being able to take this platform from a value and pricing standpoint, when you can deliver a product to businesses you immediately shift what you can charge for that product as well. It’s no longer six or $7 a month.

When you are managing potentially hundreds of subscriptions, now it’s much more valuable. And the other side, and I’m kind of rattling on here, but the other thing that I love about the program that you’re creating here is once somebody has taken the time to onboard and actually integrate into their business. They’re now a customer for life because it’s so sticky. Moving away from that is painful and I guess one of the things for everybody listening, one of the real secret sauces in a business like this or in any business that’s subscription-based is you want to create a product like Gabe has that’s super-sticky.

What that means is that once somebody’s using it the pain of leaving it outweighs the cost so they will now become a customer for life. A lot of people think in terms of subscriptions like the Netflix of the world where they have to keep investing and building value so people want to keep coming back.

The real hook and the real value in a subscription model like this is creating a product that giving it up is massive inconvenience, pain, loss or very hard to migrate somewhere else. That’s the real value behind this. I mean that’s what you’re building here Gabe, which is awesome.

I’m glad you brought in the stickiness thing because it’s something I’ve done quite a bit of research into, particularly in my own product. One of the things that I do get from customers is it’s too hard to set up because I’ve got to do it. Don’t you just know what I’m subscribed to? You wouldn’t believe the number of times people go, “Can’t you just add in my subscriptions for me?” I had had the discussion. I said, “Okay,” with one particular person. They said, “Well can’t you just add them all in?” I said, “Well you’ve just given me your email address. Wouldn’t you find it a little bit scary that I knew everything that you subscribed to by just having my email address?” And he looked at me and he says, “Actually no, I wouldn’t care.” Well you’re the exception.
But interestingly, it’s something that I’ve stayed away from. The connecting to the bank accounts and all those things to try to automate this process. Because one of the biggest value points in my product is the people who actually spend the time to go and find all their subscriptions. There’s two things that happened. One is what you’re talking about, they invest the time in the product so it becomes sticky. But the second thing is, is everybody finds a product that they subscribed to that they don’t need anymore and they cancel it.

So straight off the bat the process of them signing up and adding their subscriptions in, they almost always save money. And then they’ll send me a note and go, “Just the way of doing it, I’ve saved some money. Thanks so much.” It was like, “Well you did the work.” But there’s such a value point that-

You’re welcome.
Yeah. That’s something that’s, is so important to the product. It also speaks to the type of person as well. Someone who just says, “I just want to sign up to a product and have you do all the work for me.” If it takes them five seconds of effort, well it’s going to take them five seconds of effort to leave and they’re not really there to solve. They just want someone to do the work for them. And that’s not in my target audience. It’s a very interesting thing.
It absolutely is. You know the other thing I love about what you’ve done, and we were kind of talking about this beforehand as well. Is you’ve kept it focused, like you were saying, you haven’t tried to make it integrated into all sorts of accounts and stuff like that. You’ve focused on doing one thing really well. You haven’t overcomplicated it and you know, it’s funny, when I look around the industry these days at the companies that are … Software companies and SAAS solutions that are really doing well it’s the ones that are doing one thing well. You know a perfect example I think is … That comes to mind because I was just using it yesterday is BufferApp right?
Yeah, I use that.
There’s so many social media management tools that do a million different things. Buffer has stayed true to, “We are a scheduling solution. We’re not doing any of all this other stuff that Hoot Suites and all this other stuff do.” The few times I leave Buffer and I go look at all these other ones and I’m like, “Oh yeah, they got less functionality.” But I find it so overwhelming, there’s so much crap I don’t need and it’s so difficult and the learning curve is huge so I just go back to Buffer.

I think there’s a tendency to try and layer on features and expand in functionality but at the same time sacrificing usability. The stuff that really was the secret to the success of growing it and onboarding people. I think that’s a big lesson for anybody that’s listening to this and thinking about developing in that direction.

Okay, so you’ve built it. What are your primary marketing strategies at this point in time?

Well right at the moment I think one of my most successful marketing strategies at the moment is SEO. Just getting those articles written, get it out there. I get some good traffic just from Google Search. But one of the ones that’s working for me quite well at the moment, it’s Quora and it’s Quora paid ads as opposed to going on there and commenting and linking back and that sort of stuff. The Quora paid ads platform is fairly new. I think it’s only probably been around for the last … Correct me if I’m wrong here Derek, maybe 12 months. I doubt it’d be around longer than that.
It is really new, yes.
The ability to write a question that’s relevant to what everyone else is asking questions about, it’s so powerful. It’s almost like when you’re searching Google you’re looking for something. You’re asking a question, you’re looking for that answer. Well this is a way that you can ask a similar question to a whole bunch of other people’s questions that, it just seems to work. For me, my cost of acquisition costs are the lowest of any paid platform at the moment using Quora. They’ve been very, very effective
That’s awesome and I think everybody listening, take note here. I mean honestly, Quora’s ad platform is new. Before they had their app platform I always looked at Quora, I’m like, “How?” I so wish that we could advertise on here and target our ads and stuff to specific questions. Because if you know if somebody’s asked a specific question you know exactly what they’re looking for, the people that are answering are the people that are reading that, you know exactly what they’re looking for. So you should be able to really laser-target your ads. Particularly when you’re providing a solution like you are, which is fantastic.
And what’s very cool about it is you can target specific questions to have it show up again. If you start typing in a question through the actual ad platform itself it’ll give you a list of all the similar types of questions that people have actually asked. And I’m pretty sure it actually tells you the amount of views and that sort of thing associated with that question.

So you can go, “Well hang on a minute, these are three questions here that are so relevant to what I’m marketing to and there’s hundreds if not thousands of people viewing the question and answer.” And then you can go, “Well they’re the ones I want to target because that’s 100% …” And there’s traffic going to it, looking at these questions. So yeah, very powerful.

It’s an amazing platform. And honestly, you’re probably one of the first people I’ve talked to that’s actually actively using it. I’m now writing down, I’m putting on my to-do list I’ve got to spend some more time in there.

All right, now as we start to wrap up here, and I mean I could talk all day about this stuff. I love this kind of stuff. As we start to wrap it up, I mean you’re still product is still in its infancy really. But you’ve made it over that initial hump right? You’re growing, you figured out your market, the software’s launched. What are your next steps, what are your plans for this? Where do you see it growing?

I think it’s definitely into the agency niche. I see that really being more of a focus because there’s such a higher value there and the problem is worth so much more. One of the challenges with this product is because it’s such a low-value product you obviously need so many customers to make the cash to keep it afloat. So if there’s opportunities to discover a problem and solving it’s a much higher value to the customer you can charge more. So that’s something we’re now looking at the moment, is re-jigging our pricing and adding some features that are much more targeted at that agency. More like the multiple logins and the business reporting and those sort of things that can really add value there. There’s also another section that we are looking at and it’s around using the data and our database to provide information back to our customers.

One of the things about being in this subscription economy is that it’s very leveraged to the company selling subscriptions. The amount of money being invested to reduce churn as we talked about; the stickiness and psychology and all this sort of stuff, it’s all geared to taking money from the customer. I feel personally that this whole economy’s a little bit unbalanced in that sense. That people who are the subscribers, they don’t really have the tools to take advantage as much as they can.

What I’m looking to do is to be able to use the data in our database to provide that information back to the customer so they can become almost a bit of a research tool. For example if you were looking to get another Autoresponder, Getresponse or campaign monitor or something like that.

If you’re thinking about buying one you could go into the TrackMySubs platform and look up Autoresponder and it will give you say the list of the top 20 auto responders in the database. It’ll tell you what the customers rank it, what do they pay on average, all the data that we’ve got to feed it back to you

It’s a very honest, truthful database. It’s not people paying for recommendations, all that type of stuff. This is based on real data and real people. I want to evolve that tool into almost being that support tool. So yes, it’s great, it looks after all your subscriptions. But it’s also a place that I can find out more information about my subscription and if I want to do it. That’s kind of the area I’m looking. That once we start looking into that data, that kind of explodes into a million different directions.

But I’m really looking to just try and provide that value back to the customer to give them that tool in this new subscription economy that we’re in.

You know that’s fascinating what you’re talking about there. I mean that’s one of the neat parts if you will of running and building a solution where you have thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people or in some cases millions of people all using a platform and populating it with their data. Being able to use that information, to make decisions, to drive value to the community, I mean that’s really the whole model behind the Facebooks of the world right? There’s so many different directions you could go with that.

All right, so final question for you. You said you started this in 2016, we’re now about what, two years in, just over two years in correct?

So for everybody that’s sitting on the sidelines right now, maybe sitting on an idea, maybe a software idea, SAAS idea, not sure where to start, what to do. What would be your words of advice to them going forward?
Start. Just do something and you won’t know what to do. But just try something, speak to someone, get someone to try it. Don’t be afraid of it all stuffing up or hiring the wrong person. Obviously keep your budget as conservative as possible so your mistakes are as least costly as possible. But you’re never going to find out how to do this stuff until you actually do it.

There’s this whole marketing world, this whole software development world, I knew nothing about it when I decided to give it a go. And there’s something nice about not knowing. If you kind of know how it’s all going to go you might not do it if you know all the pitfalls and how hard it’s going to be.

The words are so true. That is so true, yeah.
It’s kind of that if you’re not going to know that those cliffs you’re going to fall off then you’re okay. You’ll still fall off them but you’ll pick yourself up and you’ll keep going. But I think the most important thing is just doing it. Just going, “You know what? I’m going to give this a crack.” And just do it. You will find out how to do it and just have that attitude of, “Whenever I come up to stuff I don’t know it’s just well, I’m going to find out how.” Because the information’s out there whether you talk to someone or search for it, you can find a way.
That’s so true. And I mean, this doesn’t just apply to software. This applies to just anything as far as becoming an entrepreneur. Don’t be afraid to try stuff, don’t be afraid to fail right?

saas development tools

That’s probably, and I talk about this all the time, probably one of the biggest reasons I see people joining my courses. They never get off the ground because they’re too afraid to just try something, try anything. Really it comes down to, “Well what if it doesn’t work?” That’s always my question. Well what if it doesn’t work? What’s the worst that’s going to happen? But the trick is, and you said it, is not to fail big. Try it fast, budget, try things small, fail small.

That’s something I always teach people. We want to test fast, we want to test small. That way if we fail we fail fast, we fail small, we learn from it, we move on. And when you adopt that mindset and that’s obviously the mindset you have, you’re going to get there eventually. It just takes some time.

It’s just going to take some time. What I mentioned before, what led me to TrackMySubs was something that failed miserably. It never worked. There was a whole variety of reasons why it never worked but it opened the door to something else. The way to approach it is you’ve got to start to try something that even if that’s not it or leads to something else which will lead to something else. And eventually it’ll lead to something that does work but you’ll never get there unless you start at the beginning. It’s just how it works. If you don’t it’s guaranteed you won’t get there.
Yeah, exactly. And that’s so true. What you start today, chances are and in fact if I look across most of my students and customers and people that I help build businesses, where they end up is not what they started. But what they started put them on the path to where they are and had they never gone down that road they would have never ended up where they currently are today.
Yep, 100%.
There’s so much value in what you just said there. So for everybody listening that’s sitting on the edge right now going, “Oh, I don’t know, I don’t know,” just do something. Start building. That will open doors. Now Gabe, one thing I didn’t ask. We’ve been saying the name of it but if people want to learn more about your service, your software, where do they go? Just jump on there. Everything’s there if you want to reach out and connect with me. I’m on LinkedIn but you can also do it through the website as well. I’m always looking to talk to people. In fact it’s something I do every week, is I try to talk to my customers or anyone who just wants to talk to me. I set up a Zoom call and have a chat with them. So if it’s something you want to reach out and connect with me you’re more than welcome.
Awesome. I’m going to give a little plug to your platform here because chances are if you’re listening to this podcast you’re in the digital entrepreneur space, you’ve probably got subscriptions and you need to check out the platform. I know that you have a free account to get people started, you can track up to 10 subscriptions.

I would totally suggest you go check that out and start setting your subscriptions up in there. Because I’ve done it, I know Gabe’s done it, that’s why he started this platform. The amount of money I probably lose in any given year because I forget to actually cancel subscriptions that I’m not using is … I don’t even really want to know what the number is because it’s probably terrible.

You’re not using TrackMySubs Derek. What’s going on?
Yes. I will be using TrackMySubs very shortly. All right Gabe. I want to thank you so much for being here on the show today and just unconditionally sharing your journey. I wish you all the best and thanks again for being here.
Thanks very much Derek. I do want to make the point that it was your course and your assistance and help that really helped to turn the corner on this project. So yeah, sincerely, thanks very much. Your course has been fantastic.
I’m honored to have been a part of it and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
Awesome. Thanks Derek.
Awesome. All right everybody, that was Gabe Alves and his website is TrackMySubs. As I said you should definitely go check that out. Of course any links, stuff we mentioned in the interview, we will include those in the show notes and you’ll find those all on

So now it’s time to take the tips, the tools, the strategies that you learned today and apply the ingredients that is actually going to make them work for you. And that ingredient is action. So go forth, take action, apply what you’ve learned and stay tuned for more info-packed episodes of the Project Ignite Podcast.

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