The Perfect Startup

#SaaS #Tech #CTO

An interview with five startup heroes giving tips and reflections on how to get your SaaS (software as a service) startup off the ground.
by Morten Sørdahl, Co-Founder getleap.io
 (5 min. read)

Introduction

Starting a company has never been this easy – or this difficult. So how do you make it and set yourself apart?

We have gathered a dream team of passionate individuals from the Danish startup scene, each with an amazing track record in each of their fields. Look at this as your “advisory board”.

They all received the same framework, to ensure the feeling of collaboration. They had to imagine they were part of the founding team of a SaaS company and answer questions related to 3 stages in the first year of the company's existence. They wouldn't be able to read each other's work but rather give personal input from their work-life and previous mistakes.

We would like to thank all five for helping out with this content piece, and to give their work the maximum limelight, we have decided to split this content into five-pieces.

I hope you'll like it and feel free to reach out if you have any feedback.

Quick disclaimer: No company is the same, and our goal is not to give you a fact sheet to work from. On the contrary, we want to entertain and hopefully, on the way give you some valuable takeaways.




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👋🏻 The Team

CTO

Anne-Sofie Nielsen is currently crushing it as CTO at Peakon – a company on a growth path envied by most other SaaS companies. You might also have heard about her merits from Nemlig.com where she was CTO from 2015-2018. An impressive track record indeed!

Initial phase
What will your focus be in this first phase?

I would focus on understanding future customers' expectations and have a simple prototype made in tools such as Sketch before I would spend any time on the technical foundation.

Peakon started, for example, as a PDF that the founding team brought to potential customers and investors before making any actual development.

You can make a lot of false assumptions in the beginning in regards to what the market is demanding, so it is crucial to be able to test it quickly.

Launching the first product
What will be your /team's focus in this next phase? Would you go outsourcing vs. in-house vs. agency?

If I could choose, and I guess you can in this thought experiment "The Perfect Startup", then I would always go for a setup with a few, skilled developers and an agile approach where you will be limited in time and resources and therefore need to expand the platform with features in order of priority. Then you'll have control over the quality of what is being developed, which is a huge advantage in the long run.

I know many startups/scale-ups (none mentioned, none forgotten) that are reaching a phase where an incredible amount of resources are needed to rebuild or even throw away large portions of their platform because they have under-invested in quality from the start. And there is no time in a company's life where it is practical to have to stop and pause the development!!

Scaling the business
How would you ensure that the platform can scale over time and what are your experiences with having both a browser and mobile solution?

If you know that you plan to make a mobile app later, you have to think about the architecture from the start, so you get a relatively clean API with functionalities that can be used for both web- and mobile frontend, and not, for example, get a backend service that returns HTML to the front end.

Scaling is about understanding where the pressure is expected to come from - is it in many concurrent users? Peak loads? Having to handle large amounts of data – or what scale is actually needed?

You can get far by choosing some sensible 3rd party services from the PaaS provider you use (Amazon, Google, and others) who can help with the scaling – it just requires an understanding of where the pressure will be.

Extra
Which three vital 3rd party solutions/products would be most important to you/the team?

Choose one of the major platforms (Amazon, Google, Microsoft) and use that platform's services for everything you don't need to be an expert in. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when there are lots of solid building blocks out there. But watch out for the cost structure!

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