09 Dec 2019
I’ve tried to launch a product lately in a market that I knew nothing about and discovered how choosing a market is a crucial aspect. The problem sounded exciting and challenging.
TL;DR I’ve never launched it and decided to let it go to someone with another product in that market that was looking at building what I had.
I think I’ve learned the most important lesson since I started building SaaS in 2008. Market comfortability plays an enormous role in deciding if a product/market is right for you.
As programmers, we’re facing lots of technical challenges during our careers. Learning new programming languages, new technologies, and concepts is all part of the job.
Market knowledge does not play a significant role for a typical programmer’s job. In the beginning, you might be working in finance than five years later in a startup offering a logistic solution for the transport industry. Usually, you don’t have to know the market to get the job.
On the other hand, selecting a market that you know very well could have a massive impact on your SaaS journey. It’s not breaking news, to be honest — lots of smart product people already talked about the importance of market selection.
Podcasting is getting more and more traction, and I saw a product that was generating video from audio, so I had the idea of building a tool that would automatically create a teaser with captions for as soon as an episode is published.
I’m lucky to know Justin Jackson, co-founder of Transistor, and I pitched the idea to him. He said that he was doing some manual tasks to do this. But more importantly, he warned me first that I might enter a market that could be difficult, especially since I had not much experience in podcasting.
"It's possible to learn as you advance, but the fact that you have no experience in podcasting might be a red flag that growth could be harder."Justin Jackson
I reacted just like my 14-years-old daughter. I heard what he said, but the advice needed to take a long path couple with first-hand experiences to find its destination.
So far, my products targeted freelancers, startups, developers. It is who I am in day-to-day life.
Emails, blog posts, and even the web app UI are places that you need to speak the target user languages. My experience with podcasting is limited to the 3-4 shows that I’m listening and that’s about it.
If you feel you’re not going to be able to write content for your product, this is probably a sign that you’re in a market that will be hard for you to talk with potential customers.
Fun fact: In 2012, I built a web application for wine collectors to manage their cellars. I knew close to nothing about vintage, blends, etc. One day a customer called me and started asking questions about wines.
"I'm sorry I'm just a programmer."Dominic St-Pierre
If I’m going to sell to podcasters, I should try to see what they are experiencing. I decided to try it myself and either find a co-host or start a solo show.
After talking with a couple of people about potential co-host shows, I decided to test this alone, it was quicker. I started a podcast with a developer friend five years ago, and I still had startupvf.com as a domain name. Let’s do that.
The result? One episode and I deleted the show and closed my Transistor account because I was not happy with what I did. It’s crazy to think about because podcasting should be my medium of choice being a blind person. But it’s so hard doing the editing, and I was not finding my recording sound quality good enough.
At that moment, I started to have serious doubt if people would have time to look at the tool I have with all the pain they already have with editing and publishing their podcasts.
Was I building yet another nice to have product. I need a hair on fire product, but finding that huge demanding solution for problem is easier said than done.
As I doubted myself being at the right place at the right time, I started seeing competitors poping. Big players that were mainly generating video from audio begun to offer automatic teasers for podcasters. It was very demoralizing because I was not feeling confident enough to launch and was having hyper imposter syndrome.
Podcast hosting tools started to offer ways to generate videos out of a published episode. I had yet to create one blog post and get a reply to my emails sent to the list. Things were not promising.
That might be why we’re all launching that many products. Even though pieces of advice are everywhere, we often need to experience them to understand why they are so important.
The best market for me is startups and developers so I’ll find something I’m passionate about that target one of those market and see how things evolve.