How can you use the TAM/SAM/SOM approach to size your market as part of your B2B SaaS go-to-market plan? The outcome will confirm if your ICP focus...
Go to Market Strategy B2B SaaS to get to MVP
For your B2B SaaS go to market strategy, what's the best way to get to MVP? Learn from the Founder of the SaaS success story Atera here.
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How to get your B2B SaaS company to a Minimum Viable Product? What B2B SaaS Go-to-Market Strategy to use?
In the spring of 2015, I met Gil, the founder of Atera.com. Atera was an early-stage software company, with a solid product, and a small number of paying customers. They had some funding invested in the next phase of the company. Gil was interested in what I had learned with Mightycall to help get Atera to the next stage.
Gil and I discussed what the best route was for his company to get to Product-Market Fit (PMF) fast, including an entry into the US market. The Atera team was small and based in Tel Aviv, with no resources in the United States. We worked together on the basics: value proposition, initial content, website, and Atera’s online presence. The most critical thing we did, however, was researching the communities where we could find the early adopters of solutions like Atera. In addition to meeting with influencers in the Microsoft Partner Community, we stumbled on some Reddit groups where IT Managers who could benefit most from Atera’s solutions had peer-to-peer discussions.
Gil committed to spend his personal time on this and enter the forums to get to know this community. He did a great job showing up as a humble tech founder who wanted to learn, and the community not only embraced him as a peer, but they also helped him finish the product with suggestions, feedback, and even a couple of first customers. I focused my time supporting Gil by interviewing a couple of Atera’s first customers and writing up their stories. These customer quotes and customer testimonials helped confirm the initial maturity of Atera’s Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
The engagement with the early adopters helped Gil and his team confirm the go-to-market priorities, product positioning, and pricing and get some precious early-stage customer references to make Atera “look bigger.” Since 2015, Atera has followed the T2D3 growth trajectory, sprinted to PMF very fast in the first couple of years, and this year completed a $25M Series A, right on track to hit unicorn status in the coming years.
Build it, and go get ‘em
Don’t wait for customers to show up after you built your solution. A founder or CEO must stay very close to both the product and its initial customers when you need to get to MVP. Gil’s personal commitment to work directly with the IT Managers in the early stages of growth was critical for Atera’s long-term success. He did not wait for customers to stumble on the product his team created. He went out to find the best early adopters and did not rest until he made sure they found the product so great they not only paid, but they did not want to give it up anymore.
Think big. Start small.
While you should iterate with a small group of innovators and early adopters, it would be a mistake to aim low. Atera’s vision was to service the global market of MSP enablement software with a better product, at a better price. While the team started with a small group of early adopters that allowed them to make incremental, fast improvements, the vision was big and invited users to become part of a longer journey.
In the early Atera days, the CEO of a SaaS company was the Sales Lead, Business Development Representative, Marketing Strategist, and Product Visionary. Sales came first, though. I was impressed by how Gil led the customer interaction, learning what users would value enough to pay, and turned that into the longer-term strategy, pricing model, and product roadmap for Atera. It’s like the billboard top 100. Hits don’t go up the charts by themselves. Someone has to make the DJs at the radio stations and clubs aware of the new song.
To get to MVP, your complete team, starting with the founders, should sell the solution and learn from the feedback. Every one of them needs to know the answers to:
- Who’s your Ideal Customer?
- Is the problem you’re solving important? What is that worth to them?
- How do you present your value proposition effectively?
A major mistake I’ve seen founders of early-stage companies make is to delegate this critical step to a marketing team member or sales lead. While they can certainly help, at this point the founder needs to drive this.
You need to test your idea and get positive feedback. Ideally, you find a small number of customers who tell you they would pay for your product (or better, they do). You need to create something that venture capitalists see value in to get you some initial seed funding. And they will measure that by counting the number of your paying customers.
Useful and Usable
To be minimally viable, an MVP needs to be useful and usable. It’s useful if you can confirm that the core features of your product solve the problems of your customers. It’s usable if it also allows your company to test if customers would be willing to pay for their product. You basically need to take the guesswork out of your product vision and business thesis.
The only person who should really approve your startup is your customer. It doesn’t matter how many fans share your vision. All that really matters is whether people are willing to pay to use your solution. An MVP is a cheap and fast way to make sure you are creating a worthwhile product. Make it really basic, just the features you need to test the PMF and get significant results. The goal is to collect user feedback about the product in general and understand what users like most about it.
Most startups fail because there is no market for what they have to offer. Getting to 1st base - to MVP - is all about finding out as fast as possible if your dream is worth pursuing.