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How To Create The Perfect SaaS Business

Struggling with what your product roadmap should look like as you start to expand? In this video, I talk about the 5 certain characteristics all the best SaaS and software companies have.

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Every startup wants to grow fast.

And while there’s value in modelling the tactics and strategies that have fueled the rapid success of companies they look up to…

There’s even MORE value in identifying the core, underlying principles that serve as the backbone for that success.

Over the years, I’ve identified 5 core elements behind the perfect software business.

I learned one of them directly from Jason Fried @ Basecamp.com when I visited Chicago to take his workshop over 10 years ago.

Another from guys like Mike McDerment @ Freshbooks.com, and Ben Chesnut @ MailChimp.com, both early mentors of mine who inspired a lot of the work I create at Flowtown.

In today's world you see companies like Slack.com, and Intercom.com (disclosure: I’m an investor) shooting for the moon and you wonder:

“How did they do it?”

That’s what I want to break down for you in this week’s video.

Here are the 5 key elements that the world’s best startups all have in common:

What I’ve learned is it really comes down to how the product is used by the companies, how they extract the value (i.e. get paid) and their position in the market…

… now, there are some nuances, and I go over them in the video, but I want to list them out real quick so that you can understand how impressive it is for a company to hit this level of growth:

1. Product Is Core to the Operation of the Business
2. Cost/Value Proposition is Straightforward
3. Finances Its Own Growth
4. Efficient Sales Model
5. Market Leadership

If you’ve got tough decisions to make on your product to better address these elements and need my feedback, be sure to leave a comment with your question and some context, I would love to help.

See you next Monday!

Dan “business model nerd” Martell

Don't forget to share this entrepreneurial advice with your friends, so they can learn too:


“You can only keep what you give away.” That’s the mantra that’s shaped Dan Martell from a struggling 20-something business owner in the Canadian Maritimes (which is waaay out east) to a successful startup founder who’s raised more than $3 million in venture funding and exited not one… not two… but three tech businesses: Clarity.fm, Spheric and Flowtown.

You can only keep what you give away. That philosophy has led Dan to invest in 33+ early stage startups such as Udemy, Intercom, Unbounce and Foodspotting. It’s also helped him shape the future of Hootsuite as an advisor to the social media tour de force.

An activator, a tech geek, an adrenaline seeker and, yes, a romantic (ask his wife Renee), Dan has recently turned his attention to teaching startups a fundamental, little-discussed lesson that directly impacts their growth: how to scale. You’ll find not only incredible insights in every moment of every talk Dan gives – but also highly actionable takeaways that will propel your business forward. Because Dan gives freely of all that he knows. After all, you can only keep what you give away.

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  1. Viably

    I like the idea of product hook, we’ve always looked at it as building an MVP around a compelling offer, and having the offer as complex as the channel and method of promotion. To put it another way if there are features you can’t fit into your promotion they don’t go into the product. If a feature is getting the most reaction the product has to revolve around that feature. I like the idea of calling it a product hook!

  2. Mike Benteau

    This was great and so was the second Dublin video, we have been working on a product for the last five years that we have tested within our franchise systems with the true value proposition reflecting our goals ( saves time, sells more and increases profits ).The goal for us has alway been SAAS but really needed to look at a roadmap and these videos were awesome for inside info.

  3. Orane Cole

    Merry Christmas Dan, thanks for the amazing content.I got some invaluable feedback from my clients over the past 6 months, so it’s time to revamp my product and give them more of what they want 🙂 This will have a ripple effect because I can then focus on cost/value proposition and market leadership.Enjoy the holidays Dan and all the best with your upcoming projects!!!

  4. Paul von prandible

    Hey Dan, great talk. We are having after 2 months already 10 paying customer. They pay 10$ / month. Now we want to invest in content marketing and I really like your idea of owning a market space “inbound marketing” is obviously already taken 😉

    Do you have a strategy of finding a new keyword, which we can own?

    1. Dan Martell

      Paul von prandible nothin on YT.

      My buddy Brian Dean at Backlinko would / he’s my go to for all things SEO.

      I do have a killer talk John Morrow gave to my SaaS Academy coaching clients in Jan I’ll be sharing soon to my subscribers though…

      Changes the game for content. Big idea = it’s all mid funnel marketing.


  5. Issar Cerrato

    Thanks DAN!! you are awesome. I been working all by myself as a content creator and now getting heavily overworked by so many jobs that I am changing strategy. Basically drawing a new plan to work as a team and get as many good people on board. Thanks to you I am learning how to 🙂

  6. Srujith Sunny

    Dan I don’t code but I want to build a sass product I even to don’t want to hire people in-house I want to outsource developing is it possible? Which niche has more scope to scale?

  7. T K

    Great content as always Dan! How would you recommend getting a mentor and guidance in the early days as a first time SaaS entrepreneur? I am highly ambitious and I feel anxious to get started but it just feels like my inexperience and feeling I have so much to learn first is leading to inaction. You mentioned knowing a lot of big names how did you grow such a valuable network or did it come later after you had built your first companies?

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