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Developing an SAAS with NO Experience?

I have at least two SAAS projects I want to put a team together to develop. Should I hire a CTO, or contract with an agency? Given I have no experience with coding, what should I look for when hiring someone to help me develop my projects?

22 Replies

Olivier Chaine
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Olivier Chaine Entrepreneur • Advisor
SVP, LPO at The Search Agency
You said it best in your first sentence. You want to put a team together to develop.. Its hard to hire an agency effectively to build something unless you know what you want to build and how to make some of the tradeoffs between features and technical complexity.
There are part-time CTOs if you're not ready to hire full time. There are also very good product managers who know how to work with agencies, etc.
Once you've decided who is your product lead / advocate for your SaaS vision, then the choice of who builds it can be made.
Ed Jeffers
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Ed Jeffers Entrepreneur
MD at EDGE +
Have a look at a tool Rightscale. Should solve your problem. Regards, Ed Jeffers 0404 835 176
Shobhit Verma
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Shobhit Verma Entrepreneur • Advisor
building an adaptive recommendation engine
I have never heard a success story of a technology product without a technical "real" cofounder. A real cofounder invests time and money and is equally passionate about the problem as the non-technical cofounder. If you pay them before the business generates a profit, they are not real cofounders.

That said, if your saas product is really a website for a service business, where most of the value is provided as a non-tech service [costs human hours], it might work out.
Daniel Esbensen
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Daniel Esbensen Advisor
CTO at SheerPower Auction Services, Inc. and Information Services Consultant
Hello, Going directly to your question, you should find someone who has done SAAS projects before, with a good set of references. Put them under a Non-disclosure. And then get from them an estimate of the kind of effort you are requesting. This will help you to create a budget for the development. The next step, with funding in hand, is to have this same person/company either develop the SAAS solution, or outsource and manage it for you. The "rule of thumb" for outsourcing is that it costs about 1/2 as much, but takes 4x longer. If time is on your side, then outsourcing can be a good way to go. Till later, Dan E. http://www.ttinet.com
Chanel Carlascio
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Chanel Carlascio Entrepreneur • Advisor
Social Entrepreneur and Investor
Let me explain my product - I currently own a service based company in the disability accommodations field - we coordinate services like sign language interpreters, real-time captioning, captioned media, accessible format books, etc

Initially, the SAAS will at first just be for internal use - scheduling software that can will manage all of the bits of information specific to our field, plus sync with QB for invoicing client, allow contract providers to create and submit invoices, approve provider invoices, track payment, etc.All of these exist in some form in the world, but not in the way that works for our business.

This becomes a income stream when it is licensed to our current customers - coordinators at colleges and universities all over the US and Canada. This would be a money maker all on it's own. In fact, I have a friendly competitor who I know is developing this type of software as we speak.

One thing that will make our SAAS really stand out is to have it sync with the current software they use to track accommodations - they get student requests for services and they either direct hire staff, or contract it out.
Many services are provided remotely. The second thing that would make this stand out is if it also allowed the schools to push their requests out to a marketplace where they either get a bid, or their preferred provider was automatically or manually sent the request through the accommodation management system they already use.

This second part - syncing with the disability management software and the marketplace do not exist any where yet. Having a scheduling software that they could use in this way would be a big step forward for the coordinators who have to wrestle to manage this information everyday.

One thing in my favor is that I know the developers of one of the most popular accommodations software systems being used and we've talked over the years about this idea. He thinks it is a good idea, but has no time to develop it outside of what they already are doing.

I am clear about what my product needs to be able to do, and how it should work - I just have no programming experience. I have held off on this because I don't want to hire a programmer, get 50k into the project and have nothing to show for it. I have heard that story too many time. I'd rather it not be me. :-)


Ed Jeffers
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Ed Jeffers Entrepreneur
MD at EDGE +
There is another tool you should look at Mulesoft. They develop out of the box API`s that would allow you or enable you to interface and integrate with those other applications you mentioned. Regards, Ed Jeffers 0404 835 176
Chanel Carlascio
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0
Chanel Carlascio Entrepreneur • Advisor
Social Entrepreneur and Investor
Ed, your tools might work once the scheduling software is developed, but the core of the SAAS is the scheduling software. So what is your suggestion for getting that developed?
Chanel Carlascio
0
0
Chanel Carlascio Entrepreneur • Advisor
Social Entrepreneur and Investor
Because I have several SAAS projects I want to develop in this market, I'd ideally like to develop a team of people that I can work with long term. Any advice on how to start finding those team members?

Daniel Esbensen
0
0
Daniel Esbensen Advisor
CTO at SheerPower Auction Services, Inc. and Information Services Consultant
Hello, Do you have a detailed specification yet for your SaaS needs? If not, then that is also a very good first project for someone. We have done dozens of SaaS implementations over the years -- an a tight specification makes a huge difference. Till later, Dan E. ==
Chanel Carlascio
0
0
Chanel Carlascio Entrepreneur • Advisor
Social Entrepreneur and Investor
I could provide specifications. Is there an accepted format or a template I should start with?
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