Saas

Standard Fusion – Risk & Compliance Management Platform

Startup Name: Standard Fusion

We are making risk and compliance management simple and approachable.

Elevator Pitch: Risk and compliance management has typically been an enterprise only industry, costing 6 figures to manage using costly enterprise solutions. We have built a SaaS application for managing an organizations programs to standards such as ISO 27001, NIST, PCI-DSS, HIPAA, FEDRAMP, etc.

We aimed to solve 3 problems by building Standard Fusion. Eliminate high costs of implementation and operation , reduce unnecessary complexity where possible, and add value to organizations.

How will you make money? SaaS, per user, per month.

Target Market: Any organization that must maintain compliance, whether legal, regulatory, security, or even client driven.

Standard Fusion Dashboard

Standard Fusion Dashboard

How much capital have you raised? None

Founder: Mirek Pijanowski

Twitter Handle: @standardfusion

Website: https://www.standardfusion.com

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Best Low Risk Innovation Tools For Your Startup – Free Book

LEGO has earned the right to celebrate. Not only are kids playing with more mini LEGO people than there are human beings on the planet but in 2015, they were nominated by Forbes as the most powerful brand in the world. For a company which was on the brink of bankruptcy in 2004, the toy maker has made an amazing turnaround. They restructured, hired a new CEO, and forged more licensing partnerships than ever before. Most importantly, they discovered the secret to some of the world’s most successful, low risk innovation strategies.

These strategies helped LEGO create a powerful brand envied by every other company in the world. However, successes like these are not, and need not be, restricted to global companies with billions in revenue. The point of low risk innovation tools is that one can use them to test ideas in any setting and with any budget. Whether you are a cash strapped startup or a Forbes 500 firm, sustainable innovation can be your ticket to success.

Out of LEGO’s lessons and that of hundreds of other companies, I have distilled the most successful techniques to innovate cheaply and effectively. They are all contained in my book Innovation Tools and, as an additional bonus, the readers of the Startup88 community can get it for free at Amazon this week by clicking here. Among others, my book answers questions regarding how strategies used by companies like LEGO are able to turn companies around from looming bankruptcy to industry leading success.

When LEGO restructured and returned to their core business to climb out of a $300 million loss in 2004, they realized innovation as usual was not an option. The first step on the toy maker’s journey was to embrace their loyal and creative fan base.They hired so-called “adults fans of LEGO” for their design team and began to crowdsource new toy kits.

As the crowdsourcing venture proved successful, the block manufacturer turned this into a full blown open innovation policy by opening up the LEGO Ideas portal. Through user input, this online platform generates hundreds of new product suggestions each year and uses some subtle and powerful open innovation techniques, employing everything from social media to peer selection to entice fans into contributing new designs.

Within its factories, LEGO has also embraced a philosophy of rapid prototyping, even to the dismay of its older engineers. In an interview with the AFR, David Gram, head of marketing at Lego’s Future Lab, stated that “[W]e only develop the few key features that are really needed. A typical engineering mistake is wanting to invent all the things the product might consist of in one go … we throw that into the market and get feedback from consumers”. This is a technique blossoming all over the world in Maker Faires, Hackerspaces, and Makerspaces.

As big and successful as LEGO is, they could still benefit from the many other innovative strategies employed by other industry leaders. For example, there are powerful forces driving both the creation and dissemination of knowledge to the world. As many technical discoveries are driven by access to the latest information, this will be a game changer for business. For startups or large companies pursuing numerous risky ventures, information is power, and risk mitigation is the name of the game.

Another powerful shift disrupting traditional industries is the new way software is delivered around the world. Products are now able to be delivered in smaller parts, requiring less commitment from a consumer and turning the decision to use a tool into a “no-brainier.” This is even affecting industries with business models based on completely unrelated ways of delivering their services such as medicine.

Another important piece of the innovation puzzle is us; you and I. In the end, it is up to us to make the innovation decisions, but how do we decide? This question can be answered by one of the most exciting developments of the 21st century: a symbiosis between two powerful branches of science, behavioral economics and innovation.

Although these tools are important for a company’s and entrepreneur’s day-to-day work, we also want to know why all this innovation stuff even matters. What happens when we innovate cheaper? What benefits are there to simply lowering our innovation risk beyond the obvious?

Understanding the basics of these techniques and integrating them into your innovation strategy is what differentiates the disruptors from the disrupted. Up until now, it has been difficult to find them all collected in one place with enough details to be able to successfully use these innovation tools.

Competition never sleeps and LEGO is continuously being challenged by new disruptive innovators attacking their market side-on, such as Minecraft. Although the block manufacturer has a license to produce Minecraft styled pieces, challenges can come from anywhere. Full throttle up the innovation curve requires low risk tools to balance the innovation and fiscal imperatives. LEGO has discovered this, but have you?

The point is that we need to keep innovating without risking financial ruin. This is a difficult balance that my book seeks to discover. It details some of the best techniques available to not just turn an almost bankrupt company around, but also to supercharge any business or entrepreneur wanting to develop the next unicorn opportunity. Before you go, get your free copy now before it’s too late at Amazon. This offer is for this week only!

Enterprise Sales For SAAS Startups

Had a discussion with an freshly hatched enterprise startup the other day, a self acknowledged newbie we got to discussing the process of selling into the enterprise.

Another thing I am grateful to Hewlett-Packard for is their insistence all sales reps undertake training with Strategic Sales Training with Miller Heiman who are arguably the long established experts in the methods of selling into the Enterprise.

Might be a bit old school for the many new age growth hacked, A/B split tested, recurring billing payment gateway SAAS companies but I promise you if you are selling a product used by enterprises, no amount of growth hacking is going to help you unless you understand these concepts.

You may work out a way to bypass some of the players as Atlassian has, but to do this you need to understand the basic concepts.

So here is an outline of the key issues. If Enterprise is your thing go buy Miller Heimans books or do one of their courses.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISHuR20G330

You can buy their updated books on Amazon here.

When you are selling into the enterprise it’s important to select your prospects carefully, the reality is to do this properly you can only have a handful of active sales prospects at once.

It’s important to understand that an enterprise sale is actually 3-10 separate sales processes, they just happen to be in the one company and affect different parts of the decision making process.

The biggest single objective of the key influencers in the prospect company is to keep their very highly paid jobs and maintain their power in the organisation. Anything that poses a threat to this has some work to do.

I can’t do justice to the entire process here, for that you will need to do one of their courses but here is a summary of the key points and issues of the Enterprise Sales process.

Essentially a sales rep needs to complete a separate Blue Sheet for a sales opportunity in a prospect or customer. The bluesheet (pictured above) helps you quantify the account and requires you to;

  • Start with a single quantifiable objective for that account (separate objectives=separate bluesheets)
  • Makes you decide whether this is a good customer for you
  • Recognize your position against the competitors in the account.
  • Recognise the prospect organisation has multiple people or “Influencers” with multiple agendas and objectives, few of which will be the same and may not be entirely rational from the outside looking in.
  • In order to secure a sale you may need to sell across and up and down the organisation to convince multiple Influencers.
  • An example. You wish to sell a new Enterprise ERP software to an enterprise. 
  • You are going to have to convince the CEO, possibly the board, CTO, CFO and COO, Director of IT and probably a few managers in each function.
  • This is a complex sale, it could take years.
  • In order to map out the influencers you have know which influencers are responsible for what part of the decision making process. 
  • The guy who signs the cheque usually isn’t the only one who makes the decision.
  • The key types of Influencers are Economic (they sign the cheque), Technical (they make decisions based on the specifications of the products) and User (who actually use the product or manage the team who uses the product)
  • There is usually only one Economic Influencer
  • There can be many different Technical and User Influencers (consider our ERP example, could be a Technical influencer regarding accounting, cloud computing, IT Support).
  • You may need to address the sales process with each of them
  • The blue sheet forces you to review and rate each of these and your position with them
  • It forces you to work out what a Win looks like for each person who is an influencer 
  • This allows you to formulate a plan to address any weaknesses or capitalise on any strengths in those relationships
  • Finally this leads to an action plan specifically to address your position in the organisation and the sales process.

All of this explains why you need to take them on Rugby and Soccer World Cup trips and get them into the box at the Swans for at least 12 months before you close a deal.

You may think that in this day and age of online sign ups you don’t have to do this anymore.

But unless your product can be purchased on a department credit card without any approvals from the division head or the product is insignificant in the company then you will absolutely need to work through this process or work out a sales method and pricing strategy where a single manager can make a decision without the approvals.

Thanks to Miller Heiman for the fantastic training some 20 years ago (it’s stuck with me) and for the use of your Blue Sheet

How I launched a 1100+ user SaaS business in stealth mode as a sole founder with zero marketing budget

 Pushkar Gaikwad is the founder of inBoundio.com a software as a service startup that provides the Wworlds simplest Inbound Online Marketing Software for Small Businesses. 

We formally launched inBoundio last week, I kept it in beta for eight months and kept working on it. It was slow going since I was the only one working on it — sometimes there was no progress for days. There were times when I got stuck and had to wait for people to reply on stackoverflow and answer my questions so I could finish the coding. Lot of things went wrong or didn’t work out. But some did, and in this post I want to share what I have learned.

InBoundio is just starting. It is in no way a finished product nor a mature product, but I feel I should share my knowledge and experience right now. If I wait until I’m done, I may forget many of the smaller things. So here is the complete story. If you want the TL;DR version, scroll to the bottom where I have put everything in points.

How I Began

I stopped thinking too much, stopped planning, and just started doing the things I wanted to do and which I loved. I love technology, internet and marketing, so the product I built aligned with all this and I never had to look at where I was going. Failure looked acceptable as I knew I was going to enjoy the process and the final product.

I also didn’t set any deadlines for myself, and didn’t care about making money or setting targets. This took time out of the picture, which made me more comfortable and reduced any anxiety about getting it done. I wanted to be sure I made as few mistakes as possible, and I wanted to fully understand the market and user requirement. I continued to work alone, and it was only last month that I opened an office and hired two awesome developers (who in just five weeks have become a big part of my life).

How I funded inBoundio

Since inBoundio started as a one-man company, the expenses were negligible. I got one year of free hosting from RackSpace , which saved some money. I got the logo done for $3 and the dashboard was a $12 template. That was all the initial expense. I did use freelancers later on, as I wasn’t able to code some features. I paid them primarily from money earned by selling software packages and offering services.

Offering services also helped me understand client needs and wants. Because InBoundio is still in the early stage, I will keep on doing this for at least this year.

The experience with freelancers was hot and cold. Overall, I felt I wasted a lot of time. Many features never got shipped and I probably overpaid on a few, but I have learned my lesson.

Where We are right Now

inBoundio is still in its very early stage, and I am still working on finding the correct business mode. Still, I felt I should write this post now, as I want to share my experience and journey so far (posts like “How we sold our business for 20 million dollars” suck, right?)

Right now I have a small team working from our office, both of which give more structure to the business and make things move fast. For example, we are shipping new features on a daily basis, something which was not possible earlier. We just launched our chrome plugin and waiting for our WordPress plugin to get approved.

inboundio_screenshot

My Learning while bootstrapping as a single founder

I am splitting my learning into 2 section. Startup and Business/Life.

Startup Learning

1. Use freelancers wherever you can, but be careful. I had mixed experience with freelancers. I met some nice people but I felt I also sometimes overpaid. Sometimes the freelancer just wasted time and did nothing. There is a huge cost involved in finding the right freelancer, plus there is a cost involved if something goes wrong. You can use freelancers for small tasks like testing—for example, I hired a freelancer from Vietnam on oDesk for $5/hour who did a great deal of testing and found lots of bugs. I also got the initial logo for $3 and bought the user dashboard template for $12.

2. Do not hire people unless you need them. Do as much as you can by yourself and understand the technology stack of your product as well as marketing. Find your first paid user by yourself. Find new marketing channels by yourself. Do sales and support by yourself. Take all the phone calls yourself. Do the site support chat by yourself. All these tasks are part of building your business.

3. SaaS businesses don’t grow fast and there is nothing great about them.  InBoundio is growing 15% month to month, which I think is on “faster” side of growth, although most of the SaaS businesses grow very slow. In fact I don’t even think SaaS are the best business model on the web for making money; the unit economics don’t work and most B2B products don’t spread by word of mouth. This means higher cost of marketing and no viral effect.

4. The best feedback you will get is from your product users. The best feedback I have ever gotten is from inBoundio users. I have asked questions on various web marketing forums like warriorforum, as well as on Reddit and Hackernews, and received helpful replies. But the best real feedback I got was from current users. Aimee, my first paid user, has replied to many of my emails telling me what was broken.

5. Building is easy, marketing is not. Marketing will always take more resources and time than building. Most founders put all their energy into building and then run out of steam and ideas. Products fail because they hit the wall of “How to Market and Sell” and the founders have no answer.

6. Win-Win partnership works on Internet. The best businesses on Internet are the ones where your user also wins. If you are just focusing on yourself and how you can grow and make money, you will find yourself alone. This is not what the Internet is about.

7. Bootstraping is not easy, and doing it is as a single founder is even more difficult. Bootstrapping sounds great when you are able to pull it off; when it don’t work out, it can do lot of damage to your personal finances. Being a single founder also means you are taking the risk and will burn out fast. So far, though, things are looking fine for me. I will keep on doing what is working. If I feel I am burning out or need funds for additional growth, I will look at alternatives– though personally, I will always chose Freedom over Money.

Business and Life Learning

1. Success and Failure are meaningless terms. Don’t waste your time judging yourself from others parameters.

2. Don’t look at other startups and how they are doing. There are people who started before you, and others have already finished the race before you even started, so it is stupid to compare your startup with others.

3. Don’t waste too much time thinking about company vision, disruption and denting the universe. You will end up doing what you want to do anyway, no matter what your earlier vision was.

4. Use your own software. This is the best way to understand the limitations of your software. I only use inBoundio to market inBoundio. Yesterday I sent 1,000 emails and today I made some social media postings. When you use your own software, you can take better action on your user feedback and learn what you want and what you don’t.

5. There is nothing wrong with doing services to fund your company product. I personally feel a business is a business, so it doesn’t matter if you are doing services or product. The end goal is to build a business.

6. If you are not enjoying what you are doing, don’t do it. It is just not worth it.

7. Only do things which make you happy. I don’t think I need to explain this.

8. Don’t chase money; it will always be the byproduct of your success. If you do well in life, you will make money, anyway. If you start chasing money, you will cut corners, compromise on quality, and become mediocre and unhappy.

9. How big you get, how big your business becomes, and how much money you make is NOT in your control. It doesn’t matter if you have an amazing team, a great product, big funding and work 18 hours a day, you can – and possibly will — still fail. Don’t waste your time on thinking things which may or may not happen. Live in the present, build your company in the present.

10. Don’t plan too much. Most of the plans are just wishful thinking.

11. Money will solve only one problem, money. The rest of the problems of building business have to solved by you only.

inboundio.com has a 30 day free trial for their in bound online marketing service