TL;DR: In June of 2017, I started a second SaaS, Simple Segment. I've shut it down a few days ago. I'm doubling down on Metrics Watch and still do consulting (a lot of Google Analytics consulting and also building SaaSes and web apps, reach out and say hi!)
What made me start Simple Segment
I wanted to be able to sync my email marketing automation tool with custom audiences on Facebook Ads. Why? That way I could do highly targeted and personalized ads, giving an incredible return on investment.
There are already a few apps like this on the market. So I tried the ones that supported Drip. Honestly, the integrations with Drip were not great. I wanted to be able to target people with specific tags, but not others and possibly people that had specific values in custom fields.
Nothing was satisfying.
It was Friday evening, in early June 2017. I had told my wife I wanted to hack on a project just for fun this evening.
I started to have conversations with a handful of advanced Drip users that had the same need...and were willing to pay.
So I decided that I would play with Drip's API and Facebook Ads' API too to see how easily it would be done.
It turns out that after a couple of hours, I had a (shitty) PoC of the integration between the two. It was not an app yet, it was just a pile of shitty lines of code that ensured me I could do it nicely and easily.
As the evening passed, I had a couple of people confirming me they would pay. And I needed it myself. Why not build it, right?
The very early days
For better or worst, I decided to build it. Not without reaching to Drip first. I got introduced with someone there that told me it was on their radar, but I couldn't get anything more specific (I think it just wasn't planned, as that person could not tell me if it would be a matter of weeks or years).
I was already fully booked with consultation...but I talked with my wife and she agreed: I would work late evenings until it's done. 3 weeks later, and maybe about 30 hours later...I had a full SaaS working with billing (well, I extracted that from my other SaaS, Metrics Watch, so that was trivial), online and...with people paying for it!
It was a blast. People were easy to convince as they could see the value. Telling someone they're gonna make more money is a pretty easy sell.
Then, Drip/Leadpages became customers. That was awesome. A nice proof that I did a good job and people were willing to pay. A bunch more customers came.
The plan was to add other integrations for other platforms and scale revenues while starting to make it even more powerful.
Then I left for vacations. Did a pre-launch with Product Hunt's Ship landing page. It was the early days of PH Ship during my vacations, and they were adding only a handful of products per week...and they featured me. It was nice. I saw a lot of interest and curiosity.
The beginning of the end
After my vacations, I had insider information that Drip's native integration would be coming around September.
I understand. It's a highly requested feature, and honestly, not so hard to build. Well, it's always harder when you try to squeeze things into an already existing app and all that jazz. But it's not rocket science.
I decided to reach out to maybe 20 other platforms to see what were their plans. About half told me it was in their short to medium term plans. The other half...they had no clue what I was talking about (mostly the bigger ones with dedicated support staff, I think?).
It became clear to me I should not spend more time on this.
I decided I would keep it alive as long as it was doing some profit and not requiring any or very minimal support. I had other clients coming in, but besides onboarding people, I did nothing.
The actual end
A couple of weeks ago, I lost two clients. Which made the profit drop to the threshold I had fixed. It was time for a shutdown.
I've reached out personally to all my clients. Issued partial refunds to annual subscribers. Everyone moved very quickly. I gave them over a month...they all did it within a week or two.
What did I do wrong?
What should I have done differently? Did I do something massively wrong?
- I started by having conversations with potential customers first. So that's good. ✅
- I built a very very basic version while having more conversations. ✅
- I listened to what people said as a whole, but not necessarily all feature requests. ✅
- I made money. ✅
- I've looked at the competition and what could destroy such an app (including contacting the right people at Drip). ✅
Honestly, I don't think I did a lot of things wrong.
I gave myself until the end of the year to acquire solid revenues, add integrations and other features to prevent a fatal blow by a single provider. They were much quicker than I thought, which killed my enthusiasm but also, I think, made the project non-viable or hard to make viable at least.
So, that's the end and it's ok! :)
Oh, one super positive side effect: by building Simple Segment, I've known a bunch of people I would never have met otherwise. Some even became consulting clients! (hi Chase from CartHero).
What's next for me?
Well, I still run Metrics Watch. It's white-label marketing reports specifically designed for agencies, delivered by emails. It supports Google Analytics, Adwords and Facebook Ads (and more to come). I'm doubling down on it and massively improving it as we speak in terms of design, and then integrations.
For about two and a half years, I've been freelancing for startups and agencies from all around the world. That won't change.
I'm a doing a lot Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager consulting nowadays.
I'm also building SaaSes and web apps for entrepreneurs that want to get started in the SaaS business. Mostly in Ruby on Rails.