Over the years I've had people contact me and tell me they have a brilliant idea for an app or a new SaaS business. This includes myself. They usually believe no one has ever come up with this idea before. There are almost 8 billion people on this earth, someone has come up with the idea.
I usually open up a browser to my defualt search engine and find out the idea is not unique. I also find a bunch of competitors. People are usually very deflated by this. There goes their million dollar startup idea. Not necessarily.
For your first app I think its better to have an existing market with a healthy amount of competition. That means there is an unmet need. The key is to find that target audience or customer that has the unmet need. First we need to do some quick work.
I say quick because this is before we plum the depth of idea validation we need to get a sense of our commitment to our cool idea.
1. Write it down. Get the idea out of your head and onto paper or in the Notion doc.
I have an Airbnb, one of the things I've been asked enough times from guests is "Do you have any recommendations for what I should see and where to eat?". Yes, yes I do. Now I already have a guide in the listing and I have it printed out in the apartment so I don't want to be a dick about it. I now have a saved email which is the same thing I tell them in person if they ask me when I see them. Sometimes, in person, it can seem a little sketchy if I start asking them what their interests are. Even more sketch over email. That leads me to wanting to create a local guide app or web app that they can have access to on their phone. While I'm at it I'll put in the house manual with instructions for the most common challenges other guest have had.
2. Quick sketch on the different sections of your product idea.
For this one I sketched out a few thoughts in my notebook but you could use Miro, Figma, or similar.
3. Write down a couple of scenerios of who the customer is. Get into their voice and write down what they are looking to get done.
In my case I would be selling it to the hosts to be used in their listings.
I have 2 listings at one property. The property has some shared amenities however each unit needs its own house manual and local guide.
I have 2 listings. Each listing is branded separately however there are a few shared amenities. Each listing needs its own welcome app. I have cohosts so I'd like them to contribute to the local guide.
I have multiple listings in various locations all under my brand. I have multiple managers and cohosts. I need a house manual for each listing and I'd like to the local cohost to be responsible for the local guide suggestions.
4. Now for a search - what the competitive landscape is? What features do they have? How much are they charging?
5. Google trends, Google search, Facebook Group, and Twitter.
Not much came up for me on google trends. A lot of instuctions on house manuals on google search. Since I belong to the market niche that I'm going after I already belong to several FB groups. A quick search on there gave me a few potential competitors.
6. Do you have experience with or easy access to the target customer?
With the Airbnb I have access to guest that I can intervew and also survey. I also have several friends that have short-term rentals so I have access to a few hosts IRL. The one issue with friends is sometimes that will tell you what you want to hear. That leaves asking a few questions in the FB groups. So basically, yes I'm able to get customer feedback idea.
7. Do you like the potential customers enough to be engossed in coming up with a viable product?
Yes, I do like the business of hosting and the interaction with the guests.
8. This is tough one but you'll want to have a profitable business so you'll need a few numbers to see if, based on this quick search, it'll be worth continuing with the saas idea.
There are several tools out there and the best ones depend on your business model. Notice I said "ones". You'll need more than one no-code tool to accomplish creating the minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP is the least amount of features that you can quickly put together to launch something that people will be interested in using/buying to test whether you want to further develop it.
Webflow, Bubble, Glide, and Adalo are good places to start. Webflow for a simple landing page. Bubble for the app and database. Glide for web app and Adalo if you're planning on having it in the Apple or Android stores.
You'll also probably need Zapier or Integromat for connecting to other apps. Outseta for controlling access, crm, email marketing, and subscriptions.
Don't forget your time. How long have you been thinking about it? Do you have the time to build it yourself? Or do you have money to hire someone? If you hire out then it would start at a minimum of $10,000 just for the build.
Go back and look at what the competition is charging. At the price they are charging how many customer would you need with a monthly subscription price to be able to be happy making the investment. Is it a profitable business?
Deflated yet? No. Good.
Besides the intital idea there are probably several add-ons that you could come up with to make it a successful product.
For me, the key to this whole thing is to find the unmet needs of the target audience. Think about what are the specific jobs that the customer is looking to get done. In other words, what is the specific goal they are looking to achieve.
I hope you're excited enough to go to the next level of idea vaildation. The next level will take a bit more time but is higly rewarding. Even if you never end up building it you might be able to sell your idea and validation research to someone that will.
You can use my free Notion template by going to my simple landing page. I ask for your email so I can occassionally send you an email followup, recieve feedback for changes, and let you know of any update.
I can't wait to see what you come up with.