How to Find the Best SaaS Ideas for Your Startup
If you're launching a startup, software-as-a-service (SaaS) remains one of the most surefire ways to find success. In recent years, industry experts predicted that SaaS businesses would generate $100 billion for the first time in 2019. Instead, they hit that milestone in the third quarter of 2018. So how do you come up with a SaaS idea in a marketplace full of them? Fortunately, there are various strategies you can use to generate SaaS business ideas.
What is SaaS?
First, it's helpful to define SaaS. Before SaaS came along, software was something you purchased and kept on-site or on-premise. This is also known as self-hosted software because the end user is responsible for maintaining it on a local network. By contrast, SaaS is software hosted in the cloud and accessible from anywhere. Instead of the user maintaining it, the service provider keeps it updated and available.
Today, SaaS is so popular that many businesses use it without really thinking about it. For example, if you use Google apps like Docs or Sheets, you’re using SaaS. You and your colleagues can access your documents from any device, and you can collaborate on the same document with various members of your team. Other popular examples of SaaS include Slack and Zendesk.
How to Come Up with SaaS Ideas
When it comes to SaaS, the possibilities are endless. Before you launch a startup, however, you need a SaaS idea of your own. Here are some methods for coming up with SaaS project ideas.
1. Look at current trends
As a tech-based industry, SaaS can move quickly. Trends come and go as new ideas develop and people's needs shift. If you can pounce on a rising trend in its beginning stages, you might be able to find a SaaS business idea.
For example, current SaaS trends include:
- Remote work. The number of people working from home has skyrocketed in recent years, and the trend is unlikely to slow down anytime soon. According to Stanford, 42% of Americans work from home full-time — a number that seemed almost unimaginable even a few years ago.
- Virtual learning. Like remote work, virtual learning has gone from a small niche industry to mainstream in the world of education. Take the videoconferencing company Zoom: It increased usership by 224% in 2020.
- Artificial intelligence. If you have a home assistant like an Echo Dot or Google Home in your house, you're already using AI. In fact, about one in four adults have some type of smart assistant, and the number is likely to grow as homes become smart homes.
2. Find a problem to solve
Every good business solves a problem. This doesn't mean you have to start from scratch by solving a completely new pain point in people's lives. Consider all the success stories that feature businesses that built a better mousetrap.
For example, Airbnb combined technology with running a hotel—arguably one of the oldest industries in the world. Likewise, Uber built on the existing business model of catching a taxi by giving consumers more options and an easier way to hail a cab. Companies like DoorDash and Shipt offer convenience for people short on time.
The best problems to solve are in industries where money is already exchanging hands. One of the most common mistakes new founders make is to go into an industry that is completely new, since they are afraid of competition. This is typically a bad idea.
3. Use the one-star review method
The one-star review method involves looking at other SaaS businesses and finding out where they're underperforming. One easy way to do this is to look at an app store, find popular apps, and then check out their one-star reviews. You can do this with any app store, including Shopify, Salesforce, Chrome, or Apple. For business-to-business (B2B) products, you'll want to look at review sites such as Capterra and G2.
Once you're in the app store, select a category that appeals to you or fits within your area of expertise. This might be marketing, customer service, or some other category. The point is to find an area in which you possess the requisite skill or knowledge to start a business.
When you narrow down your category, check out the popular apps, paying attention to their one- or two-star ratings. Specifically, what are users complaining about? What are the app's shortcomings? Do the reviews follow a pattern, such as a common complaint about a specific feature?
By researching where other apps have failed or fallen short, you can identify a gap in the market. Once you know what that gap is, you can fill it with a SaaS idea of your own.
4. Try a Market Research Service
Starting a business is hard work, and starting with the wrong idea only makes it harder. Luckily, there's a way to get real, researched, and validated SaaS ideas delivered to your inbox. Software Ideas offers done-for-your SaaS idea research based on an in-depth analysis of over 100,000 startups. We take the best ideas and match them to your skills, expertise, and preferred industries, so you can stop trying to find a problem to solve and start solving it.
Try Software Ideas for free!
Want to get the best SaaS ideas delivered to your inbox? Get started by signing up for a free issue of the SaaS ideas newsletter. We do the work so you can get to work building your business.