How to build a self-funded SaaS as a non-technical solo founder – John Ndege – MicroConf Europe 2015 Talk Recap

The MicroConf Europe 2015 Talk Recaps can be found on the central “hub” page.

Twitter:  @johnndge

Talk Recap

  • Pocket Risk is an online investment risk questionnaire for financial advisors
    • launched in April 2013
    • $99/mo
    • made it to 6-figures as a non-technical founder

Idea Phase

  • Goal: Establish whether you have something valuable
    • Establish what you want to achieve – $10k MRR, quit your job, billionaire
    • Margin of safety – have money in the bank or a job
    • Find a problem – your own experience or speak to market
    • Assess market size – can I achieve my goals in the market?
      • total reachable market given your resources (i.e. you know SEO, PPC –> that’s your market)
    • Validate problem – speak to 20 prospects and see if problem exists
    • Define the solution – create a mockup. Have a vision for customers, product and industry
    • Customer validation – sell the solution using mockup. Get 10 companies to pre-pay

Build Phase

  • Goal: Hire developer & build something valuable
    • Minimum $15,000 development budget. $100/hour max. You get what you pay for
    • Finding a developer: HN monthly hiring, Ruby groups, referrals
    • Assess Developer – programming test, level of commitment, past work, references, gut
  • Continue marketing and building your list

Launch Phase

  • Goal: Get to breakeven
    • Generate traffic – read Traction by Gabriel Weinberg
    • Find out why people buy, don’t buy, use, don’t use and churn – speak to them on phone
    • Know your metrics and unit economics – traffic, conversion rates, MRR, CAC, LTV, churn, feature usage
      • feature usage tells you “sticky features” that make people happy
    • Develop Relationships – industry journalists, thought leaders, other CEOs serving same customers

Growth Phase

  • Goal: Achieve your overall goal
    • Manage churn – don’t die by a thousand cuts
      • reducing churn doubled my LTV
      • every 30 days check which users didn’t use product for last 6 weeks and email them
    • Keep generating traffic – marketing is a tax you pay for being unremarkable. CAC < LTV
    • Systems – start building systems so the company can grow without you. Use software & hire
    • Vision – steer company towards your vision for customers, product and industry

Share Button
About Christoph

Christoph lives in Munich, Germany and is bootstrapping his own SaaS application as a part-time entrepreneur.

He likes to write on this blog about anything of relevance to single-founder bootstrapped software startups.


  1. […] John Ndege: How to build a self-funded SaaS as a non-technical solo founder […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.