How This Founder Hit $1 Million ARR in 2 Years – with Pierre de Wulf
Throughout any SaaS founders’ journey, they can learn from countless struggles and successes. But the realization is not always instant. Instead, these learnings are often applied on their next venture–toward a new journey to growth.
In this episode of SaaS Story in the Making, SaaS Coach and host Matt Wolach and ScrapingBee’s Co-Founder, Pierre de Wulf, talk about how impactful lessons are in improving a new software. De Wulf shares his experiences and realizations from their former software that contributed to the fast growth of their current company. He shares invaluable lessons that can help SaaS founders avoid some challenges, so they leverage their potential as early as possible and how he was able to hit the $1M ARRR in just a span of two years.
Podcast: SaaS-Story in the Making
Episode: Episode No. 212, “Invaluable Lessons from Past SaaS Mistakes that Can Help You Grow”
Host: Matt Wolach, a B2B SaaS Sales Coach, Entrepreneur, and Investor
Guest: Pierre de Wulf, Co-Founder of ScrapingBee
TOP TIPS FROM THIS EPISODE
Socialization Gets You Your First Customers
Socialization gets businesses a long way. It encourages connections and collaborations with other companies. And it can also put you closer to your competitors. De Wulf shared that at the beginning of ScrapingBee, hanging around web scraping and growth hacking forums helped them acquire their first customer. Through attending and participating in such events, it is through attending and participating in such circumstances that brought them closer to the market.
They introduced the product as a competitor of another Web Scraping API and invited some prospects to try it out for free for a certain amount of time, only in exchange for feedback. With this process, they have found a particular audience for the product and realized that users are willing to pay for it.
Having the initial connection to a specific group of people who were potential users gave them a higher chance of acquiring prospects. And gave them the realization that the product would sell. To keep these users engaged, de Wulf advised continuously having conversations with them. Their feedback matters for the development of the product. He said, “when three users tell you the same thing, you’re onto something.” Connecting with your market, prospects, and users impacts the product development that you should leverage.
Documentation Is Essential
De Wulf said, “I came away with the biggest lesson: documentation is essential and much more than I thought, especially for a technical product.” Not every user is a pro at using specialized software. These products should be developed so that users can easily navigate through them. De Wulf managed to make their processes easier for the users. They constantly took notes on essential concepts and wrote documentation to improve the product. The goal was to reduce friction to the minimum and improve the user experience even for those without experience.
Make Use of Giveaways
Many companies offer a freebie or giveaway once you schedule a call or sign up. This is a proven strategy effective in driving prospects toward you because you give them something that they may desire or something important in the field.
ScrapingBee is API Credit cost-based. As you make API calls, it charges specific amounts of credits. But to encourage prospects to sign up, they are giving away 1,000 credits upon creating your account. This gives the user a jump start on using the product. But they have managed to leverage the potential of this tactic.
Since feedback and creating connections are essential for their product development, they gave away 10,00 free API credits when a user hops on a 15-minute call with them. And it generated 50 users who scheduled a call. Not only have they given away ten times more than what is needed, but they have also gathered valuable insights from the users to improve the product further.
Content Marketing Goes A Long Way
Content marketing is one of the best marketing strategies that can give value to your market. It is one proven way to increase your credibility while attracting your prospects using purposeful content. And it may only need a fraction of your budget.
Content marketing was one of ScrapingBee’s moves to get out of the market. They have decided to share their expertise where the goal was to creating educational content for web scraping. And in return, De Wulf shared some of its benefits for the team:
- Put them into places where they are seen as experts.
- Bring lots of backlinks.
- Bring lots of traffic.
- Increase word of mouth
Writing content may be cheaper, but it requires a lot of time, effort, and knowledge about the field. Also, it needs to be consistent so that trust can build among your prospects. But once it is successfully executed, you can bring in long-term benefits for the company.
Hire As Early As You Can
The common notion for startups is that hiring happens when they are an uncontrollable amount of work that needs to be done. However, this is among De Wulf’s realizations which they have proven wrong.
He used the cup analogy with hiring–as the cup gets full of tasks, you will hire someone to take care of the overflow. But in reality, engaging itself adds more fluid to the cup. Instead of controlling the overflow, you are only adding more tasks to your cup, making it worse. De Wulf realized “a lot of useless stress that we could have just avoided by hiring maybe a few weeks, a few months earlier than we did.”
Hiring should happen before letting the cup be filled with tasks.
Past Mistakes Can Help You Rebuild the Future
Software founders are constantly learning along the way. From starting the business, operating it, and even in exit, their experiences are sources of valuable lessons. These lessons are sometimes applied to other products. De Wulf’s team had a former company before ScrapingBee, but every experience helped them to improve their process of running this new venture.
Admittedly, they have skipped a few steps before. There were no honest conversations during feedback as it was done through email. They only launched a paid version of the product and did not realize the speed of their growth. But being able to pinpoint these things, they have instantly improved these aspects at ScrapingBee. And not only does it make development faster, but it also maximizes its efficiency right from the start.
Software companies should realize that every obstacle is an opportunity to grow. You should not only focus on the things that can help you scale. But also, with the aspects you lack that you should improve. The sooner you can identify, the sooner you can apply these changes that can save you weeks of stress or even your company’s future.
Pierre de Wulf
[17:59] “It’s tough to be in a position to hire someone when you’re already hovered around by all the things you have to do…I think I did a lot of useless stress that we could have just avoided by hiring maybe a few weeks, a few months earlier than we did. ”
[19:27] “Talk to users as much as you can, as often as you can, as long as you can, like, never talk too much to users. As soon as three users tell you the same thing, you’re on to something.”
[10:50] “I think that’s so important to make sure that you’re talking with your customers and your ideal fit prospects, people in your market, who you’re wanting to develop the product for, you can learn so much.”
[18:36] “We often think we have to hire when the cup is full. But when you do that, now you take on a lot of extra tasks to just go through the hiring process, which is not easy.”
To learn more about Pierre de Wulf and ScrapingBee, visit https://www.scrapingbee.com/.
You can also find Pierre de Wulf on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pwulf/.
For more about how host Matt Wolach helps software companies achieve maximum growth, visit https://mattwolach.com/.