This post is part of a research series I am writing about whether or not, “SaaS Publishers” could exist and help the industry to grow. I eventually want to uncover whether there is business to be made, and if it’s the case… well, there is probably an adventure for bold people. Can a SaaS publishing company be thriving? 🤷♂️
If it’s the first time you read a post from this series, here is the list of other posts, I suggest you to read the first one:
- Game publishing for dummies (important introduction to understand the topic)
- What a Saas Publishing company would look like?
- Which SaaS apps should be published and which ones shouldn’t?
- What does a SaaS publisher do?
- The first SaaS Publisher is live, check it out
What a B2B SaaS publisher would do
Inspiration from game publishers
We will probably focus on a publisher activities latter in the series. However, let’s recall what game publishers do:
Funding: a publisher can help to fund the development of a game based on an idea/prototype.
Development: publishers will have inside devs who can help with the analytics stack, the Q/A, the localization and the certification.
Marketing: Publishers should be expert of the marketing side (dissemination).
Community (ecosystem): finally, as a publisher grows, its follower-base will grow too. So each game will benefit from the growing ecosystem. The bigger, the echo chamber.
If we focus on B2B SaaS, our publishing company will probably cover the same expertise areas. However, in the first iterations, the core focus should be much more narrow. We will probably not take much risk, so we will clearly not fund beta SaaS apps. As our community will be starting from scratch, we will have no activity in this area. So, our future company will probably be focusing on marketing and maybe slightly on development.
B2B SaaS publishers specifities
However, to be successful, most SaaS applications need to master more activities than just the creation of raw product. So, adding these functions to the publisher activites might be a strategic decision. Here they are :
Sales: not all SaaS software are self-service. The need for sales rep is often related to the price point: above $100/mo, we can assume that SaaS apps need a sales force.
Customer Success: for complex apps, customer support is always needed, it could be a simple FAQ section, or a human-based support service. If the app has several tiers or paid modules, the customer success rep can also guide the customer to understand when he needs to upgrade to a higher plan.
Product Growth: to grow its revenue, the app should carry several kind of actions focusing on improving the retention and monetization and decreasing the churn.
Let’s quickly see if we should add these services in our publishing company.
The higher the price point, the more complex the sales pipeline and the more specific the sales organization should be. A SaaS app who needs sales rep probably has a marketing team in place already. So, my opinion is that the publishing company will rarely deal with big SaaS teams. I guess that we will not need to setup sales organization for our apps (at least in most of the cases).
Customer success is HR-intensive, but hopefully, it also can be delegated to smart virtual assistants (VA) who you train beforehand. I guess that the publisher can provide some help in this area if the product meet some success. Otherwise, the product developer should probably be in charge of this activity.
I am inclined to think that the publisher should be involved in the product growth. The conflict is that the developer will also want to have an extensive responsability on the shape of his/her product. So boundaries should exist and who do what should be very explicit since day one.
Short list of activites
In short, here is the list of macro activities that a SaaS publisher might carry:
- Marketing (Inbound, Outbound, Paid, Partnership, Product Launches, Referral, …)
- Customer support
- Product growth
What’s your feeling about these tasks?
SaaS Publishers - The team profile
Alright, let’s dive into the fun part. How should we build a dream team to start a SaaS Publishing company? To help in the discussion, let’s first look at the first months of the venture.
The company first months
Our company will first need to partner with its first SaaS app. It means that some weeks will be spent on looking for candidates, meetings and selection. Someone will have to draw the strategy and to depict the ideal SaaS projects to be published.
Once the ideal candidate will be identified, it will be time to define the terms of the partnership in a contract. Strong legal skills will be needed here… or a good lawyer.
After some days of negociations both parties will sign the deal and the partnership will start. The very first thing to setup will be the analytics stack: to attribute revenue and allow us for optimizations down the road. So, someone with technical and analytics skills will be needed.
When the revenue can be tracked, the marketing activites can start. We will probably try to focus on 3 or 4 levers at most: inbound marketing (SEO + content marketing), paid acquisition, referral marketing.
To support the efforts of the ‘technical’ marketing team, a designer is needed to produce all materials used in our campaign (visuals, videos, motion designs, ebooks, …).
If all goes well, then, after some months, the support requests would be taking to much of our partners’ time and we should find a solution. The first easy solution would be to manage a FAQ website, but on the long run, some VA should be hired and trained. Someone with managerial skills will be in charge of this remote profile.
Then, we’ll rince and repeat with other SaaS applications.
Skills needed by the team
So, let’s recap the skills needed by the team:
- Entrepreneurship: financial, strategical, deal-making
- Managerial: project-management, remote working
- Legal: contract writing
- Technical: integrations setup (payment systems + analytics)
- Growth: analytics, SaaS-focused AARRR optimization
- Marketing: strategical, operational
- Design: marketing/communication/ads material creation
I have some skills in the Technical, Growth, Marketing area. One could obviously hire people when the skills are missing. But my goal would be to create a fouding team for this project (a 2 or 3 people team sounds perfect).
This is an invitation: if you find the project interesting and think that you could bring 10x more value than the guy next door, feel free to write me. I have always been involved in remote project, but this time I would also be really interested in trying to meet and work locally (South of France: Marseilles area).