Arsen Nurmagomedov

Arsen Nurmagomedov

Parallel entrepreneur obsessed with product, ux and growth. Co-founder of kovan studio.

Building a micro-SaaS (from scratch)

At Kovan Studio, we aim (and hope) to ship at least 3 products per year. It doesn’t have to generate revenue or have hundreds of users. We enjoy the process, no matter we fail or succeed. Building products is in our blood 🥊

This is not an “ultimate guide” or “bible” of creating micro-SaaS products. This is our journey of building one of our products, [which we don’t have a name yet]. We will update this article day by day, sharing our methods and experience. Let’s go…

Day 1: Idea and problem definition

16 February 2022

micro-saas churn

It’s been a long time since we first encountered the problem; People churn, and (most of the time) we don’t know why. After hundreds of guesses on why customers left us, we came up with a brilliant idea; ask them. We emailed them after they unsubscribed, but no luck. Nobody wants to spend even a minute on something they don’t need anymore.

Some companies force you to call them to cancel your account, but it’s not who we are. We care about our customer experience, even at the very last stage. So, we tried embedding a TypeForm with some pre-defined reasons right before the cancellation process on AnnounceKit. It was so easy for users to give feedback with one click, and nobody got frustrated. It worked, we got our answers 🎉

This is where we thought “having an app for this will be awesome,” and we decided to build a micro-SaaS to collect churn reasons. Think about it; a simple, beautiful pop-up with pre-defined answers 😍

After a quick Google session, we found there are already a few out there, or it’s someone’s side feature. It’s a good sign! If there are products for this problem, it means there is a market. 🤑

Day 3: No wireframes, bam bam bam 💥

18 February 2022

If you have an idea burning inside, act fast! Overthinking details will kill the motivation and prevent shipping the product. Forever 😱

After a few hours of researching (and stalking 🕵️‍♂️) future competitors, we quickly designed the most basic version of the product in a Figma. Luckily the product itself consists of a single widget with a dashboard that is not important how it looks at this stage.

Day 4: Why to code when there is no-code 👨‍💻

19 February 2022

Because we like it the old-school way! You probably heard dozens of success stories where a guy/gal created an MPV with Webflow, Notion, Airtable, or even MS Paint and generated thousands of $$$. We admire these folks but we never manage to do that. A custom server always feels more comfortable.

Here is our tech stack;

  • NextJs is easy to use, has built-in SSR support, and can handle routes without any additional library. Also, you don’t have to deal with Babel or Webpack.
  • Tailwind CSS – It’s the first time we used it and we loved it.
  • GraphQL – We believe, in the future, GraphQL will take the place of restful API’s.
  • PostgresSQL – We love NoSQL databases but we love writing queries too 🙂
  • Coffee – human fuel.

Day 6: Coming up with a name

21 February 2022

No doubt it’s the hardest part of the process. Name affects the whole concept of the project. Visual design, language tone, even pricing depend on the name. Imagine a luxury car brand with a colorful Teletubbies logo 🤢

We are building this micro-SaaS to collect churn insights and possibly prevent them in the future. At first, we wanted to name it ChurnKit. It aligns with our other SaaS products but it sounds like it helps churn rather than prevent it. So we started to look for something negative. We were so focused on the keyword that we were missing the goal of the product: prevent customer churn. Ekin lit the fire…

If you are not Turkish, just skip this part. It’s a local joke 🤷‍♂️

Day 13: Barely (a)live

28 February 2022

After many days of coding, we finally were able to deploy a super-buggy, ugly version of the project on Heroku. It’s like seeing your baby born. You play around with buttons, dream about the future, imagine his first customer, and clean up a lot of poo… 💩

We spend a few days fixing the bugs, writing the copy, and making it look like a product that we would like to use. Time to get ready for the launch.

👉 Give it a try

Day 15: Launch day 🚀

02 March 2022

We registered our domain, set up nameservers, and deployed our code. Everything looks acceptable enough for an MVP. At this stage, we don’t expect to find customers and turn it into a multi-million dollar business. Not only because it’s almost impossible, but also because we don’t have a billing page yet 😂

All we need is to find product people like ourselves and let them play with the product, collect some feedback and gain some motivation ⚡️ There are some good places to start;

  • ProductHunt – The place where you can satisfy your ego or crush under it 🤷🏻‍♂️
  • IndieHackers – A community of talented product makers where you can collect great feedback.
  • BetaList – Much lower traffic than PH but still a good place to be.
  • Slack communities – There are thousands of them. We picked the ones we are more active.
Arsen Nurmagomedov

Arsen Nurmagomedov

Parallel entrepreneur obsessed with product, ux and growth. Co-founder of kovan studio.