How do the entrepreneurs/starters of non-mainstream apps (e.g., https://electerious.com/) protect their trademarks, patents, copyrights, etc., for their apps, SAAS, and so on, from intellectual theft or other such copyright infringement?
How do founders of those SAAS and apps prevent the aforementioned elements from being stolen from them? What do they do when the intellectual thieves pass of the founders'/proprietor's intellectual rights, trademarks, patents, copyrights, etc., as the thieves' own?
I don't remember these entrepreneurs going through court to get a legal patent for their products. Most of these products seem to be "off-the-radar" types.
We are a nimble team building a customer support software (like Zendesk, HelpScout) from last 5 months. We are about launch our first public beta and it will be invitation only.
I'm little nervous because this is my first SaaS launch ever! Do you have any suggestion for me to not freak out ? 🙂
As an entrepreneur, what is your 'go to market' strategy?
Really appreciate your feedback.
Glasgow, Scotland-based video interview startup Willo has scored a £250,000 (~$ 320k) seed round of funding after watching demand for its asynchronous Q&A style video platform leap up during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Guernsey-based VC firm 1818 Venture Capital is investing in the seed round, with Willo board members Steve Perry, Stefan Ciecierski and Peter Preston also kicking in a smaller chunk of the capital.
The 2018-founded startup says usage of its SaaS platform has grown at least 80% each month since April, after the UK went into a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Customers have also been finding new uses for the product beyond video interviews — such as for reviews, training, and learning and development — as remote working has been supercharged by the pandemic.
“We have over 1,000 users in 60+ countries — growing 2x faster this month than previous months!” says CEO and founder, Euan Cameron. “Core industries are recruitment, customer research, learning and development and non-profits for volunteers etc.”
The seed funding will be put towards accelerating Willo’s international growth — with a recruitment drive that will add 24 members of staff planned, in addition to spending on further product development.
Cameron confirms it’s working on adding real-time video to the platform, when we ask — so it’s gunning to go after a slice of Zoom (et al)’s lunch.
“Our core product offering is simple, affordable async video communication. However, we are currently in development of a realtime (Live) interviewing option so that organisations can seamlessly flip from an asynchronous video into a realtime one,” he says.
Currently Willo offers an interface that let employers pose questions for candidates/staff to respond to by recording a video response. The platform stores all videos in a dashboard for easy reviewing and sharing.
For the recruitment use-case it also offers a question bank — letting employers choose from “hundreds” of pre-written questions to shave a little friction off the recruitment process.
Expanding on some of the additional uses customers have been finding for the platform during the pandemic, Cameron tells TechCrunch: “We have an education charity in the UK (Worktree) who use Willo to ask people in successful careers around the world about their job and their career path. Worktree then provides these videos to kids in schools to help them make career choices.
“A business in Europe uses Willo to identify niche influencers who have potential and bring them on board a training and development program.”
Another example he gives is a university in India that’s using it to find and enrol software engineers for a degree course. Businesses are also using it to obtain customer testimonials and for customer research. And of course Willo’s own VC investor is a user — having adopted the platform for all new business pitches.
“Every new business must go through Willo as part of what they have branded their ‘Ten Minute Pitch’. They connect Willo to Calendy to automate this workflow which is cool,” he notes, adding: “What is most interesting is that all of these examples previously used to rely on face-to-face meetings or video calls, but they had to adapt.”
Willo is also putting a tentative toe into the waters of artificial intelligence for the hiring use-case, although he says its roadmap has shifted to focus more on chasing growth as a result of the pandemic lockdown effect.
Its website trails an “AI-powered” beta feature that’s doing keyword analysis with the aim of identifying personality and behavioral traits, based on how candidates speak.
Asked about this, Cameron says: “Currently, our AI which is in beta is purely focused on the transcription of the audio, we are working hard on not only transcribing accurately but also creating keyword trends. For example, if you are an analytical person we can identify that and call it out to the organisation by looking at common words and themes within your interview.”
“This is very much in its infancy as COVID-19 has pushed us to focus on delivering what we already do at scale and for the many additional use cases [mentioned previously],” he adds.
Applying algorithms to automate elements of the hiring process is something a growing number of startups have been dabbling in in recent years. Although there can be legal risks around bias/discrimination when applying such tools — given the varied and often complex patchworks of applicable laws in different jurisdictions. (In the UK, for example, equality, employment and data protection law may all need to be considered.)
Asked how Willo is avoiding the risk of AI-powered keyword analysis leading to unfair/unequal effects for interview candidates, Cameron says: “Regarding UK equality law we have been working with organisations on a 1-to-1 basis around training and development of their own staff to ensure that they are using Willo as a tool for good. We believe that the same bias and discrimination would occur in a face-to-face or live video interview so it is a case of eradicating that from the individuals through training. We partner with an HR consultancy to help deliver this training when requested.”
“We are working with an incredibly experienced data and compliance expert to ensure we introduce AI effectively, legally and to the benefit of both interviewer and interviewee,” he adds.
“Our core values are always to be transparent and ensure that we are adding value for all users. One of the challenges with AI at Willo is to ensure that we continue to enhance the human interactions at scale — the number one piece of feedback we receive from users is that they loved seeing and hearing from people — so we never want to automate that out of the product.”
On the competitive front, Cameron lists Sparkhire, Vidcruiter and Recright as “key” competitors though he notes that Willo, which offers a freemium tier, is positioning itself to be accessible for a wider range of users.
“They all focus primarily on recruitment and are prohibitively expensive for most SMEs and start-ups. I believe that video interviewing should benefit everyone, not just large multinationals,” he adds.
SaaS Ventures is aiming for a $ 50M second fund. Here’s the plan to invest it. Washington Business Journal
“startups when:1d” – Google News
Hello r/startups ! While launching our project with my associates we quickly got lost in all the different SaaS subscriptions we were paying for.
We started to centralize all this in an Airtable and we created a dashboard to follow everything. The objective was to quickly get our hands on all our subscriptions and to be able to integrate new ones or unsubscribe in two clicks.
Would you be interested in such a service? If yes, leave me a comment to be part of the beta!
I am looking for a single SaaS that will do the following
- Social media monitoring (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram – Read and answer posts. Schedule posts.)
- Mobile apps monitoring (Get reviews of Google and App store – Answer directly from the Saas)
- Send mobile app reviews to Slack channel
I found two different SaaS that can do 1 and 2-3, but I would like to keep it simple and have one platform to use.
The world is slowly shifting its focus from conventional to renewable energy, which means we need systems in place to help with the inevitable transition. For decentralised renewable energy, one of the key challenges is to take stock of how the energy systems are managed. Taking on this challenge is the Amsterdam-based SaaS startup AMMP Technologies, which has now secured €1.15M from Zendesk and Typeform investors.
Expanding footprint and developing new solutions
The latest funding round for AMMP Technologies was led by Point Nine Capital, which is an early investor in B2B SaaS companies such as Zendesk and Typeform. In addition, Africa-focused Raba Partnership and Musha Ventures also participated in the funding round. The fresh capital will be utilised for expanding the company’s customer base and in further development of its solutions. In particular, this will be realised by adding more vendor integrations, forging partnerships and by launching a solution targeted at energy for telecoms infrastructure.
Svet Bajlekov, co-founder and CEO of AMMP says, “Our customers are already driving the renewable energy transition at an unprecedented pace. We are proud to work alongside them, providing them the digital tools to scale faster than ever. This is especially relevant in the face of the current economic headwinds, and indeed restrictions on physical movement. In turn, we are excited to be bringing on board the leading investors in the B2B SaaS space, and work with them to realize the potential scale of the opportunity ahead of us.”
Operations platform for decentralised renewable energy systems
AMMP Technologies started off in 2018 and its founders began their work at E.ON Off-Grid Solutions. The co-founders Svet, Stine and Hendrik worked together at Rafiki Power (a former E.ON SE company), where they were involved in deploying and operating mini-grids for rural electrification across Sub-Saharan Africa. Most of these deployments were located in remote locations in extreme conditions, where it was difficult and expensive to track them.
Thus the idea of AMMP was born, to plug the technological gap in the renewable energy space. It recognised the potential of bringing together operational data across multiple vendors, technologies, and locations onto a unified platform. The company is currently focussed on emerging markets, where over $ 60B is said to be annually spent on diesel generation, according to the IFC – and where cheaper, cleaner renewables are rapidly replacing this legacy spend.
AMMP’s client list includes some of the most advanced companies in the renewable energy space such as Daystar, Rensource, and PowerGen. It enables remote operations for about 1,000 renewable energy generation systems across 17 countries on four continents – from Colombia, through to Sierra Leone and Kenya, to Myanmar. AMMP supports a wide range of assets, from rural mini-grids with battery storage, to complex megawatt-scale PV-diesel hybrid plants, to telecoms towers.
Image credits: AMMP Technologies
Freemium is an extremely popular pricing model for software products, and on paper it looks ideal. The theory is that you’ll entice new customers with a free subscription and withhold certain features for the paid version. Ideally, your free users will love your product so much that they’ll sign up for the paid version.
What could go wrong?
Well, like so many good ideas, in practice, freemium doesn’t always turn out perfectly. It’s worked excellently for some companies, like Mailchimp, which used freemium to grow its total user base five times over and to add more than 4,000 paying users each month. But there are also freemium horror stories, like that of Baremetrics, which nearly went under after just three months of experimenting with freemium.
Thus, entrepreneurs are split over whether freemium is good or bad for web-based startups, but the truth is that it’s neither: everything depends on how you use it. Approaching freemium the right way can drive massive low-touch sales from subscribers who will stay with you for years. But approaching it the wrong way can land you in a deep hole of support tickets, infrastructure costs, technical debt and churning users.
By learning what many SaaS startups get wrong about freemium, you can avoid repeating their mistakes. Read on for my take on four key freemium mistakes to avoid, what makes them so toxic, and what to do instead.
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Using freemium as a tool for revenue
The first mistake is thinking about freemium as a revenue model, when in reality, it’s an acquisition model. Your free users are not customers who’ve already converted; they are simply leads, who are deep into a different type of funnel.
In this sense, freemium is another marketing tool for attracting interest in your product and nurturing warm leads until they convert into paying customers. Focus your efforts on delighting your free users so they’ll feel the desire to keep using your software, eventually converting to more loyal paid subscribers. Continue with your product-oriented sales and marketing tactics, like embedding your brand name and logo prominently in the free solution, because you still need your free users to strengthen their positive associations with your brand.
Misunderstanding your customers
For the freemium model to succeed, you need intimate knowledge of what your users are really after. SaaS startups that fail to perfectly understand who their ideal customers are will fail.
You need to know what specific pain points will convince customers to sign up for your free plan, and what will eventually lead them to switch to the paid version. This is the value that your audience needs to aspire to unlock with your product, and that value needs to have two levels to it. People should get that value as soon as they sign up for free, but they should also feel the promise of significantly more value if they upgrade.
Essentially, freemium success means striking the right balance between offering an attractive free plan and still reserving enough features to entice people to switch to a paid one. Mailchimp found this balance; the company used its free plan to differentiate it from other email marketing platforms, but it also knew which premium features would convince users to sign up for the paid plan.
A big aspect of making this work requires continually innovating and iterating to make your paid version more attractive by adding more features and improving your level of service. Reducing the appeal of your free plan is not the right approach; that will only put off your free users, who’ll feel betrayed because you moved the goalposts on them.
Launching a freemium plan before finding product-market fit
You should never use freemium pricing when you’re still trying to work out your unique selling proposition. For freemium to succeed, you need to be absolutely clear about the value of your free product and the added value of your premium product. You also need to be capable of communicating them both clearly to your users.
To put it simply, you must find your product-market fit before launching a freemium plan.
One element to finding your product-market fit is establishing that there’s a market for your product in the first place. In the case of freemium, that potential market needs to encompass tens of millions of potential users, so you can afford to only convert a percentage of free users to your paid plan.
The other component is ensuring that your product matches the market’s needs so that you can articulate your value proposition, convince leads to join your free plan and eventually convert them to your paid plan.
Not making sure that you can support all free users
This is the primary takeaway from the Baremetrics freemium failure story. Founder Josh Pigford has said he didn’t anticipate the impact that so many free users would have on the app’s tech infrastructure. Although 11 percent of those users converted to paid plans, free users quickly outnumbered paid users, placing an unsupportable load on Baremetrics’ servers and clogging up its customer support system.
In just three months, free users absorbed so much of Baremetrics’s resources that paid customers began to leave in frustration at the failing system.
Contrast that to the experience of Vistaprint, which was already an established printing business before it made a bold move to attract micro-businesses with free business cards. Vistaprint had all the equipment and resources in place to meet increased demand for free cards, and economies of scale meant that printing more cards for free users actually reduced their per-item production costs overall.
The moral of these stories is clear: before implementing your freemium plan, you need to either be sure that you have the infrastructure and resources to support all your free and paid users, or have a strategy to limit free users enough that they won’t place a strain on the experience of your paying customers. That includes bandwidth, storage, tech and customer support, and countless other elements.
Bottom line: Freemium can still succeed, as long as you do it right
The bottom line is that freemium plans can still be highly effective. For example, Dropbox is still doing very well by offering a free plan alongside paid tiers. But, executing a freemium model requires careful forethought and extensive planning.
As long as you avoid making the mistakes of using freemium as a revenue tool, launching your freemium plan too soon, overstretching your infrastructure, or failing to understand user needs, your freemium SaaS experiment should have great potential for success.
I'm finishing the development of an app, where we will just be an intermediary between people who want to rent something and someone that has that specific item, like Airbnb, ¿is there an standard for the % of commission that we take or it depends on the niche?