5 lessons from building my first app as a non-technical co-founder

5 lessons from building my first app as a non-technical co-founder

Recording a live podcast at the Chartered Accountants ANZ office with my Crossbeam co-founders
Recording a live podcast at the Chartered Accountants ANZ office with my Crossbeam co-founders

Many years ago I briefly worked on a health tech startup that went nowhere.

We were retrofitting a solution to a problem we didn't really understand.

I moved in a different direction and developed my business skills by founding and scaling an eCommerce accounting firm called Bean Ninjas.

I always wanted to come back to tech, but I waited until I had a network, some money in the bank, and a good problem to solve. Introducing Crossbeam – a SaaS app to sync payments from an eCommerce platform called Maropost to Xero. We went live in the Xero app store last month!

This article is a summary of the podcast episode we recorded, where I share my 5 lessons in building an app as a non-technical cofounder.

#1. Have a deep understanding of the problem you want to solve

Factors we considered:

  • Do we understand this problem well?
  • Is this problem a big enough pain point for customers to pay us?
  • What is the size of the Total Addressable Market?
  • Who are our competitors and what makes us different?

#2. Work with an experienced developer who can build fast

It took us 3 months to build the product ready for beta testing. I thought this was fast and Matt the developer thought this was slow.

#3. Ruthlessly prioritize features

We split all feedback from beta users into two buckets:

  • we have to build this before launch
  • this can wait until after launch

#4. The long slow SaaS ramp of death is real

I'm used to accounting firm clients on retainers of thousands of dollars, so it was quite an adjustment to slowly grow revenue one $50 customer at a time.

#5. Getting customers to change their behavior is hard

Our app has a different (we think better!) workflow to the existing Xero and Maropost integrations. We assumed that everyone would immediately see why this workflow is better and want to switch, but it didn't work out like that

My second attempt at building software has been more successful. We have a product solving a defined problem and paying customers.

Shout out to my business partners Matt (developer) and Tracey (eCommerce accounting technical expert)!

We recorded this podcast in front of a live audience at the Chartered Accountants ANZ Brisbane Office in 2021.

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