A fresh perspective on the stages of building a SaaS business

May 19, 2021

EP13: To build in public or not to build in public

This week we dive into the perils and positives of building in public. We talk to Nate about how much he’s going to share with listeners.
Searching For SaaS
Searching For SaaS
EP13: To build in public or not to build in public


Nate: [00:00:30] Hey, Josh.
Josh: [00:00:31] Hey Nate, how’s it going today?
Nate: [00:00:33] It’s going really well. How are you.
Josh: [00:00:35] Ah, better, better than the last week. I know it was a little down. I don’t know if my, my voice could carry that through the, through the episode. Hopefully not. I, I don’t, I didn’t go back and listen yet.
Nate: [00:00:46] Yeah, we chatted a little bit about that and you did sound a bit down and you definitely sound happier today. So that’s good. I’m happy for that.
Josh: [00:00:52] yup, yup. Yeah. Most of this little stresses, I think half of it is. Probably anyone could attest to is stuff you build up in your head a bit, and then you get a perspective and things aren’t maybe as dire as you hadn’t built up to be.
Nate: [00:01:09] Hello perspective always helps. That’s that’s good. I’m glad. I’m glad that
worked out for you.
Josh: [00:01:14] Yeah. And I think our, your con our conversation after I know you said, Hey, does it help to just talk about it? Some other things, I think it did help and it spawned a little bit of a An idea that you planted in my head that did help make me feel better. So just to give a little update on that, and one of the things you were asking is if I talk to other entrepreneurs
further ahead than me as well. Yeah I don’t have a person I talk to regularly for that, but what I did do is it reminded me of a great podcast
episode. I heard a while back that really. Resonated with me. So I went back And listened to that over the weekend. It was one by the Wistia guy Chris Savage. So,
Nate: [00:01:52] yep.
Josh: [00:01:53] and it was one of these ones where it was kind of talking about similar around the point and stage I’m at with referral rock and the number of employees and the problems.
So it gave me a good reflection. I’d listened to that over the weekend. I gave me some good perspective as well. That definitely helped helped me in my levels of stress.
Nate: [00:02:11] Yeah, that’s, that’s good. If you can’t, if you can’t talk to somebody, you know, in a real conversation, you can at least listen to them on a podcast and get some benefits that
Josh: [00:02:19] there’s so much out there. I earmark a lot of these and go back to it. So
Nate: [00:02:23] I know I’m, I’m going through the Saster archives right now. And man, That is good stuff in there. Like just the advice on like, like situations where you’re like, what do I do?
Josh: [00:02:34] Yeah, there’s definitely a laundry list of good ones. The problem is sometimes they don’t hit you at the right time. Like, so sometimes if I have an inkling of a good one, I oftentimes like, you know, put it in a task to remind myself later or, or other ways. It’d be interesting. I know I’ve earmarked it as an idea for a topic at some point, but talking about how we learn and how, how you and me personally, like how we kind of use all these
resources to kind of self-learning And, get ourselves better, but that could be a whole episode.
Nate: [00:03:07] Oh, totally. that would be a great topic.
Josh: [00:03:08] So so yeah. So why don’t we start with that?
I guess we already have just started, but how are you doing? What’s a you’ve
we there’s been a lot of activity going on. I know
we’ve come out. of this five
idea homework thing that
has given you this perspective of looking things, looking at ideas from
a, I believe like a market first Kind of approach, which was not your traditional
approach, which previously was more of kind of
First, this is more market first, so what’s, what’s going on with that right now.
Nate: [00:03:41] Yeah, so we did all those ideas and did all the homework. And after that I got a couple ideas that I thought were actually pretty good. And so I’ve kind of been diving deeper into those into the next stage of validation and stuff like that. Just trying to, trying to flush these out. I think That I’ve got something promising and, you know, I think I, I wanna, I want to pursue it further and kind of figure it out a bit
Josh: [00:04:06] okay. All right. Cool.
Nate: [00:04:07] And yeah, I’ve been, I’ve been starting to like work on things without like talking to you first and some, a little bit like what’s going to happen.
Josh: [00:04:15] Hey, it’s your thing. It’s I’m I’m, I’m only here as a, I dunno, a spirit guide, so to
Nate: [00:04:21] Yes. No, I don’t mean that you’d get me in trouble. I just mean that maybe the things I did, weren’t the right idea. That
kind of
Josh: [00:04:28] That’s that’s half of it, right. Is just wandering, wandering the path yourself a little bit. So all good.
Nate: [00:04:34] Yeah.
Josh: [00:04:36] Speaking of
that I did, I did have a
question that I wanted to bring up as a topic of today’s conversation, which is building in public.
What does the first, well, before I ask you what, the
first thing that comes to mind? Well, yeah, I mean, what, what do you feel like building in public? I mean, we’re doing this podcast, which we’re talking about your journey and.
If you don’t talk enough about your journey and about specifics, it seems like we’re going to have our legs cut out from under our set in terms
of, you know, the narrative of what we’re trying to kind of help other people with with this, with this podcast potentially. So,
Nate: [00:05:14] Yeah. Yeah. I,
think that is really tricky. Like I, when you say the fruit, what’s the first thing you think of? I think the first thing I think of is people posting on Twitter with their like bare metrics reports or whatever, and talking about the features and strategy that they’re working on. And like, they’re, you know, I made $1, but who, you
Josh: [00:05:32] right. Right. And, and it’s a great, yeah, it’s a great celebration point, I think for a lot of people, but yeah. So what, what about, so what about you, do you think you’re, you’re going to be in this hashtag building and public movement.
Nate: [00:05:47] Yeah, I, I really struggle with this because on the
one hand, I want to talk to other people about the things that I’m passionate about, which is like, you know, the, the positioning, the strategy and all of that. But on the other hand, I also don’t want. You know, someone to just come along and scoop up my idea and do it.
And I worry about that. Or like even just being judged for, you
know, doing things that are a little bit dumb sometimes which, you know, everyone does and that’s fine. I’m okay with
that. but, just that the whole internet
knows, you know, I was like, ah, I dunno about, that.
Josh: [00:06:21] I can see
Nate: [00:06:22] So I think.
Josh: [00:06:22] I, but I think your primary argument is probably the biggest objection for people to do you know, bill any sort of build in
public Is that someone would steal their idea. Right?
Nate: [00:06:35] Yeah. And not just their idea, but like the thinking behind it, right? Like it’s a lot of work to figure out what sort of strategy you’re going to pursue on something. Or it’s a lot of work to figure out like what persona you’re going to pursue and how that persona acts or how you think that persona acts.
And for someone to just, you know, come along and read the calls and be like, oh yeah, here we go.
Josh: [00:06:56] Right.
I mean, but I see there’s a lot of distance in between that. I mean, building in public, if, what, what depends on what you. Defined as, or what people call it, right? Because there is the, Hey I’m sharing. I made my first dollar great point. Hey even further along, I see a lot of people sharing, like, Hey, I was able to quit my full-time W2 job, which again is another great milestone.
But I don’t know how many of them it’s like, how much are you sharing? What’s like, what’s, what’s TMI, right? Like sharing that ChartMogul or bare metrics number, chairing those, those milestones are great,
know, sharing screenshots that you’re excited about. But do they actually share like, Here’s the persona I’m going after.
And here’s all of my research on why, obviously those are a little bit
more, well, will one, will anyone actually care? And, and two, is that just like, is that just, is that just too much information? Like the context is way out of whack. Like it’s just, you know, is there a point of where someone’s just is it quite stream of consciousness in terms of building in public or is it just like, Hey, I’m showing you the milestones.
I’m trying to get the benefits, like getting in terms of a community around it, which I think is probably the biggest benefit.
Nate: [00:08:11] Yeah, I guess you have that community, right? That’s that is definitely an upside, like, especially you got all of these people that are kind of tuning in and sharing their thoughts on it. I think that’s a, that’s a real plus, and I think that’s even like you and I talking about the stuff we’ve talked about so far, right?
Like the, the niching
And research methods and
stuff like that
Like those things have been hugely beneficial for me.
And to do that. I had to, you know, you give up a little bit of like, well, this is what I’m
doing, and this is what I care about and that kind of thing. And I think
like, I think kind of the, the place where I think that I will settle into is I willing to share, I think more with the
podcast, because it requires effort to listen to the podcast
and to
Josh: [00:08:51] so that’s, it’s, it’s a bit of a walled garden there where you’re like, if you really care that much about like, you’re going to have to listen to my dribble and you don’t might not have the full picture, but you have like, you have to listen to 50 hours and. That still isn’t obviously the complete picture in your mind.
Cause it was, you might be contradicting yourself throughout the process. Anyway.
Nate: [00:09:13] exactly. And then that way that people who are following along. They they’re able to chime in and they’re able to learn. So you get the benefit there, but you don’t quite go to the whole, like Twitter level of like, you know, Hey everybody, I, you know, this is my cool new strategy for this market, with this persona.
And so that someone couldn’t just come along and be like, Ooh, nice. I’ll
take that one thing.
Josh: [00:09:33] right. Well then there’s, there’s obviously that’s, just like a one-line thing. It’s like, someone copying. A feature without really understanding the context behind the customer research behind all of those other things. So they might just, it just, you know, they’re there. What they might think is a cool idea might be totally off base without the context, which is really
Nate: [00:09:57] yeah.
Josh: [00:09:57] TMI for everyone else.
I would think.
Nate: [00:09:59] Yeah. And I think what’s also interesting to think of is that a lot of the podcasts that I’ve listened to from, you know, big name brands and stuff like that, you get their executives there and they’re talking exactly about their strategy and what they think. And so, you know, it’s working, it seems to work somewhat for them.
So maybe, maybe it’s not all that
bad. I don’t
Josh: [00:10:21] now. I think it’s I think it’s interesting. I think it’s I have. I would say my, my relationship with building in public is is as complicated, but
Nate: [00:10:33] Yeah. Well, here’s a question for you. Like what about you sharing what you’re doing with referral rock, right? Like obviously you don’t do that. So what are your thoughts behind
Josh: [00:10:43] But what do you mean? I don’t do that?
Nate: [00:10:45] Well, you don’t like share while we made X number of dollars this month and we faced X problems and we’re going to solve them Y ways
Josh: [00:10:53] right. Yeah, I guess I, well, I think we’re of a certain point where, you know, I can’t say what I would have done in the past, but that’s probably where some of this complicated relationship stuff goes with, with building in public and sharing certain emotions. I think, okay. We’re at the point where there’s no value in sharing it, like those milestones, we talked about about like having the first dollar Quitting my full-time job.
I’m hiring people. All of those great milestones took a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of, yeah, a lot of, a lot of work and effort over those. But I think I’m at the point where there is, there’s more interesting things that I would be. Oh, definitely open to sharing about, you know, struggles and of the entrepreneur at this stage, things that I’ve seen in the past that hopefully I can help you with or help other people with where I don’t think really the, the dollar amount or sharing that is really much of a story anymore because we’re past a certain point.
Like we’re, we’re
Nate: [00:12:00] what’s your big, your big,
you know,
Josh: [00:12:02] I feel like, yeah, I feel like it’s like you’re off the ground. And maybe it’s also not really that like what’s interesting about us is not necessarily like, oh, I went from 1 million to 2 million. Like it’s not, it’s not bad. Interesting. The most people would want to know about, well, how did you get the first dollar?
How did it get to 10,000? How’d you feel comfortable enough to quit your job? How’d you? All of those things are, are interesting. And I can
still talk about those, You know, how we went to one to two.
Or two to three or whatever.
Like I think it’s, you know, maybe people are just
looking at it
from a headline perspective, but honestly, like
Nate: [00:12:41] yeah.
Josh: [00:12:42] maybe I don’t want to know.
I, at this point from a competition standpoint, like is like, Yeah. Why, why would I, why, why should I share? I don’t mind sharing and I’d tell people in private conversations and I share things from the past when they’ve hit and I will share ranges of things, but I don’t know. I don’t, I don’t feel like there’s a inherent advantage for just sharing numbers.
Like I don’t
Nate: [00:13:07] right. Right. You feel more like you’re painting a target on your back. If you were to share exact numbers, as opposed to like the benefits at an early stage where you say, Hey, I’m at, you know, five. Five a thousand AR or MRR, you know, here, here’s the kind of problems I’m facing in that really way that gives people a lot more context to help them in that
Josh: [00:13:27] yeah. Like I think, I think that probably says it, so, yeah, I think, I wouldn’t say it puts a target on my back, but just, probably just, yeah, just alludes to just. We’re information that is really helpful or necessary. Like the people I want to reach the people I want to talk to about this type of stuff.

Nate: [00:13:44] Right.
Josh: [00:13:45] yeah. I don’t, I don’t think it’s helpful and is, yeah. So I don’t know.
Nate: [00:13:50] cool. Cool.
Josh: [00:13:53] So with you, so at this point in the stage, I mean, you’re, we’ve been sharing a lot about how we’re going through ideation, which I think could help anyone. We’ve gone through different things like, you know, market analysis, all these different, different ways to kind of move along. So if I’m to recap correctly, you, you are you’re comfortable sharing.
Okay. It’s been interesting for me. And like I said, I’ve come from a more conservative route of like, not sharing as much, but I would even say my, my opinion has changed even as of. Actually this podcast has changed it a lot lately, honestly.
Nate: [00:14:31] Yeah. W w what do you mean that it’s changed?
Josh: [00:14:34] I mean, I haven’t been a big fan of building in public, I would say mostly because the ones I’ve seen in my
circles, like, in my. My, my, I would say my view of the internet from my Twitter account, from, from the feeds I read which everyone’s going to have their own view. Some things are crossing over, but the ones I’ve seen through our journey is like buffer and groove and all these ones that were, I would say a little more pioneer in the.
Like transparency and sharing, sharing their journey and, and building in public, so to speak for, for SAS companies. And like, I saw that, I mean, for me, I, I don’t know, for me it felt very marketing gimmicky. Yeah.
Nate: [00:15:23] okay. You’re like, Hmm, what’s the edge here. Are they just
trying to,
Josh: [00:15:27] And maybe that’s just me taking a contrary viewpoint of
like, huh. I was like, eh, but it was good information. They were sharing. And then I’m just like, they’re still,
like, I would read, you know, some of buffer
things. I’m like, there’s subtext in here that they’re still not saying, like you read some of this stuff and it’s, and there’s, there’s a lot of insights and there’s a lot of interesting, but I also know from anytime you write something there’s so much Polish and so much.
You know, you’re not saying or theirs, it’s their viewpoint at that point in time. So in my mind, I viewed it more of like this, this marketing thing. And then if I was to do it too, it felt like a gimmick, a copycat gimmick of their stuff. So
Nate: [00:16:08] but I guess the way to think about that though, is that if you are to build in public or if I were to build in public, our audience probably isn’t the people who follow building in public, right? Like that’s not really a viable marketing channel for URI necessarily.
Josh: [00:16:22] I don’t think it is. I think there’s probably
tons of people that probably get into it thinking it’s a marketing
channel. They’re like, essentially I’m getting all these people, but those are the ones that are probably the quickest to
flame out of it. Because anyone in there, as we stated is probably more about.
The community, right? They’re more about cheerleading. It’s more about, you know, maybe even some social accountability. It’s like, Hey, we haven’t heard from Nate in a while. How’s this stuff doing? And someone might ping you and you’re like, oh yeah, I gotta, I gotta, I better, I better get back on my horse and you might get out there and be vulnerable.
Like, Hey, actually, I’ve been having some personal things going on. Everyone’s
like, oh, w w what’s what’s what’s going on? What’s going on, Nate? Come on. You can do it. Get back on that. Yeah. Yeah.
Nate: [00:17:04] Yeah. totally. And I think that’s kind of like this podcast too, right. Like we’re not, we didn’t start this podcast to make a marketing channel or anything like that. And like, it’s just about hanging out and talking about things that people would benefit from. Right.
Josh: [00:17:18] right. Right.
Well, one may helping you to just like, yeah, I think, I think help having that be a place for other people to kind of benefit in your place at the journey. And and, and to just for us to kind of. Keep up relations and get this, get, get you, get you, get you to have your own stuff. Yeah. So,
Nate: [00:17:38] yeah, there you go.
Josh: [00:17:41] but what also changed my mind too, is like I said, there’s this podcast. So our Twitter account has been interesting because it’s almost a different person than me. And it’s opened up my eyes to just, what is sort of going on. And they’re like, I’m more, I feel like I’m almost like a different person in there.
And for us even building this podcast makes me. I feel like I’m kind of building in public. Cause
we’re talking about, we’ll talk about it. Talk about our stats, talking about our numbers. A little bit, but in my mind, it’s, it’s like a new startup. And it’s, it’s experimenting with this. It’s using existing marketing strategies or just thinking about statistics, thinking about engagement, thinking about how we’re, you know, what information we’re we’re I wouldn’t say we’re not keeping anything, but how we’re. Telling our story, so to speak, which is all like interesting. And, and again, one of the goals was for me to try to learn, to be more concise with
speaking, which would this trailing off. I’m not sure if I’m actually
accomplishing that or not.
Nate: [00:18:46] Oh, we got post-production for that.
Josh: [00:18:47] Okay, cool. Thanks Nate. Just cut and paste. Delete with descript.
Nate: [00:18:53] That’s right. That’s Right?
Josh: [00:18:55] Cool. All right. Well with that. So we are agreeing that you’re building in public too. I think for me, the podcast is building in public, but again, I’m open to share, but I really, I
don’t think this is necessarily about me, but at some point I know we’ll do some other episodes. I’ll be happy to share, you know, plenty of other information and plenty of other things.
So I don’t want it to seem like I am just here to just tell you what to do.
Nate: [00:19:22] and you’re not definitely not telling me what to do.
Don’t don’t think that it’s more about advice and I’ve, I value your advice.
Josh: [00:19:28] Okay, cool. All right.
Nate: [00:19:31] cool.
Josh: [00:19:32] well, thank you. We should wrap this one. I think this was a interesting one to kind of set the stage. So we will be talking more dirty details about, about your new, a new ideas. I think you’ve come up with a few and hopefully on the next episode, we’ll dive in a little bit more with that.
Nate: [00:19:50] Yeah, that.
sounds good. Looking forward to it.
Josh: [00:19:52] Cool. Thanks mate.
Nate: [00:19:54] Thanks.
Josh: [00:19:54] But