How we got our first 10 paying SaaS customers

ParseHub, our visual web scraping tool, launched in September 2014. We had our first 10 paying customers within a few weeks of launch. Here are 7 tips that we found useful on our journey and how you too can get your first few customers.

1. Don’t rush

There is a lot of pressure to launch early and grow from day one. Yet premature growth can be detrimental to a small team that is not equipped to handle thousands of sign-ups.

  • The one customer: developer or professional with technical knowledge.

2. 50+ hours of user tests with potential customers

We didn’t build blindly.

  1. Found potential customers on marketplaces like elance, oDesk (now Upwork) and People Per Hour to use our product.
  2. Interviewed our early adopters and asked them what they needed ParseHub for.
  3. Tested usability by asking each user to speak out loud and share their thoughts about our product (over screenshare). Tip: Pay attention to what the user does, not just what they say.
  4. Upgraded the product and tested again!
  • “What did you like/dislike about the things you’ve tried?”
  • “What kind of websites do you want to get data from?”
  • “What do you need the data for?”
  • “Is this data essential to your business?”

3. Provide value that customers are willing to pay for

Finding a problem is great. But is it a problem that your customers are willing to part with their hard earned cash to solve?

  1. Help them save money
  2. Help them save time

4. Leverage marketplaces and communities

We found people to test our product by cold emailing potential customers and by applying for web scraping jobs posted on Elance and oDesk.

  • “Where does he or she look to find a solution for the problem I am trying to solve?”
  • If you want to solve a pain point in the real-estate market you can try Kijiji, and other industry specific communities.
  • If you are developing a solution for teachers you can find them on or

5. Soft launch on forums like Hacker News, Reddit & Product Hunt

Once we were ready to share our product with the world we focused on getting free press coverage on Hacker News, Reddit and ProductHunt.

6. Engage on Q&A sites like Quora and StackOverflow

We answered questions on Quora and StackOverflow about web scraping. This had a measurable impact on our revenues.

7. Twitter works magic and so do your first few loyal fans.

We had a few users give us a positive shout-out on twitter — one platform that you must chat with your early customers on.

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I’ll help you do the work you love! Product Manager — Facebook, Oculus VR, Shopify.👇Free product management course