When working on projects, management of resources, and maintaining a good overview of your project portfolio is essential for success. Ganttic, this months’ featured SaaS-company, assists companies that want to have full control of their projects. The cloud-based app provides users a full overview of allocated human resources, equipment, tools, project tasks, and more.
The Estonian company celebrated its 10th birthday this August, which is quite impressive considering the company was bootstrapped.
Not your typical software start-up
Ganttic never was the typical “start-up”. Instead of trying to scale up and cash out, which is the strategy of many start-ups, Ganttic always focused on their business values of “forward-thinking”. Being bootstrapped helped, as the company felt no pressure from outside investors to provide a quick return on investment.
Ceo Veenpere explains this was a conscious decision. Bootstrapping was, and is, part of the main vision of Ganttic: “It forces you to think about the actual needs of the client. And the kind of solution you can realistically provide. (..) Bootstrapping helped us be more sustainable as a company.”
Ganttic received a “small seed investment in the beginning”. The founders aimed to break even as soon as they could. This first revenue goal “took us about three and a half years”.
The result is “no-frills software offering the flexibility of spreadsheets with features of dedicated management software”. Or, as CEO Ivar Veenpeere said in an interview:
“We don’t so much create software to manage your organization or project, but a platform and the tools with which you can create your own management system.”
Tips for starting SaaS-entrepreneurs
Veenpere believes strongly in the vision behind Ganttic. When asked to share some secret tips for new SaaS entrepreneurs, he emphasizes that companies should keep their eye on the real world, not on the demands of investors:
“When starting any new business, you have to look for the actual real-world problem. If the problem is big enough, and if people are willing to pay for the solution, then there’s your business.”
While this may sound obvious, in reality, companies often follow a different path: “A lot of companies create a problem and then offer a solution. Sometimes this works. But it’s not always sustainable.”
He acknowledges that this may sound simplistic, but: “you still have to be creative in doing this. Ask yourself whether the solution you have is not only what people want, but whether it’s achievable.”
Down to earth marketing approach
Being the CEO of Ganttic, Veenpere is obviously familiar with the marketing lingo. Surprisingly, though, he points at a very old school marketing approach: delivering a good product.
“Referral marketing is by far our biggest area for growth,” he says “If you have a good product, people are willing to recommend it. And you have built-in brand ambassadors associated with your product.”
It’s not only clients referring to other clients that fuels growth for Ganttic. The loyalty of existing clients makes all the difference.
Veenpere tells us it’s also clients introducing the SaaS-provider when they start a new job: “We have had a number of serial users moving from one company to another, and in the process taking Ganttic with them. There were some cases that people moved across the world and when they started their new job, recommended our tool to their new company. “
‘Have a good product’
This shows Veenpere continues, that
“your primary focus should be the product. If you sell someone a product they hate, then yeah, maybe you gained one sale, but you’re losing out on the potential for more. ”
Veenpere makes it sound very easy to bootstrap your own SaaS-company. But surely there are some big mistakes which we can learn from? Veenpere: ”There’s not one major mistake, there have been so many small mistakes. It’s all a learning experience.”
He pauses, thinking, then proceeds to explain that the most important thing is to learn from your experience: “There was one instance when we spent a lot of time and money on one campaign and ended up not seeing any tangible ROI.”
It would be easy to describe the campaign as a failure, but he looks at it differently: “Of course that can be sometimes hard to measure. And I think that’s the key takeaway. Even if something seems like a failure, it can be hard to tell. If you still end up at a positive endpoint, who’s to say if it’s a failure or not?
Don’t spend too much time focusing on “failures.” Learn from them. Make some changes. And re-execute your vision. “
Looking at the future
The Ganttic-approach seems to pay off. Now, a decade after the company was founded, the company has thousands of clients on 6 continents. Its SaaS is used in a wide diversity of companies, ranging from engineering, R&D, and the creative industries.
Does this mean the company has achieved success and can lean back? Not according to CEO Veenpeere, who explains that Ganttic is now focussing on developing more project management tools. New features include Kanban boards, improved security, and increased compatibility through the new API.
Veenpeere explains many of these features were originally suggested by clients: “We’re continuously trying to listen to our customers and find answers to the problems they have. They are the ones doing the hard work. And we’re just trying to help them get their job done.”