Software Startup Ideas in 2021 | SaaS

Creating a new category in SaaS is one of these coveted things. It's a mystical thing. Everyone wants to do it. And everyone thinks that investors wanna see it as well.

But here's the thing that I've realized recently. Category creation is a complete slog.

And even if you are creating a category and somehow you actually hit the escape velocity and actually create that category and get the early success, pioneers always have arrows on their back.

These days, there are lots of SaaS categories where it's going through enough of a cycle 

-where they're actually existing categories that are ripe for disruption, 

-existing categories that investors even understand, 

-existing categories that if you choose to go after, 

you're gonna have a higher likelihood of success because a lot more stuff is figured out and the dollars are there.

You just need to do a 10 times better experience, which is now feasible to do.

If I was to start a SaaS business today, I'm gonna give you my four core SaaS ideas, SaaS categories, that you can go after right now and disrupt and win in 2021 and beyond.

1. CRMs

CRMs today are incredibly ripe for disruption because all the existing large CRM players are continuously trying to go upmarket.

Salesforce who started as CRMs, and is the granddaddy of CRMs, isn't really a CRM company anymore.

They don't even specialize anymore. They don't even think about how to transform CRMs anymore.

They're thinking about the 50 million other products that they've acquired that they're now trying to sell.

On top of that, if you think about HubSpot, which got into CRMs, which now is super focused on CRMs, their CRM is actually not that great.

I mean, I use it, I recommend it, it's one of the best out there, but it's not that great when it comes to a CRM.

Then you've got Pipedrive, which is now owned by Vista Private Equity, which means that not a lot of product innovation is probably going to happen.

They're gonna be much more of a sales-driven model to grow it.

It means that CRMs today, if you wanna go after the top dog status of a CRM, of really reimagining how a CRM should work, how it should flow, how you can actually manage customer relationships, then you should go after this category. 

Because right now, if you were to start a CRM company, everyone understands what this category is, everyone agrees that it's a bad experience right now, and if you can dream up a better way to actually create a CRM and have a better experience, you're gonna be successful.

There's already some people that are doing this.

That's one way you can actually start to disrupt the CRM category and then eventually start to own it.

So CRMs, number one, are incredibly ripe for disruption because most of the companies that are top dogs are just kind of not in an R&D mode.

They're just really in a point of, like, "How do we just charge our customers more and sell them more things?" Which is exactly when they can be disrupted through innovation.

2. Marketing Automation

The second category that I think is completely ripe for disruption is marketing automation.

I worked on Marketo. They did a two-year transformation. They sold it to Adobe for $4.75 billion.

I know marketing automation relatively well.

And when it comes to marketing automation, the top dogs were Eloqua, Marketo, and HubSpot.

Eloqua got bought by Oracle, and then we never heard from them ever again, which is why Marketo transformation worked really well because Marketo then went into the enterprise and started to do really well.

Now that Marketo's acquired by Adobe, who knows what they're doing?

Like, I honestly don't know I haven't kept up. And HubSpot recently said, you know what?

Even though they started with marketing automation, they're not just marketing software anymore, they're now a CRM software.

They're trying to be more of a CDP, a Customer Database Platform, and they're trying to go upmarket, which all that means is that marketing automation is ripe for disruption because the biggest players in there are just off, kind of at the beach doing their thing.

This means that if you were to start a brand new marketing automation company today, you could actually disrupt that market.

You could come up with a brand new way of doing marketing automation.

Reimagining how you capture leads and nurture people. Reimagining how B2B marketing should work.

Marketing automation is my second most favorite category that you can go and disrupt today and probably get away with it because everyone understands what marketing automation is and no one loves the current platforms that are out there because they haven't innovated.

They really have not innovated.

Oh, before I go into number three, let me just pause here for a second.

Are you starting to see the power in this?

-On one hand, you can try to go create a new category, go educate that market, convince people they need it, convince Forrester and Gartner that there should be a quadrant around it.

Convince investors that there's a real promise here. And then maybe get some success.

And once you figure all that out, others can come in and you can have arrows on your back.

Or you can go after some of these categories that have already gone through a cycle.

They were winners, they're clear budget, established, it's obviously needed, they got an exit.

Now they're off, fat, happy on the beach, and now you can go create a new version of these in a whole new way.

Are you starting to see the differences?

If you're starting to see the difference, can I just get a yes in the comments below?

Let's go to category number three.

3. Help desk software

The third category, ripe for disruption, seriously, seriously ripe for disruption is support, ticketing, and help desk systems.

So one of the big players in this is Zendesk.

Zendesk is public. It's an amazing platform. There's a long tail of players.

In addition to that, Intercom is kind of playing there.Salesforce, they used to have a help desk platform.

They still do, and it's massive and kind of boring.

But here's the thing.

No one gets excited about help desk software, but help desk software is super important in order for our business to be successful.

Customer experience is more important than ever. There's more channels through which customers want to talk to you than ever before.

There is chat, there's Messenger, there's WhatsApp, there's phone, there's so many touch points.

There's the website.

So reimagining the help desk experience, reimagining how support tickets should work, how email tickets should work, how support teams can better support customers, it's an incredible opportunity.

It's a well-defined category.

There's no companies innovating anymore in it.

It's just kind of status quo for them, fat and happy on the beach, which means that if you come in and you say, "We're gonna build a 10 times better help desk experience," you could be massively successful.

And there are lots of investors that would wanna go after that piece of the pie.

So category number three, support, ticketing, help desk systems, super awesome.

Now I have a fourth one.

4. Applicant tracking systems

So the fourth one, this is one that I also like that I think is like a little bit under the radar but I think it's gonna be ripe for disruption very, very soon, both in the enterprise and in the mid-market.

It's applicant tracking systems.

Now applicant tracking systems are boring.

No one thinks about it, but we're entering this new era of remote work where everyone can work everywhere and talent is being unlocked in a way like never before.

This means that companies have to rise up to the challenge of sourcing talent wherever they can find it globally.

And this means that they're gonna need a whole new way of tracking all these applications, all these candidates, marketing to those people, attracting that talent, and actually closing those deals with them and getting them to work for the company.

This will require a whole new way of thinking about HR systems and applicant tracking systems, which means that they're ripe for disruption as well.

Now the big players in applicant tracking systems, you've got iCIMS on the enterprise side, you've got Greenhouse and Lever on the mid-market side, and there's a long tail in the small business side.

All of them are cycling in one way, shape, or form, either private equity-owned or they are much larger, so they're not innovating as much and they're trying to think about how to just go after that market.

So that means they're ripe for disruption, which means applicant tracking systems are a huge way that you can go disrupt this market if you reimagine how you can go after this.

Now these are my four, hot categories, four, hot SaaS ideas that you can go after today.

Existing categories, well-defined, with the budget that you can disrupt with better innovative experiences.

Now what does that look like? Well, that's up to you.

How do you actually craft a better SaaS experience to actually say.

You go into marketing automation and say, Here's a whole new way of generating demand.

Or you go into your help desks and say, "Help desks are horrible experiences."

No one wants to be a number and a support ticket. We're gonna have a whole new way of engaging this.

Or you go into applicant tracking systems.

These are my four categories, and these are four categories that are ripe for disruption if you can get creative and create a much more innovative way of actually solving the problems, getting these companies the results.

They will listen to you because as much as they use these systems and they may be part of multi-year deals, they also kind of aren't happy with them.

And if there's a better alternative, they will at least give it a shot.

And you could, little by little, take over the market, which is super powerful and super exciting.

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