S5B: E6: James Laws of Ninja Forms on SaaS
On today’s episode, we’re talking to James Law. James talks about how to prepare your product for SaasS (Software as a Service). He is an accomplished developer who built Ninja forms in 2011 with his business partner Kevin Stover even though there were many form builders in that space.
James Laws from Ninja forms is interviewed by Corey Maass and Sam Brodie. James honestly shares his experience in the forms builder space and where he sees the move to SaaS in his future.
What you will learn from this episode:
- A business model and marketing strategy did not exist for Ninja Forms. (4:38)
- Ninja Forms was launched even though there were a lot of successful form builders in the space. (4:50)
- Ninja Forms was originally a premium plugin with a lifetime subscription. The lifetime subscription was honored although it was not a successful model for the creators. (5:18)
- In 2011 a light version of Ninja Forms was available with a pro upgrade offer. This was done to get a presence on the WordPress.org website. (6:24)
- Most users that use Ninja forms do not use everything that is sold with the plugin. This gave the owners the idea to segment the options and sell it through the EDD (Easy Digital Downloads) plugin. (7:33)
- James reached out the WordPress development community to offer partnerships with add-ons. (8:57)
- Pippin (from Pippin Plugins) built the Mailchimp add-on after reviewing the code base and signed on with the Ninja Forms partners. (9:15)
- The ecosystem for splitting the profits was set up using the Trello system. (10:25)
Marketing a Move to SaaS:
- Struggles that people say exist in a saturated market may be a false standard. A saturated market proves that there is a viable market. (11:45)
- You need to look at plugins to service anyone. The plugin becomes a connector to the service. (22:18)
- Ninja Forms is looking to take a two-prong approach for SaaS. If you are using the plugin in the WordPress space (it will function the same) and there will be a fully hosted SaaS version providing just the features that you need. (17:32)
- Build your product so that you can easily pivot. (35:15)
- Keep an eye out in your space and make sure you are watching what solutions are growing. (30:17)
- Be passionate about making the leap into the next space.
Unique qualities of SaaS:
- Higher end hosting companies are starting to partner with businesses that sell and market software products. (13:56)
- The platform limits who you can sell to when you are concentrating just on WordPress. (15:33)
- You need to have a strong hosting partner that knows DevOps and server scalability well. (24:15)
- In a SaaS environment, you can control the interface that the client works with. (16:33)
- Branding becomes very important to get visibility in the forms space outside of WordPress. (26:30)
- The code needs to be written to exist outside of the WordPress space in order to expand the business. (32:40)
- The Ninja Forms partners are doing research with calls to other businesses to see if they can start with a wrap around business. (33:30)
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