Do You Have What It Takes to Start a SaaS Business?

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About Our Guest

After graduating from the University of British Columbia, Melissa Kwan was involved in business development roles in a number of diverse industries – going from real estate, manufacturing, hospitality, then technology.

In 2011, Melissa co-founded her first company, Flat World Applications. Their product, VIDA, was an interactive brochure and sales tool for real estate project marketing. They have worked with some of the most reputable real estate developers in the world – residential, commercial, and hospitality.

In 2014, Melissa co-founded Spacio, the real estate industry’s #1 open house sign-in solution that helps agents automate lead capture and follow-up. Spacio was the first company to apply data analytics to open houses, giving brokerages and franchises real-time visibility into company-wide agent, office, and customer activity to make more effective sales, marketing, and training decisions. Spacio was acquired by HomeSpotter in January 2019.

She then co-founded eWebinar, an automated webinar solution that helps customer success and lead generation teams deliver personalised onboarding, training, and demos at scale.

About this Episode

Do You Have What It Takes to Start a SaaS Business?

Startup founders will relate to this episode, especially those that don’t have the luxury of venture capital funds. From eating one meal a day to cut costs, to growing her tech company, Spacio to over 100,000 users and selling for the mid-seven figures in just five years, Melissa Kwan gives listeners a good look into the expectations versus reality of being successful in SaaS.

Spacio went from a bloated ‘do-it-all’ technology for real estate agents to shedding down and honing in on just one aspect: digitising the process for open house sign-ins.

Her first $10 transaction to dominating the market as the #1 open house sign-in solution and exiting to HomeSpotter took only two years.

Tune in for a realistic look at what it takes to start, scale, and exit a tech business.

What you will learn in this episode

In this episode we’ll cover everything from:

  • How to approach building a SaaS product
  • Scaling a business based on outsourced labour
  • Key lessons from starting and scaling two businesses
  • Ways to align your values with your potential acquirer

Connect with Melissa Kwan

Show Notes

(7:01) When Melissa started Spacio, she was in the worst position possible. Without venture capital, and with a shorter than expected burn rate, building a tech company seemed impossible.

(10:18) Melissa’s first big mistake was creating a product that was too bloated. Instead of focusing on one tool, she wanted to build a complete software – a common challenge in tech.

(20:35) “What did you learn from your previous company” is a question Melissa gets asked a lot. Here are her revelations.

(30:47) Tech companies are always valued as a multiple of EBITDA. But in real estate tech, your multiple is always going to be lower based on localisation, creating a tiny market. Here’s how this industry is valued.

(37:25) It’s an inconvenience to leave or change software which is why, as a SaaS business, sticky customer retention can help weather company, economic, or social downturns.

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