Founder Stories 30 Jun 2021 Updated: 27 Jul 2021

Do the right thing as a customer-funded SaaS

When I was 11 I went into a shop asking if they had some specific type of ice skates (born in NL: when there is ice we ice skate). The friendly shop assistant told me they didn’t, but redirected me to a competitor around the block. I was flabbergasted. Why would they do that? I asked my dad: “Even though they couldn't help you directly, they could help you indirectly and that's valuable too.”. One sentence that made quite a big impact. I still think about that moment and it's something I put into practice for Seos (and adept constantly were and when needed).

Photo by Mark Fuller on Unsplash

Because as a customer-funded (aka bootstrapped) company you can do good. Good to your customers, your team and society.

The definition of “good” can be quite subjective, but my aim here is to share some ideas that can probably be applied to any customer-funded SaaS company.

Don’t use big-tech

This is both the easiest and the hardest switch to make. Easy because, well, just use something else. But at the same time hard, because all their services are so ingrained in our personal- and business lifes, we take them for granted. But basically: don’t use Facebook, Google and so on.

So no:

There are plenty of alternatives to choose from. And even one step before that, ask yourself: “do I truly need this software?”.

Seos doesn’t use Google services or Facebook. We recently disabled Google’s FLoC on both our marketing site and app. And are constantly monitoring how we can improve on this front.

Don’t try to capture the market

Just as you don’t want to use big-tech, you don’t want to act like big-tech. So don’t go “capture the market”. In most markets there is usually space for many players who can perfectly coexist. No need to beat the competition, to be number one or a market leader. These goals only are there for your ego and lead to dirty tricks. Create a solid product that helps your customers and you can have a solid business. A company even where other people are proud to work at.

Give to a charity/good cause

I don’t have anything like this added prominently on the Seos site, as actions speak louder than words, but if you run a SaaS, you almost certainly have really high margins. Sure, you can buy another Tesla, or you can share the wealth with foundations that certainly make the world a better place. A really simple and quick way is Stripe’s Climate initiative. By simply toggling a checkbox in your dashboard you can help with carbon removal to counteract climate change.

There are likely many other causes you can donate to too. Do some research. Find something that hits close to home for you.

Don’t be a jerk

Personally, but also as a company. Don’t use blackhat SEO tricks to try to beat the competition (eg. ads targeting your competition)—where again, big-tech is the real winner. Be kind and embrace the fact there will be more players in the market. Competition is a good thing and also helps you to stay sharp. Furthermore do good by your customers. Be transparent and honest when you something goes wrong.

Now, wouldn’t it be a perfect world if we all adhered to (at least) some of these things? Unfortunately, such a perfect world is not here. So you will come across wrongdoing against you and your company. If so, don’t be passive about it, but speak up. Make it known, in private at first, you don’t agree with what was done to you. Give them ample time to correct their mistake—not always was this done on purpose. And only when they willfully deny you or don’t undo their mistake, take it to th public. From there: leave it. Focus on what you do control and that is creating the most valuable product for your customers.

—Eelco, founder Seos

Seos does right by its customers too.

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