Micro-SaaS: what it is and why it matters

Roshan Bhattarai
Director of Operations

Sometimes when a problem is so small, it can seem like no-one else shares it. When that problem relates to software as a service (SaaS), which already addresses particular pain points, it might make you wonder if an even more specific solution would be worth developing. ​

With businesses and consumers trying to maintain control over an ever-growing tech stack, there’s an increasing need and market for SaaS solutions which cater to very specific niches – such as merchants looking to sync and update product data in Shopify and Etsy (without uploading the data twice).

You only have to browse the extensions, add-ons, and accessories available in your favourite software marketplaces to realise that a gap in the market is a gap in the market, no matter how small.

That’s where Micro-SaaS comes in.

What is Micro-SaaS?

Micro-SaaS is a scaled-down SaaS which targets a niche market. From a business perspective, it uses the SaaS model, but typically runs with a smaller team, lower overheads, and serves a narrower user-base. As a point product, Micro-SaaS is intensely focused on doing one thing better.

Whether it’s run by a solopreneur or a small group of individuals, because Micro-SaaS targets a niche audience, it generally solves a problem using minimal resources. For that reason, a typical Micro-SaaS will be bootstrapped and not dependent on external funding.

The term was first coined by Tyler Tringas to describe his StoreMapper app:

In a world, where many businesses are benefiting from niching down their products and services, there are increasingly micro-sized problems which require micro-sized solutions. This means Micro-SaaS is usually focused on sustainability and profits over scalability and long-term growth.

“If your company creates a SaaS for an existing platform, such as Shopify, ZenDesk, or JIRA, which solves a very specific problem – that’s a form of Micro-SaaS.”

How is Micro-SaaS different to SaaS?​

Whereas SaaS offers a very broad and scalable solution to meet a range of customer needs, Micro-SaaS is designed to solve a single pain point, or a smaller set of problems. If SaaS is the whole jigsaw, Micro-SaaS is a missing piece – that gets found.

A Micro-Saas, such as a Shopify or Zendesk app, is developed within a larger, more firmly established SaaS platform and can therefore leverage its user base. However, providing a micro solution doesn’t necessarily mean that a Micro-SaaS is a small business. In fact, some Micro-SaaS app, like Klavio, are worth millions of dollars.

Like all niche products and services, Micro-SaaS appeals to a much smaller group of people or companies with whom it resonates more strongly. For this reason, it is more likely to understand and respond to their pain points more effectively, and attract a more dedicated following.

Why is Micro-SaaS trending? ​

With Micro-SaaS, you get the same recurring revenue (typically monthly) as SaaS, but you’re delivering it to a group using the same, larger SaaS ecosystem. When you think about it, this means you can focus your solution on a pre-existing market, saving you time and money on your initial marketing efforts.

Sure, you might have a smaller audience, but that enables you to build a stronger connection and deeper customer loyalty. Through being dedicated to being the best at solving a smaller number of problems, you become a trusted partner as opposed to a software vendor.

Running a Micro-SaaS also gives you total flexibility over where you operate your business. Essentially, as long as you have a computer and an Internet connection, you have the freedom to work from anywhere. Your business is essentially location neutral.

The other great thing about Micro-SaaS is that because you start small, it often comes out of a labour of love, a side-project outside a day job which you can develop and nurture until the time is right to launch. This is a low-risk way to test your software before fully committing to entrepreneurship, and your latest business venture.

Focussing on a single, or smaller number of problems, also enables you to be more creative with the solutions, even if you don’t necessarily have a background or expertise in software development.

What are the different types of Micro-Saas?​

When it comes to Micro-SaaS, there are three main types: platform, independent, platform dependent, and platform-agnostic.

  • Platform independent Micro-SaaS has a lot in common with its SaaS counterpart, and takes the form of an app, whether that’s for desktop, mobile or web – or all three. It will look and feel like a SaaS solution, but it’s essentially a point product which resolves one (or perhaps a few) problems.
  • Platform dependent Micro-SaaS is developed for existing platforms and usually appears as an add-on, extension, or accessory which complements or fills a particular gap in the main SaaS product. It will be specifically tailored to, and dependent on, existing solutions like Teams or Shopify.
  • Platform-agnostic Micro-SaaS is designed to integrate (via APIs) with a variety of existing SaaS within a particular market. For example, marketing automation platforms, or financial software. This approach means the product is not solely dependent on one SaaS. It might also take the form of a white label product, which can be rebranded by other companies to market as their own.

Why use Teams as a Service to build Micro-SaaS?

The great thing about Micro-SaaS is that in contrast to SaaS, which requires much more intensive heavy lifting, anyone with an entrepreneurial eye able to spot a gap in the software market, can potentially build a low-cost, ready-to-market solution within a much shorter time frame.

Proshore’s ready-to-code development teams provide a straightforward, fast, and effective way to develop your Micro-SaaS at pace. You don’t need to hire, train or manage developers – all that is handled for you. All you need is a gap in the market, and an entrepreneurial idea to take forward. It’s that simple.

When our sister company, Digital Product Labs, came to us, they’d seen a gap in the market for automation software that could update product data across different e-commerce sites. They’d noticed that merchants were spending too much time separately updating their product feeds on different sites. After narrowing down their Micro-SaaS solution to a niche group of merchants on both Shopify and Etsy, we helped them to create an API that could sync key information between the two platforms, so merchants only had to enter updates once.

Traditionally focussed on consultancy, award-winning Zendesk Premier Solution Provider, Pluscloud, decided to transition into software around 2018. Their mission was to launch their own suite of SaaS products built on the Zendesk platform. With Proshore onboard, they scaled their in-house capacity with one of our self-managing development teams, increasing and decreasing numbers in line with their needs. So far, Proshore has helped them develop over 10 Pluscloud Micro-Services which provide previously unavailable functionality to the Zendesk ecosystem. 

If you’re feeling inspired and wondering how Proshore could help bring your Micro-SaaS to market, book a chat with us today.

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