In this episode of SaaS Origin Stories, Phil speaks with Dan Fernandez, Co-Founder of SoStocked, the first and only customizable inventory management and forecasting software built for Amazon sellers by Amazon sellers. Not only that, but he is also the Co-Founder of Tomoson, a Board Member at Birdies4Brains, and is the lead consultant at WebBizIdeas.com!
They delve into how poker helped Dan become the entrepreneur he is today, how to manage the hiccups and struggles that come with running a business, and why the people you work with can make a massive difference to your business’ success. He also explains what the ‘three legged stool’ analogy is in business and why it’s so beneficial.
Guest at a Glance:
Name: Dan Fernandez
About Dan: Dan Fernandez is the Co-Founder of SoStocked, the first and only customizable inventory management and forecasting software built for Amazon sellers by Amazon sellers. Not only that, but he is also the Co-Founder of Tomoson, a Board Member at Birdies4Brains, and is the lead consultant at WebBizIdeas.com!
Topics we cover:
Can Poker Help You Become a Better Business Person?
Before Dan even started SoStocked he would play poker with his friends and feature in tournaments; when starting a business, it will always require some gambling, but he isn’t suggesting that’s all there is to business. Rather, it allowed him to learn how to stomach the unknown and face problems with confidence. He also argues that, if you really believe in something, you have to sometimes gamble on yourself - it’s all about risk, and the best entrepreneurs are risk takers.
“I think as an entrepreneur, you have to have the stomach for the unknown. You need to be able to know when to gamble. That’s not to say that being an entrepreneur you’re gambling all the time, but you’re taking the gamble on yourself. You are that pit in your stomach.”
Finding the Third Leg of the Stool
Every successful SaaS product has to have the three legs of the stool: a subject expert, an operations person, and a marketing professional. Without those, you’ll find yourself in a tricky situation. And this isn’t exclusive to just SaaS brands, it’s actually something that anyone in any business can learn from - those three legs will hold your business up and keep you balanced; the last thing you want is for it all to fall apart.
“Every SaaS product that I’ve had success with, I’ve had those three legs of the stool. What brought the odds in our favor was finding that subject expert that could truly articulate the hole in the market and then had passion enough to do social media, to go to conferences etc.”
How Long Can You Sustain the Development Burn?
Your business will require a lot of sustainability in how much development you can burn. You need to be able to balance as much as you can without fully burning out or exhausting yourself and your expenses. Dan points out that every SaaS product he’s been a part of has never stayed on budget, and that if you can plan for the hiccups, then you can move on and you’ll prove yourself.
“In SaaS, business, or whatever, if you can plan for the hiccup and it happens, then it doesn’t faze you. It’s very rare in SaaS that you’re breaking even; sometimes it’s a year or eighteen months of burning cash…but you’re seeing results and users sticking. The metrics can tell you that it’s working, it’s just that you’re waiting for that lag in the bank account to catch up.”
Don’t Do Everything Yourself
Dan says that most people burn themselves out when they try to take on all three legs of the stool. Trying to take on more than one intense role is almost a form of self-abuse and it will lead to blowing up in your face. You need to know your faults as well as what you’re good at; fill your business with people who can close the gaps of your weaknesses and compliment them - this is the best way to make sure everyone in your organization is an asset.
“SaaS is complex. Where I see a lot of people get burned out and overwhelmed is when they try to do all three legs of the stool themselves. I enjoyed having partners that I could laugh and cry with - that is the way I worked.”