I hold the thesis that it is easier than you think to find successful, profitable niches in which you can launch a lifestyle SaaS business.
I was skeptical of this thesis for a long time, largely because the people telling me this were asking me to pay them money in order to learn more. It sounds a bit like a pleasant lie, the idea that there are all of these incredible opportunities to hit five digits’ worth of monthly recurring revenue right below your nose.
And sometimes it is a pleasant lie! I am indebted to many of the pickaxe vendors of the world who proselytized the wonder of the lifestyle business, even after learning that most of them are better marketers than truthtellers. (I maintain that their advice is still more practical and reasonable than the equivalent pickaxe vendors trying to convince you to go into startups.)
The biggest proviso is that the surprisingly successful businesses that I love are not the ones that developers generally want to build. ”Build something people want” and ”Build something you’d use” are both good pieces of advice, but if you’re a software developer who spends time in the tech industry both of those axioms will result in folks building developer tools and other items that already have a very saturated target market.
Nick Disabato, in a podcast episode or essay I can’t for the life of me find, mentioned that the best software business he encountered was for kitchen countertop fabricators. This has always been my Platonic ideal: a quiet, uninteresting industry that could benefit from some CRUD apps with a bit of domain expertise. (The kitchen countertop industry, by the way, was around $30 billion in 2019.)
Kudoboard is another fun example. This is essentially a CRUD wrapper around Giphy and Printful and sells in the $X,000 range to any non-tech-friendly organization that has hundreds or more of employees (think NGOs, hospitals, and the like.)