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“Solve an existing problem people currently solve manually; That is a software idea waiting to be built” With Mitch Russo & Dane Maxwell

As a society, we suffer from what I call “Mechanism First Thinking.” This means we lead with an idea. This is a huge risk. The most dangerous word in business is guessing. I want to help create innovation in entrepreneurial thinking where this guessing doesn’t happen as often. Thus greatly reducing the risk in starting […]

As a society, we suffer from what I call “Mechanism First Thinking.” This means we lead with an idea. This is a huge risk. The most dangerous word in business is guessing. I want to help create innovation in entrepreneurial thinking where this guessing doesn’t happen as often. Thus greatly reducing the risk in starting something. I think being an employee is riskier than being an entrepreneur when done correctly.


As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dane Maxwell.

Dane is the author of Start From Zero, a book on how to launch a business from scratch. While the principles work everywhere, he talks about starting software in that book. Dane builds SaaS businesses without thinking of the ideas or writing the code himself. He says = entrepreneurs with the most freedom outsource their product creations. They don’t try to make products themselves or become experts, they hire them. Most struggling business owners try to create their own products.

Being an employee drained his soul, he was fired from Ernst & Young during an internship because he made it perfectly clear he was unhappy. Dane got his start in entrepreneurship at 21. He struggled to find a place anywhere to be long until he found entrepreneurship.

He then realized to become wealthy and free you need to sell tools to fast-growing industries, so he built 7 SaaS products and counting. He ended up realizing how much fun it was to launch and build SaaS he taught many others and has 15 millionaire students to date.


Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I started in the business by coming up with my own ideas but after 11 failures I was fed up and just started asking people what they wanted to buy. Literally. “Hey, what would you buy right now?”

They told me.

It was so shockingly simple but I started growing very rich (by my standards).

What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

People were begging me to teach them. Flying out to see me and visit me so I started a mentoring program, but not just because I wanted to, because that’s what people nearly demanded.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

My first businesses that started working were really hard. I found myself insecure most days and questioning my pricing. Until I realized people buy a product not based on the price but based on the result the product provides. Once I started speaking about results, everything was much more relaxed.

So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Things are going extremely well, I was able to retire from working because I had to before 30. I got involved in the most lucrative business model of Software as a Service and my bank account climbed quickly.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I hacked together a 100 feature product using the Joomla open source framework that did almost everything for a real estate office, but then I had a real estate company ask for just one feature. So I stopped selling the 100 feature products and built the 1 feature product. It was 99 times easier and 5 times more profitable.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I’m not an expert in my most profitable businesses. I listen and hire experts based on what I find. I don’t get the obsession people have with the expert industry. It’s not the fastest way to build a business or get rich. Listening to people will get you rich. Outsourcing to experts will make you rich. You don’t want to be a glorified employee. You want to be a free business owner. My business will fail the day I stop listening to customers.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

There does not need to be any kind of struggle in business. The struggle is not a requirement. Your struggle in business can stop in a single moment. People struggle because they resist. Your struggle will end the moment you start truly listening to the customer you serve.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My uncle gave me my first two customers. Then kicked me out and told me to start cold calling instead of relying on him. I was angry. In hindsight though, it was a big blessing.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?

50,000 plus. We did that by making sure the first customers got a result with the product. If customers get results you grow. If they don’t stop trying to grow it. We didn’t sign up 1,000 customers, find out it didn’t work well, and try to sign up 1,000 more. We were successful with our very first user and made sure they got a result.

What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?

We charge based on what our customers value and ask us to charge. A flat monthly fee that helps their budgeting.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app or a SaaS? Please share a story or an example for each.

There is only one thing you need to know to guarantee your success. Solve an existing problem they currently solve manually. Ask them what they use Microsoft Excel or Google spreadsheets for. Spreadsheets are a hotbed of software ideas. Ask them what they use dropbox and google drive for. Ask them what their most annoying emails are. Inside of these questions are software ideas waiting to be built.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As a society, we suffer from what I call “Mechanism First Thinking.” This means we lead with an idea. This is a huge risk. The most dangerous word in business is guessing. I want to help create innovation in entrepreneurial thinking where this guessing doesn’t happen as often. Thus greatly reducing the risk in starting something. I think being an employee is riskier than being an entrepreneur when done correctly.

By the way, this concept is not new, smart entrepreneurs have been doing it for years

But I want to help create an entirely new context for building a business without risk and nearly 100% safety. That context is this…

People first, problem second, sales third, outsource product creation to experts fourth, get a result for the first customer fifth, and scale sixth.

Notice I didn’t say this. The idea first, build second, get funding third, impress friends and family fourth, show a customer, don’t ask them to buy, and keep building.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Come say hi at StartFromZero.com and pick up a free 5 page excerpt of my book at StartFromZero.com/Five

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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