Using SaaS and Open source products as a Startup

I’ve recently been encountering startups that are either spending tons of dev time integrating open source tech into their platforms or playing silly money for SaaS solutions.

whilst its good for businesses to lean on technology (both open source and SaaS) to help with automation and process the reality is it comes with a cost, either in time or money, and over investing too early can create issues for a startup.

I hear lots of ppl (Partners at VCs and even growth experts) pressure companies too early to adopt technology. In some cases, its like investing thousands into a bazooka to bring to a sword fight.

The reality is that often startups are only using a small fraction of the features and functions a technology provides, and even then, perhaps not frequently, or efficiently. Why spend all that money in a Chatbot solution when ppl still call you and never use the Chatbot? and how many customer queries are you even fielding in the first place?

We should exercise more discretion and really determine the value of investing in tech before jumping on the latest fad SaaS being advertised.

  1. consider the usage volume, if you’re going to implement a chatbot on your site, how many users are you actually receiving to the site, how may enquiries are you actually fielding, does the cost offset the time-cost it takes for someone to field these enquiries?
  2. consider the complexity of the automation – would it be cheaper to just get the devs to build that feature than buy a technology that you will have to continually lease from a third party? do you even need devs to build something in the first place or can you get away with an even more basic solution?
  3. consider the time burden – of setup, of maintenance and upkeep, of switching – purchasing a technology can end with you being married to that technology over time, the cost of switching gets higher and higher, or the burden of someone having to manage the technology offsets the value of time-cost the technology was meant to save – is it worth the upfront and ongoing time investment of integrating?

at the end of the day, tools are just tools, they are only as effective as how you use them and how much relative ‘pain’ they offset. we should strive to be more considered in the opportunity cost of technology before committing.

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