The Secrets to Seismic SaaS Success With Marvin Liao [Ep.107]

The Secrets to Seismic SaaS Success With Marvin Liao [Ep.107]

Greg Elfrink November 2, 2022

While every business faces its own unique challenges, many early-stage SaaS startups share common characteristics that can dictate their success or downfall.

Figuring out what makes these startups thrive and what causes them to crumble requires years of expertise and industry knowledge.

Having invested in and worked with over 450 pre-seed & seed stage SaaS startups, Marvin Liao has certainly earned his stripes when it comes to identifying and nurturing profitable and sustainable SaaS businesses.

In this episode, Marvin joins us to discuss everything early-stage SaaS founders should be doing. He provides actionable tips and advice including focusing on a narrowed-down, niche audience, remembering to listen to your gut instead of relying solely on data, and waiting until your business is more established before raising growth capital. According to Marvin, 

“I’ve found that, in general, bootstrap founders are better at running businesses. Money can be a crutch. You figure out business basics faster when you don’t have a lot of money. It forces you to not waste time. So, bootstrap first, and then once you’ve gained traction and have a better sense of what you’re building and who you’re targeting – that’s the time to raise funding.”

Marvin also touches on the common mistakes that SaaS founders make, like modeling themselves after industry giants, spreading their focus too thin instead of doubling down on what works, and undercharging for their software while it’s still a work in progress. 

If your SaaS business is still in its infancy, then you can’t afford to miss out on Marvin’s expert insights to help your business reach its full potential.

Listen to The Opportunity Podcast Episode #107

  • Apple Podcast
  • Google Podcast
  • Spotify Podcast

Topics Discussed in This Episode:

  • Why startups shouldn’t model themselves after business giants (02:00)
  • Marvin explains why he’s the Forest Gump of Silicon Valley (15:04)
  • Why early-stage SaaS founders should focus on bootstrapping instead of VC funding (20:55)
  • How to balance data-driven decisions with creative “gut-driven” decisions (28:58) 
  • What SaaS founders get wrong when pricing their products (31:26)
  • The benefits of focusing on a narrow, niche audience as a startup (35:34)
  • The common mistakes SaaS founders make when trying to scale (38:54)
  • The criteria Marvin looks at when investing in a business (40:20)
  • It’s easier than ever to create a successful SaaS startup (45:37)
  • The best professional advice Marvin has ever been given or heard (50:38)


Sit back, grab a coffee, and listen in as we pick the brain of an early-stage SaaS expert!

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