Creating a SaaS as a developer
I started creating my first SaaS this summer: Hexaloc. It is an application which aims to facilitate the management of rental real estate investments. Initially the application was created to meet a need I had, then by sharing it on LinkedIn, several people contacted me to request new features as well as to find out if I could document the creation of this application.
This is why I decided to write a series of articles and LinkedIn posts to document the development of Hexaloc SaaS. The content will be aimed at both developers and entrepreneurs wishing to launch their SaaS. I will share with you both the code, the marketing strategies, the tools used and the people who will have a role in this project.
If you want to try the application, you can click on this link: https://hexaloc.vercel.app
Hexaloc is an application that allows real estate investors to manage their rentals in order to save time. There are already a few applications, but they have several flaws: pricing that is too high or not understandable, an interface that is not modern and pleasant to use, features that are complicated to use.
The Hexaloc application wants to respond to these problems: it must be easy to use, visually pleasing and have understandable and fair pricing.
It is available on all devices because it is a web application. It can be installed on smartphones using the “PWA” system.
This SaaS is at the MVP stage, the main functionality is the generation of rent receipts with a real-time overview. In addition to that, the user can sign directly on the application and send the receipt by email from the application. As I write this article the application is available for free and without registration.
Why did I create this application?
Being a freelance developer and investor, I started rental real estate investment this year with my partner. Our tenants regularly asked us for a rent receipt. To create these receipts, we started by using a simple Google Doc that we published every month. Then, we downloaded the file as a PDF, signed it on my Macbook, sent it by email and then saved it in a folder on our external hard drive.
Even though it is not a very complex task, my partner found it painful and time-consuming. I tried to find applications allowing me to create our rent receipts, but each time, there were always the same problems: the applications are paid and I find the prices too excessive and the interfaces of these applications are not pleasant.
As a developer, I told myself that I could create an application to meet this need in order to save time and make this task more enjoyable, this is how SaaS 🏠 Hexaloc was born.
After each use, I added additional features to save even more time. The objective of this application is to really facilitate the management of real estate investments for investors.
Beyond the entrepreneurial aspect and solving the problems cited in this article, it is also an opportunity to be able to acquire new skills by being in my clients' shoes for once. Apart from the technical aspect, I am learning to prioritize the features to develop based on costs and user feedback. I’m also learning how to sell the app and work on marketing strategies. All these new challenges allow me to be even more efficient during my missions as a freelance developer for my clients.
The reasons for creating a SaaS
SaaS (Software as a Service) are applications available on the internet unlike traditional applications that must be downloaded to your computer or professional network. SaaS has several advantages for its users. These applications are constantly up to date, they can be used from any device with internet and the pricing is adapted to the needs of its users.
As a developer, I have several advantages in creating a SaaS rather than a classic application. First of all, I don't need to create an app for each operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android). Then I don't need to manage app updates on my users' devices. Finally, I can easily add new features and roll them out continuously.
Tools and strategies for creating SaaS
I started to develop this project self-financing thanks to my activity as a freelance developer. But in reality, I haven’t spent a single cent on this project yet! I use tools in their free version which are sufficient for the current state of the project.
Being a developer, I was able to develop the project on my own. However, I still had a helping hand from Baptiste Drillien, a freelance front-end developer friend who helped me on the UI/UX part of the project. It’s thanks to him that the application is so pleasant to use!
Regarding technologies, the project is developed in Typescript with Nextjs (React) and TailwindCSS. I use other libraries that I will detail in future articles.
For hosting, I chose to use Vercel with continuous deployment. The code is hosted on GitHub in a private repository.
For project management, I don't yet have any specific tools other than Apple's Notes application. I am in favor of using the tools and processes adapted to our needs. I don't need Jira to manage a project that is in the PoC phase and where I am alone for the moment.
If you are interested in this application, want to discover how to create a SaaS or want to discover guides on technical aspects, I invite you to follow my content on this blog and on LinkedIn.
To try the application, go to this link: https://hexaloc.vercel.app.
See you soon for new articles! 👋