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5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS.

Check out our CEO Jonathan B Fishbeck’s recent interview with Authority Magazine’s Tyler Gallagher, on how EstateSpace is providing individuals & family offices a platform to simplify estate management and bespoke lifestyle management for more owners.

“Start with the end in mind, stay focused & never give up. Many journeys end in a place you might have never expected at the start. Keep an open mind, listen & be the culture. Find your why and the what, how, when, who will all fall into place.”

Aspart of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan B Fishbeck.

Jonathan B Fishbeck is the Founder and CEO of EstateSpace, providing individuals and family offices a platform to simplify estate management and bespoke lifestyle management for more owners. With families, family offices and service providers on their platform, and a commitment to transparency and equality in estate management — they are breaking the mold how estates operate.

Before devoting his work fulltime to EstateSpace, Jonathan served as the Founder and CEO at a design-build firm whose focus was advising, developing and operationalizing sizable estate properties for ultra-high net worth (UHNW) families and family offices. It’s this experience and expertise, combined with Jonathan’s technology background, that was the genesis for EstateSpace.

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?

After founding a design-build firm, serving UHNW families and family offices, we were able to identify a number of issues when it came to life after construction. These countless experiences were everything from minor to major, typically resulting from information and communication breakdowns. We believe that we can have a long term impact through technology and we know we can help more people across all facets of life, with our estate management software, EstateSpace.

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

The “aha moment” for us was two-fold: first the BIG idea and then how to build it. The idea came from a unique combination of three things…

  1. Experience with clients on the difficulties managing lifestyle, properties and providers.
  2. Participation in associations focusing on the private service for our clientele to gain insights
  3. Education on the marketplace, finding zero technology that was truly helpful and useful

We found two things that were common among these points, constant communication breakdowns and how information was shared, which led to a myriad of costly issues. Then there was a moment when we figured out how to build it. We were introduced to Barry Libert, an expert in Platform Business where we learned how to combine SaaS subscriptions with a marketplace of providers and apply machine learning to the data we gathered to expand meaningful connections. This was the moment we knew that EstateSpace could solve real issues and make a positive impact for our clients and partners.

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?

I have started new business ventures three times and every time I have faced a lot of the same challenges. Figuring out where to start this venture was by far the hardest challenge. The vision can be enormous, the market can be endless and staying focused can seem impossible at first.

We exist to help people. Some of these people included our own family members. So, after years of research and development we knew that no one got exactly what we were going to do and how we were going to do it (even after sharing the vision). We had no choice but to continue on this amazing journey. Our hardest moments were met with great people who came into our lives. And then the one thing that must happen did…we got great advice, at the right time and we listened.

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

Today we’re scaling the business, it’s a very exciting time at EstateSpace. Never giving up is easier said than done, it’s exhausting. So, how do we continue to stay motivated? Simple: we love what we do; we have a peerless drive to help those we serve and we have an amazing group of people across our clients, staff and partners. We all believe this company is on a path to be the world’s number one private platform for luxury business and family offices. Those are the things that make it easy for us to never give up.

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?

The funniest mistake… When I look back on all of my ventures, I go back to the beginning where mistakes were funny and less costly. Prior to formally starting the first company, I wanted to present well. I had business cards made, shirts and hats and some other apparel — only to decide the name was wrong, my title was incorrect and that I didn’t like the logo. So that business became known as a “t-shirt company”! One piece of advice is to try not to make the same mistake twice.

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

We always start with the “why we exist”. What we believe differentiates us from other companies and services. Simon Sinek has been a great inspiration, which has helped foster an amazing culture at EstateSpace. We believe in building relationships and that leading with the “why” surrounds you with like-minded people, both personally and professionally. We believe that within seconds you can know if you like someone, within minutes you can know if you want to keep talking to them and if you might ever want to talk with them again. Start with the most important thing, your why and save yourself time. This has served us well.

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

“Slow Down to Speed Up,” something I learned only a few years ago. By slowing down, you can take a breath, be methodical and really think through the path ahead and then execute a well thought out plan the first time. I believe that everything is 70% preparation and 30% execution. This does a couple of things: firstly, it saves you time and eliminates a tremendous amount of rework and secondly, it allows you to be even more agile, because you’re intimate with every detail in the plan so you can process new information and apply it with a higher degree of confidence. I have a couple of great mentors to thank for this great lesson in business and life.

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?

If you are lucky enough, you will end up with a handful of great mentors. I believe in coaching, mentorship and paying it forward. Most of my life, my mentor was my father, a successful entrepreneur whom I was able to absorb, observe and listen to for over thirty years. Most recently, there were two key people, Mark Wallace who then introduced me to Barry Libert. Both came into my life at the exact right time. EstateSpace was not where I wanted it to be or intended for it to be. This was one of the hardest times in business I have had in almost 20 years and I was struggling. What happened to me happens to a lot of people, I lost focus, exaggerated the situation and the true vision was lost in the clutter.

As I sat in Barry’s kitchen outside of Boston, he continued to ask me the same question over and over until he heard the right answer. I didn’t fit Barry’s typical client. Knowing this, months later I asked him why he took me on, “You’re a smart guy, with a great idea and most importantly you’re a good person,” he said. They helped me get back clarity, turn the business around and find success. It took 20 months to clutter it up and every bit of that time to get it back to being in focus. I’m forever grateful for this moment on June 4th, 2019 when my life was forever changed. The best part about this story is that professionally things are better, but personally my relationships have improved beyond measure and that is what life’s all about.

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?

Today, EstateSpace has thousands of members coming online. We built a platform that can scale to unlimited size and it’s easy to use on both web and mobile. There were three main steps that have led to our success…

  1. Create a product that people really need. EstateSpace helps people and improves major pain points.
  2. Listen to members. Figure out how to simplify complex problems into an easy to use application.
  3. Continuously improve your product and manage your community. Your product must continue to evolve, making it easier to use. Members appreciate thoughtful engagement from community managers.

By executing on these main points, you have a greater chance of organically growing and maintaining a successful community.

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?

EstateSpace is a pure SaaS subscription model. We start at $34 monthly per member and can get to as low as $6.80. We tried a couple of different business models such as packages with feature limits and the feedback was that it’s too difficult of a buying process for our members. The buying experience had to be like the platform, simple and easy to use.

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.

Great question…

1. Business: design the SaaS business with mergers and acquisitions in mind, even if you never plan to sell. This helps you properly structure the company and future landscape as you go to market.

2. People: build a talented, but smaller development staff profile and find outside design experts. This lets you stay nimble and not run hot while getting the right talent to support your vision.

3. Technology: build a complete cloud solution, use modern tech in your stack and make sure your platform or app is easy to navigate.

4. Money: don’t spend it, spend as little as possible to achieve your MVP app goal and get it out there. Get to recurring revenue as fast as possible to ensure the runway and feedback loop you will need to be successful.

5. Time: slow down to speed up, take your time in the beginning, seek advice from someone in the industry and space you want to be in. Planning and preparation as a single person is far less costly that moving quickly without a solid approach and game plan.

Start with the end in mind, stay focused and never give up. Many journeys end in a place you might have never expected at the start. Keep an open mind, listen and be the culture. Find your why and the what, how, when, who will all fall into place.

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. 🙂

I’m currently working on a project right now for a non-profit organization that is working to create a single platform to connect the network of organizations focused on helping disadvantaged children. From foster care to trafficking, to homeless and poverty, we see a way to leverage what we have done as a platform business and apply it to help all these wonderful disparate organizations to unite and accelerate the ability to successfully help those in need. We have a long road ahead but with a passionate board of really smart people who believe and starting with the why, the rest will come together with time and determination.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

We make it easy to get in touch with us. We built the company on relationships forged over decades of doing business and our dedication to service keeps us focused on continuing to build strong client and partner relationships today.

Anyone interested in EstateSpace can get in touch with us by going to EstateSpace.com or going to one of our many social channels and reaching out directly. We welcome the opportunity to help in any way we possibly can.

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