The SaaS Podcast
How to Turn Frustration Into a Million Dollar Software Business (Part 1) – with Shane Melaugh 
This is a 3-part interview with Shane Melaugh of Thrive Themes.
- Part 1: Finding & Validating Your Idea (You Are Here!)
- Part 2: Building a Team and an Audience
- Part 3: Failures and Lessons in Entrepreneurship
Shane Melaugh is the co-founder and CEO of Thrive Themes, a company that creates a conversion focused WordPress tools such as Thrive Content Builder and the Thrive Leads plugin.
Thrive Themes was founded in 2013. It currently has over 30,000 customers around the world and generates over a million dollars in annual revenue.
Highlights and Key Takeaways
- The idea for Thrive Themes came from Shane's own frustrations with building marketing websites. He was having a frustrating experience trying to build lead generation and sales pages on WordPress.
- He often had to use multiple plugins and different WordPress themes to cobble together what he needed. And often all these plugins didn't work together well and created a poor user experience.
- WordPress is a great platform for blogging and content marketing, but it's not really optimized to help you build websites that generate leads and sales for your business.
- Shane wanted to build a software business for many years, but lacked the knowledge and skills. He learned through trial and error by hiring developers on several software projects before launching Thrive Themes.
“It's very possible to hire someone to build a piece of software, that's technically a piece of software, but not usable in any way.”
- Shane already had a large audience through his IM Impact blog. He was blogging about online marketing for many years and had built a substantial email list of over 20,000 people.
- He was already serving the needs of his audience and generating revenue. He would ask them what they needed/problems they had and would then create information products that helped solve those problems.
- Shane didn't just have a mailing list – he had something much more important. He had an audience that he had a regular exchange with i.e. he sent emails and got replies, he wrote blog posts and got comments, he would get on the phone and talk to some of those people.
- In other words, he was always (a) learning about and (b) learning from his audience.
- Validating the idea for Thrive Themes was relatively easy, because he'd spent many years doing the ground work. His audience quickly helped him validate his idea with feedback and by getting out their credit cards.
“Validating an idea with money in the bank, is the best type of validation.”
- The IM Impact blog is a documentation of Shane's journey from novice blogger to software entrepreneur. He started by writing what he was learning about online marketing. It turned into a software review site, then an SEO blog and eventually into an ‘authority' site where Shane teaches others about online marketing.
“I've often used writing as a learning tool.”