Rick Blyth spent 20 years working in the “default” software developer career, working hard and pushing for promotions to climb the corporate ladder. Only when he reached the pinnacle, did he realize that it wasn’t all that he dreamed it would be and became stuck in a rut. He knew he needed to do something else to bring fulfillment back into his life, so he set about reading self-improvement books and business books and that’s when he discovered the power of passive income. He leveraged his software skills to build some Micro SaaS (Software as a Service) apps for a niche community of Amazon sellers. Scaling these apps to a point where he could escape his day job he resigned with confidence, knowing the monthly subscription income would be enough to support his family of four. Over the following years, he grew the app’s userbase up through organic SaaS marketing and eventually sold and exited the apps to focus on other projects. Nowadays, Rick is passionate about helping other software developers get started creating their own self-funded SaaS apps and become heroes to niche communities. He has written the Micro SaaS Handbook, which is a free 12 chapter ebook giving an overview of the end-to-end process of going from zero to Micro SaaS hero.
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?
I was born and raised in Manchester in the UK although I’ve lived all over the UK for education and different jobs. Growing up, I was always fascinated with how computers worked and started writing simple programs from a young age. I have always found the process of transforming an idea in my head into a working app very satisfying.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
From my early fascination with computers, you’d probably guess that all my entrepreneurial activities would be websites and apps. However, I have toyed with many ideas that never saw the light of day (from me at least) that were “real” businesses, not just software-led. The opportunities I spotted, mainly from frustrations living in London as a 20 something (some time ago so these may exist by now) included: Door key storage and delivery service – think Uber but for your keys. I had only a few friends in London when I move there and giving them a key would mean if I lost mine I’d have to trek an hour across London each way. Surely, many people moving to cities would benefit from this. Keys are stored anonymously in a carousel in an undisclosed location, users meet the courier driver a minimum of 100m from their home to protect their address, etc. Alcoholic Smoothies – at the time smoothies were becoming very fashionable and Innocent had it on lockdown. My idea was that London ladies might enjoy starting a night off with alcoholic smoothies (not cocktails) so they get their shot of goodness in at the same time as their first alcoholic drink. And the cherry on top, I was going to call it Guilty! Realtime nightclub counter – knowing which of the 20 nightclubs you were going to commit to for a night was a serious discussion amongst us singletons at the time. Bearing in mind it cost quite a bit to get in and you couldn’t get a refund it became frustrating when we picked a place, only to find it either empty or full of blokes only. Enter the real-time nightclub counter app that shows how busy each club is (and possibly even the ratio of Male/Female too). Ultimately, I didn’t pursue any of them as I’ve generally preferred working on software as there’s very little upfront investment required so the only risk is your time. I built some apps as a side hustle whilst working in my day job and have never looked back. I now enjoy endless freedom and have found much greater enjoyment in life!
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
You’re the greatest sum of your friends and contacts. If you’re still hanging around with schoolmates who are forever getting drunk and dunking on your entrepreneurial ideas you’re never going to get where you want to go. Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people and together you will soar.