We're excited to announce the beta release of our new SaaS screenshot and annotation tool, Markup Hero. Like many tools we entrepreneurs build, the need stems out of our own personal pain with existing solutions. Markup Hero is an example of that. The need to take screenshots and annotate images is a widespread one that crosses job functions, demographics and use cases. It's also a category that has had solutions for more than 20 years. And due to market being very large and a proven solvability, the category has been sought after by dozens, if not hundreds, of service providers.

In other words, the screenshot and annotation category is crowded with competition and it has been for decades. In some cases that's a huge turn off for entrepreneurs. Who wants to compete with entrenched solutions? At the same time however going after a category like this has some advantages. I personally came to realize the current landscape of solutions really haven't done a lot innovation in years. Take Skitch for example, who claims to have more than 5 million users, which is a product I used for years. It's good. I might argue it's the best of them. But they haven't done a single feature update to Skitch in a decade. In fact, Skitch is even discontinuing Windows desktop support this year and forcing users to upgrade to Evernote to get the product.

When we started doing customer development around this problem we heard from many users that the problem was solved for them. They used Skitch or Droplr or Snagit or Monosnap and their current solution was sufficient. But what we discovered when we probed deeper is that people tended to use these tools for very limited use cases like simply taking a screenshot and adding an arrow to it and sending it in email or Slack. Now even this use case was frequent enough for people to open their wallets and pay for it.

On further inquiry however we learned that people had other use cases that these tools could be helpful with but that they simply didn't associate them with those pains. For example, we heard that bloggers needed fast and easy ways to create visual content for their posts. This was particularly important to content marketers. Simply adding a clever image from Unsplash.com wasn't sufficient. They wanted to create graphics that helped tell the stories they were crafting. Some used Photoshop or Sketch or Figma to do this, but in all cases the need was quick basic and those tools were overkill and slow.

Moreover, we discovered many different user personas that leveraged screenshot tools but again, not necessarily to perform their core jobs. Teachers for example said they did a ton of grading and feedback for students in PDF format and found it very slow and tedious to give basic responses. And we heard from product managers who told us they used screenshots in product scopes, QA reports and other documents but often used other tools to truly articulate their ideas with annotations.

In the end we realized that my personal pain around the current group of screenshot tools was actually fairly consistent with other types of users, they just didn't quite realize it.

Of course, that created other challenges for us. Trying to convince someone that they have a pain is much harder than just showing them a tool to solve a known pain. So in the case where the assumed pain is being solved by one of our competitors, we knew we'd have our work cut out for us.

Another thing we realized is that unlike some SaaS offerings such as customer support, CRM, project management, cloud file storage and many more, the switching cost for our category was extremely low. It would be simple for someone to test our product along side a current solution and give feedback. And if we started to scratch an itch they didn't realize they had – well, dropping our competitor and coming to us would be simple.

This concept incidentally has gone into our product thinking about how we can make it more difficult for users to switch from Markup Hero to a competitor. One of the ways we started addressing this early was around re-editing of markups. Most screenshot tools let you take a snap, add annotations, save or share. But once that process is done, and it must be done inline at that moment, the file was flat and useless. Editing markups was limited to just a few of our competitors. And very little has been done to allow for organization and re-use. Having our users create a library of useful assets could make our product harder to drop if they got hit up by competitors.

The bottom line is we're early. And anyone that's been in the startup game knows it's easy to come up with an idea, it's way harder to get traction and even harder to win. To that end we need more feedback. We need beta users to try our product and tell us what itches they scratch or don't scratch or how we could better address use cases they maybe didn't realize they could solve with a product in our category.

If you're interested in helping us learn and being a direct part of our product roadmap planning, please consider joining our beta. You can use Markup Hero for free, you don't even need to create an account to try it, although we ask that you do if you're going to be providing feedback. And while we will always have a free version of the product that is actually useful and enough for many users, eventually we will have a paid version with additional features and capabilities. Beta users that provide feedback will be given a 12 month PRO account when we release our paid version.

Be sure to check us out on Betabound with more info about how to participate in our Beta program.

Signup here: https://markuphero.com/signup
Download our app here: https://markuphero.com/download
Try instantly here: https://markuphero.com/new

Thanks for joining us on this SaaS journey.

Glib, Nicolas and Jeff - Markup Hero Founders