Monetization options - other than ads - for consumer SaaS


I started a consumer SaaS almost 2 months ago. It's a calories counter system. You log in, register your meals and the system tells you how many calories you ate and the type of those calories. You cannot eat more than 10% of red calories, more than 35% of yellow calories and green calories you can eat as much as you like. It's currently free. The system now has around 3.6K users with something around 15% really active users and it is growing at a rate of 100 new users a day.

Any ideas, besides ads, on how to monetize this system?

Business Model Monetization Saas

asked Oct 25 '11 at 08:45
31 points
Get up to $750K in working capital to finance your business: Clarify Capital Business Loans
  • What do you think of a "cheapium" business model? I.e., instead of providing it for free provide it for a very low price something around $3 per month with a 7 days trial period? I just learned the "cheapium" business model at #BoS2011 from @dharmesh. :-) – Joca 12 years ago

5 Answers


Consider adding some premium features that people can pay for, some ideas might be:
- SMS Alerts (they cost you money, so is a justifiable premium feature)
- iPhone App
- Ability to see average statistics from other users
- Include support

Basically it would turn you towards a freemium model, but it sounds like it could be successful for your type of venture.

answered Oct 25 '11 at 13:21
Joel Friedlaender
5,007 points
  • Tks, Joel. Freemium seem sot be the natural way to go. – Joca 12 years ago
  • You seem to have a system that's *perfect* for freemium. A large (and growing) base of unpaying users, and an active core group - 15% is actually pretty high. Create more advanced tools, features, reporting, whatever. Then make it known that people can pay you to upgrade and get those features. It sound like an excellent freemium opportunity. – Hartley Brody 12 years ago
  • What do you think of a "cheapium" business model? I.e., instead of providing it for free provide it for a very low price something around $3 per month with a 7 days trial period? – Joca 12 years ago
  • There is a huge difference between free and cheap as far as signups go. Just having to enter a credit card will deter a lot of users. It may not be worth reducing your user base by so much for such a small subscription. I think freemium makes sense in your case. – Joel Friedlaender 12 years ago
  • Even using a trial period? – Joca 12 years ago
  • You currently have amazing growth rates for a new SaaS application, I would be surprised if you had the same growth if it were a paid service (even with a trial). – Joel Friedlaender 12 years ago


Maybe look into amazon affiliates and linkshare? You can review/suggest books and products and get affiliate income.

To add: You should have a list and send these people a newsletter every so often. Offer informative tips on diet, exercise, etc and maybe some products or books here and there. The weight loss niche is one of the most profitable you can imagine. You can suggest ethical products to them that you feel will help them lose weight. I know clickbank informational weight loss information products convert very well, but you have to see which are truly informational.

answered Oct 25 '11 at 09:13
376 points
  • Thanks, Len. Very helpful. :-) – Joca 12 years ago


Well if you have all their emails and hopefully you have them opted in to a newsletter, you can do a few things.

  1. Every so often send them an affiliate offer where they sign up, or buy a product and you get payed a sales commission.
  2. You can sort of lease the list to marketers, like ones who have created new products or are marketing products which may be very useful for your email list.
  3. Congrats on getting your SAAS up! I want to make one eventually!

Basically you have a LOT of value in the email list itself, I forget how much but email lists convert like 40% more than blogs. You could just keep getting more and more users, then keep offering them stuff to help them with controlling their calories. Whether its an ebook, or a special device, or whatever, you can get a commission on those sales.

answered Oct 25 '11 at 15:48
49 points
  • Tks for your ideas, Terence. So basically you are suggesting an ad based type of service. The ad wouldn't be in the site, but sent to customers through email, right? – Joca 12 years ago
  • -1 for renting your list. This is illegal in the EU and highly discouraged in the US. It's just glorified spamming. – Hartley Brody 12 years ago
  • Hi Hartley, this is not well accepted in Brazil as well so most probably I won't go through this path. – Joca 12 years ago


Here are a few ideas:

1) You can offer access to a private forum aka CalorieCountSystemPRO, and charge $5-10/month for access for the interested users to communicate with each other, share tips, meals, etc.

2) If you get demographic information for each user (age/sex/location), you can aggregate data into reports based on trends of what people e.g. 28/m/NYC are eating. These reports can be used to create interesting infographics or blog posts to drive traffic. OkCupid has done a great job with this:

With enough data aggregation you could look into selling the findings/anonymized data.

3) Identify the users who commonly hit the calorie goals, analyze what they eat, and launch a hot new diet trend that rocks the world. A series of books, TV show, flavored water and branded meals follow.

Just a few options.

answered Oct 26 '11 at 10:29
Gavin Baker
31 points
  • Tks for the great ideas, Gavin! (-: – Joca 12 years ago
  • You bet! I'd love to know which path (if any) you go down. – Gavin Baker 12 years ago
  • I'll let you know! – Joca 12 years ago


Is there a way to create a "Pay what you weigh option" or equivalent to motivate people to lose weight? I don't quite know how you'd make it work, but I think it's an interesting way to think about it.

answered Oct 28 '11 at 08:34
Joe Corkery
188 points
  • Hum, that's a innovative way of pricing it. I'll put some thought into this idea. – Joca 12 years ago
  • Perhaps you should look at a partnership opportunity with the makers of the Withings Scale: Corkery 11 years ago

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