How Tom Benattar Built a Successful SaaS Tool for Advertisers

What Led Him to Become a SaaS Founder

Tom Benattar, a French entrepreneur living in the south of France, has lived and breathed the SaaS space for over six years. He made his debut in 2015 when he co-founded SaaS Invaders—a private sales website that provides great deals on various tools, resources and apps designed for startup growth.

A few years later, Benattar co-founded PixelMe—a “URL shortener that embeds retargeting pixels into shortened links,” effectively retargeting anyone who clicks on the shortened URL. Described as a tool for savvy marketers, PixelMe allows you to serve specific ads on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google to everyone who clicked on your link.

Just a side project, initially, PixelMe was born when Benattar and his two co-founders, Jeremie Doucy and Maxime Berthelot, noticed they weren’t getting the return on investment (ROI) from external content they were sharing on social media. Eventually, this persistent lack of ROI pushed them to make PixelMe a full-time gig.

According to PixelMe’s website, just 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit. By using PixelMe’s URL shortener to add retargeting pixels to your unique branded link, you can effectively “target people who already visited your website and generate more sales.”

The Future of Online Advertising

As an expert growth marketer, Benattar asserts that there are certain biases in advertising that need to be put aside, and that advertisers can’t expect to convert many people with just one ad. He believes that advertisers need to do more in the way of improving their content and educating themselves in order to provide ads that are more relevant and better incentivize customers.

“We need to really improve the ads based on the content the user is reading,” Benattar states. “If you are reading this [piece of content], I can show you these [relevant] ads.” However, the information you get as a marketer has become increasingly limited—especially if your site visitors block cookies.

First-Party vs Third-Party Cookies

The simple purpose of using cookies on a website is to track user visits and activity. Cookies can be either first-party or third-party, and PixelMe’s post on first-party vs third-party cookies eloquently outlines the differences between the two.

“Cookies are used by websites to remember user actions. This way, they aren’t asked to perform a task over and over again. They help provide a better and more personalized user experience,” the post explains.

First- and third-party cookies have similar goals and are both used to track behavior. However, they are implemented and applied in different ways.

First-party cookies are created and stored by the actual website you are visiting. This data that is stored from your visit will be held until the next time you visit the website in order to improve your experience. Some examples of data recorded by first-party cookies include your username, password, address, payment information and shopping carts.

On the other hand, third-party cookies are created by a website other than the one you are directly visiting. Third-party cookies are placed on a website through a script or tag and then used for digital advertising purposes, such as retargeting (the specialty of PixelMe) or cross-site tracking.

However, third-party cookies are becoming increasingly ineffective and continue to spark concerns surrounding privacy. In fact, Safari, Firefox and Google have all taken measurable steps to reduce or block third-party cookies.

Luckily, PixelMe “is not impacted by the disappearance of third-party cookies thanks to the Facebook workaround,” the post states. The majority of PixelMe’s customers run ads from Facebook to third-party platforms, “so Facebook will still (and always) be able to track and retarget people who clicked on PixelMe links.”

Advice for Other SaaS Entrepreneurs 

When asked his advice for other SaaS entrepreneurs, Benattar shares it is crucial to focus on product-market fit at each stage of your product’s development. Regularly assessing your product-market fit will help ensure the relevance and ultimate success and longevity of your business. 

Throughout PixelMe’s creation—from inception until present date—examining product-market fit has been critical in ensuring the SaaS tool efficiently addresses a market need, which its customers can then benefit from. 

Benattar says it’s especially essential to ensure you have a customer you can market to even if you don’t have your exact product nailed down yet. By finding a specific type of customer whose issues need solving, you can mold your SaaS product based around their needs and feedback. 

With his first company, Benattar shares he made the mistake of not interacting with his customers in order to figure out how the product was working for them and what adjustments they wanted to see happen. By regularly communicating with your customers, you’re that much more likely to maintain good product-market fit as you mold your product to meet their needs. 

Additionally, Benattar asserts the importance of trying different pricing strategies to see what works for your SaaS business. In fact, “we always changed our pricing,” Benattar states. By experimenting with a variety of pricing strategies, they were able to figure out what was effective and what was not. So, it would be wise to not get too attached to one pricing strategy before trying out others. 

PixelMe also offers a 7-day free trial where users can try the product and decide if they want to continue using it. By centering your business around product-market fit, offering a free trial can effectively compel users to continue using your product because it’s just that relevant, useful and worthwhile. 

Check out our post on SaaS pricing strategy to learn about SaaS pricing best practices as told by experts in the space. 

How He Decided It Was Time to Sell 

When it came to deciding the right time to sell PixelMe, Benattar says there were two main factors that informed his decision—the first one being that PixelMe wasn’t a SaaS tool he personally used. “I was never the target of PixelMe because I never sold something on Amazon, I never had a YouTube channel, I never did a Kickstarter—so I never used PixelMe for myself,” he explains. 

Since Benattar didn’t personally use PixelMe, he didn’t feel a strong attachment to keeping ownership of the business. “I would like to be in something I will use,” he states. 

Although he finds the digital advertising space interesting, he shares that his ambitions lie elsewhere—in creating a productivity tool, in fact. “My dream is [to create] a productivity tool used by a million people,” says Benattar, so he eventually decided to sell PixelMe through FE International to start focusing on this goal. 

When you’re trying to decide the right time to sell your SaaS business, the decision is ultimately unique and personal to you and your business. No one can make the call besides you, and there likely won’t be a black-and-white understanding that it’s the right time.  

Still, it’s helpful to keep in mind the goals you had for your business, whether those goals have been achieved and whether you feel personally attached to your business. If you’re satisfied with the success of your SaaS business and are ready to move onto new horizons, it might be a hint that it’s a good time to sell. 

For more information about selling your SaaS business, check out our comprehensive SaaS exit planning overview.