Possible problem to solve? Please advice

Hi all,

I think I found a problem which can be automated and solved with SaaS.
But I am having hard time to verify market and find someone who has this problem.

There are a lot of industries where excel files used a lot and because of format mismatch a lot of manual labor spent to reformat such files.
For instance, supplier receives product catalogs from manufactors, but these catalogs can have different column names, unit of measure etc. Supplier spends time to have similar data in the db doing manual edit. Also, it is error prone.
I think automated converter (with proper mappings setuped) will save a lot of time and money for such companies.

Please share your feedback and advice how I can reach such companies?

Thanks a lot!

Why do you think that problem exists?
(I’m not saying it doesn’t, just wondering your source)

Have you talked to anyone or have you had the problem?

It does happen, but I’m not sure how often the receivers of such spreadsheets think of automation.

Another common scenario is when a manager gets a few spreadsheets regularly and needs to build a report for upper management by combining some of the data. Again, I’m not sure how often the said manager thinks of automation.

I.e. I agree that scenario does exist, and the benefit does exist, but the potential users are not aware of it.

Also, the potential users will have to have some programming skills to setup the desired conversions - and I doubt they have them.

IMHO, you cannot solve a problem that people do not care about been solved.

I think this problem exists but only in conjunction with other problems: the integration of processes (and as a consequence the conversion of formats of input and output files), I previously worked in the field of SAP consulting




sorry for my English, I think the problem is the integration of processes and various systems and not file formats … IMHO no one will pay for the “converter” only a more comprehensive solution. At the same time, please note that this is an Enterprise … very complex sales process …

Friend of friend said that at ex-company they had some issues.
And because excel used a lot - I thought it might be general issue.
No, I didn;t talk to anyone yet, I am asking advice here how I can find someone to talk about the issue.

So, I am not sure if this is a real problem and if there is a market, doing research now.


The scenario which I was thinking of - when two systems have incompatible export/import.

Eg manufacter export functionality produces excel which is different from reseller import functionality.
And change of export/import can be pretty expensive (because files used in internal system as well).

Having some automatic converter in between would be a good solution, isn’t it?

Thanks for feedback,

If I understand you correctly: problem is exist, but market not?

I do think the problem exists, but I’m not sure if it’s (easily) solvable with a SaaS.

I discussed a similar problem with a business owner recently. Their problem was that they had a manually maintained product catalog in Excel, which they wanted to import into their (new) online webshop. Naturally, they expected the import to “just work”, which it did not, since their Excel sheet was full of custom fields in different (non-standard) formats. A generic conversion from Excel to another specific format is not so easy to solve, I think. At least not in a way that is usable for a non-technical person.

Creating a generic Excel-to-some-other-format is certianly possible, but it would require a ton of customization and/or configuration to work for different data sets, input formats and output formats, but if you have a good and easy-to-use solution to this, it might be feasible. Even if you are able to solve this and provide it as a SaaS, I think most potential users would either expect the feature to be built-in to whatever they are exporting from/importing into and requiring them to sign up with a separate service just for data conversion might be a hurdle.

One example of such a process is importing products to a Shopify store via a CSV file. It’s possible, but it’s by no means easy for a non-technical person (unless you create a custom integration for it). The CSV import (naturally) requires a specific set of fields in a specific format, so whatever format you have your original data in must be converted to the Shopify-specific format to be imported.

However, if you do create such a conversion/automation service, it may be easier to sell if you incorporate the feature into plug-ins for various other products/eco-systems. For example, you could sell a Shopify add-on that simplified importing product data into a Shopify store directly from an Excel sheet, without the user needing to know all the details of the Shopify CSV format.

I meant that I encountered a similar problem and solution … but this solution is not a converter, this solution is the integration of processes.

I did not penetrate into your idea, I did not quite understand what the problem was …

I would in your place do the following:

  • would look to-in and varinats of requests in Google Adwords Keyword Planer
  • would search forums where they ask about a similar problem

sorry for my English

this solution is the integration of processes.
I’ve been thinking about having the converter between two processes (systems).
Manufacturer has process (system) which operates with format A, Supplier has process (system) which operates with format B. It would be expensive for Manufacturer or Supplier to change their systems, because processes already established and working. In this scenario I think converter will be best solution.

would look to-in and varinats of requests in Google Adwords Keyword Planer
would search forums where they ask about a similar problem

Thanks for advices, I tried google a little, it is pretty tricky, everything with excel mentioned - redirects to excel help/support page. Will try other query.

There is definitely a need for this kind of stuff in my opinion. But as mentioned by @asandvig, it’s probably not easy to solve. And I think @serge_gerasim is right when he is talking about the underlying problem which is data integration.

We offer basic CSV/XLS data transformation in Mailparser.io and there are two other platforms I know of which allow you to build file based data conversion pipelines:

It seems like the first questions are about the perceived problem. Only the folks with the problem can answer that.

Have your potential customers searched for a solution?
If so, then you may be on to something. If not, how will you market to them if it didn’t even occur to them to spend 1 minute googling for a solution?

I highly recommend

  1. Read What Customers Want
  2. Talk to the folks with the problem and/or the folks who would pay for the solution.

Issues I see (which you can answer with the above)

  1. This is a low priced solution (I think) for a very deep, very specific problem.
  2. How will you market to these folks?
  3. Do they know they have a problem?
  4. Does it occur to them to search for it? What search terms to they use?

Have your potential customers searched for a solution?

This is what I am trying to find out now, most likely I am using wrong questions…

I have the same questions (maybe I made it not clear, but I tried to ask them in this thread )

Does it occur to them to search for it? What search terms to they use?

I didn’t find proper text to google, any query containing excel shows excel help or support page.

How will you market to these folks?

I’ve been thinking about it, most likely I need to find such companies in linkedin and do cold calls or cold emails …

Do they know they have a problem?

It is hard to check, I am not sure about it. Maybe it I will propose a solution - they would see the problem.

Thats indeed really good questions you should ask before starting implementetion.

I highly recommend
Read What Customers Want1
Talk to the folks with the problem and/or the folks who would pay for the solution.

Looking at the market for your idea, there is a class of similar products and a huge market. It’s called EDI ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_data_interchange ). Mostly systems integration vendors do sell this kind of stuff.

However there is also something called WEB EDI, where smaller businesses can use web forms to build an EDI document.
So maybe a market is to parse EDI out of excel? Or into excel?

But: Who is going to buy this, and how are they buying. If they always go to SAP or Oracle, you can’t match a buying process like this just online.

As others already said the problem does exist but in conjunction with other problems. why stop at converting excel to another excel if you can load it dirrectly into the database, why only excel, etc?

Generic data integration services (such as our own etlworks.com) can do this sort of things just fine.

Have a look at Airtable I think they are growing fast and doing the job…despite there’re plenty others(that bring data validation, data structure, version and data history tracking into spreasheets

Test your assumption, put up a landing page for your service, spend $100 bucks on advertising, and see what happens.