From serving the eyes to serving SaaS. CaaSocio Co-Founder Sarah Michelle Arjasepp, a licensed optometrist, shares her introduction to SaaS and her ultimate plans for CaaSocio growth. She was born in Quezon Province, started business in Boracay, and now lives in Estonia, Europe.
A self-confessed hustler, Sarah used to run 2 small businesses — an optical clinic during the day and a bar starting sundown. According to Sarah, she was once the receptionist, the salesperson, the cashier, the bookkeeper, the bartender, the optometrist, and even the janitor.
“As a solo entrepreneur, it was quite hard. In the second year, I had to give up the bar because I couldn’t run it properly anymore. My health has been affected and I couldn’t really function well if I lack sleep.”
Today she took time to answer some exclusive questions we should know about how an optometrist turned into a SaaS co-founder.
Can you please introduce the ‘average-day’ Sarah?
As a mother with young children, it was a bit tricky to manage my ‘average-day’ when we started CaaSocio. Hence, I deliberately opted to find a co-founder.
Prior to kids, I used to hustle a lot. I had a bar and an optical clinic. But these days, I prefer to ‘unhustle’. I learned to say NO to things that’s not aligned with the direction that I wanted to take.
When things get overwhelming during the workweek, I usually take a walk to clear my mind. For the weekend, we usually go camping during warmer months and get cozy during the winter months.
A weekend breather is also a must for me.
You are an optometrist, how did you get involved with SaaS?
I married a software developer (haha!) and settled down around 2016.
But honestly, I’m just an accidental SaaS founder.
When we were living in Boracay, my software developer husband saw that I’m still using paper-based patient records for my clinic. He said that I could use software that can help me manage the clinic better. Honestly, I thought that it's something that I couldn’t afford as a small optical clinic owner.
That was when Mobcly, a cloud-based optical clinic EMR software, was born. In collaboration with my husband, we started developing it just for my personal use. In the first two years, it was only the two of us building the product. But it became challenging, as I really don’t have any software development background or marketing expertise.
It was around 2018 when Boracay was temporarily closed for renovation. And since our eldest was growing so fast, we needed to be financially wise and move to Estonia for more affordable education and healthcare. We decided to give up the optical clinic and paused our software project.
Please describe the reasons behind your career moves.
After giving birth to our second baby, I started thinking about how I can make myself quite useful here in Estonia. The internet here is fairly strong so I feel that I need to put it to good use.
We decided to rebuild the software that was put on hold. But we had no time for Mobcly as we were quite overwhelmed with the big move. (Side story, I even suffered from depression for about six months. The big move, difficult pregnancy, and roadblocks with software development sent me down a rabbit hole.)
So around 2019 when I started to feel better (after giving birth), I found a freelancing community. That’s where I met my CaaSocio co-founder, Aiza, and the rest was history.
Tell us about CaaSocio. What inspired you to build it?
Initially, my goal is just to find someone who can help me rebuild our software. As I didn’t know much about SaaS, I decided to connect to Aiza. She shared some free SaaS groups where I could learn more about how I can rebuild our tool.
CaaSocio came from the name Caas – copywriting as a service (which was coined by Aiza) and then we added ‘socio’, play word from the word ‘kasosyo’ in Filipino which means business partners.
So what inspired me to build it?
It’s actually the people around the freelancing community that inspired me to build it. One day, I had an AHA moment on how I could create a bigger impact in the community of Filipino freelancers. I figured I could leverage my current location, learn more about SaaS, and have some “money now” income to continuously fund the rebuilding of the EMR tool.
“It is better to build this time with team members rather than doing it alone. I tried to divide myself thinly before —and that was really hard when I tried to be everything. It’s harder to scale alone.”
I invited Aiza for an exploratory call to start a copywriting team. One that we can easily register here in Estonia so we can help more Filipino SaaS marketers.
But marketing agencies face fierce competition, what makes CaaSocio stand out?
What separates CaaSocio is our collective growth strategy. The core team has individual expertise and experiences. We have a strong copy chief and strategist. We understand how the founders think through my personal challenges. And we have pre-vetted partners for non-copy services.
Do you think being in Estonia helps your team?
Yes, Estonia has a growing number of SaaS and Tech unicorns. We also have direct access to EU-based clients. We have direct access to SaaS marketing trends in the EU. And CaaSocio is now a VAT compliant company, making it a more trusted brand for scaling and bigger SaaS companies.
Can you discuss how you overcame the obstacles you faced? How did you achieve where you are now?
I overcame my imposter syndrome after taking Prof. Christensen Disruptive Strategy short program at Harvard Business School Online. It was anchored on how we should always create innovations by looking at the ‘jobs to be done’ lens. It gave me a clear compass on when to focus on a deliberate strategy or embrace the emerging strategy. And I can’t wait to implement these learnings to help our clients and our team grow.
As for the growth of CaaSocio, I think the secret lies in how we were able to attract great talents to join or partner with us. CaaSocio is not just me or Aiza, we envision it to be a go-to brand of Filipino freelancers helping software companies. We know it will take time. For now, we focus on helping SaaS founders get their startup running and growing with our copy and content writing services.
What is one thing you wish you knew before getting into SaaS? Is there anything that you think would be helpful to have?
To be honest I don’t really know much about SaaS because I came from an optometry background. I just wish I knew all the terms then. Glad I started CaaSocio where I began to learn more about SaaS and how I could run it as a non-technical co-founder.
I really wish I took Prof. Christensen Disruptive Strategy program early on. There’s also a growing number of SaaS coaches for non-technical founders like me. If only I had a mentor earlier, I could have avoided several mistakes.
Talk to me about CaaSocio in the next few years. Are there any specific goals you hope to achieve?
We envision CaaSocio to grow steadily with great partners. Currently, we have several external partners in preparation for our big mission.
We will be testing different offers also down the road. And who knows, we might start our very own SaaS.
And I think the founder’s story shouldn’t be just about me but ours [Aiza and I] story. I feel that CaaSocio would not be here if Aiza didn’t say yes to the vision that I shared. That is to leverage my location here in Estonia and give direct access to exemplary Filipino SaaS marketers..
For me, I just really want to grow CaaSocio. I don’t mind if it grows beyond me and Aiza that it grows into a brand of its own. The goal is create more impact for Filipino freelancers.
Give one word to describe yourself.
LONEWOLF. Yes, I’m like a lone wolf who can work alone. But, I realized over time that even the wolves perform better as a pack. I’d rather work with a team of people than try to do everything myself.
If not for animal words I’d say I am still evolving, a work in progress. I really can’t describe myself in one word :) Lone wolf is the closest I can associate with myself. I’m not here to eat people [hahaha] but to encourage the other lone wolves to come together and create a pack of wolves that can really give more impact
“I am Sarah Michelle Cairo-Arjasepp, co-founder of CaaSocio. I started my journey as an optometrist at a small company and worked my way to SaaS. I had dreams bigger than what was possible for me so decided it was time for me to start something bigger than me: CaaSocio.”