November 6, 2018

I finally launched! Woo-hoo. Woo. Man. I am going to bed.

https://www.stacksimple.io

I launched!

I have been a wantrepreneur, mothboller, and a sometimes shipper most of my career. I have had a couple of wins, like a fishing game I created for J2ME when that was a thing (anyone remember selling on Handango 15 years ago?) and more recently a pretty sweet Mantas in the Morning app that would call you via Twilio as an alarm and give you a nice affirmation to start your day. More often than not, I get through the first 40-80% of my idea and then mothball it, looking for the next new thing. Hope springs eternal for the Indie Hacker!

If you are like me, you have a slew of ideas and time is limited. All the fun and energy goes into building the next great service. Then, somewhere around 60% done, the rude awakening and slow drudgery of boilerplate like authentication, authorization, payments, testing, etc start to take their toll on my ambition. There has to be an simpler way to knock out this last bit of behavior! There must be a simpler way to get your SaaS idea to market, right?

Well, you are right! This is the very itch my service, Stacksimple, is intended to scratch.

Here's the deal:

Stacksimple is a service that provides a ready-to-go SaaS app with all the boiler plating along with a Dockerized application ecosystem.

What am I talking about?

I've taken the pain out of the 200-300 hours it takes to implement authentication, payments, dev tooling, basic customer communication, and analytics. All you need to do is jump in and develop your service, add a few third-party keys, and you are done! The best part is that the applications are Heroku-ready (and technically Docker-ready) out of the box. The apps even come with a landing page. You can literally start taking leads 5 minutes after downloading your first stack!

What about the application ecosystem? Leveraging Docker containers, the stack provides all of its dependencies necessary to get up and running. Don't have Ruby? No problem. It's Dockerized. No Rails? Docker's gotcha. No Postgres? Dock... okay enough. Say goodbye to version collisions, broken library builds, and hours on Stack Overflow ... at least for a little while.

Want to see what the heck I am squawking about?

Below you will find some instructions to try out Stacksimple's workflow and application ecosystem. You can play with a demo app and get a taste for building apps the Stacksimple way. You will also find a link to the app so that you know what you are buying.

Alright, so Reid Hoffman said, "if you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late."

I have not launched too late. Let's get that straight buddy.

The upshot is that while I am finding product-market-fit I can offer my early customers a honey of a deal! Early adopters get a lifetime subscription on the house. You still have to purchase the stack, but this is a one-time charge. Standard 100% money-back guarantee. You know the drill.

Why a subscription service? With a subscription, you will have the ability to download the latest stacks with up-to-date versions of libraries, frameworks, language, and tech. No only this, but future development will include stacks in other languages and platforms.

You don't want to miss out on all this fun do you?

Go ahead! Give it a shot!

[currently works for Linux and Mac]

Give the Stacksimple way of life a try:

The following commands will confirm or istall docker and docker-compose and the Stacksimple script.

$ curl -sSL http://get.stacksimple.io/ -o /tmp/stacksimple-install

$ chmod +x /tmp/stacksimple-install

$ /tmp/stacksimple-install

Now, create the demo project and play around a bit by going through the README.md:

$ stacksimple-cli new demo_project demo

When you are done, pop over the the Rails app to get a ganders at the boilerplate app.

https://arcane-tor-91244.herokuapp.com/

Technically this should be viewable from

rails52-saas-v181030.stacksimple.io but whatevs.. maybe tomorrow.

If you have any questions, comments, whatever, please hit me up at

ted@stacksimple.io

I would love any feedback.

Thanks for your time,

Ted


  1. 4

    Lol I was just thinking about building a project almost exactly like this! It looks great!

    My only question is why is it worth a $500 price tag for a container with all of this? That would deter me from using it and it's not clear from your landing pages what all the benefits are.

    (I'm not saying StackSimple isn't worth it, I just don't understand)

  2. 2

    Hi Ted! You really did a very good job and everything seems at the right place but as a student I really feel 500$ are really too much. I can't afford this service even though could be really nice to have an automatic Docker configurator which prepare me my stack ;) I hope with time you could open up to some new price option and other languages.

    In any case I'll keep an eye on this, good luck!

  3. 2

    Congratulations on launching!

    I just wrote basically this same stack to launch ProjectPoll.co. It definitely seems like I'm spending too much time on a solved problem every time I do authentication or Stripe, but man, it's hard to trust other people's code :D. (And also hard to remember these things exist when inspiration strikes and you just want to rails new your way to the bank.)

    Congrats again, and best of luck!

    1. 1

      but man, it's hard to trust other people's code :D

      It is & rhymes with my opening comments above.

      The biggest difficulty I see in getting adoption of your service is building trust with prospective customers.

      100% for getting started tho' Ted (you're ahead of me) and good luck too!

  4. 2

    Nice job Ted, now add some more stacks

    1. 1

      You bet. Talk to you tomorrow!

  5. 2

    Hi Ted, I've read your post with interest; congratulations on taking the plunge and I really wish you all the very best with your launch.

    In principle what your service product appears to offer is of serious value and well worth the money. The biggest difficulty I see in getting adoption of your service is building trust with prospective customers.

    So the first thing I did was to visit the www.stacksimple.io landing page and was pleased to be greeted with the browser lock indicating HTTPS enablement. Goodo.

    Then I browsed all around what you have up there already. I pretty much got the picture. The count of stacks is singular at the moment but looks like it won't be long before it's plural! :D

    Okay, let's give it a go.

    curl -sSL http://get.stacksimple.io/ -o /tmp/stacksimple-install

    Uh oh, scary already. You are asking me to install something in a system directory (/tmp) very close to root ('/). And aftercurl`ing you're asking me to

    chmod +x /tmp/stacksimple-install

    Admittedly you have not asked for sudo or otherwise asked for superuser permissions, but nevertheless there's something uncomfortable about installing into a root directory even if it is just `/tmp'.

    Probably it's just a perception thing but personally I would feel more comfortable if the instructions for getting started were conducted within a temporary directory somewhere in my home folder, say ~/tmp or say ~/stacksimple.demo.

    Actually what I did was to cd ~/tmp into the existing temp directory in my home directory and blindly ran the curl command.

    Then I did an ls -lA as a matter of habit to check what I downloaded. I could not see anything there so I rechecked the curl command and only after the event did I realise that it got downloaded into /tmp.

    So then I issued ls -lA /tmp and sure enough the downloaded bundle was there.

    At this point I said to myself "Whoa" and did not proceed with the chmod +x /tmp/stacksimple-installinstruction let alone execute /tmp/stacksimple-install.

    What I did do next though was

    rm /tmp/stacksimple-install

    and then proceeded to write this reply.

    Just my 2 cents. Hope my comments are valuable feedback (even if it's paranoia) especially as many people would not even bother telling you and you would be none the wiser.

    Cheers. All best.

    1. 1

      Although there are arguments against 'curly' install scripts, I don't think what you are describing has anything to do with stacksimple. Don't take this the wrong way, but this is really only you not understanding how curl works :-)

      Also, it doesn't really matter whether you run this in your home or /tmp, this doesn't make any difference in terms of security. /tmp is arguably the better place, because you only need to run it once, and then you can let the OS take care of getting rid of it at some stage.

      I've had a quick look at the bootstrap script, and yes, it requires sudo to install docker (there is no way around that). Again, there are arguments for and against having those sort of bootstrap scripts do that sort of thing, and overall, my opinion is that if you are going to trust the software you are going to run, you might as well as trust the bootstrap script as long as it comes from the same source.

      Other than that, I had a look at the script, and it's ok, technically. It puts all functionality in functions, and only calls those at the end of the script, which is the most important thing in those cases.

      1. 1

        Hi @tacl, thanks for chiming in. I'm sure you are 100% technically right; in fact I know you are. What I was getting at was a matter of perception & trust.

        If Oracle gave exactly the same instructions to install Java I would not hesitate to follow because I "trust" Oracle and accordingly I agree with

        if you are going to trust the software you are going to run, you might as well as trust the bootstrap script as long as it comes from the same source

        The caveat is the "if" that sentence begins with and I was only trying to signal that I may not trust a brand new player that I've never heard of just yet.

        Hope my comments were not interpreted in any other way than just trying to be helpful in establishing the initial trust. To me, and I may be totally wrong, perceptions are everything and people are naturally cautious as internet security has a higher profile in the public consciousness nowadays.

        1. 2

          No, you are totally right. But that basically means you can't really install any software outside of packages that come with your chosen distribution or are not backed by a major open-source project or company.

          For my day-to-day-work that would just not be feasible, so I have other (or at least additional) strategies around risk-mitigation.

          I personally think curly bash scripts are usually an acceptable trade-off, depending on a few factors. You should always have a brief look at that script though, and if it's just to get an idea about the proficiency of the programmer who wrote it.

          Installing docker for me is borderline. But on the other hand there is just no other good way to prepare a machine to run a non-trivial package, with minimal friction for the end-user.

          I guess, my main argument is: if you had installed the software onto your desktop (as you were about to do if it you weren't creeped out by the script) via any other means which looked more 'professional' (say a Windows installer-like thing -- people did use those for decades, and they basically do the same thing: requesting 'root' access, and installing some code onto your machine), you would have exposed yourself to the same amount of risk. That application, once installed and and run, could do as much damage as an install script, and it's not as easy to review in most cases, because it comes in binary form.

          Not requiring 'sudo' permissions is obviously better, but sometimes that just isn't feasible. And I'd say if you mean harm and once you are on somebodies desktop, it's not that hard to gain root permissions anymore.

          Ah, I don't know. If you really think about it, the whole security situation in computing is totally bonkers, and none of us should do any work at all :-)

          1. 1

            Hehe, bonkers? Sounds about right @tacl ;-)

            I don't have any magic answers for the security problem & perceptions either save to say that I've been developing on Linux in a VirtualBox for the last upteen years.

            So far that seems to have served me fairly well security-wise especially as I maintain regular backups of my work to offline storage and don't store anything critical on the guest OS. If my system got hosed it would probably inconvenience me for a day.

            Much more scary, though, is the thought of spyware that you have absolutely no knowledge of lurking in the background. You have just installed some stuff, your system appears to be working fine and you're none the wiser that your system has been compromised.

  6. 1

    Hi Ted, thanks for reaching out with your email to me. I did send you a reply email but haven't heard back from you re if you would like me to give your product another whirl.

  7. 1

    @all -- I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for sharing your suggestions, questions, appreciation and most of all your time. I hope that you all don't mind if I follow up with each suggestion and, where possible, I might reach out to you for further feedback. Time to iterate!

  8. 1

    Hello,

    warm congrats from your competitor! I see every week a new boilerplate is born :))) that's is a very good sign :)

    I'm actually working on something like that, but for Python and it is the open source (https://github.com/SaaS-Idea/saas-boilerplate).

    Your sample app looked good to me until I tried to sign up. It showed me an error then. I hope I didn't break the whole app :)

    Yeah, also, I have a question. Do you combine the main SaaS app with a dashboard?

    1. 1

      Thanks for giving it a shot. O! That humbling moment when something breaks. I actually received a slack notice from Sentry. So that works ;) I didn't add the Mailgun API Key so the email didn't work. I will get on that when I roll out the new design in a day or so.

      With regards to your boilerplate. That's great. Starter-kits are clearly a problem to be solved. This idea came because I saw the graveyard of Rails/Stripe/Saas open source projects in Github. The last one I saw had the comment, from the author, "let's see how often I update this project." It was from two years prior. Aha! Problem. My gut instinct is that, like most projects, in the absence of a dedicated maintainer or a profit motive, the project will fall by the wayside. Your experience may be different. And I hope so.

      With regards to the dashboard. I did not include it. There are so many features that one could add.

      After "radicalizing" myself on 37Signals talks, specifically "less is less," YCombinator videos, and IndieHackers podcasts, I reduced scope to the bare necessities and left a lot of features out. YAGNI is the guiding rule. What tools are essential to a solofounder/developer (team) that will get them to market as quickly as possible?

      In short, there are many ways that the app could be viewed as incomplete. I stopped when I felt I had enough there to ship a product: get leads, get paying customers. And don't make me think about the services to choose from or worry about environment issues.

      In the near future, I am going to live-stream building out a Saas in less than a day using Stacksimple. I will definitely make the announcement.

      1. 1

        "let's see how often I update this project."
        in the absence of a dedicated maintainer or a profit motive,

        Well... I believe it's pretty possible to make money on the open source, and my motive is pretty profit one! As for a frequency of updating, are you 100% sure you will do it often even if your project is not open source? ;-)

        With regards to the dashboard. I did not include it.

        I meant the dashboard that a user sees. Where he/she can change profile, setting, make a payment, and, what is most important, do his/her work in your SaaS. Don't you implement this dashboard?

        In the near future, I am going to live-stream building out a Saas in less than a day using Stacksimple.

        I'm actually thinking about something like that. Not sure that I would live-stream, but a short video should be helpful.

        Good luck!

  9. 1

    I wrote it here already for a similar product and I will repeat it. If I don't yet know that you already are a great engineer (from your blog/GitHub/work) I might not trust your code. A sample of your code and test coverage would certainly be reassuring.

    Another thing I don't trust is when it does not look top notch. Your landing page actually looks very nice (congrats!), but the demo app itself do not. I never want to start with bad design and "fix it" as I already can start from scratch.

    At last I think the price tag is too high for individuals.

    Anyway I think it's a good problem to solve, there is a competition (especially for Rails stack), but also I haven't yet seen a good implementation of a starter kit. So iterate and report how it goes :).

    What stack will you be adding next?

    1. 1

      Thank you for your suggestions. They are first on my list ;)

      To the design: it's heinous. Period. It's also how I felt I most qualified for the statement: "if you are proud of what you shipped you shipped too late."

      To your point, I received the final redesigned html yesterday. I will be reskinning the app. Look for an update shortly. I will definitely reach out to you, sir! ;)

      What stack is next? It's gotta be Node.js -- I will go down my list of competencies in that order: Ruby, Javascript, Python, then probably hit Elixir instead of Go. I don't believe I will start replicating the product until I feel I have found some kind product-market-fit ... or at least made a buck.

      Does this sound like an appropriate course of action? Thanks again for your insight and suggestions.

  10. 1

    Congrats, looks interesting. Not going to try it out just now, docker always messes with my network setup on my dev machine.

    As there is not that much documentation yet, how does this work? I'd buy this if I needed exactly the stack you are providing? How configurable are those? Do you plan to release more of those stacks? How do you decide which stacks to pre-build? Can one do their own stacks?

    1. 1

      Great questions and I will definitely follow up with you.

      The documentation is sparse on the site but the README, included with the app, is extensive which makes me think I should link to the README, or something close, on the web. I will definitely think of something and can appreciate that it isn't at all clear how the entire thing fits together.

      In "short" how it works:

      You receive a Rails SaaS App, a very opinionated and blessed stack, that is fitted with free/freemium tools and services: Sentry, Mailgun, Drift, Stripe, etc. You also get a Dockerfile to build the app and a docker-compose to load all the supporting tech (postgres, redis, elasticsearch, whatever the app needs). This means you don't need anything on your system except Docker (installed by my script) and an editor of your choice (Textmate? ;)). After implementing your service and tying it up with the pre-fab'd app User models, and any necessary authorization, you push to Heroku (out of the box), or, really, anywhere. Then it's off to IH, Product Hunt, Medium, Quora, G2, etc to announce your next great product.

      As stated above, I will provide the next stack in Node. What language do you prefer? The stacks to be pre-built are based purely on the languages I know. If this were to gain traction, I will immediately replicate the app to most web languages, then move on to mobile frameworks (React-native, Ionic, etc).

      You can always do your own stack. But I offer a service that will always provide stacks with the latest libraries and boilerplate so that you can get to the fun stuff and launch!

  11. 1

    It seems great, not sure if I would use it but maybe get a free tier? I am not sure a student (which is described as one of your target audience) will be able to afford a 500 price tag :/

    1. 1

      There seems to be a theme regarding the price. I cannot avoid it. I either lower the price or sweeten the deal. Hmmm...

  12. 1

    I wanted to pop in to say that your landing page is great, nice work. However, a $499 price tag is hefty. Essentially, we pay $499 to save 200-300 hours of work?

    1. 1

      That's correct.

      I am torn between lowering the price rather than sweetening the deal though I may have a compromise. Price discovery is definitely important at this point.

      For better (for "us" software devs) or worse (folks who hire us on a contract basis), I have built this type of system more than a few times, though completely custom, and end up billing clients at least $10,000 if not $20,000.00 Obviously they pay for customized everything. It's not an apples to apples comparison. I guess somewhere between $0 and $500 is the true value of this product.

      I want to temper my impulse to lower the price drastically with the open-mindedness that the current price is, at least to this market, too high.

      Truth be told it was $299. But I decided to almost double it. Why not give it a shot?

      If I am going to be a B2C with software engineers as an audience, the current value for price is a bit steep.

      1. 1

        $299 is a better price point in my opinion as it is easier on the mind. However, you know the value of what you are offering so it is best to set the pricing to what you desire. However, $299 is a point in which I'd personally consider. $499 in my mind is half of $1k - a nice sack of money that could be spent on marketing for example. Best wishes. You're onto something.

  13. 1

    Congratulations.

  14. 1

    Congrats bro :)

  15. 1

    I'm not into Ruby, but this look pretty solid dude. Good luck!

  16. 1

    woohoooo......Best of everything to u...