How I Automated My Salary Job, Quit, and Launched My Own Startup

Hello! What's your background, and what are you working on?

I'm Luca Carducci, CEO at Skaffolder.

I'm a web developer. My team and I created a tool for developers like us who endure a lot of work and pain on our wrists (due to too much keyboard typing).

Skaffolder is a SaaS platform that allows developers to quickly build a custom web application in many programming languages. Starting from a visual modelling, it allows you to generate the source code you need.

Our ideal customers are software houses and system integrators that, thanks to Skaffolder, can save time, resources, and costs.

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What motivated you to get started with Skaffolder?

I worked for seven years for a big Italian system integrator. Each time I had to start a new project I had to rewrite the same code I wrote in previous projects. So I had to copy and paste pieces of code and adapt them to the new project, wasting a lot of time writing refactored code.

To overcome this issue I started to create the Skaffolder algorithm in order to generate repetitive code, avoiding repetition but still getting high-quality code instantly.

I validated this approach with some personal and enterprise projects and later I created the first Skaffolder interface, obviously using the Skaffolder generator algorithm. That means Skaffolder was built with Skaffolder!

I also wrote some template generators for the programming languages I am skilled in, such as NodeJS, Angular, PHP, and Java.

Now every Skaffolder user can write their own template generator thanks to the skaffolder-cli.

At the time I had a stable job and economic situation, so I decided to resign my job, build a team, and launch my own startup.

What went into building the initial product?

At the beginning it was very difficult to find money, time, and people to build the product and the company.

Working for 8 hours per day, I barely had any free time. I spent a lot of nights in front of my PC building the MVP.

I was a developer, not a businessman, which means that I had to acquire a lot of new skills. It's not difficult to create a SaaS, especially for a full-stack developer, but to create a company is a different thing.

So I started to attend networking events, build relationships, and look for key people to create the founding team.

It's not difficult to create a SaaS, especially for a full-stack developer, but to create a company is a different thing.

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With a lot of effort, I found four other people that wanted to start this new adventure with me. We targeted the top Italian accelerator, LuissEnLabs, and after failing to get selected the first time around, we got the funding on round two.

With this initial money, a good network, and space to work, we were ready to get started!

How have you attracted users and grown Skaffolder?

We started validation by contacting developers directly, asking for feedback, and hosting focus groups and meetings.

We launched the first Alpha version of the platform and with 150€ in AdWords. This got us the first 300 users, but they were not very profiled, so we refined our campaigns and got users through new channels, such as tech events and developers' communities.

Later we defined a better selling proposition and we started to get in touch with IT companies like software houses and system integrators. We reached them by cold calling, presentations, scheduling demos, and starting pilot projects with the customers.

With cold contacts, you only have seconds to address the problem that the customer has and explain to him or her how you are going to solve it, otherwise you lose the deal!

It is a lot easier to get started with a good network of relationships. That's why I'd suggest investing a lot of time building it.

What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

We make money by selling our platform to IT companies, keeping it free for developers.

We realized that the problem we were going to solve is a problem concerning time and budget. Single developers don't feel this pain — bigger companies do. So we are just onboarding on AWS Marketplace and Google Cloud Launcher, where we can sell our on-premise solution to companies with just one click.

Also, the billing is managed by these marketplaces so it's less effort to sell our solution.

We also host our software on our own servers and sell it to smaller companies that want a cheaper solution.

Pricing

What are your goals for the future?

We have a lot of goals to reach on our roadmap.

We're adding a template generator to generate mobile applications and a serverless back end layer on AWS Lambda.

Another important feature we are working on is the ability to live code in the browser while having the web application up and running. To accomplish this we'll integrate Eclipse Che in our platform.

Our next big step is to move our business to Silicon Valley and places where developers' communities are very active. We just opened a fundraising round to reach this goal.

If you had to start over, what would you do differently?

The biggest mistake I made was to build the product before the business.

As a developer, I like to code. And I started to build a big product without validating the market. After we realized that the product was too big and some features added only confusion to our selling solution, we had to get rid of them.

We created a more vertical product based on real user feedback. With fewer features, we got more value!

We created a more vertical product based on real user feedback. With fewer features, we got more value!

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Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

When I was adjusting my skills from tech to business I read a lot of books about communication, relationship, business models, and strategy. These books allowed me, an engineer, to acquire skills that I'd previously dismissed as not being scientifically backed — which had been a huge mistake!

Another fundamental skill I've acquired is leadership. When you are the only one coding, making decisions is easy. But managing a team of 10 people is very different. You need to define roles and responsibilities, and of course you have to rely on the right people.

What's your advice for indie hackers who are just starting out?

I would suggest to any of you to believe: believe in yourself, in your team, in the people who want to help you. This is the first step that will allow you to successfully accomplish the second step: execution.

Be fast, be proactive, and listen to your users — they are the only ones who know what they want to pay for. After understanding this you'll be able to offer them what they want, and then you'll only have to be better than your competitors!

Where can we go to learn more?

To better understand how Skaffolder works you only have to try it. It is for free for developers.

You can register on our website with this link and get a professional plan for free, thanks to the Indie Hackers referral.

We're eager to hear your feedback to all I've shared with you. You can reach us at our social accounts or on our Slack Community and share your thoughts with us.

You can also try Skaffolder now for free.

Luca Carducci , Founder of Skaffolder

Want to build your own business like Skaffolder?

You should join the Indie Hackers community! 🤗

We're a few thousand founders helping each other build profitable businesses and side projects. Come share what you're working on and get feedback from your peers.

Not ready to get started on your product yet? No problem. The community is a great place to meet people, learn, and get your feet wet. Feel free to just browse!

Courtland Allen , Indie Hackers founder

  1. 2

    Wow, why has this only 1K MRR ? This has INSANE potential! Every company I was working for in the last 10 years was building clickable HTML dummy applications manually for weeks or months, and the working prototypes took even longer. Your company is a massive money saver for agencies, i would cold call every digital agency in the world :)

    1. 1

      Hi Chris, we are just doing this! :-)
      Actually, we are cold calling agencies here in Italy, but we want to expand our network in all the world. If you are in contact with agencies that could be potentially interested in Skaffolder, can you make us an intro? You can contact me in private for additional info.

  2. 2

    I built something similar at Laravel Factory and this interview has pointed out some of the mistakes that I made as well as motivated me to do more. Thanks a lot, Courtland and very good service @skaffolder. Best wishes.

    1. 1

      I'm happy to have motivated you. If you have any question don't hesitate asking to me.

  3. 2

    Congrats for your product!

    "We launched the first Alpha version of the platform and with 150€ in AdSense"
    i think AdWords, not AdSense :)

    1. 1

      Yes, I'm sorry! I'm just asking for a change, thanks :-)

  4. 2

    Good but SlimPHP 2.6 is old now :/

    1. 1

      Hi Pegaltier!
      You are right! That was the first Skaffolder template, now we are building a lot of new updated templates.
      The template with Slim was the very first we built.

  5. 2

    The headline says “how I automated my salary job”, but I don’t see where that’s explained in the interview.

    1. 2

      He explains it under the question of "What motivated you to get started with Skaffolder?"

      1. 2

        Both good points :) I read the q and was like oh yeah that wasnt mentioned. I think the headline implies it was one of those scenarios where somebody automates/outsources their current job and then relaxes.

        1. 2

          As my disclosure, I released the interview but I didn't choose the title.
          Every time you build a company you get a new incoming channel for money, but the real deal is to realize a vision, not get rich!

  6. 1

    Ben fatto :D è un piacere vedere che ci sono italiani che portano avanti la propria visione di come migliorare questo lavoro, peccato vogliate andare in Silicon Valley.

    Quali solo i titoli dei libri che ti hanno aiutato in questo percorso ?

    1. 1

      Grazie Vokail, non vogliamo andare in Silicon Valley per fare i classici ribelli :-)
      Il nostro business model è rivolto a sviluppatori, quindi conviene andare dove questo mercato è presente se si vogliono raggiungere certi numeri, sarei rimasto volentieri in Italia!

      Per i libri ti segnalo:

      • New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development
      • La biografia di Elon Musk, un'ispirazione pazzesca
      • La mucca viola, sul marketing
      • Search into yourself, un libro di un'ingegnere di Google sulla meditazione ed empatia, alla fine del libro ti senti una persona in pace con il mondo :-)
      1. 1

        Grazie :D

        Ma di dove sei/siete? Manca molto sulla vostra "storia" in questa intervista e su come vi siete trovati e conosciuti

        Grazie per i libri segnalati, me li segno!

        1. 1

          Siamo di Roma, 2 cofounder li conoscevo da tempo, un altro è stato un mio collega ed uno trovato su FS6. Si è vero, ci sta ancora molto da dire...

  7. 1

    Technical choice of languages and frameworks is very limited. I'd suggest to involve into your projects more developers with heterogeneous experience. To cover more popular technologies and frameworks. And of course to share with them the benefits from scaffolding selling on your platform.
    By the way, I made a research recently about different open source web frameworks, it could help to choose another scaffolders https://speakerdeck.com/fedir/open-source-web-frameworks-comparison-and-ratings

    1. 1

      Hi Rykhtik, we are working to permit a wide languages choice. We just released the possibilities to create your own template thanks to skaffolder cli, next step is to make easiest to share them.

      If any developer wants to realize a new template we can talk about it on our slack channel linked at the bottom of the article.

  8. 1

    Skaffolder looks good. Would be great to have some example videos of what it does.
    Tried with Slim Php. Are the passwords hashed?

    1. 2

      Yes, the passwords are encrypted and the security managed by JWT.
      We have some videos on our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCixXygu6gPI4SOdhYzyGYLA if you want to suggest new videos to add we are happy to hear from you.