Developers February 21, 2020

Bootstrapping startups is the future for solo software developers, change my mind.

Jan Brus @JanBrus

Talking to software developers that want to make money with their side projects. A lot of YouTube celebs from software development (Gary Vee, Alex Becker, Will Kwan, ...) world started to mention that as a software developer that wants to make big money, you should build picks and shovels. Meaning infrastructure tools that help creating other projects like PaaS and SaaS.

Heroku/Netlify/Digital Ocean/cloud services in general are becoming more and more popular.

Mark my words: Big software development tools merge is coming. Generalization will win against specialization.

Soon a marketing person with no programming experience will go to a single cloud platform where he chooses how the users would log in, what the page will look like, what is he going to sell on the web page and aaaaaall the other stuff like integration with social platforms, automatic emails, inventory management, sales, ... He will be done setting up a working page with content and mobile application within days.

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    This might be overly simplified, but if all you're about is making $$$, then, by all means, sell some shovels. There are certainly easier ways to earn a living.

    That being said, if you want to add some meaning in your life, you will have to be of service to others in some capacity - directly or indirectly. What is going to make the largest impact in the future? Remote-distributed teams of really smart, caring and creative people. There is no doubt in my mind about that.

    In a nutshell, a solo dev can build/sell shovels or, just perhaps, together, we can maximize our collective potential and change the world.

    This is no contest for me.

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    What exactly your point here? Most of the software developers do not have enough domain knowledge besides the tech/software development field to be able to build a company alone. Also, from a pure efficiency perspective, you are better off with partners than alone. Having said that, you can still go solo and be reasonably successful, as many examples show, but they are generally the exceptions than the rule.

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      General answer: This post is intended to help people decide what projects to do and how to approach them.

      Detailed reaction:
      Why build a company? There is a lot of facebook groups for startups filled with people with money and ideas but without software developers. I want to encourage people to not only learn how to make a simple application, but also put it somewhere and build an infrastructure around it. Then you, as a software developer, can sell whole projects to those people. Projects that are already running and can be scaled easily instead of having a ton of programs that have run only locally.

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        Can you point to any of such group on Facebook?

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          Im Czech so i know of groups in my locality. But i think if you look for groups with "startup" keyword, you find some. Anyways this platform is also filled with people who want to partner up.

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    In short, what you are saying is nothing has changed!
    You can already do this, and have been able to do this for a long time!
    "Cloud" is new, SaaS is not. Take wordpress for example, you can do everything you mentioned already and most host providers allowed you to install it, or even choose it as a package. The market is dominated by wordpress sites and services, developers and consumers alike.
    Software in the cloud is only another way of saying: "I'm on the internet" or "look at me, I'm using something that charges me per CPU cycle instead of disk space because disk space is now cheap as chips".

    The sad truth is that because of the ease of making a website, people do not appreciate the services provided by a true software developer. It's not just about coding it up, it's making it fit for a purpose. Again, wordpress is a classic example. It's the most used platform on the internet- yet it was and still is, a blogging platform. It has plugins that are designed and built to extend wordpress for anyone that uses them - great on paper, but is it as efficient as a bespoke site? There are multiple ecommerce plugins to choose from that may get you close to your ideal solution, but they are built using a database designed as a plugin service. The structure is not as efficient as a well structured ecommerce solution, it is built to try and solve all ecommerce scenarios- but the client is only interested in their own... let's face it, it's their problem that they are interested in.

    What I'm waffling on about is this: Cloud computing is a new iteration of hosting, yes it has its advantages, but it is still only a means to host a service.
    Plugins are not always the right solution for the client, and to say they are in every case is simply not true.

    Being a developer in this age, is all about providing the client with the solution that solves their problem, not about trying to solve all the problems that every client.

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    Oh god. Is this a new thing?

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    Basically the no-code movement.