April 12, 2019

How would you take on Heroku?

I have an idea that I think is most comparable to Heroku, a giant in it's space. My main differentiator is that I can run in my clients' infrastructure in addition to a public paas offering. Also, the tech I am using will let my engineering team be remarkably nimble. Nothing like it was around when Heroku was starting up.

My concern is that the public paas part of the business is nearly a commodity at this point and I can't compete on price. The value of the technology, to my mind, is in the enterprise and I'm afraid that I can't start there with no credibility.

  1. 6

    Wise not to attempt to compete on price. That's usually the opposite of what you want to do as an indie hacker.

    I wouldn't be afraid to sell to the enterprise. Let them tell you "no" instead of making up those reasons yourself. Plenty of tiny indie hacker companies have impressive customer logos on their homepage.

    Big companies are all made up of tiny units, many of which are often run somewhat autonomously, and can make their own tech and budgeting decisions. Just because you have a big company as a client doesn't mean they need to do some massive, risky, company-wide install.

    Usually your first customers will be early adopters. Early adopters are visionaries in that they can literally envision how to use your product to their benefit in ways that late adopters can't. The price they're willing to pay is that your product will be a little rougher and less reliable. So find the early adopters, and don't assume that rejection from late adopters means early adopters won't like you.

    I also recommend starting small. Don't compete with 99% of what Heroku is doing. Bite off a tiny chunk for a tiny use-case and start there. Get a foothold first, then try to grow and expand. There are all sorts of tiny tools that businesses would find valuable.

    (For example, I use Google Cloud Functions, but they don't even have a cron tool to run my functions on a schedule! And the DIY methods seem hacky. I've searched and nothing comes up. Nobody's solving this problem for Google Cloud Function users.)

    Ofc it's quite possible (though unlikely) that there are no ins, and the industry you've chosen is fraught with commoditization and is a race to the bottom. In that case I'd recommend choosing a different market and problem to solve.

    1. 2

      cc @jhgaylor

      I take back my second-to-last paragraph — Render.com has a pretty great cronjobs feature.

  2. 2

    I’d start with SEO for “heroku on premise”, build a tutorial, YouTube video, or even better provide a way to test the tool for free to a certain usage. There’s tons of people searching google for that very term already.

    Enterprise is definitely looking for this product already. I’d kill for a self hosted heroku too (hint: another good keyword to target).

  3. 1

    I think most people would agree Heroku is best when you want agility and low pricing / free to start.

    https://unubo.com/cloud is a new product I've seen recently on ProductHunt and Hacker News. I liked the founders' responses of how they're different from Heroku, AWS, Zeit, etc.