CigTrack Day #2: Let’s talk about money

So far I’ve set up Git repositories, but how do I get them anywhere? How do I get anyone to actually see what ever great thing I’m building? How do I get anyone as excited about the vision I have with this?
I certainly don’t really know, but there are some really great visual examples here and there.

I’m going to be brutally honest here, the only thing I’ve put up so far is this:

cigtrack-pre-pre-pre-alpha

It’s really not great or visually appealing and until this post nobody ever knew about it. Professionally I think, I should wait and not talk about this, but blogging about this throughout the process just seems more right than anything else.

What Money?

Even though you’re not yet making money on your startup or through developing a new product yet, you certainly at some point have to invest some. This is why I actually want to give a very simple overview of expenses that I’m having for this current project.

Tracking Expenses

Tracking your expenses is important. If you don’t, chances are high that you’ll be one of the 1000:1 projects that never make it far past the launch.

I’ll keep my expenses for this, comparably tiny project open in the following file: CigTrack ledger.

Right now it has two entries:

  • Domain, 14.4€ / year
  • VPS, 5$ / month

Now, before you actually want to test your thing on other people, you might have enough by just buying a Raspberry PI or fixing up an old computer that’s just been standing around in your parents attic anyways. When it comes to the point when you want to gather some email addresses or similar, you probably want your domain registered, some say, before you speak of your idea or brand name.

Go For Cheap

Yes, this might sound shady, but be honest. Do you need 64GB of memory and 8 cores in your server before you’ve actually written the biggest deal of your application?

Do you need database sharding, elastic searches and clustering of your application servers before you have any clue or indication how well your product is going to take off?

If you have a grasp on servers or scaling technology, you will probably get into these things as soon as you need, or when looking at numbers, tell your nerdiest employee to look into that, as soon as you see fit. Until then, build a great product.

As long as your financial risk remains low, you don’t build desperate attachment to your product and you let it go, if it fails.

Free Private Git Repositories

I’m using my own git server, but the guys at gitlab.com provide free cloud hosting of 1000 private repositories per user, so charge doesn’t have to apply here!

Free Services

I’m not a big fan of cloud services, privacy wise. I’m a big fan of them for their usability and availability though. With Google Docs/Drive I’ve put together a 2 question survey to find out how many people in my circles actually would be interested in smoking less, if they are smokers. The email field is optional. If I was more corporaty or would give more about my reputation I would have sat down and coded it myself or used services like surveymonkey.

The important message with this is, don’t re-invent the wheel, get to the thing you want to create and consider carefully what is worth your effort. Does it matter if you send your network, which primarily consists of students to a Google Docs form instead of a carefully crafted signup page?

As long as you end up with 80-90% of their email addresses, does it really matter?

Summary

Maybe some of you ask: But what about all the fancy software you probably needed to get this far? Others may know that I’m a huge open source fan (not fanatic! :D). Tomorrow will be more about my favourite tools and how I didn’t pay a penny for software, as I’m coding this, writing this, publishing this.

It’s really not great or visually appealing and until this post nobody ever knew about it. Professionally I think, I should wait and not talk about this, but blogging about this throughout the process just seems more right than anything else.

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