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Fullstack Frontend

Building a SaaS Product

kayis profile image K ・4 min read

Last year, I started this new blogging project Fullstack Frontend. The idea came from my work with serverless technology over the years. I worked as a frontend and mobile developer, and when I wanted to do backend work, it seemed like a different world to me.

With Node.js, things got different over the years, and much of my frontend skills could be used on the backend now.

With the rise of serverless technology, things got even better; now, much of the hard work in the backend is done by cloud providers.

After doing this for half a year, I realized that I need something bigger to show the serverless approach's benefits. Many serverless resources online are based on simple examples, and even the bigger projects aren't really production-ready.

While teaching people to get started with new technology is important, the interesting parts start popping up when you want to build something real.

When people start using your system, you need to accept payments, fix bugs, add and remove features, and generally see your system evolve.

Over the last years, I read many books about founding startups and did courses on the topic. I was always intrigued to build a software product that people would want to buy. After I got to a point where I didn't find new input on this, I got the impression I should start building something.

Why not merge my passion for writing articles and teaching people
with my wish to create a product and maybe turn it into a company?

I had many ideas to solve different problems, but the one that stuck was "Microblogging for companies."

The Problem

I work remotely for 7 years now, with companies all over the world and I had the feeling, staying up-to-date in your job isn't so easy when you're remote.

Things get lost on chat and email, and if you can't make it to that video conference, it can very well be that you miss something.

I generally had the feeling that companies are focusing too much on synchronous communication because that's what they're used to from their in-office work.

Somehow I'm always up-to-date on the technology I'm using, even tho' I don't even work with the people creating these technologies. Why does it work here and not in the companies we work for?

The Solution

Twitter!

I'm scrolling through Twitter many times a day. I learn many new things and can tell people what I'm up to without much effort.

Many people blog, but even more people microblog. The barrier to writing a <280 character tweet is much smaller than thinking about a (potentially) long article. That's how the word gets out, even from people who aren't inclined to write much.

While Twitter is pretty awesome for public communication, it isn't nice for private stuff. Especially the list feature isn't used as much as it should.

So, I thought, why not build something like "Twitter for companies" or, if you come from the other side, "Slack for microblogging"?

Value Proposition

Why would someone use this?

To keep everyone up-to-date.

Sure, there are many cases where people need to discuss in meetings.

But I saw many companies with daily standups that took 10-20 minutes where everyone just said what they did yesterday and what they will do today.

10 minutes for 6 people make "1 person hour" a day.

5h a week, 20h a month, 240h a year, etc.

Even in a good case of the days just taking 10 minutes and the team being small, staying up to date can take a while. If people start discussing this, it can increase the time drastically, and people not involved in the discussion could better invest their time.

With a microblogging service, everyone could post their status and read others' status when they like if there is something to discuss, reply, or take things to a chat/video meeting.

Is there a Market?

In current times, where many companies start working remotely for the first time, many search for a new modus operandi that works for them.

I think sync communication like chat and video works for some, but not for all, or could even be an exceptional case that isn't the "norm" anymore in a few years.

Is there Competition?

Sure, Yammer went in that direction, got bought by Microsoft, and integrated into Office360. So at least it doesn't seem to be a ludicrous idea to start with.

Twist, a new product by Doist, also goes in that direction, but it seems to be a more feature-heavy system, with chat and filesharing integrated.

Also, other projects are more focused on federated communities like Mastodon.

Next Steps

The next step would be fleshing out some details. Writing what you did every day and allowing others to read it is just the 10,000m overview.

I will look at how I use Twitter, ask some people how they do it, and see what use-cases come of it. I have a few ideas about structuring and curating the content; the countless abandoned company wikis I saw in my jobs showed me that this is important.

I will use as much serverless technology as possible because I don't want to pay for stuff nobody uses, haha. Also, I'm just one person, so using managed services is the way to go here.

Onward!

A smart person once said, "No plan survives the first contact with the enemy," so I think the details of this idea will change over time. But that's my basic idea.

What if people use it?

Awesome! Let's iterate over it until it's a good product!

What if people don't use it?

Okay too! At least I had something more practical to write about for 2021!

What's Your Opinion?

Since many people here are probably working remotely (or at least with teams that aren't located near them), your opinion matters too!

So let me know what you think. What you hate about the current state of the art.

Discussion (6)

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mlafeldt profile image
Mathias Lafeldt

I recommend reading derrickreimer.com/essays/2019/05/1... and derrickreimer.com/essays/2019/05/2.... Among other things, switching costs ultimately led Derrick to stop working on Level, his Slack competitor, and start working on another idea.

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kayis profile image
K Author

Thanks, I'm looking forward to reading this!

But I already saw, it's from before Corona, so maybe I'm lucky and the market changed :D

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programmerjokes profile image
programmerjokes

❤️ Amazing Need more from basics if possible

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kayis profile image
K Author

I will do my best to make it coherent from basics to end product.

If I miss some steps, you have to tell me! :D

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p3d profile image
Paul Dalton

Interesting. I have been building a simple 'work log' app to learn how to use AWS Cognito to authenticate a serverless web app.
I hope to write this up at some point.

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kayis profile image
K Author

please do!