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Show HN: A Digital Marketplace I Built, with Git Integration (squarebit.io)
44 points by zschuessler 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments



Cofounder & CTO here - happy to answer any questions! My heart is filled with joy today to finally launch this product.

The project has been an entire year, full-time, in the making. It started when I tried selling software that I had written as a side project. I saw two very big problems with the digital marketplaces online:

1. One company owns most of the marketplaces. Fees start in a tier, at 50%. Others like Creative Market are better (30% flat), but still seems excessive. I did a whole lot of spreadsheet math and determined 18% is more than fair for both creators and the company.

2. Engineers: do you like downloading Zip archives to get updates? Me either. I made the platform with deep Git integration. Customers can type `git pull` to get updates, or add the CDN urls to their package managers. Creators can use branches and tags as they see fit to manager their products. And hey, if your customers aren't technical, they can still download archives & see all Git commits in their dashboard.

So here I am one year later, finally complete (unit tests and all!). I'm a classic ENFJ personality. Please send me any feedback, good, bad, or downright mean :-)

Cheers!


Would never give mean feedback! But will give you honest assessment that, I hope, is helpful:

Disclaimer - I'm giving you an impression based on about 30 seconds of viewing the page. I didn't intentionally spend so little time there, but I did what I think a typical new browsing user would do -- quick visit, scan the page, then leave. I'm also quite but not totally technical.

* I didn't get an intuitive sense of the value you're offering and why that's relevant. I get that easy purchasing of software is nice, and easy updates is nice, but I don't know that I as a user ever need to see the Git history of the updates. I know as an engineer you'll want to be able to really dive in, but is that easier or better than reading a Changelog? I'm not sure.

* I don't feel pain in this area -- I buy software either via the Mac App Store (easy updates) or directly from creators' websites (and most have 'Check for Updates' buttons). I admit I may be missing the mark here, so this isn't likely a valid criticism, but it's my perspective.

So in summary: Your #1 value prop based on a 30-second read is tight git integration, and I'm not sure I care about that as a user moreso than a Changelog.

Good luck! You've done exactly the right thing in shipping and talking to users, and I hope that the HN masses (as brutal as they can be) will help you improve and kick butt.


honestly... i am so confused on what exactly this product and/or service does from the 5 second scan of the landing page. I really believe you need to make it more clear about exactly what you do and how it can help.


Like the others that have commented, I found that your landing page didn't really tell me what your product did, or why it does it.

However, the about page does this pretty well, and I while I think you've targeted a very niche and tricky market, I can appreciate the reasons for your approach from what I read.

Maybe not directly, but I'd swap the about and home pages.


Out of curiosity, how do you manage git account authentication?

I have been trying to find a git server solution that uses a database to do access control for repositories over SSH.


I’m forgetting the details and names of the API calls, but essentially, you can override the default SSH authentication check which normally looks in the authorized_key file to instead query a remote resource to get back the fingerprint for that key pair. You can then use this in that custom script to authenticate the connection. You also need a second piece, one that uses SSH ForcedCommands, to essentially pipe the original git request into the newly authenticated session and execute.

If I remember the name of the method to override I’ll update. It was hard to find. It has everything to do with SSH and nothing to do with Git.

Edit: Found it - it's the AuthorizedKeysCommand [1] and you can use that in lieu of an AuthorizedKeysFile (which is authorized_keys by default) to run a script that can query a remote resource for the pubkey.

[1] https://man.openbsd.org/sshd_config#AuthorizedKeysCommand


Awesome, thank you!


RE: Fees

Should be sliding scale. Our average price point is about $30,000 and what you built could work for us, but at 18% we'll just build it internally.

RE: SquareBit Site

Not clear what this product does. Screenshots off UI should be foremost with brief explanation of what this does.

RE: App UI

You've got what looks like an MVP flow shown here. If there's more depth to this product I'd want to know about it. For example, how am I handling payments? What if I want payments outside of credit cards? How much of git internals are exposed to users?

RE: Inventory vs. Marketplace

You're demonstrating an inventory application here, not a marketplace. That's good b/c there is a shortage of good inventory applications for small business, and its a niche that needs to be filled.


Fees: great point. I have "capped fees" logged as a future feature, but haven't gotten to it yet since it's an edge case. Contact me if you'd like to talk more about your product, I'd be thrilled to work together: zac@squarebit.io

The other points are all excellent items.. I've written them down to review later today. I appreciate you taking the time to submit feedback here!


By the landing page it seems to be a market for git ruled projects/files? such as designs and code...?

Where do I see the products? everything seems to be more focused in the market itself but not on the products being sold/purchase. Perhaps I didn't get it and you are selling the market place itself and not any product within the market?

I won't register in such place, unless I see how it is solving my problem (e.g. there is a piece of software, plugin or theme layout for my CRM, which I would like to buy idk).


Hey thanks for that feedback!

The current setup is focused on creators, not customers. Something like ThemeForest is customer-focused, while this is more similar to Gumroad, which is more creator-focused. (Gumroad does have its "Discover" feature, but it's not prominent)

Eventually if some product categories get popular I'll find a way to showcase a curated catalog. And if any creators are worried about reaching an audience, get in direct contact with me. I do free PPC campaigns for products I believe in: zac@squarebit.io


In first instance everything looks quite focused on yourself as admin/developer more than on the customer. I am always from the opinion that customer's experience/actions come first (in your case creators and consumers).

But that's only my humble opinion, I think I would never buy software in that way and I only would offer to sell it if the distribution would save me some costs with the interactions with my customers.


I read the whole site but I have no idea what this is supposed to be used for. Could you give some example use cases?


Definitely! You're right, the homepage doesn't explain as well as it should.

All use cases boil down to two scenarios:

1. Creators want to sell a digital thing, but don't want to give up 30% to 50% in fees. Digital things could be: ebooks, a font, PSD templates, WordPress plugins, etc.

2. Creators want to take advantage of Git integration (fantastic for selling software, ebooks, etc)


Write that on your page ... on the top so that on the first impression the user knows what's the purpose of the site.


What do you mean by #2? They distribute the product as a git repo and users have to pull on it?


It says buyers will be using git to download updates to products they've purchased, does this mean this is strictly for a programmer / very technical crowd?

It seems to oversell on the technical implementation instead of the features that set it apart from a conceptual standpoint.

I also had to read the homepage, about page, and blog post to get a basic understanding of what it is, and that's only because I recognised Theme Forest when you mentioned it in your blog post. I would definitely suggest more copy on the homepage and a demo of some kind that doesn't involve joining.


Excellent feedback, and very true.. new user onboarding isn't as good as it should be. It's for non-technical users too, and I'll need to find a way to communicate to them as well.

Oof, being a one-man show is taxing. Thanks so much for your feedback, I've added a task in Teamwork to get on this!


Hey, I really like the concept here. But think you've made a number of missteps, so this is my (hopefully) constructive criticism.

ONE

I think you're making a grave category error with your pricing comparison. Because while it's true that you charge much less than Themeforest etc. you are not doing what they are doing.

They're true marketplaces and the % price you pay to them is for the payment processing, delivery management and _most crucially_ implicit marketing.

If I've made a Wordpress theme I'm much more likely to make more selling it on Themeforest (even with their 50-70% take) than I am with you and your 18% because they have literally millions and millions of people coursing through their ecosystem and searching directly within their site.

I think a more apt comparison is to something like Gumroad (which is more of a digital goods payments+fulfillment system and not a "marketplace"). Lots of people sell things like their eBooks and courses on Gumroad for $10/mo and 3.5%.

TWO

You need some example, case study, _something_ that shows how this actually works. Ideally you'd have this for all of the different ways you see this being used. There are a bunch of questions I had as a potential seller looking at this: do they accept Paypal? What's the checkout process look like? Do buyers end up with a library of stuff they've bought on SquareBit?

THREE

I think you've fallen into the "everything" tool trap where (since you're deep in the weeds with the service) you're finding stuff every day where you think: "SquareBit would be perfect for these people selling this thing" but to an outsider it's really hard to connect the dots.

Is SquareBit a good fit for ebooks? Video Courses? Private package repos? I have my thoughts, but your site and marketing needs to very cleanly say how and what this is for and how people would use it.

FOUR

I'd be concerned using your service on the basis of you're doing online payments of a sort and call yourself Square. This isn't great and I hope you don't get into legal trouble, but ouch (IANAL, but any way you cut it, this isn't a positive to you).


LOVE this feedback, thank you so much. This is extremely helpful.

I've jotted down some tasks as a result of this. And I'll say to point #4 - if I have to rebrand, it will be the second time. (And as a result, won't be too hard to swap the name out) Fun fact: was originally called git.cash, and well, Git started enforcing their trademark so that was a no-go :-)

Thanks again, I really enjoyed this write up.


MARKETING

1. Not a marketplace. It's just a Git management software with payment. Please don't create another Github.

2. No demo and no screenshots. You need to make a decision on your marketing focus: on sellers or on buyers.

FINANCIALS

Did not explain why the fees are 18%. What are the hidden costs that come with, since you offer X, Y, and Z services.


Is it just me? But I don't believe git is really meant for delivering software or digital assets. 90% of buyers of books, software or digital media don't need all versions from the beginning of time.

Isn't this what 'zsync' was made for?




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