We came up with the idea after building our own upvote communities and friends of ours asked if they could make a similar community without the need to program. We thought this could be an interesting technical project to figure out. Plus, since people were asking for it, we already had our alpha group.
We started the project using Rails for the front and backend, but eventually moved the majority of the SaaS elements (e.g. a dashboard to make changes/manage users, modifying the look of a community with a theme, etc.) to React and used Rails as our backend because this provided a much better user experience.
Our most recent challenge was figuring out how to implement the #1 product request from our customers: communities on a custom domain. Originally, we began the project on AWS, but after looking around, we found that Heroku provided a much easier custom domain implementation process for the end user. So, we migrated the entire project from AWS to Heroku, and now, if you add a custom domain to your community, we just give you the auto-generated heroku dns link and community owners can paste that in their CNAME or Alias to finish the setup. This is much easier than the path we almost went down with AWS.
My co-founder and I are now making a small amount of MRR from our paid tiers, but the learning experience has been really enjoyable.
A few things you can do on Threadbase:
- Make a community in just a few clicks without writing any code (e.g. support.threadbase.io)
- Customize the look and feel with pre-built themes. We named the first three communities--Cleveland, San Francisco,and Brooklyn--after the cities that were important to our stories.
- Drop in your own Google Analytics ID to get data on your community.
- If you'd like to further customize the color of your community, turn off ads, or put your own Google AdSense pixel in to make money from your community, you can sign up for our Basic tier.
- If you want to create a private community (i.e require registration) or add your own custom domain, you can upgrade to Plus.
EDIT: I wrote all of this just by saying the title of your HN post here, now when I went to your site, I saw that you have Private communities planned. Nice.