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Show HN: Simple Ops – My new microstartup after three years of indie hacking (simpleops.io)
280 points by 1hakr 9 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 109 comments



While I understand the sentiment behind a $10/mo offering, you will attract cheap customers. Which are the worst. They demand more support while knowing less and pay less. The worst of all worlds.

Price is a signal. You’ve done a lot of great work. Don’t sell it short now.


So your suggestion is to increase prices just to get rid of "poor" customers? I think this is a really good ethical discussion, and I personally beleive many products/services are way overpriced because of this, which really raises the bar for small businesses and developers.

I am also building a high-quality, high-value product that I am making affordable even for really "poor" webmasters. I am thinking of raising the pricing, but at the same time I still receive messages from devs that are just starting saying that they like by product but it is too expensive for them, which is a bit sad to hear (you create something nice that some people can't afford).

But in the end, maybe money really talks.


I think you want to build your business out first. Once you're there you can use higher paying customer to subsidize lower tier customers very similar to how business travel works.

In the SaaS world, that's like Intercom or HubSpot giving their entire services or $50/m if you're a startup which is <$1M in rev, founded <2y ago etc.

The other shortcut is venture subsidized growth where you sell for cheap to show growth with the hope you'll have net negative churn and the expanded revenue will make up for it. This is highly segment dependant.

But as the founder of Intercom said: startups make a poor market, there's no recovery from death. So choose wisely.


Low prices attract customers that will demand more features and make more complaints to you then any other demographic. In SaaS higher priced customers are typically more accommodating and in addition you get more resources to meet their demands.

Somehow there's something psychological that makes you appreciate a product less when you paid 10$ vs 1000$.


Do you have a link to back that up? Sounds counter-intuitive to me. People who pay more would demand more?


This is my experience as well. One way to put it is that people that tend to demand more also demand lower prices.



This is not the case here, but my opinion is that if you still haven't reached product market fit and your value proposition is still changing, it makes sense to charge less, get more customers and, with that, more feedback.

Besides, with more customers you can have the luxury of deciding which segment you actually want to serve and start refining the product for them (thus increasing the value proposition and allowing for a higher price point).


I was recently introduced to parity based pricing - the app was priced around $99 or so. However if you are from a country with lower purchasing power, they would reduce the price. Same for students or charities.

I think more apps need to do this.


That's interesting. Do you remember how the pricing was explained? Did you have to contact them and explain your status to get the discount?

I also want to provide more affordable pricing for people with lower purchasing power, but I would do it per person, not based on geolocation. I was thinking to just add some text: "Too expensive? Send me an email explaining your current status and why you want product X and I will make a suitable offer for you".


I'm unable to dig out the link now. But from what I understand, it was not coded in the script. Instead, if you were someone from a developing country, you could email them about a discount and the site owner would then send you a unique URL with a cheaper price point. Not scalable at all, but I guess it works for the first several paying customers.


I wonder if the $5 DO plan, or $10 Linode plan, or the free AWS tier did anything to popularity, and for the general awareness of their offerings.

Either that, or you need a sales Dept to talk to corporations directly.


It is not the same thing. If you want more from DO or Linode they are happy to sell 2x the resources for 2x the price.


This is NOT the same. With infrastructure based companies you are seeing a lure to get into an hourly priced game that the house ALWAYS wins. You start with 10, because there are many others that are paying 10K. IaaS is a different game.


I don't think comparing those scale of companies with a microstartup is apt.


Thanks mate. I will rethink about pricing again.


Hi there, ive been browsing hn for over 7 years and this is one of the nicest indie landing pages ive seen. I like your eye for design.

Have you considered letting the uder do a demo by entering a URL and then you email then the results of the initial site scan? (later generate a page). You get an email, they get a low friction semo. Win-win!


The design is nice enough but from a marketing perspective, the copy was really great. No fluff, just a very clear value proposition. I understood immediately what the service does and how it could benefit me. Far more mature than most indie SaaS websites I've seen.


It feels great to be appreciated for all the hard work i have put in the last few months, thanks a lot mate!


If you'd like some feedback there's one/two things that stood out to me.

When you click on the pricing page your navigation bar becomes a mobile style one, those are usually only shown if the screen width is small like on mobile.

When you click on the live demo page you get a back button top left thing that seems like it belongs to a mobile app, on a desktop where the screen is wider this design choice seems a bit odd.

I'm guessing this stuff comes from still being in a bit of a learning phase with Vue or some library you're using. Otherwise great site, just something to look at in case you want to improve on it.


This is really useful. Thanks mate.


Agreed. In addition to looking nice and working without JS, I understood in less than five seconds what it's about. That's much better than most landing pages.


Thanks. Yes thats in my plan, for now you can browse the live demo dashboard.


I really appreciated the live demo link too - I could immediately get a feel for what is monitored, and there were no barriers like an email sign up.

Bravo for the landing page!


All my effort paid off!


I recently researched third-party services that do performance / uptime monitoring, alerting and more. There were a couple of good ones, but none that I found that integrated monitoring/performance/alerting along with a publicly accessible status-page/dashboard which also had the option to create incidents with status updates (text description). You might consider if this is worth adding.

For now I went with the Open Source Statping tool but I'd happily use an affordable service if it unified everything.


Simple Ops has everything you need except status pages which i'm currently building and should be ready soon.


I'm using instatus and it integrates with some 3rd-party tools like pingdom or newrelic to auto-update status-page.

It's nice, might work for you: https://instatus.com

It seems they recently implemented the automation part for the status / incident report.

https://github.com/InstatusHQ/public-board/issues/9


Thanks mate, will check it out


Hey! Sorry to hijack the thread for the other, but just like the OP we've spent the last few years building Oh Dear and it does about 99% of what you're looking for. [1]

It has uptime, performance, SSL alerts and status pages. What's missing is the performance graphs on the status page, which is coming in a few months.

Simple Ops goes further than us by also measuring FCP though.

[1] https://ohdear.app/


FYI you may want to remove the reference to HipChat from your landing page.


I'd structure the pricing page a bit differently. Having a "Lifetime" plan isn't really something that's common for a offering like that because everyone knows it's not actually lifetime. I only realized that there are more "normal" plans once I scrolled but on the first glance it looks like the lifetime plan is the only one available.


good point. thanks will fix that


Spotted a copy bug: "Monitor your website's health performance & performance".


Good catch. Thanks mate, will fix it.


1. Your /about page also says "wbsite" rather than "website".

2. Your /features page is blank.

3. Some of the copy on the /docs tree could be proof-read and reworked. e.g. /docs/faqs

Nitpicking aside it seems like a cool service, and a cool site.


Thanks mate, really appreciate the feedback. Will fix the typos.


This is a crowded space, but you seem to have integrated many related features into your offering. With that in mind is a bit tricky to see exactly how you compare to the competition. I know some are for and some against competitor comparison tables... I think you'd come out favourable however. It looks great! If I had the cashflow is jump at that lifetime offering. I wish you well.


Yes thats the plan, an all-in-one tool.


Simple Ops does these • performance monitoring • alerts in 7 different channels • website health • Real user metrics • Performance check • SSL check • Global monitoring in 5 locations


Congrats on shipping! The design is really well done.

1. Did you hand-code it from scratch or you use a template/theme?

2. What about a domain renewal check? The person who registered a domain might not be the one that signs up for Simple Ops, so a renewal notice would be nice for when a domain is about to expire.


#1 I hand coded it from scratch #2 yes thats a good idea, I will do that.

Thanks for the feedback.


Nice work, congrats!

My 2 cents: Work on validating your pricing! I see very little differentiation between the 10 and 20 usd/mo tiers, and my gut feeling was "they're offering wayyyy too many nice things in the 10 usd tier!"


Thanks for the feedback mate, I will do that.


Do you offer some kind of "cron snitch" feature as well?

ie, a backup job that runs at cron, if it doesn't report back I need a "ping" so I can fix it.


Beautiful website and product.


Glad you liked it.


As I understand, you're offering a limited lifetime packages (25 x $199 and then x amount of $499)? I guess it's for generating initial $$$ and validating the interest for the product?

And when you sell these out, you continue with monthly/yearly packages?

This is cool. But I'm sometimes thinking about these monthly prices. Can we sell products with lifetime packages instead? You know, like you can buy and download a software program, like Postico (which is made by an indie dev): https://eggerapps.at/postico/

I see the difference for the maker though. Postico's developer has built a software program (a file) that can be downloaded and used, but SaaS lives on the server and needs maintenance/updates.

I'm not a fan of paying every month for a lot of SaaS products. But something feels weird to sell an online product with one-time price only:

1) when I have monthly packages, I need to keep the product alive as long people pay me (or when I have only a few paying customers I can say I'll shut it down and they don't need to pay anymore) 2) when I sell lifetime packages, I need to keep the product alive for an eternity even though maybe nobody pays me

But as long as new users are signing up and paying lifetime money, it's okay!


I also have the same pricing structure on https://www.userTrack.net/pricing (initially lifetime only, now also monthly).

I added monthly mostly to allow customers to get started at a much lower cost, thus making the initial purchase easier to make. This also means that if they can test it for cheal and if are satisfied, after a while, they can switch to the lifetime plan.

In my case I think it works because it is a product, not a SaaS. Feels a bit weird to pay monthly for a product, but it actually works and is more like IRL renting or paying monthly installments.


Cool product! I've seen many indie analytics tools recently.

One thing they promote is privacy. Which is important indeed. But another aspect could be the simplicity of them. Google Analytics is just too huge. We often need only a couple of key metrics.

For example, Simple Analytics is really nice I think (doing $6.2k/mo): https://makehub.io/startups/simple-analytics

But it starts from $19/mo. I feel it's too expensive.

Another one I recently discovered is Plausible (doing $1.8k/mo): https://makehub.io/startups/plausible

Starts from $6/mo, which is a lot better.

I love that your product is self-hosted by the client. Are you providing updates for them?


Thanks!

I know of most of the other analytics platforms, I am not really a fan of the hosted "privacy-focused" analytics, as they are still 3rd party analytics where data is centralized, but they are a step forward. Also the data the data that they provide is usually not enough for commercial websites.

I do release regular updates, but I am just releasing an auto-updater functionality which will enable you to update the platform with one click. This is one of the final steps before I start a bigger marketing campaign.

I personally think self-hosting is the future, not only in terms of analytics, but for any hosted service that you might use. The most important thing stopping this from happening is usually the big corporations not wanting to give up on potential huge money and data streams. I self-hosting is now possible and easy thanks to all the VPS/cloud providers that enable for very cheap servers running the app that you need to be easily setup and maintained.


I think most things were self hosted before they moved to the cloud and software as a service became a thing?

So what you're saying is that maybe we're going back to self hosting again. This could make sense! Then we're buying software for a reasonable price and not having to pay every month for it.

I don't like these monthly payments somehow! It's like $20 here and $30 there, and you'll pay $500/mo before realising it.

Self-hosting could be the answer to my problem here:

1) when I have monthly packages, I need to keep the product alive as long people pay me (or when I have only a few paying customers I can say I'll shut it down and they don't need to pay anymore) 2) when I sell lifetime packages, I need to keep the product alive for an eternity even though maybe nobody pays me

Curious if you're also sharing your revenue publicly? Would be fun to list you on MakeHub.


I agree. With services you also feel that you are captive and paying for stuff that you don't even use, but if you stop you lose your data or might not be able to come back in the future, so you keep it running "in case I need it" or "I will use it at some point".

I also think software is way overpriced, especially when it comes to services that mostly just rent a server for $5/mo and resell it for $100/mo with not a lot of real value added on top. I think it makes more sense to buy the app/product and choose the server yourself, and pay $5/mo for the server or like $100/mo for a REALLY powerful server, not for a plan with "100k visits, 30 days retention".

On point 2), if no one buys your product anymore you can just stop supporting it and "kill it". Being a software product it usually doesn't break over time, unless it's something based on other volatile APIs. Take games for example, they sell as a lifetime software license, games released 20 years ago can usually still run without problems and without any maintenence.

I do somewhat openly share the revenue, currently I have myan estimated revenue shown on the IndieHackers page, but being only a product up until now, the revenue varies from month to month (not as stable as a SaaS). Currently it's around $1000/mo as I'm not doing any marketing, I still get sells from people coming from Google or from word of mouth. I usually try to update the IH page as soon as a big milestone is reached.

I think userTrack could be listed on MakeHub (from what I read, as I'm a solo founder, no funding, public revenue).


Thanks! I think userTrack makes a nice addition to MakeHub, added now! https://makehub.io/startups/usertrack


Thanks for adding it! I also subbed to MakeHub :)


That being said, I do think that services with high monthly payments should be for actual services, something that is actually done each month (eg. hosting, maintenence, etc.), but unforunately this is not how the world works.

The big advantage of this, is that people would focus more on creating more value instead of creating some value that can be sold for exorbitant prices just because "that's the market".


Yes thats exactly my plan. SaaS is very difficult and B2B SaaS is even more so. If i can get my early customers, then i cam easily concentrate on building and improving the product rather than spending most of my time on chasing early customers.


Thanks! I added you to my website: https://makehub.io/startups/simpleops

I hope you like it. Let me know if you'd like to change anything!


I found these sentences hard to parse, I'd consider reworking them/checking the grammar:

Regularly get the real-world Chrome users experience metrics right from dashboard. Its update every week and you can measure improvements.


Starting a startup means optimizing for growth, at all cost.

Bootstrapping or indie hacking have usually different goals: you optimize for revenue or time spent.

Shortly said, when building a startup you aim to change the world, when indie hacking you just want to change yours.

At least that is why I chose that path 2 years ago :)


I mean, if we want to argue about definitions, personally, I like Steve Blank's:

"A startup is an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. The goal of your early business model can be revenue, or profits, or users, or click-throughs – whatever you and your investors have agreed upon. Most startups change their business model multiple times."

I disagree with the idea that a "startup" needs to be "optimizing for growth at all costs" - as you say. I think this is actually a rather dangerous approach because growth at all costs is how we get things like Ponzi schemes, WeWork, and other abusive organizations.

Your comment also seems to imply that you can't do anything meaningful if you don't have/raise money. This is simply not true.


That was a short answer, of course it could be refined :).

This part of Steve definition is for me the most fundamental: "The goal of your early business model can be revenue, OR profits, or users, OR click-throughs – whatever you and your investors have agreed upon".

When bootstrapping you cannot afford to have a business model that can generate anything else than revenue. Except if you optimize for time while having another full-time job for example.

I was not at all implying that you can't do anything meaningful if you don't raise money. But again it depends what you mean by meaningful.

If by meaningful you mean developing a product / idea that will completely disrupt an industry or the way people live (think Tesla, AirBnB, Apple & co), I'd argue that 99% of the time, people with that ambition will use the VC way.

If by meaningful you mean building a strong business, generating millions of $ and creating hundreds of jobs (think BaseCamp, MailChimp, ConvertKit), I agree that raising money is not mandatory.

But I stand by my point, if you want to change the world, you should probably aim for the VC road.


Steve Blank's definition is not widely accepted in silicon valley. You can argue about what you'd like startup to mean, but what startup means to most silicon valley-ish people is a company designed to grow quickly. It's irrespective of investors, or other things.

http://www.paulgraham.com/growth.html

Growing quickly doesn't mean growing quickly sketchily... it means companies like Facebook who go from nothing to 3 billion people in a decade... something that was much more difficult before software.


Hey, looks cool. What's (in your opinion) the real difference between "indie hacking" and a proper startup? (Apart from the legal entity)


The product is the same, its just the mind set. In a startup you are more focused on securing a funding and grow 10x and on the other hand Indie hacking is more on bootstrapping. I feel startups started bootstrapped but have turned into what they are today because of VC. Also the biggest reason why 95% startups fail.


Thanks for sharing!


You should definitely charge at least double or triple what you are doing right now. You'd still be cheaper than the competition!


Thanks for the suggestions. I will comeback to pricing if there is enough traction. My current goal is to reach as many website users as possible and make performance monitoring available for everyone.


Looks like there are some issues to resolve with the signup process and billing. I've contacted you via your support channel so we'll see how this works out. :-)


I will reply to it, thanks for reporting


Good to see this one on the top of showhn. I see that you shared the same 2 days ago and the one before 8 days ago https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23849221 what has changed since then?


My understanding is that this is acceptable practice. There's a lot of luck to a post reaching critical mass on HN, so if you happen to get lost in the noise, you can try again. Trying three times does not feel at all egregious to me. As long as you don't delete old submissions to hide what you're doing, I think that's in line with HN's rules.

One notable difference is that today is a weekend, which means there's less traffic on HN but also less competition to reach the front page.


By looks of it you seem to have misinterpreted my question. I never suggested it to be a bad practice but rather was curious if there’s was something changed to post it again, I certainly would.


Oh, sorry. I thought you were implying that OP was in the wrong for resubmitting a link that had been ignored previously and not changed since.


If you don't mind me asking, what tools (if any) did you use to design your landing page UI?


From the look and css classes, it's most likely made using vuetify[https://vuetifyjs.com]


Just some design inspiration from top websites and VueJS


We are looking for such a solution combined with data available via a Google datastudio connector. Could be an awesome feature to attract agencies as customers, who need to report to their clients.


Thanks a lot, i will add this feature soon!


The service looks nice and at a very fair price point. But I can’t stand it when I’m forced to go through a 3rd party to sign in. At least this made me create a throwaway GitHub account for OAuth.


This was to make it easy. Does email login work for you?


E-Mail signup/login is my favored way, every time. FB/Twitter/Google are, of course, by far the worst, but even Github might randomly decide they don’t want me on their service anymore. My E-Mail provider is the only one I pay and the only one I have some slight trust in.


Cool, i will enable email soon.


If I can make a suggestion for a pro feature, it would be good to be able to test/measure pages behind some kind of authentication, even basic auth would be useful


Thanks mate, definitely in my plan.


This is incredible, Hari! Love the vision for SimpleOps, and I love that you're providing a limited lifetime deal package! Great work man!


That dinosaur animation on the landing page was a nice touch too haha


Thanks mate! I'm glad you liked it.


This is a beautiful page. I like the design very, VERY much.

I don't really have the need for the product, but I wish you the best of luck!


Very nice implementation. I wish you well! The product reminds me a lot about AppPulse Active (or what it should have been)


Cheers!


Never let users see your website down... and USED BY RefurbMe which seems to be down :)


sending alerts is one things but i cant control if they fix or not :P


Seems to be working again, hopefully it was thanks to those alerts


Point proven why every website owner needs Simple Ops! :^)


Stupid question: What is a micro-startup? Sounds like an interesting concept.


Basically a startup but at small scale and completely bootstrapped by 1 person


Kind of sounds like an oxymoron. Just call it what it is: a small business. Startups are traditionally defined by growth trajectory / potential.


Nice graphics!. How much time have you spent on manual sales?


Till now zero. Its been less than a month since i made the service available publicly.


I have this as a template in my naemon. For quasi-free.


"dropbox is just rsync"


I am using this service since last 20 days and I am 100% satisfied with the matrix on simpleops.

Before that for the same reason I was frequently using gtmatrix.


What plan does the lifetime offer get you?


The lifetime plan gets you the Maker plan


Would be great if you have PayPal, as currency rates is fluctuating now and I keep my USD in PayPal :(


Currently I don't support paypal, but I will see what I can do.


Off topic: curious.. you submitted this post twice recently. why on top now?


Probably just shows how much luck is a part in making HN frontpage




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