SaaS Application Development for Non-Technical Founders (Part I)
This article is intended to demystify some of the essential architectural decisions non-technical founders and their teams will need to make.
8base was inspired by my own experience building complex single-instance, multi-tenant software-as-a-service products in previous ventures. In short, these experiences were painful!
In case you don’t know: Multi-tenancy means that a single instance of the software and its supporting infrastructure serves multiple customers. Each customer shares the software application and also shares a single database. Each tenant’s data is isolated and remains invisible to other tenants.
This is the design pattern that nearly all SaaS companies use. Yet still, implementing this model remains difficult and millions of dollars are spent every year to set it up-right… or lost setting it up wrong!
Founders take on enormous risk and make huge sacrifices to bring a vision into reality. In my experience, building the “plumbing and electrical infrastructure” for SaaS oftentimes will trump the development of the innovative parts of their vision. Leaving most founders completely frustrated about the enormous amount of non-value add work happening inside their venture.
Entrepreneurs face a lot of pressure to get their products up and running quickly while ensuring these products can go the distance as the company becomes successful. Unfortunately, it’s super common these days for founders to slap together a shaky product that will demand a rewrite as soon as adoption picks up. These delays and added costs have been the demise of countless startups.
The good news is that 8base was created to make building and operating complex SaaS products a lot easier. An MVP can be stood up quickly and then evolve to a fully functional product without requiring a rewrite.
Recently, we took the time to ask our founder customers why they are building startups on 8base. Their feedback was so encouraging that I’d like to share 8 of the most common topics. Here it goes!
People can argue over choosing Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud until they’re blue in the face; the same holds true for whether to use MySQL, Postgres, MongoDB or another service. The fact is that there are countless categories of architectural choices that factor into building multi-tenant SaaS products; and, by 8base being a bit prescriptive in our offering we solve for 80% of those headaches.
8base’s doctor orders include:
GraphQL has an enormous streamlining effect on software development. It allows front-end developers to dynamically construct their data requests to the backend. This minimizes the need for back-end developers to support front-end development in countless tasks, like enriching a response object or tweaking an endpoint to allow for X update.
8base’s product is 100% elastic and priced accordingly. It’s designed to support the needs of a small user base while automatically scaling to meet larger demands. Customers are only paying for computing services consumed and not infrastructure that sits idle. Even better, customers don’t need DevOps personnel to configure, maintain and debug computing infrastructure. This is huge, as DevOps talent is hard to find and harder to afford.
Most founders today are non-technical. It can be a very scary thing for a founder to bring on an unknown and unproven person as a technical co-founder. The wrong person can bring dysfunction and potentially put the entire startup at risk. Additionally, these people and their team members can be expensive from both a cash and equity perspective.
8base has taken a lot of pride in enabling non-technical folks to embark on technical projects and actually feel in control. We’re currently working with startups as their development team. In other words, the founders provide the vision and insight into product design and the 8base professional services team quickly builds the product using the 8base platform. In this relationship, the founders get their startups up and running cost-effectively with the help of a powerful platform and experienced SaaS architects, designers, and operators. This takes a lot of risk off the table and leaves more ownership in the hands of the core founders!
Like I mentioned in the intro to this article, so much of 8base was inspired by my own experience standing up SaaS companies. It is all too familiar to me how much development time and resources go into just the plumbing of a product so that things like authorization, authentication, API specifications, database administration, and more are ready to go in a respectable fashion. That’s why we’ve baked these pieces into the very core of 8base. Setting them up so that you can hop onto the console and manage pieces of your product that were previously restricted only to coding prodigies.
We relish every day at 8base knowing that by helping founders make their dreams come true, we make our own dreams come true. Anyone interested in chatting about the topics mentioned in this piece, how 8base can help or entrepreneurship, in general, can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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