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How to cut costs for an early-stage startup.

Ikenna Paschal
Ikenna Paschal

My career background has been as a developer, building has never been a problem. Except it is. I am in a constant fight with the urge to build tools I need and not to pay for them.

However, the downside of fighting this urge is that the cost of running MurList, a bootstrapped startup for sending highly personalized video cold emails, quickly goes up. At such a rate, my finance would be in red in few months.
How then does one manage bootstrapped startups while cutting cost?

The answer is in open source. First, running open-source software have its advantages and disadvantages. I will only highlight a few relevant to in our case — deployment and maintenance. Some tools are ridiculously hard and complex to get running correctly. Another is the cost of running a lot of them can easily pile up. You don't want to run each individually in a VM or setup a k8s to run them.

This is where CapRover comes in. It takes away the hard parts of deployment and maintenance and helps lowers costs. You can run a good number of business tools on a $10/month Ubuntu instance on AWS or your preferred cloud provider.

CapRover is a PaaS that unifies your compute resources into a single pool. It comes with an app directory. Think of the app directory like the app store on your iPhone. It allows you to install business-critical apps in seconds and ensures they are kept running. You can see a demo here. Use captain42 as password.
CapRover setup is easy and straightforward. The maintainers demonstrated deployment in this 8 minutes video on Youtube.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Only install tools you need.
  • Review to make sure each tool matches your use case.

Here are a few of the apps I personally like and what each could replace for you.

  • Metabase - A unified business intelligence & and analytical tool.
  • Chaskiq - Alternative to Intercom & Crisp.
  • Chatwoot - Same as Chaskiq.
  • Sentry - Error tracking and performance monitoring.
  • Drone.io - Alternative to CircleCi and Codefresh.
  • Mattermost - Alternative to Slack.
  • Plausible - Web analytics. Privacy-focused alternative to Google analytics.

This list is not by any means exhaustive. These are just the ones I found most useful. They are all open source and can be deployed in few clicks. CapRover manages the scheduling and maintenance.

I hope you find this useful.

I am documenting my journey bootstrapping MurList.com, the growth over time, challenges faced, and more importantly lessons and failures.
I will be posting each event publicly on this blog and twitter in real-time in what I call the bootstrapper's diary.
bootstrapper's diaryfinance