Bootstraping a company providing Gitea services

Bonjour,

The idea proposed by Alex. P today in the Gitea general chatroom is to create a company providing Gitea services. There is no such company (or freelance) at the moment. Since it intersect significantly with the Gitea Clinic (market research is similar), requires a technical expertise that includes what is captured in the admin guide and people with the same kind of knowledge as the clinic doctors, it seems relevant to start the discussions here and see where it goes.

To be continued

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Hello,

I think Gitea is a great solution for self-hosted Git, and could even be the best choice when compared tools like GitHub Enterprise, GitLab Enterprise, etc. Licensing costs aside, Gitea:

  • is significantly easier to maintain/upgrade
  • can run easily on Windows
  • very unlikely to suffer “feature bloat”
  • is focused entirely on source control

I believe there’s a real niche market opportunity that Gitea can serve.

However, one thing I think that’s really missing in the Gitea community is commercial support and professional services. This creates a huge blocker – perceived or otherwise – for adoption inside of mid- to large-size companies.

I’m interested in helping start a services company that’s centered around Gitea and provides:

  • General Product and Installation Support
  • Implementation / Architecture of New Installations
  • Migration from Other Services
  • Integration / Customization
  • Best Practices / General Consulting

From just a few minutes of research, here’s how some of the offerings might be described:

The company I’m envisioning would require consultants with the same expertise you described (“technical expertise that includes what is captured in the admin guide and people with the same kind of knowledge as the clinic doctors”). However, it serves a different audience – I’m not sure what the Gitea Clinic charges, but I suspect the fees this company charges would be significantly higher.

I can assist in this company as an investor, advisor, mentor, and interim executive. I’ve built a few companies before and can help in all aspects… but I’m not really interested in doing the consulting work, and I’d like to focus on business/marketing and then exit to let the operators/engineers run the company.

Ideal partners would be entrepreneurial engineers who want to become business owners and run a relatively small services company that focuses on consulting in this space.

Alex

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Right. The Clinic (as the name suggests :wink: ) focuses on fixing sick Gitea instances. This is a specialized service that makes sense in the context of migrating a Gitea instance to Hostea: there would be little value in hosting a Gitea instance that is broken.

The Clinic charges by the hour (60€/h) for public consultations, or depending on the doctor fee for private consultations.

Your skills are rare in the Gitea community (and in the Free Software community in general), this is an attractive proposition. I repeat what I wrote in the chat: count me in. Of course the devil is in the details but matching skills (technical & marketing) is a good start :rocket:

How would you like to move forward?

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Well, this could be fun – greenfielding a company :smiley:

Best place to start is with a 30-60 minute kickoff meeting with some entrepreneurial engineers like you and me where we discuss:

  • Team; who’s in the meeting, what is our background, what do we want out of this, what can we contribute
  • Goal; what do we want this company to look like in 3 months, 1 year, etc.
  • Resources; what skills / assets do we have to get there

From there, we can then create a Business Plan that we’ll all invest in and do our best to follow and adjust until we reach the goal. Easy, right?

So, next step… let’s see if we can recruit some entrepreneurial engineers who might want to build a scrappy startup! Aside from you and Joshua (who you mentioned), I don’t know anyone else :wink:

From there, We can try to set something up in the coming weeks

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I suspect @realaravinth will be interested. @Gusted may also be curious to attend this meeting.

You may also want to reach out to existing Gitea maintainers and owners. AFAIK they are all volunteers at the moment, except for @kdumont who is employed by a startup repackaging Gitea into their own proprietary product and spends part of his paid staff time contributing to Gitea. Some of them may be willing to make a living out of their Gitea expertise.

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Always happy to give my thoughts when it involves Gitea.

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Count me in!

My skills with debugging Gitea are fairly limited, but I could assist with the other engineering bits :slight_smile:

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If you’re available, there is a scheduled Hostea discussion tomorrow, open to anyone:

I think it will touch on many aspects relevant to a more general Gitea service provider.

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@dachary thanks for the invite, I’m afraid I’m unavailable at that time

However, I spent a few minutes reading your blog/posts about what what you’re trying to do with a Gitea hosting service, and the challenges you’re facing. I’m not surprised… I’ve got a lot of business experience, and to me, this feels like Level 11 difficult (out of 10 :sweat_smile:).

I don’t mean to offend, but I think you identified the major issue. You wrote, the marketing part of the equation turned out to be well above our paygrade.

That part of the equation is critical. You can absolutely learn how to market (and you’ll need to, if you want a business)… but a Level 11 marketing problem is not an easy place to start :smiley:

I hope you don’t mind some advice. In your meeting, I would set clear milestones for success that you can measure in $X/month.

A “sustainable business” usually means one that has fulltime employees and can hire/replace to support customer needs. This is at least 2, but ideally 3 employees. With salary, costs, expenses, etc. you’re looking at $30-50K/month at a minimum in revenue. The milestones will guide you to $50K/month.

As I mentioned, this is a really difficult marketing challenge, so don’t be afraid to pivot or throw in the towel. The sooner you do that, the sooner you can start something new. My resume is filled with businesses I closed due to marketing challenges :smiley:

Curious to read the meeting notes!

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You are the first person with marketing experience who took the time to read about what Hostea is trying to accomplish. Well… maybe not but definitely the first to write about it. This is very precious :+1:

If I understand correctly, your intuition is that there is no business model for Hostea because it is setup in a way that makes it an impossible marketing equation to solve (level 11 out of 10 is an apt way to describe it). Would you mind listing the factors that create this difficult marketing situation? I think they are:

  • 100% Free Software
  • Easy to self-host
  • Radical transparency

But I’m very curious about your top three factors :slight_smile:

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I’m happy to help! I consider myself semi-retired from engineering (I don’t think I can ever give it up), and now the the challenge of business/leadership/marketing is fun. This is why I’m keen on starting a niche business in this space :+1:

The factors you list are about as relevant to the business model as the color theme of the logo. That’s good news, because I know they’re important to you - and this means you can build a business with these values.

The bad news is, understanding why there is no business model requires a bit more experience than you have. It’s kind of like trying to explain how to debug stack traces with multithreaded async/await handlers to someone who just learned what var means :wink:

The easiest way to explain it… Hostea is essentially trying to jump into a multi-billion dollar B2B market that’s dominated by a handful of mega players (GitHub, GitLab, and BitBucket) without any clear differentiators.

If this were a B2C market, you could win buyers over with “lifestyle” differentiators (green, ethically farmed, free software, etc.), but businesses exist solely to turn a large pile of money into an even larger pile of money. That’s it. Everything else is an implementation detail.

B2B products/services need to speak to one one or more of the three things that matter to businesses: time, money, and risk. Everything else (logo color, free software, transparency, etc.) is a nice-to-have.

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Now that you articulate it… that’s sensible. I’ll try to think along the lines of what you suggest, i.e. in what regard can Hostea be faster (time), cheaper (money), safer (risk) than the competition.

This is getting off-topic for this thread and I’m sorry about that, it was not my intention. If you don’t mind I’ll split this thread so that the conversation can resume on the “Gitea service” company idea you initiated.

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Or perhaps… it’s on topic :slight_smile:

I’m not opposed to helping build a company that offers Gitea hosting, I just don’t see the market opportunity because I don’t “feel” there’s enough pain points with the major players that Gitea/Hostea could solve. That’s just intuition.

However, my experience and customers show me there’s a lot of pain points with self-hosting development tools. Perhaps one model for Gitea/Hostea is a hybrid one. I don’t know? All goes back to what I mentioned earlier, coming up with a Goal and a Business Plan.

In any case, it wouldn’t make any sense for us to work together trying to bootstrap two separate companies in the same space at the same time. I would consider investing in Hostea if you’re open to a pivot. Perhaps chat it over w/ the team?

Best way to think about this… not “what Hostea is / can be”, but “what will Hostea do for me (as a buyer)”. Frame that in terms of time, money, and risk.

For you example, you may think that Hostea being 50% cheaper and 50% faster than GitHub is a huge selling point. But the buyer persona may not care.

“I spend $20/month for my team of five developers with GitHub, and it takes seconds to use… so Gitea will save me a whole $10/month and a few minutes. Who cares?”

Even if you add a 10x or 100x to that, it may not even be a problem. Tools already cost a fraction of a developer’s salary, and saving a fraction of a fraction often isn’t a priority (pain point) for many businesses.

This is why understanding the buyer personas (and their pain points) is important, so you can build a product around those personas.

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Yesterday there was a lot of chat about marketing and Hostea and you can read it from the backlog when you join the chatroom.

I read this blog post: it is about Google Analytics vs Plausible. The Hostea vs GitHub story intersects a lot. But maybe you will see critical differences that I do not see because this is not my area of expertise.

Higher Education and Research and governmental organizations use self hosted forges (not all of them but some) and they have a sovereignty issue with GitHub or GitLab. I know that from a meeting with a few of them earlier this month but that’s about the extent of my knowledge.

Maybe hosting & service go together: B2C hosting may not be much income but has good marketing potential. And B2B service is more profitable but it is more about trying to solve the problem of the customer and not about the fight of David vs Goliath and has less marketing potential.

Since Hostea has no commercial prospects at this time, that’s definitely a possibility. Would you be available to discuss this in a videoconference at 3pm UTC+2 today or tomorrow? This is a time where @realaravinth and myself are usually available.

Cheers

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It’s a great story, but yes… Web Analytics and Source Control are a totally different market, so it’s really hard to compare or take a lot away from. Just at the top-level:

Web Analytics is mostly used by digital marketing teams to improve website performance, which ultimately leads to more agility in website changes and increased sales.

Source Control is mostly used by development teams to lower costs and reduce time it takes to develop and track changes made to the applications they build. Ultimately this leads to more business agility, which allows leaders to address market opportunities or threats sooner.

The differences just keep going. End-users are different, buyers are different, adoption process is different, etc. But still a good read :wink:

Self-hosting is really important to these sectors, and a lot of others as well, and that’s where Gitea can really succeed as a niche player.

There’s a rising demand for “managed hosting” services, which is an interesting blend of self-hosted and cloud-hosting. Basically, instead of paying for “Software as a Service”, you’re paying for “Software Hosting as a Service”, and are outsourcing the hosting more than the software. If that makes sense.

This model solves a lot of regulatory issues, and lets organizations host data on their servers while having someone else manage the spftware hosting.

That’s Paris? I’m currently in Tokyo, so 3PM is 10PM my time I think. I can do a later meetings, but not this week. Monday is my late night next week, and I’ve got a 10PM slot open.

I split time between here and US, so we can catch up in a future week as well if time zones prove challenging.

Alex

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Oh I wanted to comment on this real quick. For productivity tools primarily used in business, this is largely a loss leader.

80-95% of the revenue will come through a B2B channel, where the average sale will be around 100x the size. The B2C channel primarily exists as as a lead source for B2B sales.

The psychology is that it’s much easier to get buyers to go form $10.00 → $1000.00 than it is from $0.00 → $10.00. This is why everyone painfully debates buying “apps” on their phone while spending 10x that at Starbucks each month - once you’ve spent that first $1, you’ve experienced value.

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Yes, UTC+2 is France. @realaravinth is in India. What about a meeting around 10am UTC+2 in the following days or next week? That would be early afternoon for @realaravinth late afternoon for you.

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Sure thing; feel free to put a meeting on my calendar that suits you guys:

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Let say:

Time: 10am UTC+2 July 21st, 2022
Location: https://meet.jit.si/DetailedTeethQualifyGenerally

Very much looking forward to this discussion :star_struck:

@apxltd I did not update your calendly because I do not have an account there, sorry about that.

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Ahhh crap , I made a mistake on my config calendar. I’ve got a meeting immediately before that will certainly run late, then a dinner meeting after that. So it’s a bit tight - best for me to be focused :slight_smile:

How about Friday, July 22 at 10:AM UTC+2?

Alex

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