I read Eric Ries’ learn startup management recently. The author proposes a mechanism of running recurring small scale experiments and basing business judgements (pivot or commit) based on the results.
When we started work on Hostea, we assumed that there is a need for manages Gitea hosting. The UX research lead by @dachary concluded otherwise, but we ended but building Hostea anyways.
But if we are to be economically viable, we’ll have to determine if there is indeed a market for Hostea. I know that the UX research concluded otherwise, but it would be cool, if we could show it off to early adaptors and see if it is something that they would want to use.
Ries says customers don’t really know what they want. I am not a marketing person, but I think there is some logic to it: how will someone know if they require something if they didn’t even know it existed? Or if it was even possible? So we could re-test our assumption by reaching out to another early adopter group. We tried sysadmins and that didn’t work so another group, IMO, would be FOSS project owners. git.my-project.org is hallmark of well-established FOSS projects, so who knows, a dedicated server might be on their bucket list? A FOSS project leader might have the necessary skills to self-hosting but its worth a try.
That said, I was never big on managed hosting. Shared hosting was what got me excited in the first place and I believe there’s market for it. This is an assumption that needs to be validated but here’s my reasoning: Codeberg, framagit and other libre and gratis source code hosting from reputable nonprofits exist and yet people are willing to pay for paid services like Sourcehut. I am personally a big fan of sourcehut and Drew DeVault’s work(I use a bunch of his software every day) but their offering(email-based collaboration) is much more radical than what’s already out there(GitHub family of forges). So I believe there is marker for paid, FOSS, GitHub family forge shared hosting.
To validate my assumption, I propose we hack together a very minimal shared hosting setup:
- compute disk usage per user
- CI build minutes per
- modify dashboard to implement payments shared hosting
And release it to early adaptors(who? gratis or not? If gratis, will we requite investment? How much?).