Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Startup in the Cloud

This post was the source of a BusinessWeek article by Rachael King.

There is a remarkable difference in the method and cost of startup infrastructure between when I started ActiveGrid in 2003 and wdgtbldr in 2007.

Back in 2003, we still had to buy our own servers and hire IT people to get some basic services. This mindset prevailed into 2007, where to upgrade our Wiki into something much more functional, I learned that IT had physically installed two iterations of wikis on our servers. It was beyond me what features we would get from our own installation vs. a hosted one, so I suggested a policy of only using hosted infrastructure moving forwards. This led to a suggestion of having some meetings to discuss the concept, which in my experience means "not going to happen." :)

Starting with a clean slate at wdgtbldr, there is definitely an "everything must be hosted" policy, and I am amazed at how cheaply and easily all of the functions of a small business can be set up and shared between employees. There are no servers, no VPN to get to the servers, no software to install, configure, and maintain, and definitely no part time IT people. Everything works as advertised, since it is not our installation of Bugzilla/wiki/etc. that has to be maintained, rather proven infrastructure shared by many other companies.

Following is a list of wdgtbldr's hosted vendors and monthly cost. In every instance, we got to check out for free what we were going to get before purchasing a monthly plan with additional features. Everything other than hosting costs <$400/mo, and with dedicated hosting <$800/mo!

Monthly Cost
Site AnalyticsGoogle Analytics$0
Email ForwardingGoDaddy$1
Digital FaxPacketel$4
Forum HostingSiteGround$6
AccountingQuickBooks Online$20
Mail + Calendar + AppsGoogle Apps$20
Source Code Control + Issue TrackingCVS Dude$30
Email CampaignsConstant Contact$30
HostingOC-48, Dedicated~$400


jon said...

Thanks for posting this!
I knew about most of these, but SOASTA is a nice find ... looks very promising.

Erica Brescia said...

Thanks for sharing! For payroll, we use a hosted service called Paycycle. It is incredibly easy to use, cheap, and integrates with Quickbooks online. Their customer service is incredible, too.

Susan Geroge said...

You can even add Conference Calls - (, a good source for audio, video and web conferencing. Try it once!