Last week, we launched the beta of Jetstrap, the interface-builder for Twitter Bootstrap, on Hacker News. The post was #1 on HN for an entire day, and on the front page for two days.
We had a pretty amazing few days on and after the post. We gained 20,000 new users in less than a week, had an outpouring of support, and found tons of bugs and quirks to fix. The interest surrounding Bootstrap is simply insane, and the growing ecosystem ensures that Bootstrap will be the leading front-end framework for a long time.
Part of our goal with Jetstrap is to be very transparent. Our company Drift Hack (also the creators of Codiqa for jQuery Mobile) is 100% bootstrapped, and we want to learn from more experienced founders and inspire others to build sustainable businesses. The only way to do that is to be open and honest about our progress.
In the interest of transparency, here is the raw data of how the week since our Hacker News debut has gone, starting with our total users per day over the last month (Jetstrap entered public alpha at the beginning of September):
Notice the huge spike on 9/26? That is the Hacker News effect.
And here is a graph of our page visits for the month. We had a huge jump on the 26th of September and since then our daily visits have gone up as we’ve gotten residual coverage from around the world and people are spreading the word:
Handling the Load
Being at the top of Hacker News can draw a ton of traffic to your site. It sucks when you are getting great coverage and your site goes down. We recently moved all of our services to Heroku, and we are getting an insane bang for our buck.
Consider this: we’ve handled 25,000 users on a completely free Heroku package: 1 web dyno and a shared database. While we’ve recently migrated to the $50/mo PostgreSQL add-on, we’ve only had to do that now that we know Jetstrap is something people find useful.
During the two days we were on the front page, we didn’t have a single slow down or disruption in service, and were able to validate our product on a solid platform for $0.
Testing our Assumptions
One of the big benefits of the launch was we were able to test some of our ideas and get immediate feedback. The biggest of which was whether Jetstrap was a tool anyone needed and would pay for. We are happy to say that answer is “yes.” We’ve been absolutely blown away by the response of our users that have seen an immediate productivity increase with Jetstrap, or are now able to tackle more complex Bootstrap projects thanks to Jetstrap. They love what we’ve built.
Another great piece of feedback was on our price point. We were initially thinking we’d price the beta at $10/mo, but we didn’t think very hard about this. Patrick McKenzie told us pretty bluntly that this was insanely underpriced. Now we are thinking more in the $20-$30/mo range (any feedback on this?). Pricing is one of the absolute hardest things to get right, and we are glad we didn’t just rush into it without asking for help.
Finally, we tested whether an OAuth based login scheme would be more effective than a custom login requirement. While I don’t have data here, I think it was a huge success and I’m glad we started with social auth rather than yet-another-custom-login. That being said, despite the frictionless signup flow, there are those still who refuse to log in with 3rd party accounts. It’s a difficult balance.
We’ve got a big list of bugs and issues to address, and we realize our interface needs some work. Our plan is to fix the big issues, make the interface “tighter” and easier to use, and then start charging. We’ve got a ton of crazy ideas for Jetstrap, and we know you’ll love them.
If you are interested in following our company, please follow us on twitter or subscribe to our blog feed. We’d also love to connect with other founders and help each other out.