I like building things. Six years ago, I created Laravel Shift - a SaaS product for automating up Laravel application between framework versions. It has since past $1,000,000 in revenue.
I was giving a talk at a PHP conference about upgrading between Laravel versions. In attendance was Taylor Otwell, the creator of Laravel. I asked him if he new of any scripts or services that helped with this upgrade. He said, "No, but I'd use it."That night, at the conference hackathon, I began creating Shift. I had planned to write some scripts anyway for my own Laravel projects. But with validation from Taylor, I took the leap to create a service.
No. Shift is self-built and self-funded.
No strategy really. I build things. I'm not that good at sales or marketing. To this day, I still feel awkward bringing up Shift in conversation.I simply shared Shift on Twitter. Occasionally Taylor would retweet it. Other than that, word of mouth and being active within the community (attending/speaking at conferences, writing blog posts, etc) is the only "strategy" I used.
I think feeling like Shift is a valuable service has been the hardest part. Until crossing some of the recent milestones, Shift has felt like a hobby. In addition, "code upgrades" isn't that cool of a service. It may be top of mind when new versions are released, but otherwise it's not really something you think about. To that point, many successful projects have come out of the Laravel community. At times, Shift didn't feel like it compared to them.
The fit was there from day one. No developer "likes" upgrading. However, they do want to run the latest version and use the latest features. Upgrading is a pain point. So having the upgrade automated sort of sells itself.
Communicate to your customers. This doesn't mean "the customer is always right". But they do have valuable insight into your product. Hearing their pain points and using that to improve your product is key. So long as there's growth, keep grinding.
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