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A place to share experiences in building Software-as-a-Service.

A typical day building a boutique hosting platform

by Sebastien Mirolo on Fri, 17 Jul 2015

Mark Suster's blog is always on the edge between a strong opinion and a pragmatic approach to moving forward. I like it. Recently Mark wrote "How the Hell do I Prioritize Work, Blog & Find Balance?". It prompted me to reflect on "What do I myself do in a typical day?".

My life changed quite a bit since I wrote "Engineering Time". First I got married. Second I hired some people (fired some as well) and grew a freelance contractor career into an online business. Here is what Thursday looked like for me.

8:30am Sorting out priorities.

Reading emails, browsing logs, glancing at Google analytics and RSS feed of git commits. Nothing out of the ordinary Today. No fire to put up with right now.

9:00am Video conference call with the engineering team in Europe.

There are very good reasons to have a distributed team and hire internationally. How does Greece sound to you? Educated engineers. Motivated entrepreneurs. Both with their livelihood on the line. Best place to hire right now!

10:00am Tweeter, Linkedin, and news articles

My goal here is to find potential passive leads, engage with people doing cool stuff and keep in touch with the community. When you are responsible for hosting boutique products online and someone relies on your team for their independence and income, you must be trustworthy. Trust is built over long period of time, a little bit every day.

11:00am Lunch

As usual, I ate lunch very early. Pushing lunch hour past 12:00pm comes with low sugar level that take a couple hours to recover from. As usual, I put on a Youtube video while eating. Thursday was about Nash and the problem of isometric embedding (in French).

12:00pm Barbershop

Two months between haircuts is a long time. There is always a reason why I should do something else but since I had to make a public appearance later, it became a necessity. If you ever get a chance to see the movie, that's exactly like that in real life - Always entertaining.

1:00pm Customer support

Two customers emailed with unrelated issues on their web product. One issue was easily fixed by resizing a picture. The second issue, I called back and we walked through it on a screen sharing session - misunderstanding of the user interface. I wrote some notes about both issues on GitHub. Focus on the details, Finish up what you started, that is how you can translate DjaoDjin number one guideline.

2:00pm Coding session

Around that time, the team in Europe starts to drop out the grid. With less interruption, I started to write some code myself, put some bugs in, keep the team on their toes.

4:00pm Deposit checks at the bank

DjaoDjin is a hosting platform for boutique subscription products. Still many customers prefer to send checks through regular mail when it comes to payment. I cannot complain. Most pay six months to a year in advance and we get to keep the online processor fee (about 3%) by depositing checks in person.

5:00pm Meet with engineers at the AWS Popup loft

The AWS Popup loft in downtown San Francisco is a great place to meet with various folks traveling from overseas and temporarily in San Francisco.

6:00pm Meetup at Square

I was given an opportunity to do a quick presentation of DjaoDjin at the Billing and Payment Engineers meetup organized at Square Thursday night. The video I showed is on youtube and a transcript of the voice over on slideshare. If you are looking for a more in-depth presentation of djaodjin-saas, you can watch a previous Software-as-a-Service lighting talk at Sourcegraph.

9:00pm Wedding party

The main reason I went to the Barbershop that day. I joined my wife at a wedding party for one of her girl friend. It is the second time in two weeks we are going to a wedding. My guess? more to come in the following months.

11:30pm Customer support

Back at home, I followed up on a previous call from a customer. Another behavior of the system that required explanation. Not an outage issue. Good.

12:00pm Bed time

I wrote down the one thing I had to complete no-matter-what before the end of the next day, took a shower and went to sleep.

More to read

If you are looking for more posts about what it is like to build a hosting platform for boutique subscription products, you might enjoy How to bring your own service online and Back to school: lessons learned this summer.

More business lessons we learned running a subscription hosting platform are also available on the DjaoDjin blog. For our fellow engineers, there are in-depth technical posts available.