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The Money Start-Up: Development Decisions Lead to Big Savings (Part 2)

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[The following is a part of my Money Start-up series, where I go back to my software development roots and try to create an application/website to better help consumers take care of their money. It's a little different than most of the personal finance articles that you'll read, but my hope is that we'll learn some lessons along the way. You can start with my introduction last week.]

Last week, I left off by saying that my idea for a personal finance software company seems to have merit based on a few people who I trust. This is despite acknowledging that there is incredible competition and that many have failed. I'm very fortunate to have a great network of people to lean on for advice... and this week I leaned on them again.

While I've been programming computers since I was 8 or 9 (thanks IBM PCjr), I've taken the last few years off to focus on blogging. One of the reasons I did it was because I was too burned out from developing software all day, to go home and learn what new advancements were going on in the industry. There is always a new language or new database to learn in that spare time. Also, to be relevant in the job market, I found you have to have years of experience in everything. My Coldfusion experience nowadays isn't all that helpful since it isn't used anymore.

It's a learning rat race on top of a money rat race, and it was time to find a way out. And that's one of the many reasons why I created this blog.

With all that time off, it gives me a rare opportunity to jump back in without bias towards any technology. I have some history in Java and I update the blogging software I use here (WordPress) in PHP, but I don't do enough to be married to either one. So I reached out to a couple more of my trusted friends independently and asked them what they would use if they were starting from scratch today.

Fortunately the first two, who don't know each other, came back with the same answer: Ruby on Rails with a Postgres database, running on Heroku. (I know you are smacking your forehead saying "Of Course!")

I wasn't expecting them to be sync like that. In reviewing their logic it is sound, and fits with what I was looking for.

The Heroku choice was a surprise, because I've checked out their website and how it works is very involved. Their version of "how it works" is for server administrators while what I was looking for something that I missed on the front page , "Focus 100% on your code, and never think about servers, instances, or VMs again... Easily scale to millions of users."

Heroku is free to develop in, at least for what I'm doing. It's going to save me time and money to not have to deal with hiring and paying a system administrator. It's not expensive to run after launch either, but if costs became a problem, I can take my code elsewhere, probably to the Amazon Cloud.

One of my friends suggested that I look into Twitter's Bootstrap to design the front end of my application. I'm not a designer. I like to pretend that I can make things look 80%, but that last 20% is always a killer. Yes, the Lazy Man and Money design that you see here is mostly my creation. It's functional (and should be fast), but not polished with great bells and whistles. For this website to be a success, it is going to have to look professional and Bootstrap does much of that. While you can build from scratch with the tools that they have, there are a number of themes to choose to from. Some are free, but I found a couple that I can buy for under $15. Sign me up! I'll, of course, need to do a lot of customizing to get a finished product, but it will cut down on the time and cost of design team.

The key takeaway here is that is where it would once cost a lot of money to start-up a software company, today there are some fabulous tools out there that greatly reduce the financial barrier the entry. I don't know if it is possible for me to overstate the impact they will likely have.

The last part of the equation, Ruby on Rails is where I have to make a tough decision. I'll leave that for next time though.

Last updated on March 28, 2013.

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13 Responses to “The Money Start-Up: Development Decisions Lead to Big Savings (Part 2)”

  1. Awesome! I have been a faithful follower for quite a few years now and you have inspired me to start a second stream of income. It is a slow start but I am hoping diligence with prevail. I am excited to hear about your plans and will be right there to try it out when it is ready. Go Lazy Man!

  2. Revanche says:

    Innnnteresting. While I don’t profess to know coding (though I told our CEO I’d be happy to learn – who knows how much my creaky brain would absorb!) I do know that Ruby on Rails has been the preferred option for many of the devs I know or read.

    It’ll be interesting to see how well it works for you if you decide to go that route.

  3. Eric Poulin says:

    It’s definitely a challenge creating something from scratch and getting good traction. Have you thought about partnering with an existing, smaller solution rather than try to create something from scratch?

  4. Lazy Man says:

    I have some friends at SaveUp and Ready for Zero, so I could partner with them. I could partner with Mint, but unless it was a developed idea, I think they’d just say, “Thanks for the idea, we’ll work on implementing that with our engineering team and head start.”

  5. Eric Poulin says:

    You also have some fans over here at CalendarBudget :)

  6. Lazy Man says:

    Good to know, I’ll be in touch, once I get things more fleshed out.

  7. Evan says:

    I am working with someone to develop a site beyond a blog, and I couldn’t even understand the introductory material lol.

    Just looked up ruby on rails and again I literally can’t even begin to grasp what the hell it does hahahah.

    Anything I can do to help (maybe promote lol) just reach out! +

  8. Lazy Man says:

    Let’s hope I fair a little better…

  9. […] Man continues his series about The Money Start-Up, considering reduced financial barriers of entry to get […]

  10. […] Man @ Lazy Man and Money writes The Money Start-Up: Development Decisions Lead to Big Savings (Part 2) – he key takeaway here is that is where it would once cost a lot of money to start-up a […]

  11. Jade says:

    This is totally just my opinion, but if you have experience in CF and PHP you may have trouble with RoR (I did). The design philosophies are very, very different.

    Unless you didn’t like CF/PHP, in which case, it could be the right fit ;-)

  12. Lazy Man says:

    Yes, I’ve heard a lot about the Rails learning curve. That’s going to be one of the topics I mention in the next article… hopefully tomorrow.

  13. Louie Sison says:

    Hi Lazy Man,

    Really awesome blog post.
    I like what you said: “It’s a learning rat race on top of a money rat race, and it was time to find a way out. And that’s one of the many reasons why I created this blog.”

    We have the same reason why we blog.
    More power to you.
    Louie Sison

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