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Hey all, I'm Zeke and I'm bootstrapping a SaaS for software licensing


Hey all,

I’m Zeke—I posted Keygen ~6 months back when I launched a closed beta but never properly introduced myself. I’m a software developer currently working nights/weekends to bootstrap Keygen. I have a few past attempts at bootstrapping (can talk more about those some other time), but nothing that has succeeded. My mission with Keygen is to help developers create, sell, license and distribute their products. (I have some sweet sub-products that are in the works related to that mission.)

A quick pitch on what it is: Keygen is a software licensing API built for licensing desktop apps, on-prem software and other digital products. If you’ve ever used Stripe, it’s very similar to their API, only for managing users, licenses and machines. I’ve been working on Keygen for over a year now, and fully launched a couple months ago after a 3 month beta period.

I’m currently learning (through much trial-and-error) how to up my marketing game and my confidence-level when doing cold emails, customer calls, etc. The market I am currently focusing on is indie/small shop Mac OS/Windows devs that build desktop software.

I recently pushed out a pricing change that is value-based, so am looking forward to the reception of that (I tried to price high in the beginning, but my target market really didn’t like my pricing).

(On a side note: I’m on the lookout to hire some Swift, C# and Java developers to help me translate my Node examples and guides to those languages. If you know anyone, please shoot them my way!)

Anyways, I’ve enjoyed the podcast and a lot of the discussion that’s happened on this forum! I’d love to get to know everybody a bit better. :metal:


Interesting product but are you sure about the name? Keygen to me makes me think of cracks and people using keygenerators. I don’t get a positive image from the name.


I’ve had a few similar comments about the name, but the positives have far outweighed the negative (seems most people really like it) so I think it’s fine overall. (I also have some ideas for mitigating “keygen” searches of customer products in the future. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)


Hey Zeke,

Nice to see that Keygen has finally launched. I got to know about it couple of months back from Hacker News. I do think it can provably be a very useful service but, isn’t a small desktop apps market too narrow? Not that, “desktop apps are dying”, but I have seen a gradual change in business model of desktop apps. Most apps in the $1-10 don’t bother with licensing and free trial, and in the category upwards, I have seen many offering a perpetually free and limited license.

Also, would it be dangerous to assume that although desktop apps are still a viable business, it has progressively become harder to make a killing (upwards of $100k / yr)?


Appreciate the response and excited to hear that you’ve been keeping up with Keygen!

I don’t believe that the desktop app market is dying (there’s some good discussion on this over on Hacker News) and if I recall correctly, there’s even a few people on this forum that sell desktop software. I could give you a pretty massive list of companies and indie devs that solely make their money from desktop apps (some more niche than others).

As far as your comment on devs forgoing licensing: from my chats with app devs that don’t have licensing, most of them forgo implementing licensing because it’s too complicated/hard, they don’t want to write (and host) their own licensing server, etc., and Keygen helps solve those pain points.

And finally, it’s worth noting that Keygen is not only for desktop apps. It can also be used to license on-prem software e.g. Sidekiq Pro, GitLab Enterprise, Varnish Pro, WordPress plugins, etc. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Hey Zeke,
We discussed a bit at the start of your beta release, when I started working on my Electron app.
Your new pricing is definitely much more interesting for us.

Thing is, licensing is first a business decision (what value do I want to deliver to my customers, do I want recurring or not, what’s my position regarding trust vs piracy, etc.). Once we’re clear on what we want to achieve, we’ll look at the technical solutions.
What I mean is, maybe you should look to explain if some licensing models have some very clear benefits over some others, to try to convince developers. Hopefully, this would align with what Keygen supports :slight_smile:

A bit on a side note: I don’t know the WordPress plugins market, but I have the feeling it’s quite active. I’d look into doing some marketing targeted to WP devs.


That’s awesome to hear, Julien! And you’re right, I should do a guide/section on “What licensing model should I choose?” or something like that. Is that what you mean? There’s a variety of ‘standard’ licensing models e.g. node-locked, floating, etc. that I think would be beneficial to go over and educate people on.

As far as the WP plugin market—that is definitely something that I’ll be putting a considerable effort towards soon (I agree that Keygen would work well for licensing WP plugins and themes). Trying to wrap up a WP plugin example that uses Keygen (similar to the Electron example app), so as soon as that’s done and I can set up a landing page, I’ll push forward on that front.