Finishing my bookkeeping SaaS, while parenting

Hello bootstrapped people!

I’m Matthew and I’m new here :wave: I sold my 16yo Linux-nerd hosting company in Nov 2018. In May 2019 my daughter was born and I started sketching a new piece of software in Oct 2019. It’s been pretty slow going as I’ve been trying to fit coding around parenting (I’m married and we have a 7yo too).

My software is going to be for vacation rental (“short let” in the UK) owners who want visibility onto their bookings through multiple booking platforms. I believe this is a software marketplace where people who want the best services need more than one tool, though there are lots of companies vying to be the “one true” platform, not least Airbnb & booking-dot-com themselves. However once you leave the confines of a single platform, you tend to need some systems in place to keep track of them. So I think my bookkeeping system stands a shot.

The software is working just about well enough for me as client #1, and I’m busy bringing my front-end skills up to scratch to launch it over the next few weeks. My experience as a developer is good on system-level coding, OS setup, networking, databases, that kindof level. Front-end has become an embarrassment of riches since I was out of the game - so I’m just trying to get some consistent UI without weighing down my pages with buckets of other people’s Javascript.

Parenting has expanded to fill the gap that my old company left. I get a good 8-12 hours/week completely left alone, and maybe the same again where I might be interrupted at any time. I try to do the creative work in the first type of time, and the endless slog in the second. I used to be a diva in my 20s about uninterrupted work time, but now if I can see 15 minutes opening up in the day I’ll open my laptop and see where I’ve left myself note: a ### :point_left: BUG HERE, DUMMY and just type as fast as I can.

If you exclude most things front-end :rofl: I’m only using technology I know, or knew a few years back - Ruby, Rails, PostgreSQL, Redis, Docker. Playing to my strength, I’m focused on it being fast on the server, and not needing a lot of Javascript (or other people’s frameworks).

My very broad to do list:

  • front-end - account management & setup (hardwired to me for now)
  • production hosting, backups - embarrassing if I can’t do this right but it’s got to work for a 1-man show for a while
  • external QA framework once the feature list slows down - “not many tests, mostly integration”
  • scheduling hands-on interviews with accountants / bookkeepers / let owners to guide the feature set and file off any rough edges.

I’m not a perfectionist (except on data integrity) … so I’m going to let people sign up once the UI stops being horrible, and leak it out piece by piece, even before I’m charging for it.

I’m going to focus on UK owners now, but open it up to people in US, NZ & Australia as fast as I can - because of differences in local short-let marketplaces & tax regulation, I need to be quite careful not to throw it open internationally as I’d have an explosion of testing possibilities.

I’d love to talk to people here to like enjoy doing hosting on the cheap, or where parenting is their main distraction.

Nice to meet you all :heart: Matthew


Hi @mattbee - you sound determined with the little time which is very good.
Your statement make it sound like you are hoping rather than guaranteeing your success.
Would a bit of sales and research not be better before actual coding? How do hotels do this these days and have you tried to sell it to anyone around you? Worst case they say they want it and then you say wait a little while I build it or you say pay me now and get it later?

I am British :thinking: “stands a shot” is bragging!

I wrote the software for my own short let business - it already saves me hours of awful data entry. I am talking to other short let owners & accountants to shape the future of the software. So I see a narrow core user base right now (maybe a few more than me, but I’m not kidding myself). I’m then going to push it out in different directions as I discover new use cases, rather than worry about what’s exactly the right feature set up front. (the pitch will develope alongside that of course)

If it’s truly useless, I still will have built myself a useful luxury bookkeeping tool, and brought myself up to speed with front-end development in 2020 :grinning:

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Welcome, Matt!

I used to be a diva in my 20s about uninterrupted work time, but now if I can see 15 minutes opening up in the day

I know the feeling all too well! Especially the diva part…

Good luck with the new software.

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The sooner you can get people using it, the better, from my experience. And if you can’t find anyone prepared to try it (even for free) that also tells you something.

My 13yo son is now at school 8-4 weekdays, so I get a fair bit of quite time. Also I have an office in the garden, so I can get quite time, even when the family is at home.

Good luck!