How I Started a Tool to
Track Your Subscriptions
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, I’m Matthieu Hostache, founder of Budg – an online tool to track your subscriptions.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
I’m a software engineer often doing side projects mainly for fun but also to test new technologies that I can’t use at work. Starting Budg I had one idea in mind: “How can I help myself and others taking more care of money in a fast, simple, and easy way?”.
I was seeing a lot of people around me having difficulties managing their finances. They were sometimes spending more than what they were earning but also not doing any saving even having good pay. Basically, they were not knowing how much they were spending on a regular basis.
To me most of the budget apps are way too complicated or need too much user engagement before being useful. It was based on this optimistic feeling that I could do better than, so I started Budg.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
There is actually a lot of competition in this domain so I tried and I still try to not look at what others are doing. I have my idea in mind of where I want to go and I incrementally go there listening to user feedback. I truly think that it helps me to build something different, special, that can truly be helpful without being a pale copy. Meanwhile, I also try to build Budg in the open, sharing what I’m doing on a daily basis.
Since the actual plan is to have people using Budg without making money for it , another challenge has been to create a service that does not cost much. I had to compare pricing and test different hosting solutions. Render.com has finally been the solution that works well for me, costing at this day database included around $17 per month.
Who is your target market?
I would say firstly anyone wanting to retake control on his expenses. Since we are subscribing to more and online services (Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime, Strava, …) even people who know how to manage their budgets would be interested to keep control of those minor but numerous expenses.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
I did a launch on Product Hunt which has been an unexpected success giving me a lot of useful feedback and a large first set of registered users.
I found building in public a great way to market the product. People seem to enjoy following the growth of a project. It also helps me grow my Twitter audience. And the larger my Twitter audience is the more visibility it’s bringing to Budg. So it’s kind of a virtuous circle and it’s free!
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
At the time of writing, the project has been running for almost 1 month so it’s hard to answer this question yet. But something I’m used to from day one is to listen and answer every user’s feedback, keeping them in touch when a fix or a feature they requested has been shipped.
I’m also planning to send an email every month to users of all new coded features.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
I’m a one human team working on Budg as a side project so listen to myself, take breaks when it’s needed, and don’t be ashamed to don’t work on it after a long working day 🙂
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
- BlitzJS as a Framework (fullstack)
- PostgreSQL as a database
- Sendgrid for sending technical mails (like reset password)
- Mailchimp for sending newsletters
- Sentry for production errors tracking
- Checkly as a status page and monitoring tool
- Render.com as hosting solution
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
Launching side projects – don’t focus too much on them until you get some attraction. It’s impossible to know those who will succeed.
I also learned to get feedback on how I could improve the product. Someone saying to you “It’s awesome” is nice to hear but telling him: “Thank you! Is there anything you would like to be improved?” will most of the time be more helpful.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
For me the favorite aspect it’s the freedom it brings. I love to be responsible for when and on which things I have to work. There will be no one to blame for failures and I will be the direct one to learn from them.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
If I was a full-time entrepreneur, I would say the financial insecurity aspect. But in my case having full-time work aside, I would say find some work (main one + side project) / life balance.
To me, this is the backlash of being passionate about my work and a project.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
People that inspired me a lot are Indie makers like Jon Yongfook (@yongfook on Twitter) or James Ivings (@JamesIvings) and Danielle (@dinkydani21) tweeting about the startups they are building or the failures they had to build a startup.
Following their journeys is really motivating to build something from scratch taking it as an experience.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
Seems far away but ideally being an app multi-platform with a large user base.
I would like the app to grow with more features but keeping the simplicity of use. I would love to have people speak about the unique user experience they have using Budg.
In 2-3 years, Budg will need to have a sustainable financing model. The app is here to stay but possible future generated revenues will give me more time/trust to invest in it.