Big News, Rails Rumble is now Ruby Rampage!

You Don’t Have to Reinvent the Wheel

Oct 05, 2010

Note: This is a guest post by one of our event sponsors, Chargify

Chargify is sponsoring the Most Potential to Monetize” challenge in this year’s Rails Rumble, which means we’ll reward the app that has the best chance to charge real money to real customers.

So how do you convince people to pay for your service?

To me, it’s pretty simple. Either you offer something that is so innovative and helpful, that people can’t do without it or you enter a market that already attracts paying customers and you do it better. In both cases, you have to focus on innovation. What makes your service unique? How can you make your service the one everyone wants to use?

In the Rails Rumble, you have to figure out these things in a mere 48 hours. When you sit down to write your user stories, you’re going to prioritize those things that define your product and offer the most value. You’re going to figure out where you can leverage existing gems so you don’t have to waste time reinventing the wheel. Everything else goes out the window. The clock is ticking.

Looking past the Rails Rumble, why don’t we apply this mindset to all our projects?

When Rails was younger, so were we. It was more “fun” for us to reinvent the wheel - at that point everything we built was another chance to flex Rails muscle and learn more ourselves. In fact, building things that have already been built is a good way to learn - we know what the outcome should be, so we are able to focus on the implementation and the magic of Rails itself. Why do you think the “Blog in 15 minutes” example held so much allure in the early days?

As Rails has matured, so have us developers. Every day we realize, more and more, the true value of our time. And the market demands innovation, quick. There are so many apps being built today, how are you going to make yours stand out? I know what’s NOT going to make you stand out:

  • Your billing system. Billing ain’t sexy, so why roll your own? It’s an essential function, but it will never make your app stand out.

  • Your super-scalable custom hosting platform. Sure, you can woo techies with how you scaled to support all those millions of users you have, but your users don’t care. They just want your service to be online and fast. All the time. Cloud hosting like Engine Yard and Heroku have your back, and will take you a long way.

  • How you sent all those millions of emails, text messages, or notifications. Your users just want to get their notifications, you’re not going to build a “better” way to send them. Just leverage services like SendGrid, PostageApp, Tropo, etc

Not only will leveraging these services allow you to launch more quickly with more innovation, but you’ll also avoid spending time fixing bugs in non-core features.

Chargify, a recurring billing system, thinks about billing every day, so you don’t have to. We fix bugs and handle the crazy once-in-a-million situations because we see way more billing situations than you ever will on your own. That peace of mind is worth its weight in gold.

So go innovate, quickly! Build something that people can’t live without, something with value. We can’t wait to see what you invent!