The Indie Hackers Podcast #78: Taking on Google and Facebook as a Solo Open-Source Founder with Evan You of Vue.js

  • What is Vue.js? Frameworks are essentially abstractions and a set of libraries that help developers build applications. Vue.js is one of those frameworks.

  • Why did you want to learn how to program? I wanted to build things. I had this urge to create all the time. I wanted to build websites. I couldn’t find anyone to build them for me so I learned the necessary skills to do it myself.

  • How does Vue.js make money?: Primarily through Patreon. 232 people/organizations are donating a total of $16,547 every month so I will keep working on Vue. It is open-sourced which means anybody can use it for free. As someone who works on it full time, I needed to find ways to monetize it. Just not by directly selling it.

  • The biggest advantage of starting out without thinking about monetization: I could just focus on making it good.

  • Both Google and Facebook have created front end JavaScript frameworks. They are known for having some of the best programming talent. Most people would not compete with them. Why didn’t that stop you? I didn’t really think about competing with them. I just focused on making Vue good enough. Then people discovered it. You can make a product to your own taste. It will be different from other people’s tastes and products.

  • Before building Vue I was a consumer of other libraries and frameworks: I would come up with a list of things that I liked and didn’t like about these tools I was using. I had thoughts like: Oh wow this is a cool idea. If I were to build a framework I’d definitely do that. All of these little things that accumulated over time as a consumer of other tools. When I finally got the chance to build my own tool I would pour all of my likes and dislikes into the thing I am creating.

  • My primary motivation: I wanted to build something that makes me proud. I wanted to build something that when people mention it they say this is a cool project.

  • Passion for what you are building is critical: You need someone who is passionate enough to invest their own time in the beginning. Linux started as a one-person passion project.

  • A problem for open source [and businesses] projects: Getting over the chasm. The chasm is when something is big enough that has a consistent group of users [or people that love it] with enough demand but it’s not big enough to be properly monetized to support its maintainers to work on it full time. You are big enough that it takes so much of your time but it’s not big enough that it would pay you to work on it full time.

  • I was willing to take a pay cut to work on something I’m genuinely passionate about: It makes me feel more fulfilled and happy about what I do.

  • It worked out better than I hoped: I’m making more money than I was before and I’m working on something that I like.

  • Why not charge more money for support or extra features? Your business model is a reflection of the way you want to live your life. Why would you structure it in a way that requires you to do support work or consulting when that is not how you want to live your life.

  • What was the path like going to a small number of users to a large amount now? It was actually a long journey. If you think about it it has been nearly 5 years. It was a long process. I didn’t think about how big I could become. I just focused on making this thing better.

  • A great way to think about the competition: The web ecosystem is huge. My goal is not to covert people from other frameworks. My goal is to get the people who already like Vue to like it more. And to get all the people who are not using a framework to use Vue.

  • Full podcast here.