Here's a tip for all of you talented, would-be tech entrepreneurs. I'm convinced that there's a huge unmet need in the global market right now: companies effectively providing a coordinated collection of digital technology services:
- domain name services,
- managing email on a customer's domain,
- commodity web hosting (LAMP stack - Wordpress, which now powers 30% of the web, and 60% of non-static websites), and
- data backups
on behalf of design-focused agencies doing web design and development, mostly for the throngs of small/tiny businesses and professional individuals who currently have no real viable options besides cobbling together very limited proprietary mass-market SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solutions (like Gmail or Hotmail for email, Wix or Squarespace for websites) which are effectively "abandonware" - offering human support inhibits their ability to scale. They instead expect the user to nut it all out themselves.
A key component of this business opportunity involves not encouraging businesses to simply sell their souls (and future business prospects) to Google and Microsoft as many do. People are rightly becoming more and more uneasy about increasing their dependence on these US mega-multinationals. (Most countries are already in a deep hole, and are digging furiously)
You'd need to build a slick set of tools - perhaps leveraging external SaaS offerings (e.g. Fastmail or KolabNow for email services, although open source solutions like "MailInABox" might let you take matters - and profits - into your own hands) but you'd need excellent Linux devops and sysadmin chops. You'd charge a monthly fee to each customer (I'm guessing something around NZ$100/month for a standard service, plus an additional increment per email mailbox), providing nice annuity income, but it would start relatively slowly. I think a small team of 2-3 good people could do this and be profitable very rapidly, and I think it should be focused on domestic customers, but with no geographical limits.
My previous company used to do these things, but we moved up to bigger customers and found it too costly to work with smaller customers. Much has changed in the meantime, though, and there're lots of new open source tools to support creating well defined, robust, and maintainable services without any financial investment in technology. All hosting can be provided on trivially inexpensive commodity virtual machines services (e.g. Digital Ocean, Vultr). I can provide a lot of useful scripts to maintain key parts of this.
If I didn't already have a dream job, getting paid well to make the world a better place, I'd be tempted to do this myself. If anyone's keen - I offer up these Terms of Engagement for you to adapt to your requirements, and here's a library of very potent sysadmin scripts that we wrote for Egressive's hosting infrastructure - I'll update them with some enhancements I've made now that we've entered the "Docker era". :)
If you want to pursue this (or find out about whoever does!), get in touch.
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