Aaron Francis round 2 - Hammerstone changes, Refine, and finalized Chipper pricing

Unofficial co-host Aaron Francis comes by again! We take turns talking about our stuff. I talk about Chipper & the final pricing decision I made (sorry Dan!), and Aaron talks about changes made in Hammerstone, and how they're pushing forward to start selling the things!

# 07 - Aaron Francis (again!)

**Aaron:** I'm ready, starting start at Mr.

**Chris:** guest host. I think this is, I don't think I'm editing this out. Okay. All right. I'm here with Aaron Francis yet again for my first guest who is repeating. So I'm just going to call it Erin. My unofficial cohost.

**Aaron:** Love it. Happy to be here. Glad to be back. I was the first, I think I was the first guest and the first returning guests.

So double, double the honor.

**Chris:** All right. So we have things to talk about both of us. I think there are sort of interesting, at least.

**Aaron:** All right. Let's talk about your . Stuff first.

**Chris:** Uh, okay. I was actually going to tell you to do your stuff first. What would you want to do? ,

**Aaron:** let's talk about, let's talk about chipper CEI pricing.

Let's talk about cloud casts. , and I think that might be it. You've been on a chipper CA you've been on a chipper CEI pricing journey for quite some time now. So where are you at right now?

**Chris:** Yeah, that feels like forever. Geez. , pricing is so hard cause it's so strategic. I went, coincidentally, not coincidentally, but the journey has been long and like ever-changing because I just keep getting feedback from people.

So I've gotten almost overboard with that, like way too much feedback. But I do like where I ended up with.

**Aaron:** So you ended up somewhere. I ended up somewhere. You have a final plan.

**Chris:** Final, final, final,

**Aaron:** because I listened to the episode you did with Matt wincing and y'all talked about pricing a whole bunch, and I thought that was good.

And then I know you've been thinking about like, Builds versus build minutes versus tiers. And then like, where does open source fit in? And you want to capture people at the lower end and let them grow into it. So you've had all of these like different, not competing, but like all these different things you've been trying to accomplish.

So what is final, final V2? Where did you end up

**Chris:** along the way? There's like all these. , details that I need to fit in. So it's also like threading the needle to like, get certain features in or do certain ideas or kept share, , or get pricing that makes sense for certain personas, if you know, So like originally I was just like, yeah, I'll just bump it up 10 bucks a month, 2 49 bucks a month from 39 without really giving it any strategic thought.

And then I started realizing maybe I should give this some strategic thought. So I started asking around that was right around the time where we started the podcast also. So like when you were talking about Laravel stuff in general, having this kind of like downward price pressure thing, we were talking about that got me.

Thinking about getting the, kind of maybe the lower end of the market, which I don't, I don't really like that wording cause it sounds bad. But what I mean is two things. One people who are not like a business necessarily who don't want to pay 40, 50, a hundred, 150 bucks a month, but still my. 'cause tripper.

CIA is a service. Supposedly is very nice and easy for Laravel developers. So some people might want to actually use it for their side projects or whatever, you know, maybe they make revenue. Maybe they don't. I don't know. I talked to Matt one thing, , and he had that idea too. He said it a different way.

It was really like to get a wedge in the door. He was thinking kind of like AWS metered pricing a little bit. But it still applies. It's the idea of, you know, someone puts a payment method down, which is the big hurdle. That's like the point of friction and their bill could be like 12 cents a month or something in this small.

But once they start using the service more and more of the payment stuff is already on file and you get more value. You get, you get more revenue from them as they grow, if they grow and use user app more. So I really liked that idea and. I wa I ended up thinking of two kind of user personas, like the solo dab or a very small teams versus a actual business that has, you know, like a bunch of revenue and payer, or are paying dev salaries.

And from there, I started thinking about pricing tiers by ended up with these really kind of grim gaps where it'd be like 15 bucks a month and then 99 bucks a month. There's really no in-between and there's all sorts of kind of things I got back and forth. In addition, I was, well, I should say one iteration has also pricing, not just miss a number of builds per month, but also kind of the number of private projects, like private get hub repository.

So you could hook up since. Okay. I decided that didn't make sense. I mean, it sort of does on a high level or maybe, , it does until you think about it more and I think. I don't like any of that wording. It does, but I thought about it more and I don't like limiting on a number of projects because it's is, it feels self-limiting and I really had to decide, and some people helped me with this to, , to decide what the actual kind of value metric of the application is.

And this really number of builds per month. Okay. And I mean, that could be also number of build minutes per month, but I just don't want to bill to that granularity. And I don't think it makes sense for this app . Specifically. , I do know there's like an average of five minutes per. And some people are higher.

Some people are lower, obviously, because it's an average and there's a cap of one hour maximum on builds, but about five minutes. So I can kind of use that average and decide, you know, what makes sense to charge per build and what that might end up being, uh, as a permitted edge. But I don't care charging per build makes more sense, I think, for this app.

**Aaron:** So you have, I think that was important. You've decided the value metric is number of builds, which means. The more builds a user is doing the more value valuable they're finding chipper CEI.

**Chris:** Right. And it could be across multiple projects. Right. So, , Typical customer right now is a business with a team they hire, or they invite team members into the app.

They have maybe three to six projects. And those projects, if you look at them, the names, it's all kind of obvious that the various different parts of their main business stuff. So like their backend API, they have a back office app. They have a front end repository, or, you know, all sorts of schema is that you can.

And then, you know, there's a few who act, , obviously have clients also we're like the repository name is, you know, very different each repository name. And they sound like specific projects, like marketing campaigns or something. Right. Yeah. Or that kind of set up. Some of the, some of them are like that, but most of them are not the agency set up based on me looking so I could be wrong on some, but just based on what.

So the value metric number of builds makes more sense. And the number of projects like that just doesn't matter so much because of various a bunch also, but also, you know, if you have some projects that aren't used a bunch and some that are then, you know, you're building a lot in one project and not the other, and you might need, but you might need to occasionally run builds.

I'm like another project for maintenance or something. So I think it makes sense to do, do number of builds per month.

**Aaron:** So this is, , this is the Transistor FM pricing model because they don't price on number of shows or I even, I don't think they even press on number of episodes. I think it's number of downloads.

Right. , and I think this is also the fathom. We would have to double-check that I think this is the fathom analytics pricing model, where they don't price on number of sites, but rather aggregated page views across however many sites you want to have. I think I'm not quite as sure on that one. Yeah. I

**Chris:** think there are tiers.

So you fit within a range and get tiered. So it's not like metered. Well, I guess in both cases,

**Aaron:** Yeah, both are tiers, but neither are separated by property. So you could have a hundred sites, , and pay the same that you would if you had one giant site or something like that. So it seems reasonable. You're not like you're not inventing something new, so that's probably a good sign.

So keep going. You decided to do it based on builds. Okay.

**Chris:** So this brings into like, do you do tears as a metered billing? Like what makes sense? So the competing factors are kind of, I don't know if they're competing, but the factors are, , getting people in cheaply and quickly will reduce friction at the low end so that they can, , don't have fear of big bills going into it.

You don't have to jump right up to 40, 50, 50, $60 a month. You can just put a credit card down and you know, if you go over the free tier limit just a little, a little bit, then maybe you're paying like a dollar. And then it grows with usage. So, so the idea is getting in on the low end and then also getting more value on the high end, because right now there are a lot of users on Tremper, CIA who are using it quite extensively and still only paying like that 40 bucks a month.

And I'm not getting anything for their, like really high usage.

**Aaron:** So it's going to be free tier credit card upfront. Is that right?

**Chris:** I think there's going to be a free tier. It's going to you, you're going to have probably like 25 bills a month for free. , right now it's 50, which, uh, in terms with, for Chipper CI seems a little too generous because getting set up seems quick and easy for the most part.

And then people are just, you know, getting a lot of rebuilds belts. And that was, that was based on competitors. There, when we made the app that 50 free. And they have higher ones, but I think they also have higher friction and getting started and you end up eating way. A lot of builds just getting started like that first month.


**Aaron:** yeah, I see. Okay. Uh, sort of 50 seems like a lot to me.

**Chris:** I almost want to do it like a week after signup. Your builds don't count. So you can like have a little, a few days of like trying out, getting your application to work without eating away your free builds. I don't know.

**Aaron:** That's a great idea. Yep.

**Chris:** Cool.

Um, okay. So with this in mind, a pricing scheme I made up is like trying to get people in the door at like 15 bucks a month. And then, you know, the high, the upper ranges, whatever. So I had this idea where the pricing would be kind of chunky. You'd buy chunks of a hundred builds for like 15 bucks. And that ends up being 50 cents a build or whatever.

But at that point, doesn't matter so much as you buy in chunks and every time you roll over, like your a hundred and first, or I guess 126, if you get 25 rebuilds, then you're charged 15 bucks to get the next a hundred builds. And if you go over, uh, your next hundred builds, then you're charged another 15 to get another a hundred.

Right. And then the builds can like roll over to the next month. So it's not like you have to refresh every month. The bills you paid for are still yours to. And maybe they expire in like a year, which has something similar to what a circle CEI does. , and I was almost all set to go with this model.

There's more to it. There's more to it. Cause there's, ad-ons like, , add-ons for, if you need to use Docker, , if you wanna use teams, if you need concurrency, like every concurrent build is also an additional charge per month. So there's kind of like you could add on these baseline. Uh, Mount Sinai, 10, 20, 30 bucks a month.

You get these other features and that on tablet you pay as you go for your bills. I got more, this like almost started in fact, like we're a day, day and a half into development when I got some or feedback. And I was like, all right, we have to stop everything and be like, rethink this because, , I talked to Matt wincing and Peter soon just on Twitter, DMS, just like, kind of get their final thoughts on it, just because, um, they, oh, I listened to their podcast and they were talking about my pricing because I had talked about it with Matt and Peter on like telegram and stuff.

And I immediately just like DMP them as I was listening to the episode, I was like, here's what I'm thinking. This is the new thing. And, uh, they were both like, I don't like that. No, no. Which it was like, I was, I was very close to just being like, I don't care. What anyone's opinion is anymore. I've asked too many . People for feedback.

**Aaron:** , I'm afraid to ask, cause I like the plan you were about to go with. So why did they not like it?

**Chris:** Both for different reasons. Peter didn't like that, it was still kind of uncertain and price. Matt was like, you're kind of wishy-washy between two things. You don't have the granularity as true metered pays you go.

And you're also don't have, , the set price that you would per month of as, uh, you know, using a tier you're kind of like in this gray area, in between, it's kind of an odd pricing thing and. And that made me think of a few things, but what I ended up with is I, I tweaked it based on that. Cause I kind of agree with that.

It's kind of a weird model. , and I also didn't want to code it like chunking and, , expiring credits in a year. They're not really credits by expiring builds in a year and then rolling over month to month and all that kind of stuff. , some of that felt like it could be a, , Some of that just felt overly complicated.

And I wasn't sure what that would do to the revenue, like when people's bills roll over month or month and all that stuff. So the thing I've finally landed on is actually more metered and you get a free. The free tier is 25 bills a month. Every month you get 25 builds. Some of these details might change, but so every month you get 25 free belts.

And when you go over, you start paying per build and per in it's 15 bucks per a hundred stills. So I'm in that price range ends up being 15 cents a build. I might do something like you don't get billed until you're over like a dollar, whatever that is like six built or whatever. , or, you know, less than that.

But, or more than that, I should say, So pay is basically pays you go. And that's like the easy way to get in and start paying for the app. And there's still the idea of ad-on. So you can still add on Docker support for a targe team sport to invite team members concurrency. So like you have some multiple of number of concurrent builds you want and pay some something like, uh, maybe like 20 bucks per concurrent bill per month.

, is there anything else? Oh, and server size is the new thing too, so that you have standard service size and large service ISO standard is that 15 bucks per a hundred builds, large server size will probably be 25 bucks per server. I'm sorry, 25 bucks per a hundred belts. Uh, which was this thing that was part of the previous pricing plan too.

So small versus larger standard versus large servers. You have the ad-ons if you really want them or not, you have the ad-ons if you want. And that you could almost stop there. It's sort of easy to get in on. , it doesn't necessarily fix the price. It doesn't necessarily fix that. You don't know what you're going to pay per month, but I have an idea for that.

, but it does get you in kind of quickly and cheaply. It does get you, , more value from customers using the app. And, , then, there's some more interesting stuff you can do with that. So this is another idea of,

**Aaron:** so is this, is that, is that the plan, , that you're going to put into place? Okay. So that plan, so I'm going to try to say it back to make sure I heard it all right.

Is some sort of monthly fee. No, you get 25 builds a month for. And then you are paying in. Goodness, why can't I remember this? Are you paying in tronches of a hundred with this, with the new plan or are you paying no, no, no. You're paying per build and you're only going to charge potentially if they reach, you know, some low threshold of a dollar or whatever, and you're still in your state.

Yeah. So they're paying per build. There are no more trenches of a hundred, so you don't have to worry about any sort of rollover or expiration in the future of any sort of build credit every month. It resets to 25 and then they're going to pay depending on server size. Uh, Either whatever 50 cents or 75 cents a build, whatever it is.

, and those are the only two things. And then you have ad-ons for like Docker and teams. Is that an accurate summary

**Chris:** and concurrency? Yep. And it's 15 cents or 25 cents a build.

**Aaron:** Okay, cool. Okay, that makes sense. So 25 free paper belt after that, no rollover, no expiration, much, much simpler. You are going to address.

I think the problem in air quotes, the problem of variable bills to the end user. So go from there. Yep.

**Chris:** Okay. So more feedback I got with this was that teams, especially, or businesses, I should say. Often prefer more steady bills, like, you know, depending on the size of the company, of course, maybe the size of companies that chipper gets, would you care less about this?

But it really depends of course, on the company, but more stable bills is appreciated. So one idea that I have, and I, um, I like this a bunch. This is kind of my favorite part about it is there's also tiers that you can hop into and they're kind of prepaid here. So I'm not really sure what I'm going to call them.

They're sort of a volume. They are sorta prepaid, like in concept. So I have three tiers planned where it's going to be a low tier, kind of like a business tier and then a high usage tier, like a growth tier, something, whatever, you know, whatever you need them is to be determined the low end. And I'm all, I'm just going to talk about the small service size.

Cause the large server size has, uh, has more expensive, but you know, it's, it's just a larger server. So you're paying a little bit more. The interesting part is that there's three. The low end is still 15 bucks a month, right? So 15 bucks a month for a hundred belts, which is the same price as pay as you go.

But you're promising to pay me 15 bucks a month. Okay. And you get those hundred belts. If you go over those a hundred builds, you're still actually paying the pay as you go. Right. , but you're getting some features. You're gonna get at least teams, maybe Docker also, but at least teams, uh, support with us.

So if we pretend teams is like 10 bucks a month, which I think is right. A little be, you're going to pay 15 bucks a month for what would otherwise be 25 bucks. , but it's, you know, it's in return for paying $15 a month instead of just a pay as you go. Right. So you're saying, give me, you know, prepay for a hundred bills and then, you know, for free you get the team feature.

**Aaron:** Yeah. And then

**Chris:** the next higher ones are for business and growth, I think is what I'm going to call those tiers. So let's jumps up to 99 bucks a month for a business. I think we're going to do 500 builds and then you get team support, Docker support, two concurrent builds. And, , and it's more if you get the larger server size, but the S the standard service size is 99 bucks a month.

So you're saving money there. And then also, if you go over, you have a discount. You're not going to pay 15 cents per build. You're going to pay like 10 cents per build. So 99 bucks a month, you get 500 builds. You get all these features just included, including two concurrent builds, and then your overage charges is kind of what I'm calling.

My head are cheaper. So it's discounted all around. The higher tier is interesting because originally I did a thousand builds for some amount, and then some customers are our rate at a thousand bills or even a little. And someone in, um, someone recommended to me that I just actually make this like the unlimited tier almost.

So it's actually going to be 2000 builds for a 3 49 a month. So three 50 a month, 3 49 for 2000 builds. And you get all the features to get four concurrent bills instead of two. And this is kind of like the, I probably won't go over this number of builds per month plan, but you know, it has everything I need.

It's almost like a bit of a test to see if any businesses just do. There's like there's two or three in temporary. I, who has suspects might find that attractive. So, , that doesn't, that's the price plans is kind of like prepaying and you get extra features and you get a discount all around. , and that highest tier also gets even a, more of a discount, uh, per build for over if they happen to go over 2000.

**Aaron:** Okay. So you've got the pay as you go, thing, which we talked about, then you've got 15 99, 3 49 for a hundred, 500, 2000. Okay. So the benefit here, the, well, I guess there are a couple of benefits. One is you get predictable pricing, which is easier. I'm thinking from the customer's point of view, you get predictable pricing, which is easier to sell up the chain to your boss or to purchasing or whomever.

, you also don't feel bad about kicking off builds, cause that is, you know, that is one problem with pays you go, you're gonna like potentially feel like you have to limit yourself because you're like, oh man, this, you know, this costs me money. Every time I do this, , So you get to eliminate those two things, and then you also get, you know, a couple of features stern in which I would imagine most people, most businesses will go for the 99, which gives you two concurrent builds, which is pretty valuable.

, I don't know. I'm trying to think back when I was at my previous company, I think each. Uh, I think each developer had their own shipper account. I think we properly like invited them to chipper versus sharing a password. , and if you find out otherwise, sorry about that. , but I think what we did was, yeah, we invited each developer, but honestly, the thing that would have.

Like the thing that we would have cared most about at the old job was concurrent builds. And so I think you're right. I think you're right to offer that as a business, to your feature at the $99 a month. ,

**Chris:** the team invite thing is interesting because at first I was like, well, teams almost don't matter.

It's kind of a thing that we could share. But user it's. Some teams have users who set up specific projects. So it's like their get hub off that they use to set up a specific project and they have the knowledge at their company of like what needs to happen to set that project up in their CIA environment.

It's not necessarily that everyone knows how to set up every project or one person does all the projects set up. Um, so team members do become, uh, actual, valuable, valuable things to have in chipper. And that. Okay,

**Aaron:** that makes . Sense to me. Um, so riddle, riddle me. This are most people just going to choose a tier.

Do you think like how

**Chris:** much,

**Aaron:** no idea, how much do you think this pay as you go is going to do anything? Because it feels like these are pretty good

**Chris:** tiers, right? The $15 a month tier especially is good to get started because you get in the team thing for free for, so that would otherwise be 25 bucks a month, right?

And then, you know, the other tiers is like kind of easy to hop into if you're a business. Cause if you're paying a dev developer salaries, the 99 bucks a month, isn't super crazy. Right. So I'm going to see it's all an experiment, really. , this threads, the needle, and solves a bunch of problems of things I've had to think about for months, right?

It's not where at all, where I would have started at I'm still not a hundred percent confident in the pays you go. In terms of like developers signing up and not feeling like it's kind of grim. It is very close to, um, what most other places do anyway though. And they charge per build minute and then they'd have credit systems, not kind of stuff.

So like other places are still kind of more crazy than even this set up. So it has a bit of. I'm happy with it. I'm happy to start here with this and if it needs to change, then it needs to change. But this is kind of like the basis I need to get in place before I do like real marketing pushes and that kind of stuff next, which is really the more important work.

But I still need like a pricing model that works better for the company than what I have now has a

**Aaron:** basis. Right? Yeah. , I like it. I think. I wonder, I just wonder if the pay as you go, , is worth the developer time to implement right now, because that is to fully separate pricing. Like not, not even pricing models, I guess.

**Chris:** , I don't know if I agree that it's difficult. I had actually, a lot of this work is, is in development right now. So it's like, some

**Aaron:** of it's done. Yeah. If it's not difficult, then that changes. That changes the calculus altogether. Okay. But

**Chris:** you know, it is, it is certainly stuff I need to build and test.

Like you have to make sure that pays you go is in like the tiers correctly, calculate all the, you know, number of gigs per month. Don't go and don't try to double charge you or anything only charge you. Only charge you the metered PayGo stuff for overages. And now if you're under years on my friend to limit, and then just like a little weird, because you get 25 free per month, no matter what, right.

At least that's my plan. Um, but yeah,

**Aaron:** I mean, I think you've successfully, um, I guess thread the needle on all of the things you were trying to solve for, I'll be curious to see. I don't know if, , I guess the pay as you go plan is kind of the free tier. Right? Cause they get, they also do, they also get 25 free builds on the pay as you go,

**Chris:** right?

Yep. And right now I don't plan on doing credit card up front. It'll be like, once you hit that bill, do you get an email and like an alert in that. Saying, Hey, you're out of builds this month. Do you want to pay as you go and just start paying, you know, the small amount? And I might, I think in the site, I might say it's 15 bucks per a hundred all over the place.

And then instead of 15 cents per bill.

**Aaron:** Yeah. I feel like that's easier to comprehend.

**Chris:** Yeah. It's super grim to be like, here it goes 15 cents. Yeah. That's not even though it's actually, it's like fairly equivalent to other apps, , charge per minute. Right. Depending on, because it's, it's hard to calculate because we use this credit system and your, your build minutes might use anywhere from like three to 20 credits per build minute, and you're buying credits.

So it's all hard to calculate,

**Aaron:** but yeah. Yeah. I do like the, I do like the idea of pricing on build versus build minute, because then I'm not super worried about trying to trend. You know, 30 seconds off of each build all the time, because I know it costs me money. So I like that. Right. And

**Chris:** that depends who it is too.

Like people in a team and the business won't care about that. But the, on the lower side, I think like soloed, small team developers will. Right. So for them, I liked the, I liked doing per build instead of per build minute for sure. And people want faster builds cause they don't want to wait for their, after the play.

**Aaron:** Okay. I like it. I think it'll be interesting to see. One thing I think you might run into is, , like H w how do you display all of this, the tiers versus the pay as you go. And if you display it like a standard, you know, three tiered, , you know, almost Tailwind UI pricing page. , so you have the three tiers of 15 99, 3 49, and then underneath it, you have like a pay as you go slider or something.

I wonder if you're going to run into people saying why is there no free tier when in reality, like the free tier is just not listed the same way as the other tiers. If that makes sense.

**Chris:** It's like kind of a matter of design. I don't know. It's it's true. It's like, it's something I have to, it's certainly high in my mind to communicate that all clearly.

Yeah. So like the pricing page, I might need to get someone to help me figure that out because I'm not a designer at all. So I have to figure out how to do that.

**Aaron:** Yeah. So when does this, when does this happen? I mean, it's been, it's been in development now. Okay. With your, um, contract developer?

**Chris:** Yes. So. And I might have to finish it up at the end tail end because I can't afford to just have them keep going on forever, you know, at this kind of a big change.

So I might need to end up doing, he's doing a lot of the work and he's doing a great job and I might need to finish up some of like the Stripe integration, he stuff at the end. Cool. So we'll see. Um, so you know, hopefully in a few weeks, I think that seems realistic. Ish, I'm recording this. We're recording this on April 13th.

**Aaron:** Yeah. So . Maybe by may, sometime.

Well, that's exciting. I mean, I know it was kind of painful to get here. Right? Every time you had a conversation with someone, it seemed like they had a differing opinion from the person before them. But I like that.

**Chris:** Yes. I think I like it. I'm still, you know, we'll see. Okay. You go, go. Yeah, like true meter billing, because I first started saying I'm absolutely not doing metered billing in my head.

And then it ended up there, which makes sense. Like every other CIF does a form of metered billing and a lot of it ends up making sense in terms of pricing, , complexity in the code. And also just the value of what, like the value, the true value metric that people are getting out of CIA applications in general.

I think, I think they've all landed there. The other apps have all landed us. So. Variation of this idea for a reason, like a solid reason.

**Aaron:** Yeah. It almost become, it's almost like every CI app just becomes sort of surcharge on top of their own compute price. And so they're paying for compute by the minute and they charge you a little bit more by the minute.

**Chris:** I think that sounds right. And a lot of them are. In addition to their main offering, right. GitLab, BitBucket, GitHub, you know, the GitHub Action, not stuff is a side part of, you know, their whole business. And so it's not even the main thing.

**Aaron:** Yeah. So they may pass it through pretty low cost, just

**Chris:** like Microsoft owns get hub.

So, you know, they're going to throw the manager and like, who cares about what it costs them. Which is why you can make an open source repository kickoff, 70 builds whenever for one single commit,

**Aaron:** which is why this is a tough business to be in.

**Chris:** Right, right. Right. One of the things I had to decide is that I can actually can't really compete in opensource as it is right now, because like, I just don't have the compute power to handle 70, but.

When someone lost a test, you know, three or four different PHP versions against two or three versions of the framework against dev requirements versus not dev requirements, all the other variations you can do.

**Aaron:** Yeah. Yeah. And that's fine. Like GitHub actions has that handled pretty well. So you don't, you don't need to compete against that.

**Chris:** We'll see. Hopefully. I mean the customer base right now at all teams and customer, I think, I think the real value of chipper, I being easy to, uh, set up and, and keep going on for Laravel projects makes, but still makes sense as like a business model. It's, that's kind of the theory of the whole thing.

**Aaron:** I think it's a good theory.

That's why I chose it in the first place, because I knew, I mean, I think I said this, I knew that it was going to be easiest to set up with Laravel and I didn't want to say. Three days fighting with circle or whatever

**Chris:** the other options. Yeah. Especially if you're doing like browser testing and dusk and all that stuff gets so crazy to set up.

**Aaron:** Yeah. Do you highlight that? Like do you,

**Chris:** not enough? I actually did. , we both did some positioning work with, uh, Keith. What's his last name?

**Aaron:** Oh, not Keith Zack, Goldie Goldman. I think it's cold.

**Chris:** Yeah. So I'm going to, I have some of that stuff to implement on the, on the marketing side also.

**Aaron:** Good. Yeah. Yeah. I think you could hit that a lot harder, especially the desk stuff.

**Chris:** Uh, there's a lot of things. Yeah.

**Aaron:** Cool. Well, it sounds great.

**Chris:** I don't want to talk about. , because we were already 34 minutes into this, , suffice to say cloud class might lean in and go into the niche of Laravel or PHB instead of like, just AWS in general, but who cares? Okay. Um, let's, let's talk about what's going on with hammer stone and what your life has been, or when we last recorded, right.

That was right after the Laravel, , conference there con online. And I guess a bunch of things have happened since like, , where are you? opening things up to the public for sales and all the other news that's going on.

**Aaron:** Yeah. A lot of things have happened. So on the job front, I now work at two Tupelo, which is super exciting.

I don't think that was the case. Last time we spoke. , but I left my job at a property tax company and I'm now a marketing engineer at tubal and this is my first week there and it's amazing and I'm thrilled to death about it. , so that's going to be a lot of fun right now. I'm just in the phase of. I read every notion doc that exists and try to figure out like how the company works.

Like, does this go in this tool or do I send an email or does this go and discord? And so like super, just trying to get a. Like trying to get integrated into the company. So

**Chris:** that's

**Aaron:** really exciting. Yeah. And every time I'm like, wait, okay, this is, yes, I'm supposed to put this in discord. And, you know, by, by no fault of their own, it's just me being the new guy.

I don't want to, you know, burst through the wall, like the Kool-Aid man and be like, I've got a bunch of ideas and everything needs to change. So I'm trying to, you know, I'm trying to fit in there. , That's happened since we last spoke on the Hammerstein side, there've been some pretty big developments, at least one very big development.

, and we just, Colleen and I just published an episode today about it. , Sean is stepping back. So historically it's been me, Sean and Colleen. , well it started with me and Sean, and then we brought Colleen in, , to pick up the rails side. And now it's just me and Colleen. , so Sean is no longer active in hammer stone.

, and that was kind of like, I think it was a little while coming. We've been really bottlenecked by, uh, his availability basically. So he's the front end. He's the front end guy. And he's got. Uh, family and a full-time job and all this stuff. And just like, we've just kinda been stuck on the front ends. , and we had me, Colleen and Sean had a talk maybe last week and just basically decided like, this is like this isn't working.

And he was saying that he like can only dedicate so many hours and has realized that he doesn't like this part of. Building a company where it's like very much just grinding and it's brutal. And so as of this week, it's me and Colleen now. , so that's a pretty, that's a pretty big shift. , it is bittersweet because Sean and I have been working on it for awhile, but I do think it.

Unlock Colleen and I to like actually move at a much higher pace now because Colleen is extremely motivated because she is trying to, you know, make hammer stone. Her full-time work by August, I think. And I'm extremely motivated because I want, you know, to be independent and, you know, several years from now, which is, you know, no secret.

I think in, I see myself in five or so years not having a job. And I feel like Hammerstein's stones my best bet to get there. So we're both like super motivated to make this happen. So yeah, kind of, kind of a big change. And so I think the next thing that's going to happen is we're going to start really pushing the layer of El Nova stuff.

Cause it's like done and ready to go. And we just haven't really been pushing it very hard. And so my task for this week is to get a Laravel Nova, , landing page set up and start driving people to that, to like actually purchase the thing. So that's kind of where we're at now.

**Chris:** Cool. Yeah, I've been in situations where getting a blocker out of the way.

It gives a lot of clarity, right? Like you kind of like, like, all right, it's kind of, maybe in your situation, it's more work and everyone shoulders all of a sudden, but like being able to move forward is, must feel pretty good.

**Aaron:** Yeah, it does. , and yeah, there's, there's just a lot of like, , being actually blocked technically, and then not wanting to.

I don't know, not wanting to push too hard on partners. , and so that leaves you in the situation where it's like, , well, we're not moving very quickly, but I also don't feel like I can push on other people as hard. And then that kind of like, that kind of hits your motivation. And so the whole thing kind of comes to a crawl, which I think is where we've been for a little while now.

So yeah.

**Chris:** It makes sense. I mean, you're empathetic to your friend shot. Right? Right. He has all this stuff going on. It's not like, , you know, putting the whip on it, but just, it doesn't help anyone. Right? No,

**Aaron:** no, not at all. , so yeah, I mean, I don't know, man. I think again, it seems so easy. I guess like looking at other people, it seems like, oh, this is a super easy.

And then when you're in it, you're like, man, this is not as easy as it seems like it is for everybody else. ,

**Chris:** no everyone. Yeah. We're all seeing everyone's highlights, which is what I just have to keep reminding myself. So we talked about another thing in my last time we recorded right about survivorship bias. And I just keep getting reminded about how strong that actually is.

Like, I'm pretty sure every podcast we listen to. Uh, like some people had, you know, the hard work, luck and skill, like Rob brawling says, but that luck part and the survivorship part is easy to skip over because it feels like it's totally out of our control and in some ways it is. But I think that's, , a lot of what we hear is affected by that, or, you know, but people also gloss over the hard stuff too, because you know, you grind for so long, but it's not really interesting to talk about the grind necessarily because it's the same thing over and over again, day in, day out.

**Aaron:** Yeah. We've even on the hammer, stone podcasts have run into run into that in the past of like, man, there's just not a lot to talk about because we're just freaking grinding and is not interesting. And, you know, historically we were just stuck for so long and it's not interesting and it, like, it's not a.

Not interesting to other people. It's also not like it's not exciting for me like to be in that spot. , of, I don't know. I just felt like we were spinning our wheels for a long time and that, of course, super discouraging, , So,

**Chris:** yeah, it's not all about

**Aaron:** the grind. It's not energizing to talk about the grind without progress, like the grind, and you're making a lot of progress.

Sure. That's great. But the grind and you're just like, man, we still don't have the thing ready to be released. It's just, it's almost embarrassing. Like, I don't want to talk about that. Like, I don't want to, I definitely don't want to talk about it every single week, so yeah.

**Chris:** What's the strategy you have next.

Do you have one implant? Like there's definitely going to be, uh, an overlanding page in a way to purchase that. It sounds like. Yep. And then,

**Aaron:** so the, the near-term strategy is get the Nover landing page done and. People drive people basically just to buy it and try it for some reason, we've been funneling everybody through me and like, oh, let's have a call and you can give it a try and see if it works.

Like just freaking have them buy it. Um, so we're going to, we're going to do that. And then, , shortly thereafter or in parallel is, , get a handle on the front ends. So view. Two three and react. , and fortunately we have contractors working on that some really, really good ones who are working on that, but I think we need to get, like, we need to get, , some timelines put on that.

And then once we have those front ends ready to go, then we need to start selling. The paired with the different front ends while Coleen finishes the rails backend. So that's kind of the near term plan is sell the crap out of Nova and then get a firm timeline for the other front ends and then start making the layer of push

**Chris:** is August that timeframe that Colleen's pushing towards is that when your hammer stones client is.

**Aaron:** I think that is when her contract is like, that's when her contract ends and I'm sure that they would love to keep her, , beyond that. , but I think she's wanting to. Shift into, you know, product ownership versus contracting.

**Chris:** , so that's the source of revenue right now that lets you get contractors to do the front end stuff though, right?

**Aaron:** Yep, exactly. So we've probably sold, I don't know, five, six, $7,000 of licenses, which doesn't go super far when you're paying, you know, professional developers. Um, but we have a bunch of money. , from the past, I don't know, year or two of contracting. And then Colleen is, you know, floating, like she's billing the client through hammer stone.

So that's how she's, you know, paying for food and stuff.

**Chris:** Cool. Okay. Yeah. Uh, ne okay. And then Nova probably be the thousand dollar price point also.

**Aaron:** Yeah. That's where it's at now. , there is a conversation about. Should that be lower because you know, Nova itself is, you know, 99 or 2 99 or whatever. , and truly the support is lower because there's no like, there's, there's just no front end options.

Like you get what you get. ,

**Chris:** it's interesting. While if you think about the value customers are getting out of it, like, does that make sense? Like a thousand still kind of makes sense because. The development time that they are skipping, skipping out on for that could be huge, you know, multiplied by multiple developers

**Aaron:** even.

Right. It's definitely more than like, it's definitely more than 10 hours we're talking like for them to reimplement. Even, you know, 60 or 70% of it, we're talking a hundred hours or more. And so that the value still make sense. But again, it's the, well, we paid a hundred dollars for this whole admin interface and you want us to pay a thousand, but frankly, I, that may be a false sphere because the people that have paid have been like, yeah, it makes perfect sense that I love it.

Thank you so much. I think it

**Chris:** is. And I think the challenge then becomes the marketing page. Yeah. Positioning. And then, you know, getting quotes and showing examples that show some, you know, someone how powerful it can be, which probably meant talking to customers. All of our, all of our favorite.

**Aaron:** Totally.

Fortunately we have, we do have a slack where, you know, most of our current customers are, and I can get, I mean, I can get quotes from them pretty easily, so that, that should be fine. Um, but yeah, I think you're right. I think a thousand dollars makes sense. I just need to convince other people that it makes sense when standing against a hundred dollars for a

**Chris:** 300 now, I think, right.

**Aaron:** Oh, I guess you're right. The Nova 4. Um, let's see what they came in


**Chris:** 2 99. Oh, you're right. It's a hundred first single

**Aaron:** project. Yeah. 99 or 2 99.

**Chris:** But I think you're going after people are gonna pay a thousand bucks for it or at that tonight in that price point anyway, because it's probably not solo developers when they're single projects or if it is, it might be a business, might buy a single project license, but they're still a business.

And the thousand is also cheap. Like this is Lara vault, right? So it's under price because it's layer about

**Aaron:** exactly. Also this copy's kind of ruthless and I love it on the single on the Nova. It says single 99 for a single price. Budget conscious. It's like,

**Chris:** I love that psychology.

**Aaron:** That's I almost want to click the other one cause I'm not budget conscious.

I'm really? Yeah, that's right. That's genius way to go guys. , yeah, I think you're right. I think anyone that is going to need this type of thing. Well, anyone that's going to pay anything for it is probably going to be a business.

**Chris:** You want people to complain complaints about price is kind of a good side, but that's where the right place to be.

You don't want no one to buy it, but some complaints is also I think, a good sign. This is advice from the Sage wisdom of Ian Landsman.

**Aaron:** Well, and he knows he knows what he's doing. So I will take that advice. , yeah, we had somebody that was like, oh, I can't pay that. This is a side project. And I thought, you know, that's okay.

And I'm okay with that because you probably wouldn't want to pay a hundred dollars or anything like that. So, yeah, I think, I think you're right. So that's kind of where we're at now. This, I mean, this happened days ago, so we're still in the very early part of, you know, phase 2.0. , and it, like, it feels really good to kind of be unblocked, but it also feels like.

Like, this is our moment and we have to seize it and we have to work really hard for the next couple months to make it

**Chris:** happen. You gotta perform, you have to not fall down to the new job. Yep. I built up the

**Aaron:** house for real, for real. Yeah. Like I need to, and I'm very conscious of that. Like, you know, I objectively, , like spending my time.

Well, as it relates to. And because it's my first week and my first month, like they need to know that I'm spending my time. Well, so there's like, you know, there's a difference between what are you actually doing and what is it perceived that you're doing? And like I'm spending all day, like, you know, reading notion docs and trying to get plugged into the company and, you know, setting up Google search console and all this at Tuple.

But they don't know me. And so I'm constantly having to think about like, okay, I need to communicate. Like, I need to make sure that I'm doing the things that are like expected of me as it relates to communication with the team. And so, yeah, there's a whole. There's a whole background process in my head going to like, okay, you have to build, you have to build up your, , your trust with all of these people here.

, so yeah, it's a lot, I mean, there's a lot going on and a lot in my head right now. , and the funny thing is it's all good stuff. Like it's, it's all positive. Two-plus an incredible company and everyone there. Just been wonderful so far, this opportunity with Hammerstein is great. I just can't get crushed.

I just can't get crushed by the opportunity.

**Chris:** Good problem.

**Aaron:** To have. Yeah. It's like, this is the, I don't know, pick a sports metaphors is the last whatever of whatever game and you just have to, like, you just have to perform like, this is your moment.

**Chris:** So as always lots of work to do yet, I feel you there.

Okay, let's wrap up. , give people a quick pitch of what HammerStone is making, what the product we're talking about even is for Nova and other stuff. And then tell people where they can find you.

**Aaron:** So HammerStone is making a product called Refine and refine is a visual create query builder for your end users.

So if you want your user. To be able to filter, let's say, um, customers, for example, you would, , set up Refine, and then your users would be able to say, show me customers in Texas, where. The pricing plan is starter and the name is Chris and they could just like keep building out conditions and then we will handle the front end, the back end, the querying, the validation and the storing of filters.

So you could readdress them. So visual query builder for Laravel and Rails. , and you can find me on Twitter @aarondf rancis.

**Chris:** Cool. All right, let's stop it there. Thanks for coming on.

**Aaron:** Yep, thanks for having me!

Aaron Francis round 2 - Hammerstone changes, Refine, and finalized Chipper pricing
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