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PART I — SaaS Application Architecture

After founding 3 SaaS ventures myself and participating in dozens more I’ve noticed that in almost every case, non-technical founders encounter lots of challenges along the road to building their SaaS products. This article is intended to help make the journey easier by demystifying some of the essential architectural decisions non-technical founders and their teams will need to make when developing SaaS applications.

The Challenge for Non-Technical SaaS Founders

Product development in startups can be compared to navigating seas filled with icebergs — what you see above the surface (your user interface) can be beautiful and precisely what you want it to be. …


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Me before (January) and after (April) the 2018 BFC

There are periods in your life that you remember above all. Perhaps it’s when you first met your significant other, when your child was born or when you were part of an accomplished group in sports or business.

What I am about to describe is one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done. Besides the health benefits, I discovered essential things about myself I never thought possible, forged incredible friendships, and felt alive and exuberant for each of the 90 days it lasted.

Background

Like many people, I am prone to stress-induced eating and have suffered from high blood pressure since I was 21. I’ve had periods where I was able to muster the will-power to drop weight, get in shape, and improve my health, but holding on to that state was always hard to do. Over the last 15 years, I have been able to make working out a part of my daily activity. I started road cycling and then weight-lifting. Four years ago, I became a Peloton fan and since accumulated nearly 700 rides. …


startups building applications on 8base
startups building applications on 8base

All startups are inherently risky — no matter how great an idea is. Too often does the idea of startup risk get glorified. The old adage “big risk equals big reward” may help one in a million at the roulette wheel. However, it’s a fail-sure way to approach building a company.

Great founders and entrepreneurs don’t spend their time taking on significant risks. They spend their time actively minimizing every identifiable risk as to de-risk the opportunities they are pursuing.

Think of it like this; you’re starting a company and need a CTO. Want to take a significant risk to maximize your reward? Hire someone for minimum wage who has never been an engineer! If they work out and deliver on technology, you’ll have saved $100,000’s and have your fantastic product. …


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8base was inspired by my own experience building complex single-instance, multi-tenant software-as-a-service products in previous ventures. In short, these experiences were painful!

In case you don’t know: Multi-tenancy means that a single instance of the software and its supporting infrastructure serves multiple customers. Each customer shares the software application and also shares a single database. Each tenant’s data is isolated and remains invisible to other tenants.

This is the design pattern that nearly all SaaS companies use. …


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To compete in today’s digital economy, businesses must have the ability to connect data, customers and workflows at a digital speed. This is an existential challenge that almost every business faces, and yet most are woefully unprepared to address. To combat this challenge, businesses are investing more in accelerating application development, modernizing their infrastructure, and improving their user experience. This response is commonly referred to as digital transformation.

When you think of the main difficulties in competing in the digital era, companies most often struggle with the risks associated with either purchasing SaaS products or building applications from scratch. They see their competitors doing it but are lacking time, resources and risk tolerance to move forward with risky technology decisions. In addition to this, there are many operational bottlenecks that prevent businesses from being able to keep up with demands, including reliance on thinly staffed IT departments lacking application skills. According to a recent survey by McKinsey & Company, only 8 percent of companies surveyed said their current business model would remain economically viable if their industry keeps digitizing at its current speed. …


From the JOBS Act to Blockchain: How the future of investing will be democratized

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Signing of the Jobs Act — Rose Garden of the White House

By Albert Santalo, Founder and CEO of 8base

On April 5, 2012, I had the distinct honor of standing behind President Obama during the signing of the JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act).

What brought me to the White House Rose Garden on this auspicious occasion? My company, CareCloud, born in the depths of the economic downturn, was celebrating its third anniversary. …


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Quaking Aspens in Colorado

For the majority of my career I have been obsessed with creating technologies to modernize our largely dysfunctional U.S. healthcare system. To me, it is very clear that the emergence of cloud computing has finally created the opportunity to truly address this daunting problem. Cloud-based solutions are the only viable option for effectively getting providers, patients and other key stakeholders online so that the necessary efficiencies find their way into the system.

To the rest of healthcare IT, however, it is not so clear, as witnessed by the lack of truly cloud-based companies in the marketplace.

Most of the large, established players in this industry continue to rely on the outdated client/server or older technologies, such as MUMPS. Some of these companies’ products trace their roots as far back as 1969. These companies and their software were built before the world wide web, before Facebook, the iPhone and iPad, salesforce.com — and even email, for God’s sake! There also exists a tremendous amount of confusion related to the morass of small, bootstrapped EMR companies, which number in the hundreds. People do not understand the difference between buying a monolithic single-purpose app to utilizing a robust, cloud-based platform approach. …


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“As far as the customer is concerned, the interface is the product,” says Jef Raskin, an interface expert who drove the early development of the Macintosh system for Apple Computer.

Developers of consumer web sites have always understood this, but for business software there is a significant void of good user interfaces. There’s a growing recognition that the best business software starts with the goal of an awesome user interface and unparalleled user experience. But it wasn’t always so.

Decades of Focusing on Functionality

Early in my career when I was actually writing code, I thought it was important for the user interface (UI) to make sense. I’m dating myself, but this was in the late ’80s when what primarily existed was character-based interfaces. In those days, most engineers simply mapped information on screens without giving much thought to the layout, sequence or flow — not to mention the “feel” of the system. For me, it was always intuitive that real people would use these systems and that it was ultimately their acceptance and love for these systems that made my work fulfilling. …


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In late 2008, I was working on the concept for what would become CareCloud. All my years of working in or developing software for business was weighing me down at the time and constraining my thinking. I needed to depart from the norm. Entering the world of consumer technology afforded me a new way to think about things. Ultimately, the synthesis of iOS, Facebook, Salesforce.com and traditional healthcare IT led to the concept for the company, which is to build a modern, cloud-based platform for healthcare.

A “platform” is a system that can be programmed and therefore customized by outside developers — users — and in that way, adapted to countless needs and niches that the platform’s original developers could not have possibly contemplated, much less had time to accommodate.

About

Albert Santalo

Founder and CEO @ 8base | Serial Entrepreneur (CareCloud and Avisena) | Technologist | Cyclist and proud BFC Participant

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