Peldi Guilizzoni: The Tools We’ve Used to Grow From Zero to Seven Figures – MicroConf Europe 2013

The MicroConf Europe 2013 Hub Page with all the information can be found here

Speaker: Peldi Guilizzoni (@peldi)


  • 2008 – Solo founder, bootstrapped
  • Goal: Feed myself, my wife & my son
  • …little by little, as slowly as possible…. (totally not what happened)
  • revenue about $6,000,000 / year, 35% profit margins
  • probably a one-hit-wonder, and totally fine with it

Lots and Lots of Tools

  • CEO’s job is to optimize, choose tools quickly
  • Diversify and look behind the curtain (make sure that tools are staying in business)

Tools for Design & Development

  • Pivotal Tracker (easy, one step above a text file)
  • Confluence
  • Github
  • IntelliJ IDEA
  • Jenkins
  • Selenium / PhantomJS
  • AWS (extensively! S3, EC2, SQS…)
  • Balsamiq Mockups / myBalsamiq
  • Adobe Creative Suite tools
  • Charles – proxy software
  • Chrome Dev Console
  • ….

Branching Strategy

  • One branch per developer
  • Merges to Revision branches only from MASTER
  • one staging server per developer + one main staging server

Do a Gamma (after your Beta)

  • Launch your software, but with a hidden signup page
  • Ask people to pay (“need to test payment processing”)
  • set expectation to possible errors (test that you don’t loose data, fix biggest errors)
  • Stress-free launching
  • At launch you can easily say “200 people are already paying for this”

Tools for Communicating internally

  • Google Apps (email)
  • Hipchat (was Skype / Yammer)
  • Confluence
  • Dropbox
  • Google Hangout / GoToMeeting
  • Zapier
  • Spotify

Tools for Communicating externally

  • (was  “Reply All” in Google Apps)
  • GMail (with Undo Send)
  • DashExpander / Typinator (storing all rules in dropbox – common style across the company)
  • Skype (SkypeIn phone)
  • Google Hangouts
  • GetSatisfaction
  • Social Media (for tech support – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
  • WordPress + S3
  • Google Forms
  • AdWords (managed by Dave Collins)
  • (was delicious)
  • Youtube (was BrightCove)
  • Skitch
  • Screenflow
  • Screenr
  • Desk chats / Olark

How we host our Website

  • A little history:
    1. Drupal
    2. Self-hosted WordPress (got hacked)
    3. WPEngine (moved the hack along… got hacked again, but WPEngine mitigated this quickly)
  • Static websites hosted on S3 (build with Hammer, automatically uploaded by s3sync
  • Cloudfront? Not yet, but on the roadmap

Tools for running the company smoothy

  • Macbook Pros + Big monitors
  • Google Apps (shared Cal, Docs, ….)
  • Confluence
  • Dropbox
  • Hipchat
  • Google Hangout
  • QuickBooks online
  • Balsamiq Olio (was spreadsheet + Freshbooks)
  • Stripe (was e-junkie + PayPal + Google Wallet + Spreedly)

A little bit about how we work

  • Not flat, fluid (no managers)
  • Project-based work
  • Pace over deadlines (good quality is more important than speed)
  • Handbook and Wiki (“How we do things”)
    • to bring new employees up to speed
    • common acronyms page
    • weekly agenda pages for every employee
  • Macro Company Areas (“Departments”)
    • emerge over time
    • Right now:
      • Mockups
      • myBalsamiq
      • Plugins
      • Next Gen
      • Testing
      • Kaizen
      • Admin
      • Sales
      • UX / Websites / Support / Marketing
      • Docs & Tutorials
      • Ops
    • each area with Projects Backlog
    • Projects:
      • one lead
      • people (pigs vs chickens – pigs are active, chickens only listen)
    • Every area has own Hipchat room
  • Monthly “all hands meeting” via video conference (includes 5 minutes presentations from everyone)

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About Christoph

Christoph lives in Munich, Germany and is bootstrapping his own SaaS application as a part-time entrepreneur.

He likes to write on this blog about anything of relevance to single-founder bootstrapped software startups.


  1. Nice list of tools! I would also add the dashboard tool Cyfe to the list. Our startup uses it to track all our business data.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I would love to add your tool, but this post is a recollection of a conference talk and adding your tool to the list seems wrong to me.



  1. […] Peldi Guilizzoni: ”The Tools We’ve Used to Grow From Zero to Seven Figures“ […]

  2. […] Neděle začala v parádním tempu, protože jako první nastoupil Peldi Guilizzoni (, @peldi), který v The Tools We’ve Used to Grow From Zero to Seven Figures představil všechny nástroje a techniky, které použili při budování balsamiq. Také mě zaujalo to, jak řeší deployment a testování. Navíc si odnáším několik tipů na užitečné aplikačky, zejména jsem u nás nasadil HipChat. Také mají pěkně sepsané procesy uvnitř firmy, kdo co dělá, s čím se lze na něj obracet atd. Něco obdobného sepisujeme u nás taky, takže skvělá inspirace. Další zápisky zde. […]

  3. […] oni na Microconf konferenci před 14 dny. Výpisky z jeho přednášky si můžete přečíst zde a slajdy jsem vám nahrál […]

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