Why I pull the plug out of Backbone Management System

I invested a lot of research efforts in the early development stages of Backbone Management System. It was to be my first SaaS business. The short answer is that I do not want to manage a multi-million dollar SaaS start up. That is a stressfull full time job.

Remote teams

Managing remote teams is one of the most sought after skills in this new era of tech start ups. I got the taste of it, and essentially this is what most of the future work will look like, but the magnitude of what Backbone.ms was supposed to become was such, that it would have required over 50 hours a week to keep everything up and running. At least in the firts year or two after launch. I do not want that.

IMS or Hosted Intranet

There are more factors why I decided after several months -of not directly working on the project- that it was time to stop. One being the fact that I did not progress on the prototype. It shifted from being a fully Integrated Management System to a more lightweigth (do I hear Minimal Viable Product?) hosted intranet. That still may work very well, but not under the name backbone.ms. You can have it. Grab it out of quarentine x days after 22 of august 2018. Good luck. The next one will be a .com. I never liked this .io thing by the way and I am totally over alternative domain extensions. Did not learn my lesson with the .cash I registerred some years before, and now this one neither took off as a rocket.

New oppertunities arrise

I do like the realm.li and webapp.li domains I picked up in the process. Not for SEO, but because of there more generic potential in building something big. I just do not know yet what it is. Another potential MVP that stays after this failure that I am proud off is clickablegrid.com. This was supoosed to be a feature of backbone.ms and I might very well develop this anyway as a simple WordPress plugin.

Integrated Management Systems

In the meanwhile I learned a lot about Integrated Management Systems (IMS) and got certified as internal auditor for management systems. The demand trough the Upwork platform (my main source for gigs) was not what I expected. Also, I have not seen the IMS boom I expected because of the new 2015 versions (Note: 3 year tansition period) of quality and environmental management systems in combination with a new standard for Health and Safety using the same High Level Structure (almost forget about that one).

Dissecting other Businesses

The moment I pressed the delete domain button I felt this is a good descision. I learned an awfull lot about business in general, about SaaS business specifically, about Management Systems and most important; I realised what type of lifestyle businesses I am after. In some time I will probably be an Angel Investor. In the meanwhile I enjoy dissecting other businesses without being too much involved myself. One way or the other that is what I like most. Understanding how and why businesses and organisations work or fail. I started doing that since my first job ever, and later on observing silently as student worker in many types of organisations. It explains why I wanted to become auditor for Integrated Management Systems, and why I find so much satisfaction in advertising now.

From 10K to 100.000 monthly visitors

Is was a bumpy ride, but somehow I developed the skill to get blogs from zero to 10.000 monthly visitors. Will I be able to push this one up to 100.000 engaged visitors? Join me on that journey and subscribe to my weblog updates!

On twitter I posted a screenshot from this blogs statistics, hitting over 10K visitors in December, after blogging weekly for 4,5 month.

Upwork Consultancies

For some of my web developments I was already hiring using the Upwork platform, but now I am also registered as a consultant myself, sharing my experience with web development.

Sustainability Management Professional

Also, I just recently change my profile description on Linkedin to Sustainability Management Professional, because that basically covers the load much better. Management consulting. Design and Implementation of Integrated Management Systems. I am not only helping organizations with their online presence, but also as an adviser on their intranet and compliance with value adding management system standards.

So stay tuned, and watch me grow a SaaS business from a consultancy practice.


Visionary Statement

Visionary statement Backbone Management System (2017-2021)

By the end of 2021 Backbone Management System will be a significant player in the market for integrated management systems. Aiming to meet ten percent of the demand for integrated quality management systems. Making continual improvement and organizational learning accessible for small and medium sized organizations. Our projection is to reach 3000 implementations in five years, with the point of gravity of our clients located in the U.S. and Europe. The implementations of the Backbone Management System will contribute to an increased sustainability thinking, with the triple bottom-line as the basis for new metrics development and sustainability management.

The demand for certified ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems seems to reach its ceiling. ISO 14001 certified Environmental Management Systems are relatively new to the market and show an annual growth of a few percent. Several trends indicate an increased demand for Integrated Management Systems.


We could have a look at the mentions of the terminology in scientific literature, or google trends, but there is simple, logic reasoning to it.

the-thinker-489753_1280First of all, the High Level Structure (HLS), announced way back in 2012, was introduced in 2015 with ISO’s update for Quality and Environmental standards. A soft landing, with a 3-year transition period ending in 2018. The common table of content in the HLS for the standards, enables the usage of a single framework. There’s benefits and savings that come with that. Higher Efficiency. Reduced audit costs. Reduced Implementation- and Maintenance costs.

There is a new standard joining the HLS family end of 2017(?) based on OHSAS-18001, ISO is developing ISO-45001, the Occupational health and safety management systems standard. This will probably give a boost to the demand for Integrated Business Management Systems. It becomes logic to integrate and monitor aspects related with people, planet and profit. The triple bottemline.

Then there is this megatrend of corporate sustainability. In my opinion, ISO is moving very slowly behind the developments in society. It is very well possible, that other standards or frameworks become leading in Sustainability Management.

Compliance is a result

It is time for a digital, dynamic management system.
It is time for a digital, dynamic management system.
Whatever standard, continual improvement and organizational learning are important in sustainable businesses. An agile, dynamic content Management System or Intranet, designed with these aspects in mind and designed with, and for the users, will be a great asset to each organization. But keep in mind that an organization will benefit only, when all staff, that is including top-management, is committed to sustainable goals. Compliance should never be an objective. It’s a result.

Let’s talk about impact

After having reduced the Backbone Management System to just a tool. Let’s talk about numbers. This is typical a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. The graphic expression would show a beautiful hockey-stick. I am always skeptical when I see those type of graphs, and so should you be, because it is not easy to pull it off. Often, the first years are covered with Venture Capital (VC). High risk investments from a angel investors. I prefer to make a user- or crowd-fund approach, or a combination, to spread risk.

year 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
clients 33 100 333 1000 3000
$ / client 999 999 999 999 999
$ / year 32.967 99.900 332.667 999.000 2.997.000
total costs 20.000 30.000 40.000 50.000 60.000
NET 12.967 69.900 292.667 949.000 2.937.000

The year of launch. 33 clients. 33K turnover. After development costs and almost three years of hard work remains about 13K. Barely enough to make a living. Two years after launch. With 100 clients, we are talking about a six-figure business. The scalability and timeframe for investments in infrastructure makes is a realistic projection to reach 3000 clients and 3 million $USD in annual turnover in five years.

All this is assuming an annual billing of $999,- per client. That is on the low side. Similar products charge that for just one user. A license for a small organization with 3-5 person should be priced at, at least double that amount. Something to figure out still.

Why don’t you tell me what would be best, a fixed rate per organization, depending on its size category, or paying per user?