What are effective ways to reduce cost per month for backend servers like Firebase?

Use their free features and do the rest on your own.

E.g. for Firebase its:

Analytics, App Indexing, Authentication, Dynamic Links, FCM, Invites, Notifications, Crash Reporting, & Remote Config

FileStorage, Hosting and Database are tasks you can do on you own with not too much work. There’s also database types with sync functionality.

If you don’t choose to use BLAZE you cannot even use BIG QUERY which means their “Realtime Database” is simply a giant key value store. If you need some kind of querying you end up doing heavy denormalisation.

A mysql server cost’s you something like 5$ per month. If you need a replica it’s 10$. If you want more, check youtube’s vitesse. If you need time based data storage, you might go with Cassandra. If you want complex queries check out Elasticsearch.

Firebase is a good thing but don’t use it wrong. Most features are “free” so you need to know, what this “free” means. E.g. for Cloud Messaging. Try to send messages at a high rate to topics (which I think is a nice feature). The API is going to block too many requests. Think of it as your business grows. Google decides to change the maximum rate for message sending and your whole system breaks.

My advice is to start building something with Firebase, if you need the simplicity to get started. When you product gets traction you should move away.

The only problem you will have with investors the moment you tell them you are using Firebase is that they will take a good hard look at them, and decide to invest in them instead. Because selling shovels is more profitable than prospecting for gold.

If you are using Firebase you should at the very least be cognizant that you need to monetize your fabulous mouse trap. Tools provided, and I assume you have monetization to go along with all the analytical tools that Firebase provides to delight your potential investors/acquisitors.

Doing the monetization bit is hard, as in building the tools are hard.

Doing the analytics in house is harder still. It requires real skill. You cannot improvise that kind of skill. And it could take you tears (typo for years) to personally develop those tools, and learn how to use them.

And the bottom line is that you should only be concerned about your value proposition and its monetization (potential or not).

Because if somebody wants to buy an app instead of reverse engineering it, the fundamental value proposition in its market vertical is the only thing they care about. That and time to market. Which means they will not mess with hiring the team and trying to execute on it themselves.

Investors (or corporate purchasers) don't invest on the basis of return. They invest/purchase on a risk adjusted basis.

Lastly, the only thing of value on the balance sheet is the trade mark equity. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Among the accounting challenged that is called the brand.

The opposite argument is that nobody is going to pay stupid money for something they can reverse engineer. Running proprietary scripts all the way through the engineering stack, makes entry and duplication much much harder.

You need to accept that somebody will legitimately make that argument. I aint buying, but I am absolutely certain that some dim-witted corporate drone has made the argument to his bosses. Which Miss CEO promptly dismissed with prejudice, on a risk adjusted basis.

Your risk adjusted basis is:

You have to recruit six people with all the necessary technical skills.

You have to recruit another six people to market and sell the mouse trap.

And you have to execute on the basic technical proposition without having verified if your business proposition is sound.

Then you have to execute on your marketing and business plan on the basis of untested technology at volume.

You will have to convince all your peeps to work for peanuts and options to purchase stock at today’s price, for the next eighteen months… GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.

And of course money only grows on the top of the tallest trees, and you look like an ant eater not a giraffe. So God Speed on finding the cash to run your engines as you go up and down down the runway trying to find lift…

So on a risk adjusted basis, 3 months and one quarter the personnel is a far better proposition than 18 months with a large burn rate and a massive execution risk. Because shit happens, often. And when you pay in peanuts you get monkeys: “Sure I can do that…”

So I poured twenty grand into restoring this eighties car I really loved. !@#king Italian sports cars… I might as well develop a coke habit with the hood ornament to go along with that…

Where were we? Ah yes. So I put out five for the car. And twenty for the restoration. Then I find another beauty I want to put my greedy sweaty palms on. And so I list the bad-girl on the net’ and the best I got is fifteen.

Three years later the car is now worth thirty.

Do the math.

The same applies to business propositions. If you invest $2m and two years of tears and blood, that does not mean you have a 2m proposition. Because investors don't invest on opportunity cost. They invest on a risk adjusted basis.

And if a corporate wants to buy your gizmo, lock stock and barrel, they will do so on the basis of the return, or more likely on the basis of the value of your contribution to the perceived value of the corporate stock. Because they are payed in options, and unless something bumps up the value, they cannot profit from the transaction themselves.

So why would you spend money you have no idea you can ever get back? That is the basic proposition for using a tool integrator (and if I was the bastard running Firebase I would put a contract out on me immediately for calling them an integrator…). Speed of execution is everything because building your own tools takes time. And if nobody wants your mouse trap, why spend the money building the tooling to mass produce it?

Speed of execution is EVERYTHING.

Your question presupposes weakness. And the weak get crushed in the market for ideas.

Because what you are saying is that you are done with your project, you have lost interest, and have no intention of doing the dirty work of marketing it, selling it, getting customer feedback and iterating on it. Your are saying you are done.

“I have built it! And so can somebody please sign over a check for a couple of gazillion dollars, because I got better things to do with my time…

And this is the bottom line. You cannot sell an app. Nobody is going to buy it.

If the app has true value to users and one of your competitors decides on a risk adjusted basis that its cheaper for him/her to buy you out, they will come knocking on your door and take you out of your misery.

So no, you cannot sell an app. But you can certainly buy one. Lock stock and barrel and hopefully with the chief nerd in golden handcuffs for six months.

But first things first, build value your users/customers love and love to refer. Because unless you have that, you have nothing of value, regardless of how it was built.

Thanks for the ask, and good luck.