React.js · Software

Building vs. buying features for web applications

Csaba Apagyi Cohort member @ EF. Web service techie

July 9th, 2020

Hello Entrepreneurs,


I'm working on making it easier to find features for web applications (like authentication systems, video chats, forms with data management, etc.). I'm still baffled by how many companies write basically the same features over and over again.


What's your experience with this? Have you ever bought features for web applications instead of building them? Which ones? How did it work out? And in which situations did you build something you could have just bought?


I've also set up a google form to get a bit more quantitative grip on the topic: https://forms.gle/1DNMrF2p3JLw6ouL6


Would help a great deal if you could share your insights. Thanks!

Matthew Mansour Technical CoFounder

Last updated on July 9th, 2020

It depends on the use cases for your web application.

Most modern development frameworks include many common features and libraries.

For example Auth/User Accounts is probably already baked in to the development framework, so it depends on your app's Auth requirements and use cases.

For an MVP what's usually happening behind the scenes is that your technical cofounder, or developer, is leveraging free libraries (auth, videos, forms, chart libraries...) so she can crank out an MVP as quickly as possible. That is a smart approach for an MVP with common use cases.

If product market fit requires custom use cases, it's likely that the features have to be built, or that the leveraged libraries have to be extended, to meet your specific use cases.

In both scenarios you will need a developer - unless you're technical, or unless your web app can be built on Wix, Squarespace or Wordpress.



Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

July 11th, 2020

People who write their own features tend to do it because of a number of reasons. These may include but are not limited to:

1) licensing terms are not favorable

2) cybersecurity risk

3) how well the libraries are supported

4) open source requirements prevent non-open parent software

5) the functionality isn't actually difficult

6) lack of awareness things are available (the problem you hope to solve)

7) likelihood the library creator will be around as long as you are

8) limits in the function of the library


Convenience is neither the primary nor the most important reason to consider using a software library as a component of your own software. You're trying to solve a problem not enough people care about. Be cautious and test your assumptions more fully.

Andy Freeman Product Management and ... - Looking for new opportunities

July 10th, 2020

It's a plausible idea but ease-of-use and up-front costs are likely to be both harder and more important than you think.


Also, how are you planning to reach developers?


That said, https://rapidapi.com/ does some of this and, as Matt says, many platforms, such as WordPress, have component "stores".


How are you distinguishing yourself?