Josh Anderson, founder of FreeDNS, shared “Lessons Learned Bootstrapping FreeDNS” at the Feb-24-2017 Bootstrapper Breakfast at Red Rock in Mountain View.
Josh Anderson on Bootstrapping FreeDNS
Josh Anderson founded FreeDNS in 2001 to enable developers to easily and freely share domain names. Instead of making the site ad supported he offered additional tiers of paid services. As of December 2016 the site supports 2.8 million members, three thousand premium accounts, 8.8 million records, and 980 thousand zones. The entire network is now processing over 7 billion requests per month
FreeDNS started out as a hobby providing Domain Hosting and offering others access to free DNS while Josh worked another job building a tool for search engines and tested it on his server. He had no marketing plan and did no advertising, growing by word of mouth. He asked himself “What if everyone gave $1” and started to manage the economics of transitioning from hobby to business with freemium model.
One of his early challenges was managing a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that initially caused a lot of downtime but taught him a lot about defending against such attacks. But he was committed to providing quality customer service and open communication and as a result won his customer’s loyalty and received valuable advice on how to improve the service.
Because his time is a key asset of the company he has focus a lot of his efforts on setting up the infrastructure and a work environment that allows him to bring out his best efforts. He has focused not only on automating his tasks but invested in prevented problems before they can happen. He has done many things over the years to configure his services to be very resilient in the face of DDoS attacks.
He launched his premium program after he was managing ten servers; his premium service clients can benefit from branding their own server. Over time he has increased pricing from $1.00 to $5.00 and seen no impact on the rate of signups.