YC-Funded Bushido: An App Store For The Web That Can Kickstart Your Side Projects

If you’re a developer, there’s a good chance you have a handful — or more — of side projects. Things you tinker with on evenings and weekends and may upload to GitHub, but that you’ve never seriously considered releasing to the wild as a standalone service. Not because you think they’re bad, but because they’d be a lot of work to maintain — and you still have that day job to worry about.

Bushido, a Y Combinator startup that made its debut last week at Demo Day, wants to give developers a hand: they’re making it super-simple to take that app and post it online for other users to sign up for — and maybe even make some money off of it in the process.

The problem, explains Bushido cofounder Sean Grove, is that the process of converting these open-source projects into usable services, complete with authentication and payments, is something that many developers don’t want to deal with. So instead of unleashing them to the masses, they sit in their GitHub repositories without getting much attention.

Bushido looks to fix this by handing developers everything they need to get their app up and running. At this point the service supports Rails apps (it offers Bushido Ruby gems), and there’s a straightforward API for quickly integrating user authentication, payments, and other common features. Bushido also hosts the project, so developers don’t have to worry about paying for AWS or other services. In return, Bushido takes a 15-40% cut of the profit of each application (the percentage you pay goes down the larger your app gets as economies of scale kick in).

For starters the service is allowing users to deploy installs of open-source apps like FatFree CRM and Locomotive CMS, and more apps will be coming as developers add them to the service.

Bushido also has some much more ambitious goals than just streamlining things for developers — they also want to serve as a centralized database for both user authentication and data for open source apps. In other words, they want to become a web layer that allows apps to interoperate.

Right now, if you sign up for a Bushido powered app, you’ll be creating a Bushido login that will work on all other apps running on the platform. This helps lower the barrier to entry, so users can quickly start using new applications. And, provided the data is being stored in a consistent way, users can even access the same data between different applications.

Of course, this approach isn’t going to appeal to everyone. Bushido is going to have control of both your users and your data — and at this point, it doesn’t have an export function. Grove says this will be coming, and that for the time being the startup is looking to gain the trust of developers (Grove and the rest of the team are open source developers themselves, so they have a good idea as to what the concerns are).

Another possible issue: some developers might not like Bushido’s single sign-on approach, because it makes it easy to hop to a competitor’s app. Grove acknowledges this as well, but says it would be a good problem for them to have, and adds that in general open source developers prefer to compete on merit versus lock-in. It also sounds like if this becomes a big enough issue, Bushido would consider making some changes.