Vikunja as a business

Hey there, Vikunja founder here :wave:

I’m currently in the process of figuring out a reliable way to monetize Vikunja. Mostly because I’ll finish my degree soon and after that I won’t have as much time to focus on Vikunja as I do now, because I’ll be working a day job. Vikunja is a passion project for me and I would love to keep it going. It has already developed beyond what I thought it could become.

That being said, it needs to generate money for me to be able to continue working on it in a meaningful way.

Currently, the Cloud version and donations cover the expenses of running the project and a bit more, but are not enough to pay an industry-level salary.

My current plan is to launch additional features via a “Vikunja Enterprise” add-on, similar to cal.com, Baserow, Mattermost, GitLab and countless others.

I plan to add additional features, you will not need to pay for the current feature set of Vikunja.

Here’s what I have in mind for the first variant:

  • More granular permission system
  • Audit logs
  • Admin panel
  • Time tracking

These features are aimed at companies who get value out of Vikunja and have the means to pay for it - also in the interest of keeping the project alive so that it will be around for a while. Yes it is open-source, so theoretically someone could continue to maintain it should I go away, but in practice, it’s a lot easier to pay a (small) amount and have it maintained for you rather than getting your hands dirty yourself.

Nothing is set in stone yet, and I don’t want to present the community a fait accompli. I think it’s in your interest as well to ensure the long-term sustainability of Vikunja.
I’m still figuring out the pricing, but it will be reasonably priced. There will also be some kind of discount for non-profits.

I’m posting this to get your feedback and thoughts on it. If you don’t want to share it publicly, I’m also available at konrad@vikunja.io.

4 Likes

The much talked about problem of how to fund Open Source software. I’m fully behind your efforts and wish you success.

I’m a bit worried about the number of people you’ll find who need those features, let alone are willing to pay for them. One other feature suggestion you could add to the list is some sort of white labelling – pay to remove branding of your new business from Vikunja, emails Vikunja sends etc. (Inspired by InvoiceNinja white label fee, but I’m not sure how well it would fit.)

Just set up a donation on Open Collective to replace the one I had on Github (until Github turned it off and I failed to recreate it, sorry).

1 Like

It makes sense. It is like Bludit. There is an PRO Version.
You can become a Patreon and then get the Download Link for the Pro Version. I would make use of this.

Hey, I first want to say, it’d be great if you can get the possibility to continue working on this project professionally. You’ve built a great basis that deserves to be extended! I hope you can make this a reality.

While I fully understand the need to generate an income in this scenario, and your plans sounding reasonable, I have to look at my team which is a sizeable team fully made up of hundreds of passion driven volunteers with no money involved at all. Realistically, even with a discount, I don’t think any kind of pricing plan could work for us.

We moved to Vikunja when Trello limited their free tier earlier this year, with the hope to make ourselves independent by self-hosting the service ourselves. Of course, this wouldn’t change, and this situation is very different from what happened with Trello, but to be honest it at least makes me think if Vikunja was the right choice for us in the long term. We tried a lot of options, and Vikunja was one of the few solutions that had all the basic features that we absolutely needed. I knew there were various features and QoL tweaks missing, but as this is an open source project these are of course things that could be added in the future, and I already started implementing some of those myself.
I have a lot of smaller feedback that I didn’t post yet, but for me it’s a bit sad to see that a lot of the bigger feature requests I made would end up in the paid version, as some are critical for my team, especially any kind of changelog feature and/or extended permissions system.

I want to repeat that I don’t think your plans are unreasonable. But I hope you can understand the situation my team is in, and that you consider this in your future plans. Best of luck!

That sounds reasonable. I hope it works out. Personally, I’d love to make a living running an open source project and I wish you every success. Hashtag live the dream :laughing:

Even though I don’t desperately desire the features you describe, I’d consider paying for Vikunja. It depends on the cost.

One thing that drives me bonkers about software that has both paid and free tiers is when they don’t make it clear from the link that it’s a paid feature. I click on it all excited, then it goes, “Actually you need to pay.” I feel like they’re trying to trick me. Fitbit is guilty of this. But if a menu item were something like, “Audit logs (paid)” that wouldn’t bother me. As a user, I understand that you have bills to pay and you’ve already given us a great deal for free.

Best of luck!

I think the hosted Vikunja solution is a very healthy income model. In my opinion it’s pricing is okay for the value on gets from it. But even if you could keep 100% of it you’d probably need thousands of users to make a competetive salary, after taxes and such.

The best idea I can come up with is to add a “Sponsors” section to the frontpage and let companies add their logos there.

Lastly, I think this has to be said: If you want to make a salary that matches the one of professional workers, it’s going to be very hard with open source products. Vikunja is even on the better end here because of the possibility to sell hosting plans.
Maybe working part time is the most viable solution. But always remember, just by maintaining this Software you live the dream of many of us :slight_smile:

I would be open to the idea of a paid version via a patreon type donation etc. But for me i’d want to keep it self hosted and minimal one off charge with free updates for say a year. What would put me off and make me move to a different solution is monthly recurring payments and also a “per user” type tiers.

Thanks for your comments so far! Let me address a few points.

You won’t be required in any way to buy a Vikunja licence if you’re happy with what you have now. Only when you want to use any of the “Enterprise” features.

The extended permissions were actually planned since a while ago - you’ll still be able to use the current permission system.

For audit logs, I was thinking about “real” audit logs. That means integration with other systems which store logs in a way where you cannot alter them afterwards, so that they could be used as evidence in court. From enterprises I’ve talked to, that’s usually what they care about, not if you can see some kind of changelog in the ui. I haven’t decided yet if there will be some kind of changelog tied to this in the UI.

I haven’t yet found a good way to make the offering attractive for non-profit organizations. Open for suggestions.

IMHO, there has to be a product people (companies) are willing to pay for. I’ve been doing hosted Vikunja for a while but it seems like many of people who are interested in Vikunja are people who want the ability to self-host, yet still want a very specific set of features. So that’s what I’m trying now to fund the rest of the development.

Chiming it with a similar position as @Elscrux. I fully understand the need and desire to find a basis that allows you to dedicate time and work on Vikunja. And I appreciate that you open that discussion! From a non-profit perspective, we’re more often than not faced with the situation that we actually need “Enterprise” features.

Of course it depends on what is classified by the owner to be an “Enterprise” feature, but common examples we see are:

  • Single Sign On (only local users are supported in the free tier)
  • Role Based Access (SSO is possible, but no group memberships and/or RBAC)
  • Audit Logging (to a certain extend this could be ignored)

The core problem is that non profits at a certain scale (more than 50 people or so) are quite close to a commercial organisation, without having the same (or even remotely comparable) level of funding behind them.

Don’t have a nice idea how to fix that myself, some companies offer their commercial products for free to non-profits (Atlassian Confluence for example), but then there are new questions like “what exactly is a non profit”?

Example: The Fraunhofer Gesellschaft in Germany is a huge research institution in Germany, with more than 30.000 employees. Its legal form is a registered, non-profit organization (eingetragener Verein mit Gemeinnützigkeit). It’s the same legal form that we are as well, with 0 employees, roughly 400 members and a couple thousand Euros each month available for everything.

There is no easy solution, I just hope we can continue to use Vikunja and potentially contribute to it.

This is my last point - I’m not entirely sure how many contributors you have, that either contribute code or help in the forums - how would that continue that journey? Ideally I’d hope there are no changes, just curious what’s your thoughts on that.

Hi there!

I completely understand the need to be able to get paid for the work being done, and for for-profit companies I think what you describe makes perfect sense. I am also involved in non-profit organizations that have been using Trello, but now can’t because of the new limits.

I’ve been thinking about starting a non-profit organization for helping other non-profit organizations with their IT systems, and was considering using Vikunja as a first PoC. Reading this post got me thinking.

I agree that a medium-large non-profit have almost the same requirements as an enterprise, but I am thinking that they have a very different usage patterns. The largest organization I’m considering would require around 90 users. I’m thinking that an enterprise/company organization with 90 users would be pretty active during work hours, but a non-profit account with 90 users would have way less activity, and spread out over the day.

For supporting non-profit organizations, I’m willing to donate my time. In this case, the time would be spent operating Vikunja instances for the different organizations. I’m not willing to pay for all of this, so I would like to charge them for the actual cost of running the servers and things, which I assume, due to the usage differences I assume above, shouldn’t be that much.

So, maybe there is some way to combine this. Giving a non-profit organization access to the Enterprise version, on the condition that it’s only used for other non-profits, without making a profit.

This would make it possible for you to handle paying clients and make money of the companies that are for-profit. You would help non-profit organizations. But you wouldn’t have to care about the actual running of the Vikunjas that they use, that would be handled by volonteers on a non-profit base itself. I would think that this wouldn’t result in any huge monetary loss, since most non-profits can’t pay that much anyway…

Just some thoughts. I am going to set up at least two instances for two of the organizations I’m involved in, regardless of the outcome of this, so hopefully the assumption about usage patterns can be proved.

I understand that this is a small part of the making-vikunja-a-business, but it would be awesome if Vikunja could both make a profit and help non-profit organizations, without it being a drain on resources for the Vikunja business.

Hello everyone!

I fully support the idea of monetizing an open-source project. However, I’d like to share my thoughts and suggestions as an enthusiast of self-hosted solutions for home use.

I plan to use Vikunja for personal tasks and my family. It would be great if you could provide the full functionality for small teams (e.g., 5-10 members). This would allow organizations to test the complete feature set before committing to a paid subscription.

Regarding pricing, I would also suggest considering affordable family plans. Additionally, you could offer integrations with services like Slack, MS Teams, and Figma as premium features, while maintaining something similar to the current integration with n8n for self-hosting enthusiasts.

1 Like