How a solo founder implemented file uploading in an hour

Upscribe is a SaaS application for email marketing. It allows its users to embed opt-in forms, collect subscriber lists, and send email campaigns. They needed file uploading functionality to let their users properly style their forms and enable lead magnets.

Joshua Anderton created Upscribe as a side project in 2016. Initially, it was built as an embedded solution for opt-in forms for Medium. Now, Upscribe lets businesses, bloggers, and authors easily launch email marketing: send email newsletters and sequences, place lead magnets, and grow their subscriber base.

Joshua Anderton, founder
Joshua Anderton, founder
I started by myself four years ago and have spent a lot of time working on Upscribe and serving its customers. It’s still just me, a solo founder, on the team, but I've recently gone full-time to focus on bettering the product and growing the customer base.

When it was originally developed, Upscribe needed to accept two types of files from users:

  • Images, such as logos, were required to style the forms.
  • Files, such as infographics, ebooks, spreadsheets, etc. Users needed to upload these files as marketing incentives for their readers to sign up for their newsletters.

While this functionality is required for Upscribe to operate, it isn’t the core value of the application.

Initially, Upscribe tried to build their own file handling system. However, this quickly ran into problems with hosting files on their server where their website was also hosted. There were a couple of instances where they had to migrate the site and lost a bunch of images.

Additionally, it became clear that accepting uploads wasn’t the only functionality they would have to build. Upscribe needed upload integrations with third-party services and image processing as well. All of this was necessary for the app to function, but Joshua, the one and only Upscribe team member, was working another full-time job. There just wasn’t enough time to do it himself.

Joshua Anderton, founder
Joshua Anderton, founder
I definitely would have had to go and write integrations with Evernote and Google Drive and Dropbox and Box. Learn those APIs and build all of that myself. And, of course, maintain it over time — a total headache.

After struggling with the limitations of internally made solutions and an extremely constrained time budget, Upscribe implemented Uploadcare.

Additionally, Uploadcare provided the image processing and integrations with third-party services that Upscribe needed. They can now add the necessary dimensions for an image right into the HTML attribute and have the image automatically resized.

Joshua Anderton, founder
Joshua Anderton, founder
Initially, the implementation took about an hour. I integrate Uploadcare with all of my side projects now, and it takes minutes, especially with a Ruby on Rails site. Add the gem, place the helpers in the template, and I’m going. Today, it would probably take 10 to 20 minutes.

Having integrated Uploadcare, Upscribe turned into a serverless platform. They immediately move their users’ files from their servers to let Uploadcare handle all uploading and processing and stop thinking about it when doing migrations or deploying.

More critically, implementing Uploadcare has allowed Joshua to focus on working on Upscribe itself rather than the infrastructure it runs on. The ready-made solution saved him hundreds of hours, especially after pivoting to email marketing and majorly rebuilding many parts of the app. The infrastructure flexibility also helped Upscribe with the transition from being a newsletter signup form for Medium to a complete email marketing solution.

Currently, Upscribe has 300 happy customers with millions of combined hits per month, and they use Uploadcare to serve the images for them.

Uploadcare is an end-to-end cloud platform that provides a next-gen infrastructure for file handling. It can cover any part of the media pipeline or all of them at once:

  • One of the world’s fastest File Uploaders
  • Automated secure Smart Storage
  • AI-driven Image Transformations Engine
  • Proprietary designed Visual Intelligence Algorithms
  • Adaptive Delivery solution