How Blub Blub Fueled the Expansion of Their Speech Therapy App with DigitalOcean's App Platform

Blub Blub Website
“DigitalOcean App Platform’s price performance was the best—it was much much cheaper than Heroku. It also abstracted away a layer of complexity that we just didn't need to deal with because we're such a small team.”
Marko Širec, Lead Backend Engineer at Blub Blub

Speech Blubs is a leading speech therapy app created by Blub Blub, designed to make learning fun and engaging for children. With over 100,000 subscribers, Speech Blubs offers a variety of exercises that help children improve their pronunciation and communication skills through games and virtual reality elements. Despite their success, Blub Blub, with a team of just 35 employees, faced challenges when it came to managing its cloud infrastructure. By switching to DigitalOcean App Platform, they were able to take advantage of DigitalOcean’s excellent price-to-performance ratio and hands-on support so they could focus on developing their application.

Exploring a simpler cloud solution for scaling their application

Initially, Blub Blub relied on Heroku, a Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution, to host their simple WordPress website and backend services. While Heroku offered a user-friendly platform, it came with drawbacks. Pricing became a concern as the user base for Speech Blubs grew, and the development team felt limited by Heroku’s features. They needed a solution that offered both cost-effectiveness and provided a more complete approach to infrastructure management, while still enabling them to easily deploy updates.

“We weren’t happy with Heroku,” explains Marko Širec, Lead Backend Developer at Blub Blub "They did not improve the product at all. So we were looking for a better solution for our servers.” In search of a better alternative, Blub Blub began researching cloud providers, including both hyperscalers and other providers.

As a small team with just three backend engineers, Blub Blub needed a solution that took away the complexity of setting up and managing infrastructure. They found this with DigitalOcean’s App Platform. They found DigitalOcean’s pricing structure to be significantly more cost-effective than other providers and were also impressed by the platform’s reputation for simplicity. For instance, they evaluated AWS Beanstalk when moving from Heroku and found DigitalOcean’s solution more intuitive and easy to use.

“DigitalOcean App Platform’s price performance was the best—it was much much cheaper than Heroku and it also abstracted away a layer of complexity that we just didn’t need to deal with because we’re such a small team.” - Marko Širec, Lead Backend Engineer at Blub Blub

Using DigitalOcean App Platform for easy deployment

Blub Blub’s initial migration to DigitalOcean started with their WordPress website on Droplets, which are Linux-based virtual machines. While this offered a user-friendly experience, DigitalOcean’s App Platform provided an even more streamlined solution for their core application.

App Platform is a PaaS offering from DigitalOcean. Unlike Droplets, which require more manual configuration, App Platform simplifies the deployment process. Blub Blub leveraged this to make their app deployments quicker and easier.

“Setting up our app on DigitalOcean took a day, whereas on AWS it took us several days,” explains Marko. “DigitalOcean just felt much simpler and more intuitive. Plus, the alerting and monitoring features are fantastic. We can easily connect them to Slack, which is crucial for a small team like ours.”

In addition to the simplicity of the App Platform’s setup, DigitalOcean’s Droplets provided Blub Blub with a flexible and scalable infrastructure foundation. The ability to easily deploy Docker images streamlined the app deployment process, saving Blub Blub’s development team valuable time.

While App Platform was the primary focus for their application itself, Blub Blub has also found value in other DigitalOcean products. Their success with the App Platform, along with the intuitive interface and ease of use, led them to migrate their Redis database to DigitalOcean Managed Databases.

“DigitalOcean offered a lot more than just hosting a website,” adds Marko. “We were able to easily set up Redis databases, which was a huge plus for us. Now, we’re even looking at migrating our Kafka clusters to DigitalOcean.”

Blub Blub has also been impressed with DigitalOcean’s customer support. “The support team has been fantastic,” says Marko. “We’ve had a few support tickets, and their response times have been exceptional. Once, we encountered a minor bug, and they fixed it within a day. That level of responsiveness is rare in the cloud hosting world.”

Scaling speech therapy with DigitalOcean

Blub Blub’s transition to DigitalOcean has had a significant impact on their business. The cost-effectiveness and simplicity of DigitalOcean’s solutions have enabled the team to reallocate resources toward developing new features and expanding their product offerings. With fewer disruptions and faster deployment cycles, Blub Blub has experienced increased agility in responding to market demands, driving greater customer satisfaction for the parents and kids that rely on Speech Blubs.

Furthermore, as Blub Blub’s user base continues to grow, they can easily add additional resources with DigitalOcean, leveraging unlimited scalability, increased efficiency, and global reach to meet the needs of their business.

Blub Blub has ambitious plans for the future, including developing new products for older children and expanding its service offerings globally. With DigitalOcean handling the heavy lifting of cloud infrastructure management, Blub Blub’s development team can focus on what they do best—building innovative features for their speech therapy app.

"The cost and time savings DigitalOcean has given us have been critical to our growth. Because we’re such a small team, we can spend our time building features and supporting the rest of the company instead of dealing with infrastructure problems, so that’s had a big impact on the company overall.” - Marko Širec, Lead Backend Engineer at Blub Blub

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