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Sammy Abdullah

Sammy Abdullah

1 year ago

SaaS payback period data

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

Rick Blyth

Rick Blyth

1 year ago

Looking for a Reliable Micro SaaS Niche

Niches are rich, as the adage goes.

Micro SaaS requires a great micro-niche; otherwise, it's merely plain old SaaS with a large audience.

Instead of targeting broad markets with few identifying qualities, specialise down to a micro-niche. How would you target these users?

Better go tiny. You'll locate and engage new consumers more readily and serve them better with a customized solution.

Imagine you're a real estate lawyer looking for a case management solution. Because it's so specific to you, you'd be lured to this link:

instead of below:

Next, locate mini SaaS niches that could work for you. You're not yet looking at the problems/solutions in these areas, merely shortlisting them.

The market should be growing, not shrinking

We shouldn't design apps for a declining niche. We intend to target stable or growing niches for the next 5 to 10 years.

If it's a developing market, you may be able to claim a stake early. You must balance this strategy with safer, longer-established niches (accountancy, law, health, etc).

First Micro SaaS apps I designed were for Merch By Amazon creators, a burgeoning niche. I found this niche when searching for passive income.

Graphic designers and entrepreneurs post their art to Amazon to sell on clothes. When Amazon sells their design, they get a royalty. Since 2015, this platform and specialty have grown dramatically.

Amazon doesn't publicize the amount of creators on the platform, but it's possible to approximate by looking at Facebook groups, Reddit channels, etc.

I could see the community growing week by week, with new members joining. Merch was an up-and-coming niche, and designers made money when their designs sold. All I had to do was create tools that let designers focus on making bestselling designs.

Look at the Google Trends graph below to see how this niche has evolved and when I released my apps and resigned my job.

Are the users able to afford the tools?

Who's your average user? Consumer or business? Is your solution budgeted?

If they're students, you'll struggle to convince them to subscribe to your study-system app (ahead of video games and beer).

Let's imagine you designed a Shopify plugin that emails customers when a product is restocked. If your plugin just needs 5 product sales a month to justify its cost, everyone wins (just be mindful that one day Shopify could potentially re-create your plugins functionality within its core offering making your app redundant ).

Do specialized users buy tools? If so, that's comforting. If not, you'd better have a compelling value proposition for your end customer if you're the first.

This should include how much time or money your program can save or make the user.

Are you able to understand the Micro SaaS market?

Ideally, you're already familiar about the industry/niche. Maybe you're fixing a challenge from your day job or freelance work.

If not, evaluate how long it would take to learn the niche's users. Health & Fitness is easier to relate to and understand than hedge fund derivatives trading.

Competing in these complex (and profitable) fields might offer you an edge.

B2C, B2M, or B2B?

Consider your user base's demographics. Will you target businesses, consumers, or both? Let's examine the different consumer types:

  • B2B refers to business-to-business transactions where customers are other businesses. UpVoty, Plutio, Slingshot, Salesforce, Atlassian, and Hubspot are a few examples of SaaS, ranging from Micro SaaS to SaaS.

  • Business to Consumer (B2C), in which your clients are people who buy things. For instance, Duolingo, Canva, and Nomad List.

  • For instance, my tool KDP Wizard has a mixed user base of publishing enterprises and also entrepreneurial consumers selling low-content books on Amazon. This is a case of business to many (B2M), where your users are a mixture of businesses and consumers. There is a large SaaS called Dropbox that offers both personal and business plans.

Targeting a B2B vs. B2C niche is very different. The sales cycle differs.

  • A B2B sales staff must make cold calls to potential clients' companies. Long sales, legal, and contractual conversations are typically required for each business to get the go-ahead. The cost of obtaining a new customer is substantially more than it is for B2C, despite the fact that the recurring fees are significantly higher.

  • Since there is typically only one individual making the purchasing decision, B2C signups are virtually always self-service with reduced recurring fees. Since there is typically no outbound sales staff in B2C, acquisition costs are significantly lower than in B2B.

User Characteristics for B2B vs. B2C

Consider where your niche's users congregate if you don't already have a presence there.

B2B users frequent LinkedIn and Twitter. B2C users are on Facebook/Instagram/Reddit/Twitter, etc.

Churn is higher in B2C because consumers haven't gone through all the hoops of a B2B sale. Consumers are more unpredictable than businesses since they let their bank cards exceed limitations or don't update them when they expire.

With a B2B solution, there's a contractual arrangement and the firm will pay the subscription as long as they need it.

Depending on how you feel about the above (sales team vs. income vs. churn vs. targeting), you'll know which niches to pursue.

You ought to respect potential customers.

Would you hang out with customers?

You'll connect with users at conferences (in-person or virtual), webinars, seminars, screenshares, Facebook groups, emails, support calls, support tickets, etc.

If talking to a niche's user base makes you shudder, you're in for a tough road. Whether they're demanding or dull, avoid them if possible.

Merch users are mostly graphic designers, side hustlers, and entrepreneurs. These laid-back users embrace technologies that assist develop their Merch business.

I discovered there was only one annual conference for this specialty, held in Seattle, USA. I decided to organize a conference for UK/European Merch designers, despite never having done so before.

Hosting a conference for over 80 people was stressful, and it turned out to be much bigger than expected, with attendees from the US, Europe, and the UK.

I met many specialized users, built relationships, gained trust, and picked their brains in person. Many of the attendees were already Merch Wizard users, so hearing their feedback and ideas for future features was invaluable.

focused and specific

Instead of building for a generic, hard-to-reach market, target a specific group.

I liken it to fishing in a little, hidden pond. This small pond has only one species of fish, so you learn what bait it likes. Contrast that with trawling for hours to catch as many fish as possible, even if some aren't what you want.

In the case management scenario, it's difficult to target leads because several niches could use the app. Where do your potential customers hang out? Your generic solution: No.

It's easier to join a community of Real Estate Lawyers and see if your software can answer their pain points.

My Success with Micro SaaS

In my case, my Micro SaaS apps have been my chrome extensions. Since I launched them, they've earned me an average $10k MRR, allowing me to quit my lousy full-time job years ago.

I sold my apps after scaling them for a life-changing lump amount. Since then, I've helped unfulfilled software developers escape the 9-5 through Micro SaaS.

Whether it's a profitable side hustle or a liferaft to quit their job and become their own Micro SaaS boss.

Having built my apps to the point where I could quit my job, then scaled and sold them, I feel I can share my skills with software developers worldwide.

Read my free guide on self-funded SaaS to discover more about Micro SaaS, or download your own copy. 12 chapters cover everything from Idea to Exit.

Watch my YouTube video to learn how to construct a Micro SaaS app in 10 steps.

Thomas Tcheudjio

Thomas Tcheudjio

2 years ago

If you don't crush these 3 metrics, skip the Series A.

I recently wrote about getting VCs excited about Marketplace start-ups. SaaS founders became envious!

Understanding how people wire tens of millions is the only Series A hack I recommend.

Few people understand the intellectual process behind investing.

VC is risk management.

Series A-focused VCs must cover two risks.

1. Market risk

You need a large market to cross a threshold beyond which you can build defensibilities. Series A VCs underwrite market risk.

They must see you have reached product-market fit (PMF) in a large total addressable market (TAM).

2. Execution risk

When evaluating your growth engine's blitzscaling ability, execution risk arises.

When investors remove operational uncertainty, they profit.

Series A VCs like businesses with derisked revenue streams. Don't raise unless you have a predictable model, pipeline, and growth.

Please beat these 3 metrics before Series A:

Achieve $1.5m ARR in 12-24 months (Market risk)

Above 100% Net Dollar Retention. (Market danger)

Lead Velocity Rate supporting $10m ARR in 2–4 years (Execution risk)

Hit the 3 and you'll raise $10M in 4 months. Discussing 2/3 may take 6–7 months.

If none, don't bother raising and focus on becoming a capital-efficient business (Topics for other posts).

Let's examine these 3 metrics for the brave ones.

1. Lead Velocity Rate supporting €$10m ARR in 2 to 4 years

Last because it's the least discussed. LVR is the most reliable data when evaluating a growth engine, in my opinion.

SaaS allows you to see the future.

Monthly Sales and Sales Pipelines, two predictive KPIs, have poor data quality. Both are lagging indicators, and minor changes can cause huge modeling differences.

Analysts and Associates will trash your forecasts if they're based only on Monthly Sales and Sales Pipeline.

LVR, defined as month-over-month growth in qualified leads, is rock-solid. There's no lag. You can See The Future if you use Qualified Leads and a consistent formula and process to qualify them.

With this metric in your hand, scaling your company turns into an execution play on which VCs are able to perform calculations risk.

2. Above-100% Net Dollar Retention.

Net Dollar Retention is a better-known SaaS health metric than LVR.

Net Dollar Retention measures a SaaS company's ability to retain and upsell customers. Ask what $1 of net new customer spend will be worth in years n+1, n+2, etc.

Depending on the business model, SaaS businesses can increase their share of customers' wallets by increasing users, selling them more products in SaaS-enabled marketplaces, other add-ons, and renewing them at higher price tiers.

If a SaaS company's annualized Net Dollar Retention is less than 75%, there's a problem with the business.

Slack's ARR chart (below) shows how powerful Net Retention is. Layer chart shows how existing customer revenue grows. Slack's S1 shows 171% Net Dollar Retention for 2017–2019.

Slack S-1

3. $1.5m ARR in the last 12-24 months.

According to Point 9, $0.5m-4m in ARR is needed to raise a $5–12m Series A round.

Target at least what you raised in Pre-Seed/Seed. If you've raised $1.5m since launch, don't raise before $1.5m ARR.

Capital efficiency has returned since Covid19. After raising $2m since inception, it's harder to raise $1m in ARR.

P9's 2016-2021 SaaS Funding Napkin

In summary, less than 1% of companies VCs meet get funded. These metrics can help you win.

If there’s demand for it, I’ll do one on direct-to-consumer.

Cheers!

Mircea Iosif

Mircea Iosif

1 year ago

How To Start An Online Business That Will Be Profitable Without Investing A Lot Of Time

Don't know how to start an online business? Here's a guide. By following these recommendations, you can build a lucrative and profitable online business.

What Are Online Businesses Used For?

Most online businesses are websites. A self-created, self-managed website. You may sell things and services online.

To establish an internet business, you must locate a host and set up accounts with numerous companies. Once your accounts are set up, you may start publishing content and selling products or services.

How to Make Money from Your Online Business

Advertising and marketing are the best ways to make money online. You must develop strategies to contact new customers and generate leads. Make sure your website is search engine optimized so people can find you online.

Top 5 Online Business Tips for Startups:

1. Know your target audience's needs.

2. Make your website as appealing as possible.

3. Generate leads and sales with marketing.

4. Track your progress and learn from your mistakes to improve.

5. Be prepared to expand into new markets or regions.

How to Launch a Successful Online Business Without Putting in a Lot of Work

Build with a solid business model to start a profitable online business. By using these tips, you can start your online business without paying much.

First, develop a user-friendly website. You can use an internet marketing platform or create your own website. Once your website is live, optimize it for search engines and add relevant content.

Second, sell online. This can be done through ads or direct sales to website visitors. Finally, use social media to advertise your internet business. By accomplishing these things, you'll draw visitors to your website and make money.

When launching a business, invest long-term. This involves knowing your goals and how you'll pay for them. Volatility can have several effects on your business. If you offer things online, you may need to examine if the market is ready for them.

Invest wisely

Investing all your money in one endeavor can lead to too much risk and little ROI. Diversify your investments to take advantage of all available chances. So, your investments won't encounter unexpected price swings and you'll be immune to economic upheavals.

Financial news updates

When launching or running a thriving online business, financial news is crucial. By knowing current trends and upcoming developments, you can keep your business lucrative.

Keeping up with financial news can also help you avoid potential traps that could harm your bottom line. If you don't know about new legislation that could affect your industry, potential customers may choose another store when they learn about your business's problems.

Volatility ahead

You should expect volatility in the financial sector. Without a plan for coping with volatility, you could run into difficulty. If your organization relies on client input, you may not be able to exploit customer behavior shifts.

Your company could go bankrupt if you don't understand how fickle the stock market can be. By preparing for volatility, you can ensure your organization survives difficult times and market crashes.

Conclusion

Many internet businesses can be profitable. Start quickly with a few straightforward steps. Diversify your investments, follow financial news, and be prepared for volatility to develop a successful business.

Thanks for reading!

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Ren & Heinrich

Ren & Heinrich

1 year ago

200 DeFi Projects were examined. Here is what I learned.

Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

I analyze the top 200 DeFi crypto projects in this article.

This isn't a study. The findings benefit crypto investors.

Let’s go!

A set of data

I analyzed data from defillama.com. In my analysis, I used the top 200 DeFis by TVL in October 2022.

Total Locked Value

The chart below shows platform-specific locked value.

14 platforms had $1B+ TVL. 65 platforms have $100M-$1B TVL. The remaining 121 platforms had TVLs below $100 million, with the lowest being $23 million.

TVLs are distributed Pareto. Top 40% of DeFis account for 80% of TVLs.

Compliant Blockchains

Ethereum's blockchain leads DeFi. 96 of the examined projects offer services on Ethereum. Behind BSC, Polygon, and Avalanche.

Five platforms used 10+ blockchains. 36 between 2-10 159 used 1 blockchain.

Use Cases for DeFi

The chart below shows platform use cases. Each platform has decentralized exchanges, liquid staking, yield farming, and lending.

These use cases are DefiLlama's main platform features.

Which use case costs the most? Chart explains. Collateralized debt, liquid staking, dexes, and lending have high TVLs.

The DeFi Industry

I compared three high-TVL platforms (Maker DAO, Balancer, AAVE). The columns show monthly TVL and token price changes. The graph shows monthly Bitcoin price changes.

Each platform's market moves similarly.

Probably because most DeFi deposits are cryptocurrencies. Since individual currencies are highly correlated with Bitcoin, it's not surprising that they move in unison.

Takeaways

This analysis shows that the most common DeFi services (decentralized exchanges, liquid staking, yield farming, and lending) also have the highest average locked value.

Some projects run on one or two blockchains, while others use 15 or 20. Our analysis shows that a project's blockchain count has no correlation with its success.

It's hard to tell if certain use cases are rising. Bitcoin's price heavily affects the entire DeFi market.

TVL seems to be a good indicator of a DeFi platform's success and quality. Higher TVL platforms are cheaper. They're a better long-term investment because they gain or lose less value than DeFis with lower TVLs.

Wayne Duggan

Wayne Duggan

2 years ago

What An Inverted Yield Curve Means For Investors

The yield spread between 10-year and 2-year US Treasury bonds has fallen below 0.2 percent, its lowest level since March 2020. A flattening or negative yield curve can be a bad sign for the economy.

What Is An Inverted Yield Curve? 

In the yield curve, bonds of equal credit quality but different maturities are plotted. The most commonly used yield curve for US investors is a plot of 2-year and 10-year Treasury yields, which have yet to invert.

A typical yield curve has higher interest rates for future maturities. In a flat yield curve, short-term and long-term yields are similar. Inverted yield curves occur when short-term yields exceed long-term yields. Inversions of yield curves have historically occurred during recessions.

Inverted yield curves have preceded each of the past eight US recessions. The good news is they're far leading indicators, meaning a recession is likely not imminent.

Every US recession since 1955 has occurred between six and 24 months after an inversion of the two-year and 10-year Treasury yield curves, according to the San Francisco Fed. So, six months before COVID-19, the yield curve inverted in August 2019.

Looking Ahead

The spread between two-year and 10-year Treasury yields was 0.18 percent on Tuesday, the smallest since before the last US recession. If the graph above continues, a two-year/10-year yield curve inversion could occur within the next few months.

According to Bank of America analyst Stephen Suttmeier, the S&P 500 typically peaks six to seven months after the 2s-10s yield curve inverts, and the US economy enters recession six to seven months later.

Investors appear unconcerned about the flattening yield curve. This is in contrast to the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF TLT +2.19% which was down 1% on Tuesday.

Inversion of the yield curve and rising interest rates have historically harmed stocks. Recessions in the US have historically coincided with or followed the end of a Federal Reserve rate hike cycle, not the start.

middlemarch.eth

middlemarch.eth

2 years ago

ERC721R: A new ERC721 contract for random minting so people don’t snipe all the rares!

That is, how to snipe all the rares without using ERC721R!

Introduction: Blessed and Lucky 

Mphers was the first mfers derivative, and as a Phunks derivative, I wanted one.

I wanted an alien. And there are only 8 in the 6,969 collection. I got one!

In case it wasn't clear from the tweet, I meant that I was lucky to have figured out how to 100% guarantee I'd get an alien without any extra luck.
Read on to find out how I did it, how you can too, and how developers can avoid it!
How to make rare NFTs without luck.

# How to mint rare NFTs without needing luck

The key to minting a rare NFT is knowing the token's id ahead of time.

For example, once I knew my alien was #4002, I simply refreshed the mint page until #3992 was minted, and then mint 10 mphers.

How did I know #4002 was extraterrestrial? Let's go back.

First, go to the mpher contract's Etherscan page and look up the tokenURI of a previously issued token, token #1:

As you can see, mphers creates metadata URIs by combining the token id and an IPFS hash.

This method gives you the collection's provenance in every URI, and while that URI can be changed, it affects everyone and is public.

Consider a token URI without a provenance hash, like https://mphers.art/api?tokenId=1.
As a collector, you couldn't be sure the devs weren't changing #1's metadata at will.
The API allows you to specify “if #4002 has not been minted, do not show any information about it”, whereas IPFS does not allow this.

It's possible to look up the metadata of any token, whether or not it's been minted.
Simply replace the trailing “1” with your desired id.


Mpher #4002

These files contain all the information about the mpher with the specified id. For my alien, we simply search all metadata files for the string “alien mpher.”

Take a look at the 6,969 meta-data files I'm using OpenSea's IPFS gateway, but you could use ipfs.io or something else.


Use curl to download ten files at once. Downloading thousands of files quickly can lead to duplicates or errors. But with a little tweaking, you should be able to get everything (and dupes are fine for our purposes).
Now that you have everything in one place, grep for aliens:


The numbers are the file names that contain “alien mpher” and thus the aliens' ids.
The entire process takes under ten minutes. This technique works on many NFTs currently minting.

In practice, manually minting at the right time to get the alien is difficult, especially when tokens mint quickly. Then write a bot to poll totalSupply() every second and submit the mint transaction at the exact right time.

You could even look for the token you need in the mempool before it is minted, and get your mint into the same block!

However, in my experience, the “big” approach wins 95% of the time—but not 100%.
“Am I being set up all along?”

Is a question you might ask yourself if you're new to this.
It's disheartening to think you had no chance of minting anything that someone else wanted.
But, did you have no opportunity? You had an equal chance as everyone else!
Take me, for instance: I figured this out using open-source tools and free public information. Anyone can do this, and not understanding how a contract works before minting will lead to much worse issues.

The mpher mint was fair.

While a fair game, “snipe the alien” may not have been everyone's cup of tea.
People may have had more fun playing the “mint lottery” where tokens were distributed at random and no one could gain an advantage over someone simply clicking the “mint” button.

How might we proceed?
Minting For Fashion Hats Punks, I wanted to create a random minting experience without sacrificing fairness. In my opinion, a predictable mint beats an unfair one. Above all, participants must be equal.

Sadly, the most common method of creating a random experience—the post-mint “reveal”—is deeply unfair. It works as follows:

  • During the mint, token metadata is unavailable. Instead, tokenURI() returns a blank JSON file for each id.
  • An IPFS hash is updated once all tokens are minted.
  • You can't tell how the contract owner chose which token ids got which metadata, so it appears random.

Because they alone decide who gets what, the person setting the metadata clearly has a huge unfair advantage over the people minting. Unlike the mpher mint, you have no chance of winning here.
But what if it's a well-known, trusted, doxxed dev team? Are reveals okay here?
No! No one should be trusted with such power. Even if someone isn't consciously trying to cheat, they have unconscious biases. They might also make a mistake and not realize it until it's too late, for example.

You should also not trust yourself. Imagine doing a reveal, thinking you did it correctly (nothing is 100%! ), and getting the rarest NFT. Isn't that a tad odd Do you think you deserve it? An NFT developer like myself would hate to be in this situation.

Reveals are bad*

UNLESS they are done without trust, meaning everyone can verify their fairness without relying on the developers (which you should never do).
An on-chain reveal powered by randomness that is verifiably outside of anyone's control is the most common way to achieve a trustless reveal (e.g., through Chainlink).

Tubby Cats did an excellent job on this reveal, and I highly recommend their contract and launch reflections. Their reveal was also cool because it was progressive—you didn't have to wait until the end of the mint to find out.

In his post-launch reflections, @DefiLlama stated that he made the contract as trustless as possible, removing as much trust as possible from the team.

In my opinion, everyone should know the rules of the game and trust that they will not be changed mid-stream, while trust minimization is critical because smart contracts were designed to reduce trust (and it makes it impossible to hack even if the team is compromised). This was a huge mistake because it limited our flexibility and our ability to correct mistakes.

And @DefiLlama is a superstar developer. Imagine how much stress maximizing trustlessness will cause you!

That leaves me with a bad solution that works in 99 percent of cases and is much easier to implement: random token assignments.

Introducing ERC721R: A fully compliant IERC721 implementation that picks token ids at random.

ERC721R implements the opposite of a reveal: we mint token ids randomly and assign metadata deterministically.
This allows us to reveal all metadata prior to minting while reducing snipe chances.
Then import the contract and use this code:

What is ERC721R and how does it work

First, a disclaimer: ERC721R isn't truly random. In this sense, it creates the same “game” as the mpher situation, where minters compete to exploit the mint. However, ERC721R is a much more difficult game.
To game ERC721R, you need to be able to predict a hash value using these inputs:

This is impossible for a normal person because it requires knowledge of the block timestamp of your mint, which you do not have.

To do this, a miner must set the timestamp to a value in the future, and whatever they do is dependent on the previous block's hash, which expires in about ten seconds when the next block is mined.

This pseudo-randomness is “good enough,” but if big money is involved, it will be gamed. Of course, the system it replaces—predictable minting—can be manipulated.
The token id is chosen in a clever implementation of the Fisher–Yates shuffle algorithm that I copied from CryptoPhunksV2.

Consider first the naive solution: (a 10,000 item collection is assumed):

  1. Make an array with 0–9999.
  2. To create a token, pick a random item from the array and use that as the token's id.
  3. Remove that value from the array and shorten it by one so that every index corresponds to an available token id.

This works, but it uses too much gas because changing an array's length and storing a large array of non-zero values is expensive.

How do we avoid them both? What if we started with a cheap 10,000-zero array? Let's assign an id to each index in that array.

Assume we pick index #6500 at random—#6500 is our token id, and we replace the 0 with a 1.

But what if we chose #6500 again? A 1 would indicate #6500 was taken, but then what? We can't just "roll again" because gas will be unpredictable and high, especially later mints.

This allows us to pick a token id 100% of the time without having to keep a separate list. Here's how it works:

  1. Make a 10,000 0 array.
  2. Create a 10,000 uint numAvailableTokens.
  3. Pick a number between 0 and numAvailableTokens. -1
  4. Think of #6500—look at index #6500. If it's 0, the next token id is #6500. If not, the value at index #6500 is your next token id (weird!)
  5. Examine the array's last value, numAvailableTokens — 1. If it's 0, move the value at #6500 to the end of the array (#9999 if it's the first token). If the array's last value is not zero, update index #6500 to store it.
  6. numAvailableTokens is decreased by 1.
  7. Repeat 3–6 for the next token id.

So there you go! The array stays the same size, but we can choose an available id reliably. The Solidity code is as follows:


GitHub url

Unfortunately, this algorithm uses more gas than the leading sequential mint solution, ERC721A.

This is most noticeable when minting multiple tokens in one transaction—a 10 token mint on ERC721R costs 5x more than on ERC721A. That said, ERC721A has been optimized much further than ERC721R so there is probably room for improvement.

Conclusion

Listed below are your options:

  • ERC721A: Minters pay lower gas but must spend time and energy devising and executing a competitive minting strategy or be comfortable with worse minting results.
  • ERC721R: Higher gas, but the easy minting strategy of just clicking the button is optimal in all but the most extreme cases. If miners game ERC721R it’s the worst of both worlds: higher gas and a ton of work to compete.
  • ERC721A + standard reveal: Low gas, but not verifiably fair. Please do not do this!
  • ERC721A + trustless reveal: The best solution if done correctly, highly-challenging for dev, potential for difficult-to-correct errors.

Did I miss something? Comment or tweet me @dumbnamenumbers.
Check out the code on GitHub to learn more! Pull requests are welcome—I'm sure I've missed many gas-saving opportunities.

Thanks!

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