I'll probably launch it late this week or next week. I have no audience, and don't expect massive profits either. I made it mostly because I want it. Since I plan on using it extensively, I honestly don't care if I have huge profits or a gigantic audience. I spent $5 on the domain name, am hosting it along with 10 other sites on a $5/month digital ocean box. I put in some great work this weekend, and am now going to end up with something that will fit nicely into my workflow.
It will ship with a decent free plan, and a $5/month pro plan with some expanded capabilities. If one person signs up for the pro plan, that covers the cost of hosting for this site and 9 other sites (bonus!) If 2 people sign up for the pro plan, it's profitable. If zero people sign up, I paid a very small cost for something that's going to be really useful to me.
Sometimes I wonder why so many developers gravitate towards huge ideas that they think other people might want rather than starting small, with things that you want. With this little thing I'm making, there's no risk. I've already won.
One for example makes about $500 revenue with $200 expenses and 2 hours a year. It’s profitable, I’m not doing it because I like spending time on it - or I’d spend more time on it.
These aren’t traditional businesses, but they sure aren’t hobbies. They are services I think need to exist, and that I can create, without "wasting my time".
In contrast, a business would be going in with the intention of the service/app being successful (profitable or popular). Maybe hobby isn't the best way to describe it, but I agree your way of looking at things is closer to a hobby then a business.
For me weather something is a business or a hobby has more to do with outlook than anything else. A few lucky people have insanely profitable, and scalable hobbies with 1000s of employees, and plenty of kids are struggling to keep their lawn mowing biz afloat so they can afford a new video game.
Over the years I've been told that company I founded 8 years ago, and has been my and several other peoples's day job ever since, is a hobby for many reasons, including not enough W2 employees, revenue and so on. Which, even though these things were said to prop up the speakers egos, made me think on the topic - and this is what I've come up with.
edit: totally rewritten
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The only real difference is that the author won't feel too much pain if it doesn't make a lot of money.
Just because the parent has reduced the risk of setting up a business doesn't mean he isn't setting up a business. There's no compelling reason to believe that the parent commenter has any smaller chance of success than any other business - but he surely has a smaller chance of making a significant loss.
Really? He stated in his comments that he doesn't plan to do anything for this site. No marketing, no publicity, nothing. His goal is to not lose money. Not to make money, just simply to not lose any. Do you think that has the same chance as success as someone who's only goal is to make money?
It goes back to my original comment on his post - if your #1 goal isn't making money, then you should consider it a hobby. That's not a bad thing at all, again, it's to keep things realistic with yourself.
Yes, or at least maybe. The viability of businesses is extremely low in almost all circumstances. Doing something creative and putting it out there with a will to get some income from it perhaps has no lower chance than a more aggressive business strategy.
By reducing the cost of running the business to near-zero, you extend your runway to near-infinite. I'd say it's as good a bet as a VC-funded startup which needs regular cash injections to survive infancy.
> if your #1 goal isn't making money
I understand why you are saying that, and given the state of the world, you may well be correct in your belief.
However, I find it an extreme and quite a negative view.
As a consumer, I (with my limited economic power) would rather support people and small businesses with a #1 goal of improving the world in at least a small way - perhaps those which you would probably call hobbies - rather than support things that have a primary or exclusive goal of making money.
I believe that having money as a primary focus will, slowly but surely, damage your business branding over time.
Thinking about it some more, most things I "fund" are a bit like this:
* Ubuntu Phone (RIP)
Ethical criteria are not high on my list, but I try to apply them to the best of my knowledge when two competing services both meet my needs. E.g. LibreOffice vs Microsoft Office, and Starbucks vs local coffee house (if you count that as tech related), I tend to have an ethical preference for small and/or local businesses: I think it benefits me to support diversity and the local community.
Some nice tech companies that I'm aware of:
* Hog Bay Software
* 7 Generation Games
So i was reading a paper on supply chain management and thought maybe i can implement this process for taking my ideas from inception to prototype. This is not a startup and i will use the cheapest hosting i can find, but i am thinking of allowing people to use it in the web and app form. If it gets traction, i will adjust app accordingy, if not i have a cool process to get my ideas out and visualize their process.
The bottom line is: "Don't build technology unless you feel the pain of not having it." http://nathanmarz.com/blog/suffering-oriented-programming.ht...
(The fact that you didn't say shows that you REALLY aren't concerned about marketing! But I'm still curious.)
I can't think of any valuable product that was created this way.
If you want to see lots of doomed Kickstarter campaigns, look at the local listings for your town. I live in San Diego and even for a big city there are tons of campaigns that maybe earn 1% of their goal and look thrown together with little planning.
Sounds like that advice applies more to the latter route than the former.
1) Obviously you see if there's any demand for your product but perhaps more importantly ...
2) It forces developers to put on their salesperson hat. Lots of us developers just like building products and just willfully ignore the other part - selling the darn things!
This seems like sound advice, but I'd like to hear more on the execution of it. Do you actually get these people to sign contracts, or is it more of getting people to say "yeah, I'll pay you for that"? Do you let them know you haven't written any code, or just say it's "in development"? Etc., etc.
Something like this works great when you have an audience and/or have some decent previews to show. (btw, my takeaway here is not 'this only works for internet-famous people,' but rather, 'it's a great idea to build an audience for your idea and show them previews to keep the leads hot')
Great learning experience though, and this post is a reminder to me to make sure I don't repeat the same mistake.
I will be adding the ability to purchase it as a subscription so that if others want to use the product they can too, but ultimately I'm building something I want to use.
Jason Cohen's statement is based on the idea that all software is written with profit in mind, and there are a good number of years in Open Source that prove that to not be true.
Usually in most cases the code is not the direct source of income for the developers.
I have been working on this app for the past year it seems like, with development really amping up in the last 6 months. We just brought on another developer to help us finish up and get it out the door. I submitted my market information and business proposal to a university marketing research class, and they gathered data from a 50 person survey for us, which validated our ideas & assumptions. When we do launch it will be a quiet soft launch with friends & family trying it out first. Then we will tweak it with their feedback before we really try to make it public and do serious marketing efforts.
All of that said, our monetization strategy won't be implemented until post-launch once we have this feedback from actual users and a good amount of them sticking around. The whole thing is bootstrapped and we haven't spent anything, aside from the weekend development hours. Does this seem like the right approach for launching our product?
Depending on your product, I might recommend starting to build an audience of people interested in your product. Try to interact with them as soon as possible. Get them interested. Then when you launch, you have a stable of warm leads, champing at the bit to go.
While I don't know about 30, we use some apps in house that clients began to use for their business. We're now looking at building those apps for ourselves and our clients are on board. We'll be saving the expenses, and have some folks on board before day one. Cool.
Along the road we have had the clients ask us if we can extend the app for certain use cases they have. Since we built their web-presence and integrated those with other tools.. Lets just say things are developing.
So maybe look to your existing clients (you know, the work you do during the tim you wish you were building your app). They are a great source for us, so far...
Of course, determining significance is left as an exercise for the reader.
You say you built a landing page with mailchimp signups for your new product. Did you get many signups? And I suppose these were just signups, no money involved, right? Did a good chunck turn into paying customers?
I would love to know more.
The whole story is here: https://www.petekeen.net/adventures-in-self-publishing
I'm reading the "Adventures" post as we speak.
In general, developers are a terrible market because they think they can do whatever you did better / cheaper / faster, and they won't shut up about it.
Most developers that I know have two common traits that make info products an easier sell. First, they're innately curious about their field. Second, they have access to a company credit card that will happily pay for training materials.
- I already keep notes in markdown using nValt. It's fast. And it's free.
- I sync these notes, which are just .markdown files in a directory on my machine, with Dropbox. Now I can edit these notes on my iDevices.
- Your service costs me money to do what I do for free.
- If I need more bells and whistles, I use Evernote. Evernote is also free for me.
- Emailing myself notes with tags in the subject in is also free.
Why should I spent $5/mo to use a digital journaling service, and then more time to make this service work with the rest of my workflow, when I already have things in place that take care of my note taking problem?
I would need a great incentive to switch how I take notes. I'm thinking a bunch of other developers thought the same thing.
Finally, at least you shipped something. Nice retrospective. Keep at it.
Edit: It's interesting seeing this post and "Ask HN: How do you store and organize your startup ideas?" on the front page at the same time :)
Just like the OP, you've generalized your personal experience to other developers. It is an easy trap to fall into. I agree with the takeaway called out in another comment: validate the idea as objectively as possible and as early as possible.
What you're echoing is also correct.
- why in hell would I want to use a browser-based solution for something a free, native, off-line program is much better?
Dropbox is not a negation of my argument, in that they handle the annoyance of keeping a storage service up.
In my cartoon mind if gmail is down, then storing notes in gmail doesn't work, but the bigger headache is gmail is down not that I can't access some minor notes. So just use gmail for free. Or github. Or a browser extension to "save email to dropbox or google drive"
The other problem is you have a very narrow window of opportunity for a programmers note taker because of habits. The concept of writing README and TODO files and inserting source comments or placeholders, perhaps with tags to search for and ASCII art for markup, has been a part of programming education and tradition for a long time. Could you sell a note taker app to noobs who don't already have a github / text editor habit? Well, maybe, but it'll be harder.
So in my cartoon mind I have an idea it gets entered into TODO or perhaps as a TODO flagged comment in the appropriate spot and its done. You need a wedge to fit your process into it. Like if PUSHes to github regularly failed or github filtered out source code comments to "save disk space" or something. But if it works great, something new is going to be a hard sell.
Now if you did something unusual once you got the data that might sell. Here's a nice web front end that uses GIT and/or github and/or dropbox and/or google drive and/or gmail as a backend.
Get together a group of people -- pay them if you have to -- who are committed to using your product before you do a real public launch, and then new users will immediately be engaged and it will grow from there. Launching without this spells disaster.
If you are launching SaaS that doesn't depend on other parties' involvement, you should still gauge interest, but it's OK to start small.
It was a significant amount of money for this dev - but it could have been done even cheaper with the aws free tier and getting an ssl cert from somewhere like positivessl / commodo.
Great post for us because even though these lessons have been written about before, it seems to take lots of repetition for them to sink in all the way.
I think that would be a strange thing to search for, and I'm not sure it would be a profitable demographic.
Sometimes the problem is not just "do people search for something" but who are those people doing those searches?