The first part, I wasn't talking about building it. I was talking about a customer, who is stuck paying $999-2500 a month, for a product that can be built by a few programmers in a few weeks.
That hypothetical startup wouldn't need to give customer service. You want customer service and like paying large fees? Go to stackexchange, you want a working solution at a huge discount? You come to the hypothetical startup.
Basically its the case of Stackexchange playing the role of a big pricey inbred company, and you giving them the 34signals option
Correct. But the total cost of hiring a programmer is easily estimated as 3*salary. $200k/year is a fairly cheap full-time programmer with overhead.
Don't forget to include all the office space, gym membership, soda, insurance, maternity leave, matching 401(k) contributions, hardware, software, internet access, telephone service, tech support, sysadmins, office managers, etc. necessary to support that one programmer.