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Need techie advice on launching new startup

Dear Joel Readers,

After 18 months of evening/weekend R&D, I'm finally ready to launch my new technology company.  I will be providing a unique software-based service to a group of professionals, and although I haven't officially opened my doors yet, I already have paying customers.  Basically, *everyone* who has seen the demo  immediately signed up.  Everything else is in place - the company is incorporated, a marketing plan ready to go, attorney and CPA hired, website done, bank account setup, etc.  I'm a one-man show, by the way.

I have a few questions for you all.

First, I have no - that's right, NO - competition in my market segment.  What can I do, if anything (except legal), to stymie my potential competition?  I'm no programming God, and I suspect 80% of you out there are "better" programmers than I, but it was technically VERY difficult to get the software to do what it needed to accomplish, even with the assistance of a few people who I consider programmers extraordinaire.

Second, in light of the lack of competition, I'm charging my clients what I personally consider top-dollar for the service.  Yet, a few of them stated that they wouldn't think twice if the service cost 50% more.  If you were in my position, would you charge as much as you could get away with?  Mind you, I'd rather have happy, long-term profits and clients than a single one-time profit off a client who will be looking for a cheaper alternative.

Any advice regarding the above is MUCH appreciated, and any other thoughts on the startup issue overall are welcome.

JustGettingStarted
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Be careful. Very careful. Just ONE demo is enough to create competition.

Once bitten twice shy
Sunday, January 04, 2004

As soon as word gets out you will immediately have 20 or 30 competitors.  Almost overnight.  Been there. 

You haven't told us who your customers are, so I don't know how price sensitive they are.  I've seen a lot of people charge a few hundred dollars for something they could've easily sold for a few thousand. 

You should have metrics available telling you what to set the price at to make it worth your while.  This is a seperate item from how much you can charge.  It will set a baseline but not a ceiling.  Again it depends on your market, but it might be worth hiring a marketing consultant to help determine price.  You might also use them to help flesh out your marketing plan further.  Every one I've seen or done has operating metrics.

You beat the competition by gaining first mover advantage and selling the heck out of it.
gotta go

 
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Keep it in "stealth mode". And don't publicize your product. This adds an aura of smart and secretive to your corporation. As everyone already stated, once you say what your product does it will be copied.

Tom Vu
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Also, give extremely limited documentation to your customers. This will force them to come to you for the simplest of tasks. Great lock-in. 

Tom Vu
Sunday, January 04, 2004

A market without competition, isn't.
See:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/dnsoftware/html/software12292003.asp

Tal Rotbart
Sunday, January 04, 2004

"A market without competition, isn't."

Usually, this is true but there must always be the first one in a market.

The Great Economist
Sunday, January 04, 2004

This doesn't sound like mass-market software that needs to be sold to a hundred corporations or hundreds of thousands of consumers in order to make a profit.

This seems like the case where there isn't a market because the niche is so small that big competitors won't bother with it.  And with a one-man shop you don't need a huge customer base to be profitable.

T. Norman
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Be careful, you can get an advice from a competitor, soon or later, who don't want you in this business. So, filter and think.

Evgeny Gesin /Javadesk.com/
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Competition is a part of life in the business world.  Even if you have a patent or a monopoly there are still competitors.  If you expect to depend on a lack of competition to be successful, do yourself a favor and cut your losses by stopping now.

Stop spending so much energy worrying about how to "protect" yourself from competition, and focus on developing and marketing your product so you'll be able to stand up to the competition.

NoName
Sunday, January 04, 2004

I should have also added that standing up to competitors includes proper pricing.  So yes, if a lower price means lower profits but also lower long-term risk, it may make sense to use that lower price if it is still high enough to meet your profitability goals.  However, bear in mind that once you set a price it will be difficult to raise it significantly in the future.  Easier to drop a high price than raise a low one and have the market accept it.

NoName
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Make sure you price your software right.  If it is
domain-specific software that is highly useful to a
specific business, you may need to charge more since
your customer universe may be relatively small.  Pricing
is the trickiest part of new software in a new market,
and the mistake that lots of people make is often to
be too cheap.  Also note that the price of software should
be a function of value delivery to the customer and
the market size and should have nothing to do with the
complexity of the programming involved (other than to
cover your costs, obviously).  My own company has
grappled with costing and finally has a cost scheme that
seems to work, but it has been one of the hardest
problems we've had.

foobarista
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Be very, very careful about being overconfident, and do whatever you can to convey the value of your efforts to your clients.

I worked for a small company that installed a web-store management software for a client and designed a few stores for their partners to use. We charged a premium for the work we did putting the management software in place, because it enabled the partner to make stock changes without coming to the client or us every time - we simply planned on getting the business each time they put a different partner in a store (basically overhaul the store).

Well, the job of overhauling the stores went to the CTO's husband at 1/4 of what we were charging. Of course, he had no idea how to work the management software - he just frontpaged the changes into our generated html, so the partner couldn't use it to manage the stores - if there was an offering change, the partner went to the client, who went to the developer.

The developer also didn't have the design talents we did - that much was obvious.

The client didn't care. All they saw was 75% savings. Never mind that it wasn't 75% because they paid for every single change. And that doesn't account for lost productiivty because the client's staff now has to manage changes.

I'm not saying what they did was right or wrong; I'm offering a cautionary tale to make *sure* your clients understand what they're paying for and the value of your services.

Philo

Philo
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Thanks for the comments so far - I really appreciate it!

Regarding that article on MSDN, "A market without competition, isn't".  Interesting, but as with all things in life, there are always exceptions.  When I gave my 1st 4 on-site demos, all 4 clients signed up on the spot - and the software wasn't even done.  I don't believe that I have created a solution for a non-existant problem, judging from the response I've gotten thus far.

>> This doesn't sound like mass-market software that needs to be sold to a hundred corporations or hundreds of thousands of consumers in order to make a profit.

Correct.  I've projected about 100 new clients this first year.  My expenses are minimal, particularly because I don't need to pay myself immediately.  And each new client produces a very nice hefty profit at sign-up, with residual income from monthly usage fees.

>> Stop spending so much energy worrying about how to "protect" yourself from competition, and focus on developing and marketing your product so you'll be able to stand up to the competition.

Point well taken, although I'm not losing any sleep over this issue, but rather losing sleep working late into the night :)

JustGettingStarted
Sunday, January 04, 2004

100 clients?  In a year?  Do you really think you can (1) obtain that many clients, and (2) could you handle them if you got them?

And do you need anything close to that to make a profit (after paying yourself a livable salary)?

T. Norman
Sunday, January 04, 2004

100 new clients in a year?
You realize that's one client every two days?

Philo

Philo
Sunday, January 04, 2004

>> 100 clients?  In a year?  Do you really think you can (1) obtain that many clients?

Yes.  I'm in an *extremely* specific niche, and I know *exactly* who are my potential clients and how to reach them.

>> and (2) could you handle them if you got them?

100 by myself?  No way.  With my current 4, who have required virtually NO support, I think I could handle about 20 by myself, if they "behave" like my current 4.

>> And do you need anything close to that to make a profit (after paying yourself a livable salary)?

Not at all.  I'm courting one new potential client right now that would immediately put $70k in my company coffers right up front, with additional monthly fees in the $3-4k range.  They are what I consider to be a large client.

Support costs, which decimate so many software company budgets, will hopefully not be an issue for my company.  Using the software is a no-brainer and takes only 10 minutes to master.  And it only performs 1 main function, with some additional, optional functionality.  I have designed not just the software, but the company itself, to be as self-supporting as possible, especially in the area of adding personnel to keep the venture running.

JustGettingStarted
Sunday, January 04, 2004

I think you're pulling our collective leg.

As a rule, you need to be a large company to afford 70K + 3-4K per month.

In general, big companies aren't going to buy enterprise software from a 1 man shop.

In general, the sales pipeline takes a hell of a lot longer than 2 days.

Even longer if they're paying 70K for it.

You could make a million dollars every month if you taught people to reduce the sales pipeline in the dilbert sector from several months to 2 days.

 
Sunday, January 04, 2004

>> I think you're pulling our collective leg.

Well, being that we don't know one another, and it looks like most posts here are done anonymously, all I can tell you is that I have better things to do than posting complete fiction on this forum.

>> As a rule, you need to be a large company to afford 70K + 3-4K per month.

True.

>> In general, big companies aren't going to buy enterprise software from a 1 man shop.

Also true.  However, I'm not selling a complicated CRM system that needs a whole staff to implement, train and support, both on the client side as well as my side.

>> In general, the sales pipeline takes a hell of a lot longer than 2 days.  Even longer if they're paying 70K for it.

That is of course based on what you're selling and the price.  All I can say is that $70k and $3-4k/mo doesn't even register on this particular client's radar.

>> You could make a million dollars every month if you taught people to reduce the sales pipeline in the dilbert sector from several months to 2 days.

Or just sell a product that TRULY solves a specific, nagging biz problem, as I have for my clients.

Thanks for your input - much appreciated.

JustGettingStarted
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Ideas are cheap, execution is what matters.  Why are you scared?

ted
Sunday, January 04, 2004

No fear here.  Just looking for some advice from some of you who have already been where I'm heading.

JustGettingStarted
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Well, if you tell us what your niche is, we might be able to help you.

ted
Sunday, January 04, 2004

"I will be providing a unique software-based service to a group of professionals"

I assume we're talking about one of the 'professions' according to the legal definition.

"I'm courting one new potential client right now that would immediately put $70k in my company coffers right up front, with additional monthly fees in the $3-4k range"

I'm trying to think of a niche that has professionals in it that generates that kind of money.  Individual practitioners don't have that kind of money.  Maybe some kind of practice management software for groups of professionals?

No, that's got a lot of competitors and you said there are none.

Maybe you're defining competition in a strict sense of brand competitors? 

TV stations don't just compete against other TV stations.  They have to compete against video games, internet, etc.

Good luck!

ted
Sunday, January 04, 2004

With the numbers he is quoting, this guy has either figured out perpetual motion or the cure for cancer.

If the numbers are really for real then I hardly think you need help from anyone here.  Get a lawyer, get a banker, and go make a couple of Megabucks before whatever the hell you are up to gets out.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Sunday, January 04, 2004


It sounds like you're heading in the right direction, based on my experience.

I agree with the above suggestions:

1. Operate in stealth mode. You see how much buzz that's generated on THIS forum. 

2. Cashflow cashflow cashflow.  Charge enough for your product, which it sounds like you're doing.  Charge to little and you run the risk of FEWER sales because customers think "this can't possibly solve a $100k problem for $5k", etc.  We did that. We then raised prices 50% and got MORE sales, FEWER complaints about price, and, of course, made more money.

3. Don't sweat the competition.
Read Michael Dell's book (Dell ...something or other). He makes a strong point to focus on CUSTOMERSs.  Competition won't hurt you (much ;-) it'll just give you a good yardstick and sharpen you.  I initially worried about our ENTRENCHED competition, hasn't been a problem.  It's a big market out there (even for our tiny niche).  Mr. Dell points out that focusing on the competition forces you to be a step behind them. You can't lead that way.

Good luck.

For great generic articles on this sort of thing, check out :
Dexterity.com  (the developer section). He's got smart stuff to say, based on my own experience of nearly 10 years.

Entrepreneur
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Thanks for the words of encouragement!  I'll check out dexterity.com later this evening.

JustGettingStarted
Sunday, January 04, 2004

JustGettingStarted, I think you might be having yourself on as well as us. As others have pointed out, your story doesn't ring true.

If you've got all the i's dotted, such as by hiring "CPA's" and a "lawyer," and having a "marketing plan," you wouldn't need to ask for advice here. You probably wouldn't have time either.

I dare to suggest you've developed some piddly little web site and you're not aware of what a commodity it is, and how easily you would be rolled if it was a genuine market.

me
Sunday, January 04, 2004

STEALTH mode?!.  You guys are killing me!  You should really write a marketing book!

Do NOT operate in stealth mode.  Sell that crap as fast as you can, and let everybody know about it.  You might obtain first mover advantage.  But if the idea is worth anything, there WILL be competition. 

What if I told you that you could build a successful company by selling a web based bug tracker?!  What a lame idea!  That could never work.  The market is saturated!

There's a lot of developers that are reading this forum that could write that software... A lot of developers have already written that software & released it.  Some are quite good and some are quite good AND FREE.  But Joel's building a successful company by actually EXECUTING!

Maybe he should keep quite about it?  His sales would go through the roof!

You want to know about areas of fast growth business opportunity?  Pick up a business rag people.  They're full of ideas.  Check out the Inc. 500.  Check out Entrepreneur or Fast Company or Business 2.0 or ...

somebody that's been involved in 3 startups
Sunday, January 04, 2004

What's the market segment? Doctors, lawyers, etc? I am just curious (and certainly you won't create a competitor just by telling us the segment.)

Dwilliams
Sunday, January 04, 2004

I'm sorry.  I just can't believe that you are selling software for $75,000 plus monthly fees in the range of $3,000-$4,000 and you've got 100 sales already in the pipeline.  And no competition. 

Let's say that you sell the software only for $50,000 and collect monthly fees of only $3,000 for each customer.  Off of those initial 100 customers, you're talking $5,000,000 in sales plus $3,600,000 in fees.  Not bad.  In 5 years with steady sales we're looking at $18,000,000 in fees alone. 

Think if you have any growth!  Poof.  You're single handedly sitting on a $100M company. 

You definitely wouldn't be hanging out here.

rob
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Is it a dog walking service?  Cause you know they already have that...

GuyIncognito
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Man, some of you guys make for a tough crowd!  I've spoken to numerous marketing people regarding pricing, and got a different answer from each "guru".  Biz advice from biz attornies?  Same thing.  This is the *first* time (last?) that I'm trying to get some constructive advice from my peers!  At the risk of sounding like a dick, if you're (a) unemployed, (b) under-employed or (c) just a worker drone who's never had an original idea, please don't respond to this thread - I don't need your advice.

>> Think if you have any growth!  Poof.  You're single handedly sitting on a $100M company.  You definitely wouldn't be hanging out here.

I need to clarify.  My pricing is based on the number of users, with this particular client being on the large scale.  Looking at my market, I'm looking at an average sale of $3k with about $100-200 monthly ongoing fees.  With thousands of potential clients, yeah - I stand to do well for myself.  But I'm not kidding myself either - if I can do it, another programmer can to.

I'd like to hear more from you who have taken the stealth operating mode.  Worthwhile?  Or bullshit, as one of the previous posters implied.  A few marketing people I've spoken to said it's a smart move, and a few others said it's suicide.  On the one hand, it would be nice to fly "under the radar" until I get a sufficient number of clients and cashflow, but then that also puts a damper on the general marketing effort.

>> Is it a dog walking service?  Cause you know they already have that...

Hey, I know a guy here in town who performs the service of cleaning up dog crap from lawns.  Just bought himself a new work van, so I guess he's doing OK!

JustGettingStarted
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Good luck.

Let us know more when you emerge from Stealth mode...

Kentasy
Sunday, January 04, 2004

After reading through this thread, then reviewing the heading, my only "tech" advice would be - finish programming the damn application!

John Murray
Sunday, January 04, 2004

I have equity in a 5 person startup, can I comment?

If you can't give us your elevator speech, then your idea is worthless.

http://www.entrepreneur.com/Your_Business/YB_SegArticle/0,4621,311585-1----,00.html


Sunday, January 04, 2004

Own up, JustGettingStarted, this is a project for Marketing 101 for your MBA, isn't it? These are the inconsistencies that sink you:

1) You're a guy on your own yet you've outlayed all the bumf on attorneys, accountants, marketing plan and marketing advisors. Guys on their own do not do this unless their business is already solid, in which case they're not asking for advice from anyone.

2) You say you listen to conflicting advice from numerous advisors in the above category yet you complain about negative advice from us, who you incorrectly decribe as your peers. You also condemn unemployed people and worker drones. In other words, you are not genuinely seeking advice at all.

3) The figures and the ready sign-on of customers read like some MBA's wet dream.

me
Sunday, January 04, 2004

"After 18 months of evening/weekend R&D, I'm finally ready to launch my new technology company"

An established company will take much less than 18 months to duplicate your work, or to develop an alternative solution to the problem that your application solves.

"First, I have no - that's right, NO - competition in my market segment.  What can I do, if anything (except legal), to stymie my potential competition?"

Give up now. Even if your customers really do have a need that noone else has met, there's nothing you can do to stop people solving the problem in some other way, and taking your customers away from you.

"Looking at my market, I'm looking at an average sale of $3k with about $100-200 monthly ongoing fees."

"Stealth mode" ?  How do you seriously plan to find thousands of customers, particularly if you don't want anyone else to find out you're approaching these customers? If thousands of people already have this need and can immediately recognise an essential tool to meet their need then you have to wonder how likely it is that noone else has ever or will ever want that market.

If the market is profitable then you will develop competition no matter what you do. No patent, trademark, copyright or other IP related legal protection will stop other developers from noticing that there is a market and working out some other way to take your customers away from you.

Your terrible fear of having us know what this market is indicates that you already know you can't stop other people competing in this market.

There is some good news, though. What you can do is accept the existance of competition but be confident that you can do something so well that you can keep making money even if other people join in. Welcome to capitalism.


Sunday, January 04, 2004

You said you are in a small niche, so you don't need to advertise. Stay under the radar and lockin your customers. Go after the most influential company in this little niche and give that customer a discount. Then tell the wannabe companies that if they want to survive they need your product. It's also important to be good looking and likable, if you aren't then hire an actor or comedian who is. Also fill out some patent forms and label your product as patent-pending. Put the product in a box or have an image of a box on your website or brochure. If you ordered lunch at a fast food place, tell your potential customer that you are in talks with a fast food franchise...let their imagination take it from there.

Of course, if your product is actually good you don't need any of that.

Tom Vu
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Offer toilet paper instead of stock options, they'll be worth more. :-P

Arnold
Monday, January 05, 2004

A few of then said they would pay 50% more- who is that stupid.  I too think this thread rings false but it is an interesting question and one I faced with my own project.  My conclusion:

It is straight-forward to duplicate software once an example is viewable by the public.  Expect it to take 2 years minimum to do this once they have decided it is worth doing.  In a niche it should take others at least two years of you being successful to even decide to duplicate it so you have 4 years head start.

A large company will try to FUD you out of existence.  Your only weapon in the sort of market you describe is better software and better customer service.  For large horizontal apps customer service is trumped by huge company.  For small vertical apps customer service  can win!

Name withheld out of cowardice
Monday, January 05, 2004

Here's an idea. I got it from the slashdot crowd. Make your code open source so that the whole world can, um, uh, contribute, that's it, contribute.

old_timer
Monday, January 05, 2004

JustGettingStarted,
As you can plainly see it already has started. Never under estimate the willingness of the development community to knock the legs out from under you. Most I've met are unwilling to take even a slight risk, it goes against the nature of development itself.

When I told an old coworker I was gonna try and start my own business in the future he said "Why? So you can fail like so many?".

I said "Yes. Out of failure comes success. There isn't one without the other".



To address your second question I say charge as much as the market will bear. If you can get 50% more than do it now while you don't have competition and raise it later when you see yourself losing sales to cheaper alternatives. You can still give them a high quality product and treat them just as well.

trollbooth
Monday, January 05, 2004

JustGettingStarted:
Okay, all negativity aside...

You've got some niche with an apparently complex but necessary business process that you've automated with a very simple user interface.

My first thought is "get insurance"
My second thought is "get lots of insurance"

Seriously - you MUST HAVE errors and omissions insurance. You are a prime candidate for a lawsuit if it turns out that your panacea accidentally drops .015 off every second entry on odd Fridays, costing a bank ten million dollars before it notices the error.

I know - you've tested it. I know - you've worked the equations a thousand times backwards and forewards. I know - you've had four accounting firms verify your results.

My response: "Pentium Floating Point Error"

Mistakes happen. Insurance is how you deal with them happening to you.

Philo

Philo
Monday, January 05, 2004

Remember your four risks: People, Technology, Money, Market.  Keep them managed.

People is just you, but it won't always be that.  Have the right people.

Technology is your product.  You seem to have that well in hand.  Keep it up.

Money is the strictly monetary risk for your venture.  How much does your business cost you, and what's the expected return in value and time?  This is important to you for obvious reasons, and will be even more important when/if you seek out external investors.  You may need this if you decide you need to grow faster than your current revenue allows.

Speaking of external investors, their eyes tend to light up when they see patents.  Consider whether the problem you solve, and the way in which you solve it, is patentable.  This will protect you from competitors who take one look at your solution, figure out how to emulate it in a couple of months, slap on a few extra features and/or lots of marketing muscle, and steal your market share.  IIRC, a patent lasts for five years, of which roughly 18-24 months will be pending work while the legal work gets done, and will cost $10-20k in fees.

Finally, marketing.  Will the dog eat the dog food?  This is by far the greatest risk, one on which companies spend millions of dollars to manage.  With your niche, you have fewer variables to consider, but that may change someday.

Good luck...

Paul Brinkley
Monday, January 05, 2004

Don't worry about competition. Provide great software and great service, and everything else will fall into place.  Good luck.

Harvey Motulsky
Monday, January 05, 2004

From a .techie. POV, isn.t your big problem building a smart sales team and figuring out incentives?  If demand of your product is so strong, you.re clearly saving your customers a good deal of cash.  Didn.t you guesstimate how much they stand to save and keep that in mind for how you do your price?  From your comments, I would get the impression you.re negotiating price case by case.

Anyway, if you were hiring me, that.s what I.d ask about.  I would think if you got that right, your competition would be far more afraid of you than the other way around.  Because they.d have to not only compete technically.  Good luck finishing the product.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Monday, January 05, 2004

Sorry if that.s hard to read, lynx bites me again...

Tayssir John Gabbour
Monday, January 05, 2004

Guys,

We can call this thread done.  Thanks to all who contributed something positive.  And to those of you who were on the negative side, sorry I wasted your time.

JustGettingStarted
Monday, January 05, 2004

Before we finish up, still gotta ask:

Which is it:  cancer cure or perpetual motion patent?

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Monday, January 05, 2004

Can you give us a status report once in a while. Sounds exciting...

pdq
Monday, January 05, 2004

If you guys must know, my software completely automates online store creation. Forget expensive CGI scripters and graphic designers Users do not need to know any HTML. The software will create an easy to use web site including custom graphics and a shopping cart service.

JustGettingStarted
Monday, January 05, 2004

I speculated above that you've probably developed some piddly little web site and you're not aware of what a commodity it is, and that is now confirmed.

Shopping sites and tools for them, plus shopping carts, have been around since 1999, including with startups and VC's and all the rest of it. Where have you BEEN?

No competition? Give me a break.

me
Monday, January 05, 2004

I suspect that last post was a joke/troll, but if it wasn't...

http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/merchant/

http://www.andale.com/corp/index.html

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, January 05, 2004

1998 called...they want their idea back...

No, seriously, I had some friends get rich of this back in 1998...but like...thats so old...

vince
Monday, January 05, 2004

Jesus H. Christ - I just upgraded my company's web hosting plan to do something _just_like_that_.

$5 extra a month - I'm not kidding.

Good luck.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Monday, January 05, 2004

OK, thought for another moment (always useful, should do more often) ... he must be kidding.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Monday, January 05, 2004

I'll buy 10 of them.

GuyIncognito
Monday, January 05, 2004

"I'd like to hear more from you who have taken the stealth operating mode.  Worthwhile?  Or bullshit, as one of the previous posters implied"

We operated quietly for a few years.  We weren't intending to be in stealth mode. But it worked for us.

Here were the benefits:

1. We made all of our mistakes on a very small number of customers.

2. We learned what our customers WANTED as we developed more products.

3. We learned what our customers CARED ABOUT before we spent lots of money on advertising. (OK, we still don't spend a LOT of money on advertising, because most of it doesn't give a ROI).


BOTTOM LINE
Test anything before mass producing it. So, test an advertisement before spending $10k to put it in a magazine, etc.

Nothing sinks a bad product faster than good marketing.

The real Entrepreneur
Monday, January 05, 2004

Philo!!!  "My first thought is "get insurance"
My second thought is "get lots of insurance"

Why not Eula them to death.  That's cheap insurance.  Seems to work for a certain large company.

Mike
Monday, January 05, 2004

Frankly I think the dog walking business has more promise.

Jorel on Software
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

---"We made all of our mistakes on a very small number of customers."------

That's presumably because you only had a very small number of customers. Hardly intentional I think.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Real Entrepeneur - Excellent points. Major corporations spend a lot of money figuring out what we want to buy and what we need to be told about it in order to buy it. The little guy would definately benefit from that kind of thinking.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

>> Where have you BEEN?

Well, Joel is making money with CityDesk, and Frontpage has been around since forever. The thing is, people can't use Frontpage (I never had the patience to figure it out). It solves a problem, but learning is too tough.

So people see 20 icons on the toolbar, hover the mouse over and get a tooltip "Reconfigure the Modulators", they go, "oh no, I can't possibly learn this" and give up.

Joel did it idiot-proof, and people say, "I gotta have it".

Now... of course shopping carts and software to build ecommerce sites has been around forever, but for God's sake, put yourself in the marketing guys' shoes: they really don't know much about computers and can't learn.

So our OP shows them this beautiful, 100% perfect screen where you just click "add cart", "blue background", "add cat picture" and bam, you get the ecommerce site, of course they are going to scream for it.

So yeah, he has NO competition.

"All sales are emotional", baby. You don't sell your product waving a checklist.

Alex.ro
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Unfortunately the OP made no reference to existing merchant tools, suggesting not only that he was unware of them, but also that his own offering has no real or marketing benefits over them.

This also points to the glaring naivity that has characterised the OP's position and attraction our disbelief.

Further, experienced software developers understand the yawning chasm between ideal and reality. A simple merchant tool, what a great idea. What you find, though, is that the first time they use it, they actually DO want their own graphics artist and all the rest of it.

Those that don't, won't pay the figures the OP quoted.

It's a marketing assignment for an MBA course. I'm not sure what mark I would assign.

me
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Gee, I'm glad I checked back in.  The prevoius post by JustGettingStarted was NOT me.  Afterall, I did say I'm in a very specific niche market and have a unique product.  Clearly, website/shopping cart tools are a dime a dozen and would appeal to *anyone* wishing to use them - which are the opposite of unique and niche.

Take care guys, I'm outta here.  Stop wasting your time on this thread.

JustGettingStarted
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Is it an emu walking business?

GuyIncognito?
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Hey, not so fast, buddy! You OWE the group collective. 

Now tell us what your product is, who your clients are, and exactly what your 3 year plan is.

And your brand of watch couldn't hurt.

Or else... something.

<G>

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

It's something to do with porn.  That's the only thing running the internet nowadays.

GuyIncognito
Friday, January 09, 2004

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