NextNY – Startup 101
I’ll be participating in a round table discussion called ‘Startup 101’ being put on by the nextNY organization. If you’re in the NY area and thinking of starting a business or just getting started with one then you should signup on the wiki. I’m the MicroISV representative if you will, but they’ll be some VC/Angel guys as well as other slightly larger startups.
Sales by Country
I haven’t run this report yet so I thought it might be interesting. I guess it’s pretty much what I expected. International sales were very strong during the first few months and have since been overtaken by US sales. An interesting note though is that several of the largest sales have been to international customers.
Specs and Happy Clients
“I know that “no specs” is very big right now, with high-profile designers insisting that you don’t need to do any kind of documenting or specs, that you just need to make a few sketches and then start writing HTML prototypes, re-writing it until the customer likes it. This sounds suspiciously like the code-and-fix model, which we all know is garbage. Even worse, it sounds like undisciplined, hippy-dippy, egocentric, “I am an artiste” thinking. In fact, I dare say that it is non-design. For God’s sake, people, we’re in a pseudo-engineering profession. Act like it. Plan your work ahead of time, at least the important parts of it.”
I’d also add that the no spec folks tend to generally be talking about in house projects with very small teams. I’ve done no spec work with consulting clients and it’s a total nightmare.
Our buddy Kevin is selling a TurboGears DVD full of screencasts to help support his continued work on TurboGears. If you’re a Python guy you should throw him a little support. I’ve already purchased the supporter level package so I get my name and logo on the DVD AND a free toolbox. Pretty cool!
The Wedding Space
I love the wedding space for ISV apps. Lots of money spent there and very few good solutions. The new http://www.weddingsbyadam.com/ site is a great idea. Wish I thought of it! My other favorite wedding app is the mighty http://www.perfecttableplan.com/
An Old Domain, A Great Idea
We all have a few old domains sitting around (don’t we?). I was looking at mine and thought it may be interesting to share a story of a business that never was and may never be.
One of the first ideas I had years ago for a startup was to build a small business intranet application. I have two domains for this idea, sbintranet.com and smallbusinessintranet.com. I came up with this after having developed a few intranets for my job and clients. The intranets were immediately useful and I think a no brainer for any small business.
I even started coding this, but eventually lost steam. It was the end of the dotcom era and with so many intranet companies going under I figured it may be the wrong time. It was the wrong time in my life to take it on anyway so it’s probably better off.
Looking back though I understand even better why it wouldn’t have worked. The problem with intranets for a small business is that small businesses don’t know about intranets and what they can do for you. Hence they’re not looking for intranets. Hence it’s damn hard to get sales! Especially in a bootstrapping scenario where finances for advertising would be limited to none.
I always keep this idea on the back burner though. I think the communication possibilities in a small business are huge, especially now with the rise of wiki’s and ajax based chats. Perhaps in a few years the time will be right.
Congrats to LibraryThing
LibraryThing nails down a big investment by Abebooks. The LibraryThing blog has been the best MicroISV reading around the last few months. I hope he keeps it up.
A great take away for aspiring ISV’s out there is that his site is not for geeks. Unbelievably there’s actually money in other software niche’s!
Corporate Identity Design Services
Mike Rohde the infamous designer of the UserScape and HelpSpot logos points out that his company has added a page about their identity design service. I was Mike’s first client for this type of service and I couldn’t be happier. Definitely check him out if you’re in the market.
BackupMyBlog Gets Crunched
Doug dropped me a nice note today about HelpSpot. His site, BackupMyBlog, got featured on TechCrunch which sent him a huge amount of traffic and new clients. Of course with new clients comes new questions and he wanted to let me know that the RSS features of HelpSpot helped him make short work of the new requests. I love getting those kinds of emails, makes it all worthwhile.
On a side note, Doug is here on the east coast with me and we’re thinking of building an Ark if anyone else wants in. As I noted to him I can’t swim so I truly need one 🙂
“As I evaluate new startups these days Iâ€™m finding it harder and harder to see the big ideas that will appeal to a large, non-geek consumer audience.” – Redeye VC
I couldn’t agree more. The problem is they’re building products which don’t solve problems. They’re just “cool”. Worse yet is that many of them are simply poor copies of other “cool” sites that had only the thinest purpose to being with.