Ok, not that I promise not to make another cheesy post during the whole 2006.
First things first, congratulations to Dimitris Giannitsaros. He made it all the way to releasing MagnaCRM 1.0, his web-based customer relationship marketing application last week. He even managed to post a mini-postmortem on the process. After (figuratively) seeing him work during the past year or so, I’m happy that he made it there. As far as my experience goes, getting to the first release is probably the toughest part of the way. Then customers or prospects ask for concrete stuff, and that really propels your improving the product.
I congratulated him by e-mail during the past week, so, hey, don’t be too hard on me for bloggratulating one week late.
Seeing him reach 1.0 made me think. Well, not that I don’t think regular days, but it made me think in a particular direction that led me to this blog post.
I started developing NGEDIT in February last year. About at that same time, I started hanging around the incredibly useful Business of Software forum forum frequently, reading the experiences of others, asking for advice myself, and offering the occasional help when I felt I could.
Setting up one-man software shop is lonely. That means, it’s tough. You’ve got nobody with whom to share the efforts or the joy of reaching milestones. I’ll bet this is one of the top reasons few people do it (comparatively speaking). When you go to an office, you have coworkers with whom to share your joys and woes. When you are at home, you are the only one who feels the pain of rewriting the third vi/vim emulator in a row. You can post to the blog and exchange emails on the subject, but it’s not the same. You can tell your non-geek friends or SO if you have one, but you’ll have a hard time just explaining what you’re talking about. It’s just not the same as living through it together.
Well, maybe the vi/vim thing was specific to my case, but you get the point.
Given this state of affairs, you actually feel a weird feeling of companionship with other guys doing the same effort across the globe. Weird, because you don’t know their faces, but real, because you guess they’re going through a tough effort very similar to yours.
The point is that you feel a certain kind of attachment, and you actually enjoy their success. It’s the guys who took the wild road at the same time as you.
Each one’s a different case, different circumstances, and completely different products. There’s the Gurock brothers, who develop & sell tools for smart trace & debugging your code. Their review of my product back in August is also the second largest portal to my website, only after google (although I’ve managed to get some of that through www.viemu.com, which with its single page seems much more interesting too Google than my main site).
There’s also Ian, who started with one project last year but got around to successfully launching notify-wire first with what seems a very promising start. He was the one who initially told me to start a blog even before the product was ready, for which I’m really grateful.
Then there’s Andy Brice, who for some reason chose to release a table arrangement seating plan and seems to be doing well at it. He uses to post interesting studies at the forum, and often helps me over e-mail with tricky issues like payment processing, names, etc…
There is also Gavin Bowman, who shares his effort between Oriador Rota (an app to plan staff scheduling) and WebHelperBrowser (a tool to permanently save the content of web pages), and who likes to post on personal productivity insights, and has recently started to post a nice weekly digest of interesting MicroISV posts and events.
How not to mention Ian Landsman, who we’ve been able to see through the 1.0 release of his helpdesk software application, and recently beating the $10,000 mark in sales, who posts really useful info on his blog, and seems to have a no-nonsense approach to his business (together with an attention to detail that I already told him I thought could only result in a successful product).
Want to find more of these kind of initiatives? You can always head over to Baruch Even’s Planet MicroISV aggregator and see many other initiatives in action.
Also Jose Gonzalvo, who released dbdesc, a little utility to document your database while he’s preparing another, larger application.
And how to forget Bob Walsh, who with his MicroISV blog, his MicroISV site, his recent book, the BoS forum moderation, and his really frequent posts there, has me utterly amazed as to the amount of work a single person can do.
To close the list, my hat off to Eric Sink and Joel Spolsky, the first one for coining the MicroISV term and posting plenty of interesting information in his blog (and, of course, for posting the link that first brought lots-of-traffic to this blog), and the second one for the very entertaining writings which have brought together in a single place all these very interesting people.
I just wanted to share some of the people I follow in the MicroISV world. What do all of them have in common? They work hard. Really hard.
So: it can be done. All these cases show it. It does require a tremendous effort, though. It takes such hard work that, if you do it, you will get to really learn the names of the chaps doing the same thing around the globe.
PS: It was difficult to write this post. It took a couple of rewrites. Too cheesy. Anyway, don’t despair, because I already have the almost-monthly ’strategy post’ lurking in my mind. I really like posting about my strategy, and the good thing is that I never run out of material: I change it almost every month.