The cheesy post of the year…

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, 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.

11 Responses to “The cheesy post of the year…”

  1. JD Says:

    I like how you have linked with right keywords for Dimitris, Andy, Ian and Ian L. Why not link in the same way for Gurock brothers and Gavin? šŸ™‚

  2. Dimitris Giannitsaros Says:

    Thanks! And good luck on getting NGEDIT 1.0 out!

  3. J Says:

    JD, really accute, fixed it. Reason: being sleepy? My now two-day-long minor toothache that doesn’t let me sleep well? Just plain sloppy writing? šŸ™‚

  4. v Says:

    cheesy? well – it was a nice tasting cheese anyway šŸ™‚ Hope ngedit is coming along nicely!

  5. Gavin Bowman Says:

    Thanks for the link J, and nice post.

    Oh, and thanks to JD for fighting my corner ;).

  6. Gavin Bowman Says:

    I forgot to mention: it was a feeling very much like what you’ve described that prompted me to start putting together the Micro ISV Digest posts. I was getting a real sense of community, and I felt like I wanted to keep up with what everyone was doing.

    That sense of being part of a larger community instead of just a developer somewhere in a room has been a huge help to me since I stopped lurking and started taking part.

  7. J Says:

    Gavin, cool thoughts. I wanted to do the post after Dimitris’, and also to return some link love to everyone who has linked to my blog/site in the past. It’s a bit walking on thin ice as I didn’t want to upset anyone for not mentioning them. And I’m still a bit scared with that, not that other people haven’t been helpful or that I don’t pay attention to their stuff after all… anyway, I’ll fix that down the road…

    BTW, I like the digest a lot. I think there *is* quite some momentum building up in the uISV community…

    Oh, and I also *had* to link Bob “Earthquake” Walsh for the tremendous energy, and Joel’s site for starting the meeting place all the way back… (as if everyone didn’t know about it already…)

  8. Dennis Says:

    Thanks for the link J and I’m glad our review is continuing to generate traffic for you šŸ™‚

  9. Nick Hebb Says:

    You didn’t come off cheesy to me.

    Every time someone posts that they’ve released a product, I feel glad for them and invigorated by it at the same time. There’s nothing more motivating than seeing others succeed.

    I think the BoS forum has opened a lot of people’s eyes to the world of possibilities out there. I wonder how many owe some, or maybe even most, of their success to the exposure and relationships built through it.

    One last thought on the subject of community to any anonymous readers: I started visiting JoS a few months after it was launched (4+ years ago?). But until about 9 months ago I always posted anonymously. I never felt like I was part of a community until I “came out of the closet” and started using my real name. You’re not exactly nobody if you post anonymously, but you’re not really “somebody” either.

  10. J Says:

    Hey Nick,

    Glad it didn’t come across as cheesy. You can bet the first draft came across as cheesy to me. Then it was fun to use the title to comment on that.

    I also think both the JoS/BoS forum and Eric Sink’s stuff have helped make the option more “tangible”. I think there also is some momentum on this going on on the internet in general, and not only related to software development.

    About “owing” success, I think success only comes through a lot of effort. Maybe it’s even premature to call success on many of these ventures I talked about, they’re starting, but I think making it to a real 1.0 release is already a big point. There are very many projects that never make it there. And I think the forums do provide some kind of an echo chamber.

    Regarding the anonymity thing, I’m not sure whether you mentioned it because of my case – there are real, external reasons for which using my full name is not advisable in my case just yet. You can bet I don’t like that, hopefully this can be fixed in a few months.

    And I think “feeling part of a community” is the important part, independent of whether the community is formal / informal, whether the bounds are well defined, or even explicitly counts on you as a member of it.

    I wish you the best luck and I hope you can finally put your 1.0 together in the coming months!

  11. Nick Hebb Says:

    >> Regarding the anonymity thing, Iā€™m not sure whether you mentioned it because of my case …

    Actually, I just assumed the letters following “J” were lurking somewhere around this site. I never noticed your anonymity.

    Still, you’ve got a site and two products. Someday the veil will probably be lifted, revealing the person behind it all. That’s a little different than posting with a pseudonym and no link – where the only people who could trace all my old asinine posts back to me are Joel and the moderators. šŸ˜‰

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