Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Opportunity or step backwards?

I was speaking with a friend a few days ago about Sydney. He's someone who was initially skeptical about the concept of Sydney but has come around since the company he works at started shopping around for a system just like it. They're currently evaluating a New York style product but apparently aren't all that wrapped in it. Being a good friend my mate was enquiring with me about Sydney's progress and if I would be interested in presenting it to his bosses with a view to them purchasing a license.

It was a nice gesture but I've declined for a few reasons. Firstly Sydney just isn't ready yet. Hopefully by early next year I'll be preparing to release my version 1, but right now it's a definite work in progress. According to my friend that time frame would be acceptable for his company but I still don't want to go ahead with it. I'm staking my future on this venture, I wouldn't want him staking his reputation/future in his company on it also if things don't go well.

The other reason I'm declining his offer is that I want to maintain full control over the path this project takes. If I were to agree to developing Sydney with his company in mind then I'd have to, and my friend said as much, take their suggestions onboard and incorporate them into my feature set. Certainly many of the features they'd ask for would be ones that I would implement anyway but there is bound to be some that would be specific to them and not able to be resold in a wider release.

I don't want to be obligated to anyone as strongly as that. I've been doing consulting and contract work for almost 10 years and it's what I'm trying to move away from. Taking the ideas of others and turning them into software is all well and good but this time I want to try my hand at being the ideas man as well as being the developer. My friend thinks I'm being unrealistic and a bit stubborn in wanting everything my own way. Stubborn I'll put my hand up for. Unrealistic is something that only time will tell. If I don't give it a go though I'll never know.


At 11:43 PM, Blogger Roger Jack said...

I agree with you friend. You should tell the company that you have an alpha product and either

1) Ask them to pay a deep discount for the product


2) Offer to give it to the company for free

You need a good reference account when you release the product and your friend's company could be that reference account.

At 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely understand your decision. But, keep in mind the benefits of having a client prior to release.

1. A willing QA Team pushing your software through a production environment for free
2. A reference for future sales
3. Potentially great ideas that you may not come up with on your own
4. Word of mouth advertising
5. Your first sale

Don't get too wrapped up in the mistake of "not built here" syndrome, or in this case: "If I didn't think of it...".

At 3:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, by way of a disclaimer, we obviously don't really know anything about Sydney, but... if you plan to sell Sydney to businesses for a non-trivial amount of money, you should go read "Crossing the Chasm" right now and reflect on what Moore has to say about the importance of finding a visionary and surgically attaching your lips to his/her ass.

Your friend's employer may not be the right company or have a visionary. This may not be the right time. But it's possible that this is exactly the sort of situation you will be desperately seeking in the not-too-distant future. And from what I read, these opportunities don't come along very often.

I understand and agree with your concern about the product becoming a slave to a single client. In the short-term, that's exactly what would happen. But this seemingly-dubious approach may be the best stepping-stone to success. Now go read the book and make an informed decision for yourself! :-)

At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think it could be an excellent oportunity! You're basically opening Sydney up to a "Technology Partner" where (as other readers have posted) they could perform valuable QA and provide great insight into the requirements of such a product.

I can understand your opinion of wanting to maintain the direction of the product yourself, as some features are client specific. Therefore you should use that to your advantage and make Sydney a product that can be modified through plugins.

Essentially you would ship Sydney as a base product with all the "necessary" features, and if the client requests something you feel would not benefit the application as a whole, you can implement it in the form of a client-specific plugin, and charge them for the development of such plugins.

The advantage of doing that is that you can keep direction of the main product, and still have Sydney nimble enough to suit a specific need.


At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lachlan,

You posted a comment on my blog at http://www.moving-target-software.com/blog a couple of weeks back asking about a news feed. Finally got around to doing something about it, here 'tis


By the way, cool blog, very interesting! Nice to hear about another Australian software developer who has taken the big step!

Kind Regards,

Mark Nemtsas


Post a Comment

<< Home