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Product released - mini post mortem

I am rarely posting here but I read everything and have learned a lot from this forum. So I wanted to share this with you. Sorry for the long post!

After almost 10 months I released my product: a simple CRM for small businesses! The experience has been great so far and no matter how the product does, I learned a LOT in the way.

I decided to keep my day job while doing this and although this made me feel secure, it made things quite hard. I started in April 2005 and worked 15 - 20 hours each week. Finishing a product is tough, at least it was for me.

After the application is feature complete you feel you're 90% done but the truth is you have a long way to go. You need a complete website and I am not talking about design here, I'm talking about writing texts (which is even harder if you're not a native English speaker). You need screenshots (or a tour), an online shop, a way for customers to download their software, a manual and maybe a trial edition of your software. If you have a downloadable product you need an installer and of course you have to test both the program and the installer on all kinds of configurations. You have to decide what copy protection to use, what the pricing will be and what support options to offer. All these things really add up.

You also have to think about marketing, even if you don't like it. So you read books and blogs on the matter and try your best.

Creeping featurism was another problem for me. I wanted to add everything in the 1.0 release and for each item I completed, I added another two in the to-do list.

Some months ago I started feeling tired of this whole adventure, so after some thinking I got my options down to 2:
a) Finish the product before the end of 2005 no matter what
b) Drop it

Obviously I chose to finish it although I was a bit late. This meant I moved more features than I can remember to future versions and stopped worrying about "details" like a decent site and well designed logos.

In any case I now feel quite relaxed and happy with the outcome. I can focus on the next version, marketing, the site design etc.

More importantly I think I discovered what I want to do in my life. So far I've tried working in a company (I hated that) and freelancing (I like that better - being doing it for the last 6 years). But I think the mISV thing is the most exciting thing I've done and I'll certainly persist.
Dimitris Giannitsaros Send private email
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
 
 
Welcome to the club!
Amanvir Send private email
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
 
 
Yeah, when you get to 90%, you realize you're only half-way done!
Spinoza Send private email
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
 
 
I completely feel your pain.  This probably happens to lots of us on the first run.  I realized the same thing after releasing my first big web service over 2 years ago.

1) The system itself is finished.

2) I now need to take screenshots for the public website and for the documentation.

3) I need to write the documentation.

4) The public website needs to be designed.

5) I need to setup a support system.

6) I need a walk-through style demo to show at presentations and trade shows.

7) The payment processing system needs to be in place.

8) The accounting system needs to be in place.

9) A contact management system needs to be ready so I can keep my users informed of updates, changes, etc.

10) The business itself needs to be formed, such as an LLC.

11) If it's a web system, I need redundancy and daily backups with a method for quickly bringing up a downed server or restoring a backup if data gets corrupted or a hard drive fails.

12) The public website needs an FAQ and User Forum that I will have to monitor and update.

13) Start marketing.

I couldn't believe it, after 3 months of development, I had to spend almost 2 months making it happen. 

As for marketing however, I was lucky and smart, I had previously setup classes where I could fill a public computer lab 4 times a day with 10 people. 1 day a week for 4 weeks over 2 months time.  I could train people on the system and sign them up with credit cards on the spot.  So within 2 months, I had enough clients to get the ball rolling pretty fast.

Now I use web-based seminars to do the same thing, only the system I use only puts about 15 people in the class at one time, so I still have to do it several times a day if I get an office that wants to put 50 or 60 people through the class.

BTW, this is a great marketing system.  I'll be writing a blog about it soon because it is very effective.  Free web seminars at certain times during the week, then walk people through your product, answer questions, and then show them how to purchase when the seminar is over.
Ben Mc Send private email
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
 
 
Congratulations on your release and kudos for seeing it through to completion!
Charlie Williams Send private email
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
 
 
congrats!! as a recent fortune cookie revealed to me : your talents will be suitably rewarded'
pablo
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
 
 
Good post and a good summary of the life a new product and uISV takes on. I'm pleased you saw it through and wish you every success for the future.

Working for yourself is very rewarding in many ways, including sometimes even financially. ;-)
Neville Franks Send private email
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
 
 

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