* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

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Moderators:

Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

How do you come up with your software idea?

do you guys look around the existing product and fill the gap or make a better/cheaper mouse trap?
JackDaniel
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
I was  reading the blogs of various small farms that sell direct to the consumer by mail: fresh poultry, beef, pork, etc. that you order months in advance and then when the animals are grown and slaughtered, you get your shipment.

And it occurred to me that a specialized website which let people bid on a 1/4 pig or a duck and get weekly updates as the particular animal grows up, with knowledge of what it's being fed and perhaps a webcam so they can get to know their "future dinner" might just be a saleable product.

No, I haven't actually done this, nor do I plan to (although I do have a few small farm s/w ideas), but it's an example of how I come up with software product ideas.
farmboy Send private email
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
Put me in for a duck!
Steve Send private email
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
It might be a little harder for me to eat something that I see growing up on a webcam however.
Steve Send private email
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
A lot of my ideas come from using stuff that is out there and saying "this sucks" and seeing if I can do better. Especially if it is a market that developers wouldn't normally use.
Steve Send private email
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
I've spent a lot of time consulting and in each case found several "niche" needs that weren't being met by the in-house IT dept.  I'm developing on one need that there currently is no competition but the need of the potential customers are great.

Too small for the big guys to take, to small for internal IT to do, leaves me a niche market.

Sherrie
Sherrie Send private email
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
I'd recommend looking:

1. A fragmented market
2. where you can be 5% better than the rest
3. not too difficult barrier to entry
4. fairly easy to cross the chasm
5. decent margins
6. Existing demand

The biggest is of course a fragmented market where there is existing demand, and where you can beat the competitions offerings.

A bonus would also be where the existing applications are very costly and horrible to use. Just making something easy to use can be a very huge advantage (but remember that making easy to use is much harder).
Stephane Grenier Send private email
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
For one product, I was contacted by someone working with my father that needed a little app created.  He then said that I should start selling it.  Another one that I am working on was based on input from my brother-in-law who is a nurse manager and the needs that they have where he works.
SteveM Send private email
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
Expanding on my previous point - a lot of people here seem to be successful doing projects that don't intersect with a normal developer's universe, as developers have solved a lot of those problems already.

So getting out of our comfort zones and seeing other people's pain I think is a great idea. Plus, it's fun learning about other people's industries.
Steve Send private email
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
The software I'm working on is a clear case of "scratching an itch". I couldn't find anything I was satisfied with that wasn't $5000+ to buy, and even then most products didn't have the requirements I was after.
Nathan Ridley Send private email
Monday, June 02, 2008
 
 
> It might be a little harder for me to eat something that I
> see growing up on a webcam however.

But by that point you already put down your deposit. Great business idea! You can oversell a cow in the hopes that 50% of customers drop out :)
Gili Send private email
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
 
 
Lots of opinions on this... I favor having first-hand experience with whatever you are going to get involved in. You should feel the sting when you think about the problem you are solving. That makes it very real and gives you the advantage of knowing what is wrong from inside out.

The potential pitfall is that there aren't enough others out there with the same problem who also happen to be willing to pay (good) money to get their problem solved, but that's just another bridge to cross.

I'd say start with problems you have personally experienced and go from there rather than retrofitting others' problems into your world. In the long run, they won't keep you motivated.

If you don't have enough problems, then you should really get out there and get some more exposure!
cynic
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
 
 
The idea for SeaGreen came from a need that I myself had as a web developer. After 10 years of outsourcing my online form and database needs, I looked around for software that would do it for me.

When I couldn't find anything, I decided to move forward with my own product.

My web design colleagues and I couldn't wait for it to be done so we could use it. Of course now I spend most of my time trying to promote SeaGreen rather than developing websites.  =)
Monique Stover (SeaGreen Software) Send private email
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
 
 
Programmers can get software ideas from my new software wishes website.

Here's the site's description:

I wish there was a program which did __________ <--- You fill in the blank. Software Wishes is a site for people to communicate their needs to software developers. Anyone can post a Project Outline for each software package or new feature they wish existed.
Mark Owens Send private email
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
 
 

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