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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

2009 Year In Review

Hideho everybody.  It is a tradition around these parts to mention how the prior year went for you, and what you hope for the New Year.  I thought I'd get the ball rolling.  You can share as much or as little as you're comfortable with.

Previous years threads:

2008: http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.715171.18
2007: http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.577501.21
2006: http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.439355.17

Anyhow, BCC stats:

Longer version (out of date by a week or so) on my blog: http://www.kalzumeus.com/2009/12/18/bingo-card-creator-year-in-review-2009/

Sales: 1,094 copies (24 refunds, 2.2%)
Gross sales net of refunds: $31,635.43
Expenses: ~$14,000  (I prepaid $1,000 of hosting for tax benefits, but haven't punched it in yet, so it is going to fluctuate somewhere around that number.)
Profits: ~$18,000

My goals for 2009 were $20k in profits, so missed by a bit (well, if you don't count shifting about $2k worth of expenses from 2009 into 2010) and $30k in sales.

What worked right:

1)  Web app.  I have gone on at length about how much better life is developing web applications versus developing desktop applications.  #INCLUDE that whole spiel here.
2)  Mini-sites.  http://www.halloweenbingocards.net and family printed money for me, especially to the extent I was able to get them developed by freelancers.  If you read nothing else in this post, read and implement this line: ***Exact match domain names print money now for SEO.***
3)  Email marketing.  I have barely scratched the surface of it.
4)  Meat and potatoes SEO.  A/Bingo (my OSS A/B testing software) was the best linkbait I've ever done.

What worked less well:

1)  My communication with freelancers suffered throughout the year due to insufficient attention, and three customers got excessively late (> 24 hours) replies to queries to boot.
2)  AdWords has been giving me fits this year.
3)  I lost $3.5k to a single CSS bug.  Ooooowwwwwwiiiiiieeee.
4)  I spent an awful lot of time implementing online integration features in the desktop version of BCC.  Those features have been used by twenty users.  For the same amount of time I could have done MUCH more sales via doing "engineering for marketing purposes" like A/B tests.  (I have an article upcoming this week about this.)
5)  Failed once more at getting a second product out the door.

Goals for 2010:

1)  I have a date circled in red on my calendar after which Bingo Card Creator, and eventually an unrelated application to be decided later, will be my day job.  It already pays enough for me to live on, and by the date in red I will have a bit of a warchest to give me something to eat during the lean summer months, give me a bit of a cushion, and fund development of the next big thing.
2)  I will sleepwalk to $45k of BCC sales next year.
3)  I hope to get about $30k of BCC-related profit in the New Year.

I am totally not sure about what my total financial picture will look like next year.  I dropped in on an Internet buddy in Chicago over Christmas and, after getting my brain picked for three hours, was told I could have charged them $XY,000 for consulting and been cheap at the price, so that is also an option, but I'm more interested in being a product company than a services company for all the traditional reasons.  Still, for that much, I can make a limited exception :)

Alrighty, what are your stories?
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Monday, December 28, 2009
Aprox. 20% increase in sales AND profit.
I am working more then ever.

Privately, everything was a mess until yesterday.
Alen Dombaj Send private email
Monday, December 28, 2009
Launched first B2B app this year in the <$50 range.

Initial outlay was $500 for something that never got used as well as some DNS registration. Monthly expenses around $70 for hosting, customer support desk, email and call forwarding. Worth every penny.

Revenue this year: ~ $21K USD - all online

Time spent: Approx 50 hours for initial development + 100 hours over the year. This is a generous estimate.

Best moves:
 - Writing the software. Free money.
 - Releasing early and often
 - Advertising on user forums
 - Blog -> automatic SEO

Worst moves:
 - Releasing early and often. Keeps software from evolving seriously.

The early success makes me want to quit and go full-time but I make too much money consulting. It's a tough decision but I'll ride it as long as I can. Extremely well prepared if I have the decision made for me.

Plan for the new year is to create follow on product with the explicit goal of revenue through white-label. The long-term goal for this project is significant yearly revenue.

I hope this helps someone make the jump. If you haven't made the jump, I was where you are. While I'm still not all the way on the other side, I have to say that this is a fantastic business.
Bring back anon Send private email
Monday, December 28, 2009
Being a well paid consultant is a perfect mix with starting a micro ISV, especially if you can spent a 30m  a day on customer support. It's even better if you can actually have time to be on the phone with customers (if you have the kind of customer that needs that: ours does).

A big part of the challenge with starting an ISV is the *calendar time*.  You often have to wait weeks or months to see the results of some marketing effort or a new version or to get feedback. 

For example, let's say you quit your job and work feverishly creating version 1.0. Then you release it. And wait.  You might then get smart and do some more marketing (because you did the marketing before you wrote the software so you'd know there was a market, right?).

Then you wait.  You get a few sales, you start tweaking your Sales Funnel, etc. and wait.

In other words, 200 hours spent on a company over a 12 month period could do you a lot more good than 200 hours spent over a 2 month period.

So keep at the consulting... but keep at the product development as well.
Mr. Analogy Send private email
Monday, December 28, 2009
Very interesting and helpful, thanks for sharing Patrick.
Giammarco Schisani Send private email
Monday, December 28, 2009
I finally got around to automating "licensing" on a product website - now I don't have to answer emails from customers and generate the keys.  I am also able to "provision" resellers with blocks of licenses so they can collect revenue and resell the software in their own currency and on their own terms. 

This was done to remove yet another distraction from my main focus - a new product with a co-founder.  The old software has shown that the niche is too small to really bother with, but I don't want to leave the hardware manufacturer hanging by not supporting it at all.  I would love to sell the IP/product to another entity, or even give it away. 

As for the new venture, we hope to have the first version released in January 2010, and make one or two sales ($25k net per instance) in the first quarter of 2010. 

We hope that 2010 will allow the other founder to make a real living rather than poverty wage.  I don't expect to be able to move off my day job in 2010.

Another goal is to port to Linux sometime in the first half of 2010.
Tim J Send private email
Monday, December 28, 2009
3 major products, been in operation since 2003.

2008 1585 sales for $167,878 revenue
2009 1844 sales for $194,119 revenue

Expenses run out at almost exactly $800 a month for this year and last year.  Sadly I convert this revenue into Australian dollars so my real income this year is slightly down due to currency fluctuations.  I'm happy with the continued 20% sales growth in USD terms and will release a web app along the lines of my other products that I am confident will result in another 20% of growth in 2010.
Anon for Sales Figures Send private email
Monday, December 28, 2009
@Anon I thought you live in Germany these days?
Bring back anon Send private email
Monday, December 28, 2009
After 13 years of working at one company (it is a really good company), I finally decided to get serious and try to launch my own product. I had sold an authorize.net component previously, and relaunched it as http://sharpauthorize.com late this year - that relaunch has netted me a few hundred dollars in the last few months. 

As previously announced here, I will be launching my test plan management SaaS in January. I'm just implementing the suggestions you've all made, fixing a few recently discovered defects and adding content to the public side of the site.

I've got a lot of work before to go, but I think I have the bare minimum that I can include and call it ready.

I'd like to end by thanking everyone for their suggestions and encouragement and wishing you all the best in 2010!
consultutah Send private email
Monday, December 28, 2009
@consultutah Add a zero to your price then divide by 2, at a minimum. Your price is WAY too low.
Bring back anon Send private email
Monday, December 28, 2009
@bring back anon - are you talking about http://sharpauthorize.com or http://testplanmanagement.com?  I'm going to assume sharpauthorize as it's the only one I mentioned by name. I appreciate the input - I might just give that a try and see what happens. Thanks
consultutah Send private email
Monday, December 28, 2009
I'll blog more about this later. For now:

Overall, a successful year:

* sales continued onwards and upwards
* profit > $10K/month, way more than a year ago
* monthly expenses are almost negligible
* version 2 released: The release was a mess, as I didn't do enough testing. Consequently I went through a couple of months of out-of-control support and revisions as a result
* went from full-time consulting to part-time in Jan 09.
* gave up consulting altogether in Oct 09.

Overall, I earn a good income for Germany, and work nice, flexible hours. I'm far more satisfied with my work compared to consulting.
Steve McLeod Send private email
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Congrats Steve!  (And other people, too.)
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Thanks Patrick.

I'm sure many of us are keen to see how things go for you in 2010, once you go fulltime on your own projects.
Steve McLeod Send private email
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Gross Sales are up 17% this year.

My biggest breakthroughs have come during the last few weeks.

I am looking forward to a successful 2010.

Thanks for your replies everyone. Happy New Year!
Brandon Doyle Send private email
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
b2b software
v1 released  April 2008.
v2 released November 2008.

2008 Sales: £0 or $0
2009 Sales: £4,975. or $ 7,960

Immediate goals:
Take a couple months off in jan/feb to finish and ship v3
Lock down downloads with a view to opening dialog with prospects
Look into and adopt non-search marketing approaches
via nueve Send private email
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Revenue £11k
Profit £5k
(Note: First sale in June 2008)

Revenue £58k
Profit: £26k
Anon for Sales Figures 2 Send private email
Saturday, January 02, 2010
2009, our software (HIS, PACS and RIS ) install 28 copies
Revenue 1,800,000 RMB
Cost : 1,500,000 RMB

Plan  2010
 Software sales increase 20%,
 Outsource service increase from 0 to 15,000RMB.

Eric L. He CEO
UniVisual Technologies Group Inc. 
Unit 415, 801 ChangWu Zhong Rd.
Changzhou PRC 213164                   
Tel: 86-0519-8633 -9632
MSN: lyhe@hotmail.com
Yahoo: imm100@yahoo.com
univisual Send private email
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Currently my hobby project overcome the standard level set by BCC in terms of profit. It was hard to do, but it was fun :)

I am unsure about the future because of competitors with their freeware.

Anyway I learned a lot about "micro" software business by reading and by doing. 
Probably this knowledge is the most important result.
Arcada Send private email
Sunday, January 03, 2010
We had an extremely good 2008 due to a new product launch and upgrade program for existing users so pleased to increase by about 20% to ~$2.1m in 2009.

I've learnt a lot from this forum by lurking so wanted to share some figures to encourage people. We have been trading 5 years and have 3.5 employees ( 1 part time).

We sell a mixture of B2B and B2C direct and also OEM business about 50% split between direct and OEM.
yet another anon Send private email
Monday, January 04, 2010

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