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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

Seeking ideas for a B2B Product

Hey all,

I'm a programmer, mostly doing consulting work on a self employed basis. However, I'm dying to move away from that, and release my own product. The problem is, I really can't think of any product ideas for a B2B market.

I'm looking for something that will solve a real problem that businesses have. But I don't have enough domain knowledge about any business, except software development, to know which problems people want to have solved.

Can anyone give me any ideas?

I can create both a web and desktop based product.
IdeaSkeer Send private email
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I'll throw out my pain point (which I think might be unsolvable, but... ?)

I need to be able to track downloads and match them up with sales.  "Easy!" you think.  But consider this all to common B2B scenario:

Boss tells employee to find a solution for problem X.
Employee searches and finds your website.  Downloads and tries your app.  Cookies probably deposited in browser
Employee recommends app.
Employee, or boss, or Ops team, downloads again to install in test or production computers.
Employee, or boss, or purchasing department either orders online, OR sends a purchase order via email.

How can I tie the purchase to the original download (so I can know that channel X (Google Adwords?) is how my product was originally discovered), and thus compute ROI on my advertising dollars?

IP address range tracking?  Stamp the download with an ID on the fly?

One thing you know is the purchased license will eventually make its way back to the final installed software.
Doug Send private email
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Oh, another one: OS X's Time Machine, but for Windows

(yes, there are TONS of backup apps, but I haven't seen one as elegant as Time Machine)
Doug Send private email
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Thanks Doug..

I like your idea of tracking trial downloads / signups to purchases. The problem with it though is, it seems to be limited towards downloadable software. I don't know if such software will continue to see growth, as the trend seems to be moving in favor of web / SaaS apps.

I think the backup problem is already solved, haven't you heard of DropBox?
IdeaSkeer Send private email
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Doug, a classic way of doing that is discount codes :o)

It's not perfect but works great for telling if your sales are from direct mail, a postcard, a brochure, newspaper or magazine.

But even then, for B2B people don't worry so much about discounts

Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Call up business owners in a niche that interests you. 

Here's what I am doing.  I spent the last two months calling swimming pool business owners - building, repair, renovation, and service (cleaning) areas of the industry.  I am not particularly passionate about the pool industry but I do know that they are an undeserved market when it comes to software. 

I asked them what the biggest areas of their businesses are, and what pains and problems they have on a day-to-day basis.  After talking to about 20 owners, I had a pretty good set of product ideas, but called another 10 just to be sure.  I now have 3-4 solid products I can create - but I am not yet creating them.  I am right now creating mockups of some key UI/screens, along with a summary of the key benefits.  I'll be contacting former owners I talked to for feedback, along with developing new contacts to make sure my product ideas solve a definite set of pain points.  Once a good set of features is asked for, I'll create a wireframe - probably using keynotopia or something similar...no code, but just a minimal way to show some of the key screens interacting.  Once I am hearing strong interest, I then plan to presell before I start any development, ideally 10-20 sales, but we'll see how well I can "sell the sizzle". 

You might think it would feel weird to call up business owners out of the blue and pepper them with questions.  The answer is Yep.  But you get over it after about 10 calls.
Prime Suspect Send private email
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
DropBox: I use it quite a bit.  But syncing is not the same as backing up (syncing a corrupted file is not so useful).  But backup apps are not exciting, and a ton of competition.  Still, Time Machine is a thing of beauty (UI counts!).

As far as downloadable/desktop software going away, eh, maybe someday.  But there are a LOT of downloads still, in the consumer space (video games?), and those consumers buy from businesses that sell that software.  And business backend/server software isn't going into the cloud.  What about healthcare software?  Industrial automation?  Infrastructure software companies?

There are so many niches that won't be cloud for a few decades that if you could sell to just 1% of them, you could be very rich.

And think of all the cloud providers that will be supporting massive loads of clients and data, which presumably is going to continue mushrooming.  They must need software....
Doug Send private email
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Aren't a lot of the companies who would want a trial to downloads tracker going to be one man operations / small ISVs? E.g, as you mentioned, indie game developers. Doesn't that make this a more B2C product, compared to selling to something that a large corporation would want?

Thanks for that article. Is the situation the same in those niches as it was back in 2011 when the article was written?
IdeaSkeer Send private email
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
No idea. But you can no doubt find some way to contact Joannes Vermorel of Lokad (the guest author) and ask him.
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
> Aren't a lot of the companies who would want a trial to
> downloads tracker going to be one man operations / small ISVs?

Any company that has downloads AND pays for online advertising would benefit. 

That means all of the anti-virus companies, all the big video game companies, Microsoft, etc.

Go to download.com and see all of the products that are being promoted (paid advertising) -- it's a mighty big niche.
Doug Send private email
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Don't seek ideas, seek problems. The world is full of problems.

- Auditors spend an enormous amount of time just to match invoices with payments.
- Many marketers manage a truckload of radio campaign in Excel, or worse just through emails.
- Banks keep calling the wrong people to propose the wrong offers.
- Factories keep producing bad parts, and usually, there is no tracking of any kind of those problems.


Then, I suggest to ignore all IT-centric suggestions. Yes, you might succeed selling software to IT folks, but that's about 10x harder than selling software to anybody else.

My 2cts,
Joannes Vermorel - Lokad Sales Forecasting Send private email
Thursday, November 21, 2013

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