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Businesses Software

Ask Slashdot: How Should You Launch A Software Startup? (theguardian.com) 140

Slashdot reader ben-hnb is a developer who loves the idea of running a startup, or being one of the ones who got in early. But how exactly does he get there? I've got no "business" experience. Everyone seems to want to get on the startup incubator train -- the latest U.K. model I've seen, Launchpad, would even train (MA!) and support me financially for a year while developing the initial product. This just one in a long list of different models, from the famous Y-Combinator three-month model to the 500 Startups four-month seed program and simple co-working spaces with a bit of help, like Launch 22.

If you wanted to get a startup going, where would you go to first and why? Or would you just strike out in your bedroom/garage?

Leave your best answers in the comments. How would you launch a software startup?

Ask Slashdot: How Should You Launch A Software Startup?

Comments Filter:
  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @04:44PM (#54203113)
    Keep a job. Write software after/before work.
    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

      This. The moment you involve investors / angels, you lose control. And if it's software you're actually interested in, rather than shifting money around, you don't want to lose control.

      OTOH, if it is money you're interested in, then the mechanism is get a lot of money rolling, shuffle some off in your direction, and hand over control ASAP.

      • by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @05:13PM (#54203197)
        99% of all businesses fail in the first 24 months for one reason; no one knows your product exists. I would suggest some quiet time considering how to communicate the existence of your product to others.
        • 99% of all businesses fail in the first 24 months

          [citation needed]

          • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @06:30PM (#54203493) Homepage Journal

            99% of all businesses fail in the first 24 months

            [citation needed]

            It isn't quite that grim, but hyperbole aside, 80% of startups fail within the first year, and 95% within the first five years.

            The first thing you have to do is disabuse yourself of the notion that starting your own company means you're going to get rich or that you'll pay other people so you can have less work. Expect to have to do far more work than you ever imagined, and expect the business to fail. Make sure you have enough money set aside that when it fails, you'll have time to find another job before you go broke.

            And always keep in the back of your mind that every single one of your employees should be making those same calculations, but may not be. The once who don't depend on you to keep them out of the homeless shelters. Be honest with yourself about how the company is doing financially. Don't fun your business into the ground chasing after the next big thing. Come up with a solid plan to deliver a product that's realistically achievable, and then deliver it. Then come up with a solid plan to deliver something else. Try to reach profitability early, and if you conclude that your plan to do so isn't going to work, fail early and move on to something else that's achievable before you run out of funding.

            Try to hire people straight out of college who don't have a lot of outside financial obligations, so that if the company goes belly-up, nobody loses their house. That or hire people who are older and wealthy enough that they choose to work for you because they can afford to take the risk. Try to avoid people in between—not through discriminatory hiring practices, but through open, honest communication. Tell them up front exactly what they're getting into, and let them decide if it is right for them. Most of the time, the people who really can't afford to take the risk won't, assuming you warn them ahead of time. But know that at least a few of your employees will ignore the warning. Manage your finances with them in mind.

            • Doing some finger math here, based on your numbers; lets see. Given 100 new businesses start up. After 12 months; only 20 are left. Lets look at the next 12 months. Now 95% of 20 is 1? I'd say that 99% of businesses have failed at this point in time. It is truly unique that a business fails if the cash register is ringing all the time; just putting it out there.
              • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

                You are multiplying numbers that are not supposed to be multiplied. After five years, there are 5 left out of the original 100.

          • That would be the "SBA.gov". The statement is, "90% of all businesses fail in the first year because the public does not know the product exists. 90% of all businesses fail in the second year because the market does not know the business exists." My conclusion is that, "sure a person has a great product, but without getting the word out, well that person does not make any sales. No sales? Collapse occurs.
            • That would be the "SBA.gov". The statement is, "90% of all businesses fail in the first year because the public does not know the product exists. 90% of all businesses fail in the second year because the market does not know the business exists." My conclusion is that, "sure a person has a great product, but without getting the word out, well that person does not make any sales. No sales? Collapse occurs.

              Can you please be more specific? Those phrases don't appear to exist on SBA.gov. You put them in quotes so obviously they are direct quotes from the site. The searches I tried were:

              No results found for "90% of all businesses" site:sba.gov.
              No results found for "fail in the first year" site:sba.gov.
              No results found for "fail in the second year" site:sba.gov.

              I did find this page [sba.gov] that says "Shocking but true statistics: 20 percent of all small businesses survive the first year, 30 percent survive the second

        • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

          99% of all businesses fail in the first 24 months for one reason; no one knows your product exists. I would suggest some quiet time considering how to communicate the existence of your product to others.

          And of those 99%, 99% of the ideas are crap and there is no market for the products.

      • by mlts ( 1038732 )

        Then, there is getting the VCs to even -look- at you. Want to know what VCs want for an ideal startup? The Meitu app. If it does not slurp up data/telemetry/tracking and push out ads, VCs won't even give you the time of day.

        Want to have an app? Make it yourself. VCs don't want ideas, they want the business around the idea that is working and ideally "poised for growth".

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 09, 2017 @05:15PM (#54203201)

      I ran a software start up for ten years. Grew from me to over fifty. I now contract for silly money and love it, while i have a nice business generating me passive income

      Main lessons:
      Expect no life. You work 14 hour days, 365 days a year
      Expect to fail two or three times before you make it
      Expect no money. You will earn some years, give other years and on the whole make very little
      You will worry about cashflow every week
      No one will ever pay their bills without chasing. Expect to spend 20% of your time chasing debtors
      Follow lean startup. Really follow it. Don't listen to people that say it's just a fad. You haven't got the experience to know when to break the rules and those rules aren't bad.

      You will need to be able to sell. Are you any good at selling? If not quite your job and get a job as a used car salesman (or other sales job) for six months while someone else teaches you how to sell. This is far cheaper in money and time than the mistakes you will make if you don't know how to sell

      You will need to learn the directors responsibilities for a company. They are real, onerous and you can go to jail if you mess up (you probably won't mind you). Plan on spending some time doing courses on this

      Once you go over five people you need a ton of paperwork. Fifty different policies on everything. You'll need to pay a load of money to advisors and lawyers. You will loose key people at this stage

      Do you know how to manage people? Do you know is how to take a team of five to a team of fifty without destroying the company doing it? Do you know how to delegate without dumping and destroying people?

      Do you like spending your time in resource planning and sales meeting?

      Do you like social networks and going to networking meetings twice a week, keeping track of people's names and maintaining email conversations with fifty people every week just to 'keep the network'

      My advice: if you can answer yes to most of the above it's good. You will fail two or three times (I've failed three times and am doing well on number four) each failure will make you stronger.

      My real advice (which my children are following and doing well l would be to get enough passive income to support you first. Find a mentor. Spend two or three years learning how to get passive income, another two or three years getting to a couple of thousand dollars a month passive and the experience of that will teach you a lot about running a business. You can then quite your job and work on the business without fear of going bankrupt every week

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vanye ( 7120 )

        Good advice.

        It's very unlikely a person will have the skills to both do low level engineering and create a sales and marketing strategy.

        So find someone who compliments your skills and can do the things you can't.

        I've co-founded two startups with my business partner - she is great at the outbound side and I work the technology side. Finding that key business partner is just as hard as a romantic partner - you need to "date" just as much before settling down....

        • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

          I've co-founded two startups with my business partner - she is great at the outbound side and I work the technology side. Finding that key business partner is just as hard as a romantic partner - you need to "date" just as much before settling down....

          This can work if both sides perceive this arrangement as a win/win. But usually the reason why it's a win/win is because the technologist (you) doesn't care about the money and you truly care about your craft. That makes it easy for the other business partner because they exploit your ethics to reap all the rewards of your hard-earned work. If you go into an arrangement like that, when you get older you'll realize later in life that you have nothing to show for it and all that really matters is your fami

      • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

        You will need to be able to sell. Are you any good at selling? If not quite your job and get a job as a used car salesman (or other sales job) for six months while someone else teaches you how to sell. This is far cheaper in money and time than the mistakes you will make if you don't know how to sell

        Anyone can learn how to sell and most sales people are actually very bad at it. You see the key to influence is to influence people in such a way that they don't realize they are being influenced. Most sales people are absolutely fricking terrible at it. Basically, in order to be a good sales person you have to learn all the thinking patterns and techniques employed by expert sociopaths aka Jordan Belfort. I use this knowledge to frustrate unscrupulous negotiators. It's all psychology. Eliciting recip

      • by guises ( 2423402 )
        I love your last line there: "The first thing you should do is become independently wealthy."

        I can't deny that it's good advice.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Q: How do you make a small fortune in software?
          A: Start with a large fortune

      • by Optic7 ( 688717 )

        Could you provide some more information on what you mean by passive income? Perhaps some examples? Thanks.

    • This is the best solution. I've seen a lot of companies that folded because the landlord raised the lease the minute the local newspapers ran a story on how they were awarded a research grant/won a contract/secured investment funding.
      Rule no.1 is keep control of all expenses.
      Rule no.2 is operate in stealth mode.
      Then there is the hazard of copycats. So you need a six month lead of your Generation2 product as soon as Generation1 is released. That way you can release Generation2 within months.

    • In most contracts in the US that makes your software owned by the company you work for.

      Even in the EU plenty of companies try to have contract clauses that claim that work done "private" out of working hours belongs to the company (as IP at least and might/will be compensated when handed over).

      How legal that is in the EU, I don't know. But I guess in the US it is.

      • It's state by state in the US. Such contracts are illegal in California and Minnesota, and I think legal in Texas. If someone wants to do anything creative outside their job and possibly get paid for it, they should find out about the law and possibly examine whatever written agreements they have with their employer. (In the US, the local Bar Association will typically arrange a short consultation for not too much money, and there may be a state government department charged with helping entrepeneurs th

    • Write software after/before work.

      Or during work. If your boss walks by and sees a page of code on your workstation, he is just going to assume that you are working hard.

    • Write software after/before work.

      BSD license it and sell support/customizations. When you're making more on the side than your main job, quit your main job.

    • by quax ( 19371 )

      Yep. Bootstrapping that's what I've been doing. We've been around for tow years but are just now at a point were we can launch our first product in the cloud, and low and behold now some dude from LA wants to buy a third of our company.

      We still have some runway left and I can always do some consulting on the side to keep me afloat, so we are in no hurry to take on seed capital.

    • Business doesn't have a lot to do with computers, since they don't buy software or services. Business is about customers, and all the trouble (and treasure) that goes with them, because trouble is your business. You reduce or eliminate trouble. I guarantee the Amazon dash button brings more joy to people than a white paper on multi-core-optimized Red/Black algorithms. Study business from the inside out...beware of business books--its the same trap as reading a dozen software patterns books. I've person
    • I am doing this right now. From my learning curve.

      1) Figure out how to get a DBA and go get one from the county you live in. Then get a EIN (tax id number) from IRS. Everyone should should do this immediatly so that you can answer the question, "How long have you been in business?" with a big number.
      2) You do not need an LLC unless you are are billing over $75,000. And then the LLC is for tax reduction purpose not protection.
      3) You need professional liability insurance. There will be indemnification cla
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @04:53PM (#54203131) Journal
    It sounds like you don't have any real ideas, so don't start your own business.

    If you want to join a startup, there are certain recruiting firms that specialize in startups. Every recruiter who contacts you, tell them you are looking to join an early stage startup. It also helps to go to meetups and such.

    Finally, if you don't have "full stack" ability, then it's going to be a lot harder for you. Maybe build up your skills a bit.
    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      It sounds like you don't have any real ideas, so don't start your own business.

      Correct

      If you want to join a startup, there are certain recruiting firms that specialize in startups. Every recruiter who contacts you, tell them you are looking to join an early stage startup. It also helps to go to meetups and such.

      I would add to this that if you don't know how to negotiate well, don't do this. Every startup's wet dream is to hire a low paid salaried unicorn that doesn't have equity or stock options in the company. Step 1 - hire cheap unicorn, Step 2, Step 3 - Profit!

      Finally, if you don't have "full stack" ability, then it's going to be a lot harder for you. Maybe build up your skills a bit.

      Absolutely

  • by reifman ( 786887 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @04:57PM (#54203141) Homepage
    Please check out my Building Your Startup series at Envato Tuts+ [tutsplus.com]. In it, I walk people through every step of building Meeting Planner [meetingplanner.io]. There are upcoming episodes on crowdfunding vs angel or VC investing. A lot if is development-oriented but there are wide-ranging anecdotes throughout.
  • by El Cubano ( 631386 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @05:01PM (#54203155)

    ... developer who loves the idea of running a startup, or being one of the ones who got in early. But how exactly does he get there?

    Bzzzt! Wrong answer.

    Ask yourself this question: could I start a project on SourceForge (or more like GitHub nowadays) and keep it going for 2, 5, 10 years?

    The early days are all fun. The company is growing, you are having Nerf gun battles in the conference room, etc. However, after a couple of years the shine starts wear off and it starts to feel more like a job.

    Not only that, but if your goal is a "startup" in the Silicon Valley sense of the term (grows quickly and then gets acquired or goes public), you will have deal with most of the following:

    • spending lots of time shopping your idea to investors
    • fending off competitors
    • trying to make payroll
    • praying to whomever you pray to that Google, MS, and/or Facebook don't decide to blow you away like the speck you are
    • praying that you will make your revenue targets so that your investors don't step in and replace you with someone who will get them the return they are expecting
    • the list continues

    You will notice that none of those things involve writing software. Don't get me wrong. The core technology that underpins your idea is absolutely critical. However, ideas are a dime a dozen. It is much more difficult to get a working implementation that people are willing to consider investing in is much more difficult. More difficult still is the other 90% of the startup gig that has to happen if you want to be a success.

    So, back to my original question. Could you see yourself managing an open source project for the long haul? Open source projects only have to deal with a tiny fraction of the non-programming things that you would have to deal with in a startup environment.

    Incidentally my perspective is based on my experience several years ago almost deciding to make a run at it myself. I took some classes at the local Small Business Development Center, talked to some local startup folks, and then promptly decided I don't have what it takes. I stuck with my consulting gig that I've been doing for some years. That suits me much better; someone else gets to deal with all that nonsense and then all I have to do is find companies with problems that match my skill set, which is much easier for me that trying to run a startup.

    • by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @05:44PM (#54203313) Journal

      I gotta admit, that caught my eye as well.

      "I love the idea of running a start-up." Not, "I have a great idea. How would I start a business around it?"

      There are lots of ideas that I love, too. I love the idea of being an astronaut. But considering I have issues with motion sickness and a fear of heights, I don't think I'd be a good one. But I love the idea.

      I love the idea of being in an early-stage start-up, mostly because I might get rich. So I was part of an early stage start-up and, frankly, slaved for more years than I should have with the occasional missed paycheck. Ended up going through a reasonable amount of my savings before I finally decided that enough was enough.

      Why are you interested in running or being part of an early stage start-up? If it's because you might get rich, you might want to think of some other options which will offer you a better chance of becoming rich.

      • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

        I was part of an early stage start-up and, frankly, slaved for more years than I should have with the occasional missed paycheck. Ended up going through a reasonable amount of my savings before I finally decided that enough was enough.

        This, a million times, this. This is the reality for most startup opportunities. And look where you ended up on the other end of it. Worse off than when you started eh?

    • A developer should NEVER have to deal with the business side of the crap as part of "work". Even if it is your idea, your original ground breaking code, etc. Hire someone or two someones with the proper backgrounds, give them directions and get reports.

      Why? You (probably) don't have the expertise, and you only have so many hours in a day that you can be productive - do you work on the actual product, or the business around the product.

      Do the same when it comes to marketing...

    • It's worth emphasizing that a start-up is a long term investment. Sooner or later, you are going to hit a wall where you REALLY don't feel like throwing more effort into the project in question. Those moments are where your startup idea becomes tested. Some people spend a couple of weeks on an idea. Then, when they run into their first obstacle, throw their hands up in defeat and start searching for an easier idea. Problem is, there usually isn't an "easier option", so it becomes an endless loop of sta
    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      Could you see yourself managing an open source project for the long haul?

      Your naivety is admirable. If money is no object then by all means do whatever you like. However, if money is the primary concern in starting up the business, the most profitable path is to build it to a certain point to attract buyers and cash out. Sad, but true. I will say this though, money = freedom so once you're financially self sufficient you do any software project you like in whatever way you like without having to fear if it doesn't work out. The last bit you have to have your business manage

  • no successful company has been founded in some shabby ass garage, you need...

    a trendy office about 1/3 larger than you need in the most expensive part of your nearest large city
    lavish furniture, course dont buy any of it, use credit as much as possible
    the highest tech bleeding edge supercomputer laptop's
    the biggest ass UHD TV screens you can fit on every wall
    a indoor water feature
    and a small army of young marketing people, in fact 2 more than your entire software team, you are going to need them to sell you

  • by John Smith ( 4340437 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @05:03PM (#54203171)
    Joel Spolsky blogged his way through his startup experience, and since he has an office in NYC and founded Stack Exchange (along with surviving a Bill Gates questionnaire and serving in the IDF) I'd imagine he's a decent source of enlightenment upon the topic. Everything from venture capital to office space, business models, etc.- he blogged about it.
  • I'm reading "Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley" [amzn.to] by Antonio Garcia Martinez. The author and his two engineers leave the startup they worked at to create a startup at Y Combinator to create a better version of the Digg toolbar (remember toolbars?) for Google advertisers in 2010. I'm at the part where they get served with an intellectual property lawsuit, as one of the engineers wrote half of the code base at old startup. Fun times.

    I doubt this book will replace Startup: A Sil [amzn.to]

  • by Elfich47 ( 703900 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @05:18PM (#54203213)
    The intent of a startup is to develop a product that people will buy from you. It should be a product that isn't already on the market. If you are thinking another facebook/google/youtube/dropbox/trailers/angrybirds/office productivity clone of existing products: Stop, go back to your desk at work and keep churning out code for someone else.

    You need a unique/newish idea:
    If you have an idea you think is actually new and useful. Do some googling on the idea to see if anybody has considered it (or similar overlapping ideas) and the response to it. Do some basic patent research to see if anyone has staked ground on your idea. Do some informal research to see if people are interested in (and would pay money for) your idea. If you feel you have to to mask the purpose of the research, go for it (it just takes more time). Surveys can be written to show interest in one item while simultaneously drawing out information on a not so obvious second. Now you have an idea that should be relatively unique, patent free and people want (even if they don't know it or can't articulate it). If you can't answer these questions, stop now.

    Get a lawyer
    You will need to incorporate at some point and a business lawyer will be able to point your in the right direction on the pros and cons of different company types. Also plan with the lawyer on your future end goal (expand or buyout) so your company can be structured properly for future action. You need manpower, budget and a business plan:
    How many man hours will it take to have a demo model (no matter how crude)? How many man hours will it take to bring it to market? What is your time frame to bring it to market? Do you need to quit your current job to work on it? Do you need to hire people in order to meet your deadline? How much runway do you estimate you need in order to get off the ground with a saleable product? This is the basis of your development and launch budget. Your business plan is your estimate on keeping the company operating: what are your liabilities, assets, income and burn rate of reverses?

    Where is your budget coming from?
    If its just yourself you have to go back to a day job when you bank account is empty. If you are employing other people you need to continuously be out there pitching for seed money (which takes away from dev time). So having a working demo that you can pitch is needed. Have your pitch smooth and bullet proof and be ready to field all sorts of outlandish questions, be told "we'll think about it" and then ignored, and to be told NO many many times.

    What is your end goal?
    Do you want to develop into a larger company or be bought out for a pay day? Do some research on your Phase II goal. It doesn't need to be now, but you don't want to be surprised when you turn around and realize that you are suddenly employing 35 people and you have a large company knocking on your door with an offer and you don't know what to do with it.
    • This is the comment to read here. There are a lot of really bad startup companies out there, and very few good ones. Assuming you want to make a good one, this is all great advice.

      There's a lot that goes into a good idea, and no one else believes your idea is good. The difficult part is convincing people your idea is good, no matter how obvious it is to you. Next: plan, plan, plan. Develop a thick skin, and get used to paying other people more than what you're making.

    • The intent of a startup is to develop a product that people will buy from you.

      That's one theory.

      Another is to generate insane amounts of hype and sell the worthless shell of a company to some clown with more money than sense.

    • Can you do something incredibly plain and unremarkable? e.g., email. Like, everyone hates email as they have bloated web GUIs, all tons of crap mixed in there (administrative, personal, pointless subscriptions)
      Like, you could give a company, team or group their own squirrelmail, and also their own IRC accessed with the same login for instance. Clean, free of crap and everyone understands what it's about.

      You heard about it here lol.
      Advertise to local businesses. Well, maybe there's only a trickle of money to

  • Have a product and a customer in mind.

    Step 2: Write a functional proof-of-concept

    Step 3a: Find a customer.

    Step 3b: Worry about "being a startup"
    • by Keruo ( 771880 )
      I'm amazed that I had to scroll this far to find the first rational comment on the subject.
      Like in any other business, the key is to find customers to pay for your product. The more, the better.
      The job is actually more of being a successful salesman than being a good coder
  • by brian.stinar ( 1104135 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @05:26PM (#54203255) Homepage

    I own Noventum Custom Software. [noventum.us] Noventum is a small company (me + 1 full time W2, and 3 part time 1099s) that offers software development services to others. This isn't exactly a high growth startup, but we do have two intellectual property projects we're working on (that customers paid for, which we own the IP.)

    I have two rules:
            1.) Know how we're going to get paid before working on a software project, and where the money came from (past tense - already exists and can be talked about using concrete terms.)
            2.) Don't work with people with zero business experience, even if they meet the first criteria.

    Our model is based on very low risk, slow growth, tried and true business practices. All of our customers are successful companies that have come to rely on custom software for their businesses to function, and it's immediately clear how they plan on paying us. Mine is not the kind of business that other people invest in, or that brings a brand new, innovative, product to market quickly. I am building a team, and involved in activities that I believe will help me with the skills needed to actually have a product.

    So, for you, what I would recommend is to start contracting, and gain business experience. If you're able to offer your services to others at hourly, or in fixed-rate, contracts you will start to develop all of the ancillary skills that are related to selling software, which are only tangentially related to the actual coding. There are many such skills, with the primary one being sales. Unless your organization has some ability to sell, it won't really matter how awesome your product is if no one knows about it, no one is buying it, and you have to work another job to pay your bills. Also correctly paying taxes, and managing the books for a business is another skill that I wish I was better at. Aesthetics are another skillset that I lack - it's important to make things look nice. All of these skills take time to develop, or even to be able to evaluate in others. If you have a mountain of cash, you'll burn through it learning what it means to manage salespeople, designers, and accountants, unless you have some skill in these areas.

    The three successful product companies I've worked with/for all began contracting. This allowed them to get paid to learn their customers' needs, since the customers would then sign a contract with them to have these needs met. This is the approach I recommend.

    I am also from New Mexico. Culturally, we don't look highly upon the 18 companies that VCs fund that go broke in order for there to be one home run. This model is not attractive to me, even if I understand the basic mathematics behind it, and consider it an effective method of wealth generation. Depending on your values, geographic location, tolerance for risk, and perception of the passage of time, there may be a better path than contracting for you.

  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @05:51PM (#54203339)
    with a trebuchet
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @06:04PM (#54203381) Homepage

    If you want to join a startup, go to these incubators and ask them to give you their elevator pitch. If the basic concept sounds okay, ask if they need more staff, what they'd show a potential investor and what skills they're looking for then negotiate a deal. Remember start-ups usually don't have a lot of cash so your income will probably depend on the company's future, joining a poor start-up doesn't do you any good. Make sure you don't end up in a position where you accept crap pay but they'll run away with all the profit if it succeeds.

    If you're looking to actually start a software company, how do you know if you have a viable market if you don't have any "business experience"? The most important part of a software company isn't the code, it's the business plan. Essential points:

    Who are you planning to sell to?
    What will be the key selling features?
    Why hasn't anyone else done it?
    How will it reach the market?
    When do we expect product revenue?

    If you think I'll just create the product and they'll come, stop. Nobody knows you exist, nobody understands your product/solution and nobody cares. If you haven't got a grip on those, that's okay but then don't quit your day job. Start creating it, try selling it and get some actual experience. That way it'll only cost you time and you'll probably learn that selling it was much harder than you thought. At least that was my limited experience running a start-up, even if we thought we had the product they needed the customer was rarely more than lukewarm.

    • While agree with most of your post, the "when do we generate revenue" line is probably the most optional. There are a lot of start ups that grow customer base at a loss, expecting to eventually sell to someone that can keep absorbing teh losses until they monetize. E.g. Google. And I use as an example senses - they will buy startups and then figure out how to monetize them, and they originally started without any revenue model and had to hope into one.

      Of course, that is very much a "1M+ users or you have

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        While agree with most of your post, the "when do we generate revenue" line is probably the most optional. There are a lot of start ups that grow customer base at a loss, expecting to eventually sell to someone that can keep absorbing teh losses until they monetize. E.g. Google.

        Well you're right, I probably didn't mean the company as such but your finances... how and when do you plan to transition from using savings and free labor to live off something else, it doesn't have to be profit it could be investor money. Because unless you have a successful start-up behind you it's unlikely you can bankroll it yourself and if it suffocates before you can secure another source of funding it's over.

        • Very true. If you're going for a "build and sell" strategy, you need a runway, and need to know how you are going to survive for as long as you need. Then you need more money because you're certainly optimistic.

    • What will be the key selling features?

      More specifically, how is it going to help your customers do what they do or want to do? You need to know who will want it and why. Have a specific customer base in mind, whose lives or profits you can improve for specific reasons. Those reasons are the selling features

      Why hasn't anyone else done it?

      This is one of those things where being able to answer the question is good regardless of the answer. It may be that it looks like a really dumb idea (like trying to

  • If you go through a startup incubator, please be aware of the following:
    Investors will want three things from you - a business plan, an exit strategy and at least 70% ownership of your startup (probably more actually)
    Investors may not want you in the startup company in the role that you had in mind. ("What do you mean I can't be CEO of my own startup?")

    Business incubators offer 'free' seeding money, but you often won't get it until 1 or maybe even 2 years after incubation starts.

    A good business incubator wi
  • by trybywrench ( 584843 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @07:42PM (#54203701)
    The best advice I can give is save a year's salary first, then start with consulting/contracting work while building your product. Maybe you'll be able to stay alive long enough and transition from consulting/contracting to your product. Also, identify what you're not good at and find people who are and will give up their successful career to roll the dice on a shot in the dark ( not easy ). Finally, if you have a spouse make sure they're on board 100% and make sure they understand the odds and what failure means like no house, car, health insurance, savings etc.
    "Being successful at these things is about as likely as getting struck by lightning at the bottom of a swimming pool. Well that's a bit much, the odds aren't that good actually." - paraphrased quote i read in some random startup book
  • Find a lawyer to make sure your all set up for tax, payments, your brand is legally good, and that your secure from questions by your own gov later.
    Ensure payments are done in a very standard and secure way and that its all ready for tax.

    Work on support so a contact form is easy to find with a tracking number and a provide an email back with that tracking number.
    Create a blog with updates, news, a forum for feature requests. That allows users to feel like they are part of the brand.
    When your product i
  • For you I would suggest- stop. You're asking all the wrong questions. The question on whether to use an incubator or not is so far down the road its not even funny. That's step 12 or so. You're at step 1.

    Find a problem. Figure out a solution. Market test and focus group to try and figure out if your idea for a solution actually is a solution. Then come up with a business plan- a fully detailed one. Make sure you think you can actually be profitable in a reasonable time. After that, write your MVP

  • This is 100% fool proof.

    1. Move to Silicon Valley in the early 1980's.

    2. Buy real estate.

    3. Profit!

    Assuming you will reach any achievable goal in a startup is delusional. That includes getting anything out the door, making any money, having a life outside of work, or having anything to show for your time except war stories.

    You can have a lot of fun if you realize that you are doing it for the experience, and you understand it will eat your life. If you don't understand how much of a gamble you are taki

  • Oh, that's not what you were asking?

  • Then read it again.
    Then read it again taking notes.

    The you'll know what to do.

    Good luck!

  • by thomst ( 1640045 ) on Monday April 10, 2017 @05:14AM (#54205375) Homepage
    ... I'd try a e-rused Falcon 9 - although the Soyuz family DOES offer more configuration flexibility.
  • by houghi ( 78078 )

    Just steal an idea from others and let the lawyers fight it out. You can also see that you do something, call it something else, because you have an app and let the lawyers fight it out.

    e.g. I am working on selling beers in the US to people under the age of 21. However they order via an app, in the general conditions it is said they are only allowed to look at the closed bottles.I also do not call it "selling beer in a bar" I cal it "Filled container dispention with the opportunity to look at it". They are

    • And you probably don't have enough money to afford the lawyers to drag out court proceedings until you establish the business well enough to afford the lawyers.

  • by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Monday April 10, 2017 @09:48AM (#54206293) Journal

    Don't.

    Startups are businesses. You need business acumen and people skills, neither of which are engineer qualities. If you do decide to do a startup, realize your first hire is not yourself, but the CEO who will handle the initial pitch, finance and all that non-engineering jazz. Also know that your priorities as an engineer are out oa whack with that your startup will need, unless you're already used to doing things in an agile manner.

    But realize that the traditional startup might sound sexy but it sucks. If you can at all bootstrap it, do it that way. If you never have to pitch to a VC, then that's the best outcome for you, even if it takes a little longer. VC funding is only when you have hurdles to entry that you can't cross on your own, or you are racing to market because of a timeline.

    Once you bring in a VC, you no longer own the business, they do, despite whatever equity agreement you have.. You wanted a start-up to be your own master, but having other people's funding makes them the master.

  • What the "business people"will tell you is that ideas are cheap, implementations are important, and elegant implementations are useless if no one needs/wants your product.

    If you are writing software to solve a problem you have, and then hope that other people will find your software useful - that isn't a business

    If you know that (* large number of people, who are willing/able to pay for your software *) have a problem and your software will help them with that problem - that is the beginning of a busines

  • Lawyers, lawyers and more lawyers.

    First get your idea, make proof of concept, market it to your niche.

    Then hire programmers to make the idea into a full-blown revenue stream, hire marketers and an advertising team to drive up sales. Then get sued out of existence by IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, or SCO.

    Most of success is NOT the GREAT IDEA. Most of success is getting people together to work on any feasible idea, then success is actually getiing a lot of people to want and to buy your idea, --- and then s
  • I started my own custom software company without an "idea" and with no business experience.
    I grew it to 11 employees making more than a $million a year of profit. Sold it for multiple millions.
    I've started companies around an "idea." (most of these failed. Some were ok)
    I started a second custom software company that is still going strong. It works primarily with software startups. We've launched about 50 companies (all around an "idea") so far.
    I'm actually working as the CTO of one of the companies

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