Selling Software.

  • I've always built software for people that was massively bespoke.

    I have two or three pieces of software (read web apis) that with a little bit of effort I could sell viably to third parties.

    Has anyone done this before successfully? Any tips?

  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @lucas1 Since I'm going to (try) following you a bit more so your (potential) future jokes won't fall flat for me, I'm going to reply so you know I'm (trying to) follow you.

    Unfortunately, no, I haven't sold software, though I have made a myriad of small apps as well (actually, I recently picked up one of them called UnplugStandby, which I feel probably few people would really want/need).

    I would anticipate a company that specialises in patents and the like (maybe ? Dunno, haven't used them, first result on google, etc.) would be able to tell you more and guide you through the path of either seeking a publisher that you could sell your product to and get distributed, or becoming a company yourself in order to sell your product.

    I think the hardest part would be starting up the business, if you're going to use a third party to do the selling I would anticipate a large need to focus on your promotional material first and foremost to attract the most amount of potential customers.
    However, if it's highly specialized things you are designing, it might be possible that the ones who seek will be using the right keywords to get your product to come up in search results.

    After you've got attention, then it would be worth it to make sure your product actually works. I would recommend avoiding the pitfall of over-promising and under-delivering. Make sure that what you're saying your product can do is indeed what it can do, and don't be afraid to admit what it cannot do (be prepared to show willingness to implement a feature, but explain upfront how long/costly it would be to implement it). Having an attainable roadmap with sensible goals can also show that you're intending on continuous improvement for your product, and improvement is always a good thing.

  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @lucas1 said in Selling Software.:

    Any tips?

    Who are your current customers? Who are your potential customers?

    You don't need to tell me the answers to those questions. 🙂 But they'll drive everything you do. You need to know your customers to be able to figure out what to actually sell them, how to tell them that your product/service exists, and how to actually close those deals to make the sale. Also, how much income you're likely to make from each sale, and hence what sort of profit you should expect to make long-term (which in turn will drive your business plan, and what sort of relationship you have with your bank manager).

    I guess the big thing technically is whether you're selling just software, software+consulting (e.g., for configuring things), just service, service+consulting, etc. Different customers have wildly varying appetites for different models.


    @lucas1 You can do consultancy, usually you are the copyright owner and sell a perpetual license to your customers but some customers may want to get the copyright and you charge them extra. As @dkf mentioned you first need customers (who can trust you).

  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @dse There's a whole range of stuff with licensing, which is where it gets complicated. As usual with when it gets complicated, you've got to be really clear about what you're trying to do in order to cut through the thicket of conflicting information or you'll end up wasting time and effort in the long rough. (See security and “threat models”, which is exactly this.)

    When you're starting a business, your first target is to get some cashflow so that you can pay bills. That means either making sales, or borrowing. You can't borrow without a business plan (well, not unless you've got awesome bullshitting skills; I definitely haven't) and the first component of that is “know your customers”. But making sales also requires knowing your customers. So guess what's the thing you need to work out right at the beginning?

    Now, @lucas1, I believe you think you've identified a market niche to target? If so, you're a long way towards knowing your customers. That's great! Have you worked out why they are going to go to you and not someone else? It might be because they're friends, but that's dangerous to rely on as it can really hurt friendships to have that friendship be hurting the bottom line. Ideally, you want your customers to profit from giving you business to an extent that they're not keen to go elsewhere, and you want to make enough money from it that it's not wasting your time.

    There's a lot of really good advice on the entrepreneur's thread. It is relevant to selling software.

  • Is it just you? Have you got something in place to address the bus factor of buying software from a one person shop?

  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @loopback0 I think that that's something he gets to worry about later. Yes, it's important for the business, but until there is a business at all it isn't something to panic over.

  • @dkf said in Selling Software.:

    worry about later.

    True, depending on who the customers are and how critical the software would be.

  • @loopback0 I would expect I would either make sure I distribute the source to my customers or enter an escrow agreement.

    @dkf I am contracting at the moment to do exactly that. Get some money in the coffers. Pretty much everywhere near me is a Web startup and I won't be able to compete on price.

    Also I don't have some fancy webpage with a ton of sepia / greyscale images of my staff looking interested in a client project while huddled around the latest Apple Laptop model.

    I have done a lot of work on building Auth systems like Auth0 etc, but I wanna sell it to more corporate / government environments. I have some tooling for sitecore I have built for myself that with a bit of work I could a nice bit of tooling I could sell.

  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @lucas1 said in Selling Software.:

    Also I don't have some fancy webpage with a ton of sepia / greyscale images of my staff looking interested in a client project while huddled around the latest Apple Laptop model.

    That's a definite plus. If you change your mind, there's always a stock photo. 😉

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