The readers of this blog already know that my first attempt at becoming a micropreneur (selling online code-generation services from simple design models) failed.
Now, some months after the decision to stop the first service, it´s time to reflect on why it/I failed. This is the first of a simple series of posts where I´ll explain some reasons that, IMHO, explain it together with recommendations to avoid doing the same mistakes. Of course, you can be the perfect counterexample for what I say and if so, I´m very happy for you, but I´m afraid you are the exception and not the rule.
My first advice when selling a software tool/service is to target a “cool” technology. You want to focus on selling your tool not on convincing people that the technology your tool promotes is great for them, otherwise, you are fighting the wrong battle. I´m the perfect example. I was trying to sell a model-driven approach for software development where the code is generated automatically from design models. Well, many developers are completely against this idea. They will not be interested in your service no matter how good it is. Even worse, almost no developer will be immediately in favor, which means that you´ll need to work hard to convince developers that the model-driven approach is good for them even before trying to sell them your tool. This feeling is shared by other vendors (e.g. see these lessons learnt in building a mobile development platform).
Instead imagine that you´re trying to sell some kind of agile tool. (Almost) Everybody will agree that agile is good. For whatever reason (not necessarily a scientific one) agile is “cool” and “fashionable” so agile tool vendors don´t need to waste their time convincing people that buying an agile development tool is a good idea, they can focus their energy in convincing people that their tool is better that the competitors. When discussing with clients we can focus on the how (price, needed features,…) but not on the why .