MicroISV Pain Points – some very interesting data


The results of the first annual MicroISV Pain Points Survey hit my inbox today – two interesting takeaways:

– While pricing was the top pain, allotting time for blogging and time management were the #2 and #3 pains for the 152 microISVs who took the survey.

– When Russell Thackston analyzed the 142 open-ended responses (10 people punted), guess which word was most frequent? Time. By a sizable margin.

Paul Graham (always someone to pay attention to) talks about Manager time versus Maker time – “For someone on the maker’s schedule, having a meeting is like throwing an exception. It doesn’t merely cause you to switch from one task to another; it changes the mode in which you work.”

You know this quandary: do I turn off email and the rest and code 8 hours straight to get that new cool feature done, or, do I spend 8 hours meeting with people, promoting the product, answering customer inquiries, being social (like in network), marketing? You can’t do both. But you can recognize the difference between the two, and as the saying goes, where the right hat at the right time.

Just remember you make your own reality – or a reality will be provided for you. That’s a tree-huggy way of saying if you don’t decide what kind of day you’ll have tomorrow – Maker or Manager – you’ll slide down the Manager Time slope with that first email check.

Thanks to Russell Thackston at Auburn University, AL for taking the time to get this data and think about it!

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Bob WalshMicroISV Pain Points – some very interesting data

Startup/MicroISV Digest for 1/15/2011

Community News:

In the last few years something important has changed. From there being scant support for first-time/bootstrapping startups we’re seeing incubator after startup fund come online. Case in point, The FinTech Innovation Lab is an annual program in New York City supports start-ups developing technology for the financial services industry.

Selected participants get workspace in New York City, $25k in funding and access to and the opportunity to develop relationships with chief decision-makers in the financial services industry. At the conclusion of the program, a demo day gives participants an opportunity to pitch for further funding. This is one sweet deal – both for developers, and for financial service companies. If this sounds like you, deadline is January 31st, so stop reading this post and get hustle on over to

Interesting questions with useful answers:

Interesting questions with useful answers:

News/posts for microISVs and Startups:

  • I’ve been following Steve Rubel since his Micro Persuasion days and he continues to rock. Case in point, “The Next Media Disruptors Are Mobile Pure-Plays“. Steve makes the whole mobile disruption thing easy-peasy: “With Internet consumption on mobile devices set to surpass the same on PCs next year, according to Morgan Stanley, and US smart phone penetration to hit 50%, Nielsen says, mobile is no longer the tail on the media dog. For the next wave of media upstarts, it’s the dog and the rest is the tail.” Also, kudos for adding a much needed phrase to our vocabulary as we try to describe content that leaps and jumps from medium to medium: transmedia arc.
  • While I will walk through the Trough of Sorrow I will fear no evil department: Martin Kleppmann, co-founder of Rapportive candidly talks about the tribulations of supporting a product while trying to do 19 other things that need to be done yesterday if the startup is to succeed. Good reading.
  • If you’re not reading Seth Godin everyday, you should. His insights into your world are golden. Case in point from his Lost in a Digital World post that earned over a thousand retweets: “Constant inputs and unlimited potential distractions allow us to avoid the lizard, they give the resistance a perfect tool. Everywhere to run, everywhere to hide. The advantage of being cornered with nowhere to turn is that it leaves you face to face with the lizard brain, unable to stall or avoid the real work.”, The Startup Success Podcast and other plugs:

What’s new at ( is a subscription-based community of startup founders; if you’re not already a member, get your free 30 day free trial membership):

  • No new guides this period.

New at the Startup Success Podcast:

  • Show #94 [link] [iTunes]. In this show Bob and Pat interview Jerome Breche, cofounder of SnapEngage, an instant IM system for creating conversations between you and visitors presently on your site. Jerome explains the unmet need behind SnapEngage, why SnapEngage is highly integrated with other online services, and more.

Tired of being stuck in neutral in your startup? Why not do a MicroConsult with Bob Walsh? Instead of hypotheticals and too much information, Bob will work with you for an hour via Skype developing 8 to 10 specific todos that will get your startup in gear. Here’s what one recent client had to say:Details at

(If you have an announcement of interest to your fellow microISV, indies or startups, please email me at with the word digest in the subject.)

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Bob WalshStartup/MicroISV Digest for 1/15/2011

Can’t find an idea for your startup?

springwise.pngA common problem for developers who want to create a startup is deciding what to build. If you have not been struck by the Middle Finger of God and blessed (or cursed) with an itchy obsession to build a particular solution to a specific problem, you can easily fall into the “everything is already done” trap, and languish there.

Don’t make that mistake.

  • Yes, there’s a thousand times more apps today, running on dozens of platforms, than in the bad old days of the Wintel duopoly – but that just means there’s tens of thousands more intersections between what software does and what people want. Bootstrapping startups win when they build on the sharp edges of things, not when they sweat blood to create an app that is unorginal, unremarkable, and unsellable.
  • Get out of your box. The box of who you are, how you came to be here, what you think the world is. One book I’ve recommended for decades to friends looking for a new career is What Color Is Your Parachute? 2011: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. It’s been updated more times than I can count, and it’s a great way to get a comprehensive sense of what people out there do for a living – and what tools they may need.
  • Get way out of the box. One of the coolest characteristics of the web is how new ideas get distributed. Check out and for new ideas and fresh perspectives.

Bottom line: buying into the assumption everything has been already done or you can only aspire as high as the current trendy knockoff copycat idea, is deadly poison for startups. Don’t drink that kool-aid.

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Bob WalshCan’t find an idea for your startup?

I like actionable!

Michael Prendergast just let me know about this free online class tomorrow – nearly busted a finger stabbing away at my keyboard to sign up. Dan Martell of Flowtown will be giving tips on “Social Media Marketing for Startups.”


It’s great seeing busy startup founders making the time to give back to the community. I’m attending, how about you?

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Bob WalshI like actionable!

Office space options for start-ups

By Rob Clymo
Office Genie

When you’re starting a business venture then there are a multitude of things to think about. One of the main components of getting a new business infrastructure in place is to decide on where you’re going to work.

If you’ve got an idea for your venture that doesn’t really require business premises as such, then working from home is always a good way to go. However, not all of us are able to do this as there can often be distractions. Some of us simply need to go out the front door to work in the morning.

Having a business workplace to go to can therefore work really well if you look at renting some office space, either for yourself or other employees in your new start-up venture. This can be a little bit daunting to undertake if you’re new to the office space rental game, but there’s a handy way of making the process quick and easy.

Go compare

Comparison websites can be found that tell you ways of saving money and getting the best deals for just about every kind of product, from food to clothes and from cars to broadband.

Now there’s an office space rental comparison website that does the same kind of job. Head along to Office Genie and you’ll be able to search and find all manner of vacant office space up for grabs. It allows you to search all of the currently available office space throughout the UK.

This is a wonderfully efficient way of pinpointing office space that matches your needs exactly, along with providing the cheapest and best deals too. Choose from traditional leased offices, serviced offices, shared offices or simply rent a desk in an office block. The service is free to use and provides you with a one-stop-shop for new start-up needs when it comes to office requirements.

What kind of venture?

The great thing about using an office space comparison site like this is that it works for any kind of start-up venture. So it can be an excellent idea no matter if you’re a developer looking to go solo or a web designer who needs to branch out into ‘proper’ office space. There’s an office out there somewhere for you and this is the ideal way to find it.

Shared office space is great because it usually comes with the likes of broadband, utilities and security already in place. This is generally covered by a monthly flat fee, although hot desk schemes also allow you to simply pay for what you use. Shared offices offer flexibility and short term contracts too.

Serviced office schemes are also a good idea if you’re expanding by the day. These are ‘bells and whistles’ affairs, often with receptionists, post rooms and everything else that is needed when a fledgling business is on the up. It also gives your new start-up a presentable ‘face’ that will not only look good when people want to visit, but also possibly tempt new clients too.

About the author: Rob Clymo writes on behalf of Office Genie, the UK’s first proper online marketplace for desk space and shared office space.

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Bob WalshOffice space options for start-ups

Startup/MicroISV Digest for 1/5/2011


Way to go Pat!

Community News:

A quick shout out of support for my podcasting co-host, Patrick Foley, Microsoft Evangelist: His article, Use Multiple Visual Studio Project Types for Cloud Success, is in this month’s MSDN Magazine. Way to go, Pat! Also check out this post by Pat with expands and updates the article.

Not much being announced by MicroISVs and bootstrapping startups yet – how about changing that? Let me know at about the latest news your software company has made.

Interesting questions with useful answers:

Interesting questions with useful answers:

News/posts for microISVs and Startups:, The Startup Success Podcast and other plugs:

  • What’s new at ( is a subscription-based community of startup founders; if you’re not already a member, get your free 30 day free trial membership):
    • No new guides this period.
  • New at the Startup Success Podcast:
    • Show #93 [link] [iTunes]. It’s that time again when Bob and Pat review their predictions for the year past (Show 50), peer into The Future, make a few somewhat embarrassing resolutions for the New Year, and brainstorm ways we can make this podcast more valuable to our great listeners.
  • Tired of being stuck in neutral in your startup? Why not do a MicroConsult with Bob Walsh? Instead of hypotheticals and too much information, Bob will work with you for an hour via Skype developing 8 to 10 specific todos that will get your startup in gear. Here’s what one recent client had to say:Details at

(If you have an announcement of interest to your fellow microISV, indies or startups, please email me at with the word digest in the subject.)

photo credit: Star Walk for the iPhone and iPad

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Bob WalshStartup/MicroISV Digest for 1/5/2011

Attention becomes the gating factor.

Have you noticed this past holiday season about a 3x jump in companies trying to get your attention via your email inbox? I did, and that brings us to another no-brainer but important prediction for startups and microISVs in 2011: attention is going to be the key resource, commodity and place to add value this coming year.

That we have too many emails, too many company newsletters, too many RSS feeds, too many blog posts and way too many chatty Twitter followers isn’t news. But that you can expect all of these attention-demanders, plus the usual suspects of traditional media, online goodies and distractions to get five times more demanding of your attention is. Why is this happening? Pick your flavor of the day: social media goes mainstream, taking entire industries with it; the uptake of great tools for sharing your marketing message like MailChimp; amazing technologies and shiny toys (you can decide which are which) that make us hungry and impatient for the next version to get here; the onlining of more and more of our personal, professional, emotional and economic relationships.

Steve Rubel, a consistently thoughtful blogger who a few years ago coined the term “attention crash” says,

“The unmistakable trend here is simple – we must innovate or die. That’s not a new theme, of course, but our society’s burgeoning addiction to technology stimuli will force marketers to more quickly iterate and also bail on what’s not working.” – The Stimulation Economy.

The why is far less important than what – what are you going to do about it? Find new and better ways of being worthy of the attention you crave as a startup founder or microISV. Shouting louder with more ads, more posts, more coupons, more noise won’t work. Thinking of, trying out, iterating through large and small ways to pay more value for the attention you want will.

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Bob WalshAttention becomes the gating factor.

“Please be kind to new users”


Quora, the answerboard alternative to Stack Exchange and it many progeny, seems to have hit the takeoff point this week. With something like 500,000 registered members, I’m seeing a 10-fold increase in follow notifications. Others have remarked on the seeing the same thing.

Usually about this time, the “old-timers” moan, grown and whinge about how the sudden onslaught of the masses is ruining “their” service. I can remember “there goes the online neighborhood” laments all the way back to when CompuServe started to get popular – it’s a sure sign that a online network has passed its Rubicon and is going mainstream.

What’s unusual this time, are the calls of restraint and tolerance some longtime members of the Quommunity are making. It’s a refreshing change.

For example, Achilleas Vortselas writes, “If you are an early adopter, chances are that you have been taken by surprise by the increasing rate of influx of new Quora users. You may feel dismayed by the quality of their contributions and frustrated by their behaviour. You may feel the urge to crack your righteous whip at them. Don’t.”

As the communities we try and build around our software as startups and microISVs becomes increasingly important, what are you doing to make newbies welcome?

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Bob Walsh“Please be kind to new users”

Make your point!


Today’s example of A Job Well Done (a new feature I’m starting for 2011 here) is Tawheed (“TK”) Kader’s newest startup, specifically its welcome page.

Any doubts in your mind what Tout is about?

I thought not.

Three things worth pointing out about this page:

  1. Yes, “Tout” is huge – that one word is like firing a shot into the ceiling to get everyone attention – and then speaking calmly, clearly and briefly. Notice all the white space on the page? That’s visual silence after the whack your eyes just got.
  2. Keep it short. Very short. The more attention you grab, the less time you have to make your point. I’ve seen more copy for a single benefit or feature than this entire page.
  3. Match deed to word. This is not an app for the fainthearted. It’s meant to appeal to startups, businesses, “thought leaders” and other rambunctious people trying to stir up trouble, build buzz, go viral, and get attention. And Tout shows it can accomplish that.
  4. Stay classy. When you brazenly try to get people’s attention, best to do so in a way that looks effortless. Whether it’s the one graphic, the use of sexy buttons, the “Sign up with your Google account in under 10 seconds” promise (you can), this is a classy page.

The takeaway from this (IMO) Job Well Done, is walk the talk: if you are going to sell a better way to get attention, start with showing you can do that for your own startup.

(Quick disclosure – After TK showed me Tout and I decided to make an example of his site, I pitched a small project to him and he accepted. More about that soon.)

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Bob WalshMake your point!