2393713435_7a024786aaI’ve started writing a new book for Apress: working title, The Startup Success Guide (SSG).
This is not Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality (MIVR) 2.0. MIVR did and does a good job of covering what’s involved in moving from being somebody else’s developer to creating, marketing and making money as a self-funded microISV selling a desktop app.
I just forgot to cover how you create a startup that launches a web app. Oops. My bad.
Seriously, since I started on MIVR in 2005, web apps – or more explicitly, Internet-centric applications running on the web, desktops, cell phones, iPhones, etc. – have taken off. And startups – what used to be serial Silicon Valley entrepreneurs convincing VC funds to pony up a few multi-million dollar rounds of funding – have furiously evolved.
If you’re looking for info on how to get your standalone desktop app into potential users’ hands, lessons from various microISVs, pros and cons of different business structures, how to build a decent site for your microISV, etc., MIVR is a good choice.
If you need info on the pros and cons of the multitude of web app platforms, how to get funding from angel investors, micro VC’s and VCs in [economically shell shocked] 2009, subscription/alternative revenue models for web apps, how to develop a web app that will make money, the huge role Open Source now plays, why, how, where to build your web app’s social media network, getting PR about your web app and a lot more, I hope The Startup Success Guide is a big help when it releases this summer.
Three last things (I’m an writer, I can say things that way :)): I need your help. Specifically, I need your suggestions on big things to cover in the startup/web app world now so I can work them into the existing chapter outlines, and later, I’ll need your feedback on specifics, recommendations of people I should interview, etc. Add them as comments, email them to me, tweet them: whatever works for you.
What about Project X Bob!? Well, you don’t have to do something to write about it, but it does add verisimilitude. Look for Project X very soon. And maybe another startup too!
Writing a book is more than a little like doing a bungee jump – something I did in Queenstown, New Zealand too long ago. They tie your feet up, you stand on a little platform looking down while your body is screaming, “What the hell are you doing, you’re going to Die! Die! Die!”, then you jump. Here’s to a happy landing.

8 Comments

  1. Hi Bob,
    Looking forward to seeing the new book.
    Just an idea that you might like to cover. I’m building a web app that has a target audience that isn’t (on the whole) web savvy. From my market research, I’ve found that over half the survey don’t use the internet like we do ie basecamp, flickr, twitter etc etc, in fact they don’t even know about those apps! They use the internet for emails, news and some basic shopping research ie normal “joe public”.
    I’d love to know, or have some help with marketing a web app to this type of target market. Maybe that could be covered in your new book?
    Thanks for your books and posts etc.
    Cheers
    Craig

  2. Hi Bob, sounds like a great idea.
    I would minimize the discussion of specific web platforms, but play up criterion you should think about when selecting them. The specifics will be out of date the day you publish.
    In terms of funding, it would be great to talk about bootstrapping through angels through VC, the criterion you should think about that would lead you to a particular one, and the tradeoffs involved… emphasis on no right answer. You can highlight how the web app space is or is not different in various financing aspects to traditional companies.
    Talk about the different roles and skills you need, and different ways to obtain/rent them.
    Talk about the different characteristics of the markets for different platforms (type of user, app costs, marketing strategies, etc.)
    Talk about the real pitfalls e.g. http://www.ideasonideas.com/2009/01/startup_fail/ .. I know you’ll give your typical success examples, but balance and realism would be helpful (yes, so-and-so did it on Twitter, it doesn’t mean you necessarily will).
    In other words, it would be great to see a thoughtful book taking people through the different issues and processes, and displaying a diversity of approaches, rather than a “web startups for dummies” book. 🙂
    Mark

  3. I’d be interested in hearing the stories of the “quieter” startups. The ones that are finding success even though they’ve ignored the ad nauseum advice of blogging and twittering and commenting and posting. Or how important of a role design (both of your product and your company’s brand/website) plays into the success of a mISV.

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  5. Bob Walsh Reply

    Craig – Good one! Joe Public is precisely the people who are going to be fueling a lot of startups, as they get interested in “this whole Web 2.0 thing”. Just as when digital photography went mainstream – that >>big<< demographic called normal people is where startups need to go now. Mark - good point re nail the criteria, go light on the web platform flavor of the week. And doing a startup definitely requires a different skillset and mindset from doing standalone desktop apps, let alone writing apps in a job. Eric - so would I: Loud companies are necessarily successful companies. And I will be looking for specific and general ways good design - product, brand, web site and community - can produce huge wins. Andy - Actually, when I did it in Queenstown, N.Z. over a decade ago, you could ask for Wet (head in river) or Dry. I went with Dry - the river looked a bit low! Thanks for the encouragement!

  6. When you’re talking about a web app, do you mean something that’s strictly of the hosted/SaaS variety?
    If that’s the case, then it would be great to have some tips on how to find and build a relationship with a reliable hosting partner. Also any business/legal tips for dealing with their up-time guarantees and how that will translate to your own clients.
    And if you’re faced with a downtime—in which all you can do is wait—then what are some Plan B scenarios to deal with your clients.
    Good luck!

  7. Definitely looking forward to this.
    As a developer, I find it is quite easy to develop and application. It’s the idea which is difficult to get, especially trying to convince myself that the great technical idea is not a good commercial one. Any tips on identifying or evaluating ideas which can be commercially viable are welcome.
    Also, would be good if you can write on what route to take once we have decided on an idea, and are on the brink of completing the product development. How to market and go about making money with it.
    Oh and, how to protect yourself so it is not easily duplicated ( copyrights? patents? cost – benefits of any such measures ).
    Good luck with the book. Will definitely go thru it once it is released.

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