Business model for Open Source - advice wanted
shane at zope.com
Thu Jul 10 20:01:33 CEST 2003
Frank Millman wrote:
> I am busy developing an accounting package, using Python and wxPython,
> together with PostgreSQL on a Unix platform or SQL Server on a Windows
> platform. I am a qualified accountant and have been developing
> accounting software, mostly customised, for over 20 years. [...]
> I have been toying with the idea of releasing it
> under an Open Source license.
I agree with Evan: open source has turned out to be a very effective
model for Zope Corp. Once your product is popular (partly because it's
Free), you can sell your expertise in a lot of ways:
- You can sell to different verticals using your open source product as
a platform. Every business has different accounting needs, but
businesses of a certain category tend to be quite similar. You could
make packages for real estate, law, medical practices, retail shops,
etc. The vertical customizations should be simple enough that it
doesn't cost you much to create them, but should have enough "meat" that
it's more cost effective for a business to buy the customized product
than to re-create it on their own.
- Sell training courses. You might have two levels of training: one for
end users and one for larger companies that want to customize your
product. Training courses can be a lot of fun, and people are often
willing to pay quite a bit for a week's worth of expert knowledge.
- When working with small shops with no IT staff, you could consider
becoming an application service provider, keeping the software running
smoothly and the data backed up without any intervention by your
customer. The recurring income could be enough to sustain the business
for a long time.
The important thing is to build strong relationships of trust with both
customers and potential customers, invite people to use your products
and services, and follow up on commitments. That's a key to success in
any business. Free, open source software gives you an advantage in the
process of building relationships. If you cultivate those relationships
through mailing lists and personal contacts, business opportunities will
surface in the most unexpected places.
Well, that's how it works for Zope, anyway! ;-) I think many open
source businesses struggle primarily because they spend too much time on
the technology and not enough time connecting with people. I am
fortunate to work for a company that has its priorities straight.
More information about the Python-list