Entries from June 2010 ↓

Two Days Left for a Discount on the Business of Software Conference

The early bird registration discount for this year’s Business of Software in Boston expires on Friday. If you are planning to go, sign up now to save $400 off the full price.

In addition to speakers like Seth Godin, Joel Spolsky, Dharmesh Shah and Eric Sink, there are excellent networking opportunities with the other 300 attendees (a lot of self-funded software companies in the audience). I’ll also have the pleasure of connecting with you, as I’m honored to be one of the speakers this year.

I hope to see you in Boston in October.

The Warren Buffett of Websites

I’ve embraced a concept that involves investing in websites like real estate. Not “website flipping” as the press seems to categorize anything to do with buying or selling websites, but taking a long-term approach to finding income-generating web properties and building a portfolio.

Think Warren Buffett’s buy-and-hold approach vs. speculation (aka “flipping”).

This is different from building apps yourself, and also different than Micropreneurship.  Micropreneurs tend to own microISVs, whereas this new concept…this Internet Business Investor might own e-commerce sites, ebooks, and AdWords sites. He looks at websites purely as investments.

This investor builds a portfolio to hedge a downturn in any one property, and to build a sustainable income source, since a single small website is unlikely to generate substantial income.

The idea is to “buy” yourself freedom to do what you want by building equity in web properties (as opposed to doing this through real estate, which is the more common path).

With that said, and realizing this is not about building applications but solely about buying, rehabbing and holding web properties to build a passive income stream with the goal of personal freedom…do you have any interest in that topic?

The reason I ask is that I’m considering starting a separate (totally free) blog or podcast on this subject. If you are interested, please let me know:

I’ll email you once or twice as it shapes up to keep you in the loop. Again, I’m not going to charge for this.

Excellent Showing at 59 Days of Code Startup Competition

59 Days of Code Badge

I was a judge at last night’s 59 days of code startup competition here in Fresno. Teams had 59 days to create a killer app. One that solves a problem, is marketable, and demos well.

Overall it was an impressive showing of local talent. You can view a list of contestants here.

The Categories
There were two categories: zero-code and in progress. Zero-code meant you had to start with…um, zero code on day 1. In progress meant you could have a partial or complete product, but it needs polish and customers.

We judged based on a number of criteria, which can be seen at the bottom of this page, but they include things like usefulness, demo, UI, and differentiation. Frankly, the ability for a team to describe their idea well had a huge impact on how you perceived their app.

The Winners
The winners received a couple of pretty cool prize packages: an iPad, a chunk of money ($2800 for in-progress and $7200 for zero-code), a lifetime membership to the Micropreneur Academy, a Balsamiq Mock-ups license, and a bunch of other stuff worth around $17k.

  • The winner of the zero-code category was PostEcho, an analytics package for social media
  • The winner of the in-progress category was MyNetworkFactory, an online tool for sharing referrals within referral networks

Congratulations to both winners, and a tip of the hat to all who focused their energy for 59 days. Thanks to Travis, Irma and CVBI for putting everything together.

See you in 2011.

“Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup” is Now Available in Paperback and PDF

After much toil, my book Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup is now available in paperback and PDF format at StartupBook.net.

A few reviews so far:

“Congrats @robwalling for “shipping” – I’ve started reading it, it’s GREAT stuff! :)”
– Peldi, twitter.com/balsamiq

“[I] booked some time this afternoon and pretty much devoured it!  A great read, and I think you nailed exactly the right balance between big picture strategy and very specific and actionable tasks or resources.”
– Mark Roseman, www.markroseman.com

“@robwalling I’ve read only the first chapter and I think it’s the best piece I’ve read :)”
– Akash Manohar, twitter.com/akashmanohar

“Started reading @robwalling’s book tonight. Got about 25 pages in, and I can already tell I’m going to like it.”
– Joel, Ross twitter.com/RossCode

“…an awesome combination of big-picture ideas with tools and tactics to make it happen.”
– Harry Hollander, Moraware Software

If you’re interested, it’s available in paperback and PDF format at StartupBook.net.

Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)

I recently finished the book Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It). It’s a fascinating look at how we perceive pricing, mis-perceive pricing, and are easily fooled by small changes in packaging, presentation and marketing.

Though the book starts slowly with more than hundred pages of background on the study of pricing psychology, if you skip ahead to parts 3 and 4 you get to the meat of the book; the key takeaways that marketers use and abuse everyday in our supermarket, casinos and dollar stores.

More than anything, this book made me realize there are “black hat” tactics in many disciplines. Some of the tactics the author discusses made me want to shower, such as cell phone bills made complex on purpose so people can’t compare apples to apples with the competition.

On the flip side, the idea of ending a price with .99 seems so commonplace that I don’t question it these days. It doesn’t feel black hat to me, but perhaps it should.

An unintended benefit was walking away with a list of things to watch out for as a consumer (e.g., new packaging always means less product). I also walked away with a few pricing ideas to test on my products.

In the end, Priceless is a unique and well-constructed look at the psychology of pricing.

Last Chance for the Pre-Launch Discount on the “Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup”

If you’re interested in the pre-launch discount for my book Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup, you’ll want to head over to StartupBook.net in the next few hours.

I’ll be taking down the landing page and closing out the launch list this weekend in preparation for next week’s release.

Don’t Plan to Get Rich from Your Startup

Getting rich shouldn’t be your goal when launching a startup.

Thousands of people who are better developers than you, are better at evaluating markets, and better at marketing software have built products and still work for a living.

There is a chance that your startup will provide riches beyond your wildest dreams. A slightly better chance than buying a lottery ticket.

And while it’s true that you might get lucky your first time, “luck” is not a plan.

During his presentation at the Business of Software conference in 2009, Dharmesh Shah said “For your first startup, maximize your odds of a modest outcome.”

Have you ever considered aiming for a modest outcome?

This approach gives you time to learn the ropes. There are hundreds of things to learn your first time at the plate. That learning curve coupled with a big market and big competition is very likely to crush your chance of success.

Your first time at the plate you already have one things stacked against you: lack of experience. Don’t stack the complexity of a big market/big competition as well.

Maximize your odds of a modest outcome by choosing a niche market. It’s not as sexy as conquering the world with the next brilliant consumer-focused social media network microblog app, but your chance of a modest outcome is 10x…perhaps 100x greater.

Start your startup. Learn the ropes.

Then, whether you succeed or fail, you can swing for the fences. That second time you may just make it.

(Since several have asked…this is one of the reasons my upcoming book about starting a startup is titled Start Small, Stay Small)