Thursday, December 21, 2006

Change of Plan

When I first started on ChimSoft back in January 2005, I had never heard the term MicroISV. My previous experience in the software world had been at two startups, one that sold Court Reporting software for $5k a pop, and another that sold Enterprise Management software for $20k-100k. So when I heard the idea of software for chimney sweeps, my first instinct was to make it like the court reporting software. On the phone or in-person sales, 24/7 800-number support, price tag that justifies the niche.

Before I started development, I did market research, determined the size of the chimney sweep market, what would be involved in development and support, and priced the product appropriately. Feedback from sweeps I talked to indicated the price was fair, and if it delivered as promised, worth every penny. But from the beginning the plan was never to have JUST chimney sweep software. The market is too small. We planned on making a generic service industry software, with plugins for various niches, like Chimney Sweeps, plumbers, etc... Sweeps still say the price is fair, but the sales cycle is a lot longer then I anticipated. We are one of the best products out there, and try as they might, our customers just cannot find something that does as good of a job, as simply and as straightforward as ChimSoft. So even a year after talking to a sales lead for the first time, I'm still receiving calls about how they want to buy any second, and could they see another demo. Larger companies were buying only one or two copies for their office, while hesitating on the value of the product in the field. I want to make the choice easier.

So...starting todayish...SearTech is officially moving towards being more MicroISV-like. ChimSoft will be available for download, demo, and purchase entirely without talking to a single person. In fact, we are nixing the 800 number. Upgrades are no longer free for a year, and support will be entirely by email. Features that were a pain to implement and maintain, that we thought would be big selling points, ended up being the least interesting of all, so those are gone. It may sound like a much lesser product now, but really we have taken the feedback of our existing customers and potential customers and cut ChimSoft to a mean-lean piece of software. To reflect this, the price will drop to $299. Although the original price of ~$2k was fair, and people did purchase at that price, it required a lot more thought. $2k is a lot for a single Chimney Sweep, and $2k times X computers is a lot for a large Chimney Sweep. We want more people using our product, although I anticipate the revenue to be about the same.

In addition, SearTech will soon be launching the software we always planned to launch, the "generic" service software that contractors, painters, plumbers, or anyone else running a small service business can use. The price of this software will be $199, plus $99 for specific industry modules that will be developed in the future. We are still working on a name for this, if you have any ideas (with a domain that is available) I'm all ears.

The hardest part about making this move is worrying about the people who did pay the higher price in the past. To help ease that pain, first we will provide the support we promised, free updates for a year, etc... In addition, if they have purchased in the past 60 days, they will receive a credit towards ChimSoft support or updates.


Post a Comment

<< Home