Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Great MicroISV Challenge 2007

I recently mentioned my move to Pittsburgh to begin a new job. I also recently mentioned that I plan on developing a desktop version of my popular free online budgeting program. I've decided to combine the two events into something I'd like to call "The Great mISV Challenge".

Similar to short time table Patrick had when he created his Bingo software, I decided to use the situation I'm in currently for some hard core developing.

The challenge is this: Starting tonight, I will begin developing version 1.0 of BudgetSimple - Desktop (coming up with a better name may be part of this). I'm literally staring at a blank Visual Studio window now with nothing written. My goal is to have version 1.0 out and selling in exactly one month. I'll lay out my schedule in a little more detail later in this post.

Why do this now and in this way?

One of the caveats with moving to Pittsburgh is that I still have a house to sell in the DC area, so I'm temporarily renting in the city. This means a couple of things, first my wife and friends are not here, so my time is my own, I'm currently living a spartan bachelor life, so if I stay up until 2am eating Potato chips and drinking Jack Daniels to get this done, no one will care. I also have no chores for the most part since I'm in a bare little apartment. My only current time sink is playing soccer once a week. Another nice thing about my new job is that it's a 10 minute WALK to work, so even if I put in a 10 hour day, I still have tons of time to work on this project.

All of this will of course change as I get into the thick of things at work, our house sells, etc... So I think this is a great time to bang out this project, while at the same time hopefully providing some more interesting blog posts to this recently sedentary blog.

How exactly do you plan on doing this in a month?

Well actually I plan on doing it in two weeks. One nice thing about this mISV is it's not entirely from the ground up. I already have over 5,000 users of BudgetSimple that can potentially be beta testers. I hope to have a beta in their hands within two weeks, leaving the other two weeks for bug fixes and marketing. I also have a general idea of the functionality and a lot of the code to make it happen. I also have lots of tools left over from my other mISV project (which took a year to develop if you're looking for a good comparison), so the expenses should be minimal as I already have icons, IDE, obfuscators, etc...

What are the biggest stumbling blocks you see?

Well, the biggest is the actual selling of the program. Sure BudgetSimple is the #1 search result for a popular term on Google, but unfortunately that term is "free online budget". This program is neither free nor online. There are lots of people making budgeting software that cost money already. I hope to draw in users of the free BudgetSimple with a more powerful offline version (that will also integrate with the online one).

Another big stumbling block is my current development environment. I'm going to do this almost entirely on my laptop. While that laptop is awesome for travel (being a 3lb tablet PC), it's specs are really weak (the laptop is the first gen tablet pc from like 5 years ago), so I could see myself being able to run a few laps around the block waiting for a build.

OK so what should we expect here?

Tonight I will work almost entirely on the design of the program, by Monday the basic look and structure should be there, by Wednesday it should have at least the functionality of the current BudgetSimple. And by the end of the week it should contain some of the newer features that people have requested. The following week I'll work on upgrading the online version, and get the synchronization of the two versions worked out.

Any questions, doubt, etc? I hope to post at least once a day to update the status of everything, wish me luck!


At 6:49 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

Regarding "free online budget": you might be pleasantly suprised at how much this traffic converts. (I will happily pay for PPC hits with free appended to them -- they usually convert better than the same words without "free"! What the heck?)

Best of luck and I'll link this post later to cheer you on.


Patrick McKenzie

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Bob Walsh said...

Phil - sounds like you've got the commitment to see this through - Good Luck!


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