Building a Product

Posted in Software Development by Dan on February 4th, 2019

If you have nothing worthwhile to say, then say nothing.

So it’s been a while. I wonder if anybody still has this blog in their RSS reader? Are RSS readers even still a thing?

For the last decade I’ve pretty much been my own boss. I make a modest living selling native app development services to companies who can afford to give their apps away for free in support of whatever their core business is. I get some choice in what I work on and I make sure not to work too hard so that I can make time for the non-work things I want to do. As a one-person lifestyle business, it’s fine. It doesn’t easily scale though. If I want to do something more substantial, I ought to be selling a product.

A lot of the non-work stuff I make time for in a typical week involves running around various fields in all weathers chasing various balls, raging against the dying of the light and trying to offset the negative effects of the software developer’s inevitably sedentary existence. And when that’s done I’ll often spend some time watching the professionals chase balls. In other words I like my sport. I’m not particularly good at it but as long as I can slowly improve it keeps me motivated to keep trying.

A mobile app developer who likes sports and wants to build a product? You can see where this is going. Except it’s not.

I gave up trying to make any money selling mobile apps years ago. Mobile users want free apps. They might grudgingly pay a one-off comically small sum as long as they get a lifetime of updates without further payment, but then you need huge and sustained volumes to make it work as a business. Even that’s not necessarily enough because the app stores take 30% of everything and retain veto power over everything you publish.

On the web you don’t need to ask for permission. Short of doing something properly illegal you can publish what you like. And if you can convince people to pay for it you get to keep almost all of the money.

It was at least a couple of years ago that I started seriously thinking about building a sports-related, web-based, Software-as-a-Service product (the domain name has expired twice since I first registered it). Initially I was unconvinced that I had a workable strategy. But as the idea has slowly evolved I’ve reached the point where I have a plan that I’m ready to commit to. In the post-Christmas lull of January I finally got around to making a serious start on building the product.

The specifics can wait for later articles. The purpose of this post is to commit to my plan of launching the product at some point in 2019. Hopefully I’ll have a first version with paying customers before the (northern) summer but it depends on my other workload. I intend to document my progress here, and probably also on IndieHackers. Follow me here, there or on Twitter if you’re interested in the journey.