August 24, 2006
Creating Buzz and the Micro-ISV
One of the recommendations on how best to build that word-of-mouth buzz jump off the screen at me and slapped me in the face.
The better approach is far less intuitive, but far more effective:
Find a Very Small Group of People that share common interests
Build a product that 100% of them will love
This was exactly the approach we are taking with Amino Software with our first product, Lysine, we just hadn’t articulated or thought about it in a structured sense. It was eerie to see, in a good way, our approach being validated by Eric Sink.
Our mission when Ben and I set out to build software outside of our corporate responsibilities as engineers/architects was to identify the underserved niche markets where we had experience and domain knowledge and deliver quality solutions where no one else was (or very few were making attempts).
The one danger you hear about in this approach from days spent in undergraduate business school (not to mention just common sense) is that if there isn’t already someone delivering a product or service then there is likely good reason.
Traditionally it’s best to be, not the “first mover” but the second or third so as to capitalize on the market that the first mover built and to learn from their mistakes. Furthermore, one could reason that there isn’t anyone in this space or that space because there are not any buyers.
I believe these notions hold true for a lot of industries and a lot of larger businesses. However, for the bootstrapped micro-isv (that’s independent solutions vendor) where the primary source of income is (at least initially) from corporate work and/or other projects, the niche market that is underserved (or not served at all) is a prime area on which to focus.
That’s because it costs little more than just “sweat equity” to build solutions for that market – two guys working in their spare time can deliver a product closer to the customer’s needs and cheaper than a multi-billion dollar multi-national company can. We are more agile.
Additionally, since we are focusing on markets in which we have experience as the “buyer”, we know the market, we know the typical “buyer”, at least a lot better than trying to write software for operating a space shuttle or an ERP system. Therefore that, I believe, gives us an edge in not only identifying the niches, but in identifying with the customer’s needs.