I'm starting a business.
It all started when the CEO of my company complained about the lack of project management systems that fit his needs. There are many project management systems: Basecamp, Asana, JIRA, Trello, Wrike and gazillion more. But he couldn't find one that both engineers and business people can use.
A lot of apps are built for engineers. But it's hard for business people to get insights from those apps.
In the end, he settled for Wrike. Wrike does offer many things he needs, but it's missing many features like budget management capability.
This is clearly a problem worth solving, and if I can develop exactly what he wants, I might be able to sell it and possibly replace Wrike. I've been searching for a good startup idea for so long and I've never come up with anything better.
However, I hesitated to jump right in, mainly because it feels like a regular job. So instead of promising him anything, I decided to build a Wrike clone and see if I like doing it.
It turned out I loved it! I started it on Jun 30 and spent 30 ~ 40 hours a week on it. It was very intense. I did absolutely nothing else. Last week I finished building a stripped version of Wrike. At this point I was ready to take it further. I was ready to turn it into a business.
I made an appointment with the CEO, and yesterday we talked for an hour. We talked about the challenge he's facing and what I can do to help him. I narrowed down a couple key features that need to be developed, and he agreed to use it next month for the project I'm member of. And I sold it for $100. Not a bad start! Asking him to pay for a prototype wasn't easy, but I knew I had to do it. He was happy to pay. Actually the conversation went like this(Translated from Japanese):
Me: "So, I was thinking about what to do with the price...?"
Him: "(Nervous laugh)"
Me: "(Nervous laugh) Well, it's a prototype, so I wouldn't be mind to offer it for free..."
Him: "No, no. I know it's important for your motivation. How about $100?"
Me: "Thank you. Yeah $100 would be fine. And if you want to add more projects next month, you can do so without additional fee."
See how terrible I am at selling? Nevertheless, bringing up the topic was all I needed. I've been doing a good job for the past 6 months and have already earned his trust, so that really helped.
I was excited. I've been programming for 6 years and professionally for 3 years. I've never built an app that is actually used by other people, let alone making money from it. I wonder how many web developers have built his own web app with actual users. Knowing how to build an app and running a business are totally different things.
I have no idea where this project is going to take me. Actually I'd be happy with 10 ~ 20 customers. Let's say I charge $15 per user and the average users per customer is 30. That's $450 per customer. With 20 customer, that would be $9,000/month. Even if I subtract server cost, it's more than what I'm getting paid now, which is $6,000.
In the worst case, I will have a solid portfolio that showcases my skill. Not bad at all.
I try not to get too excited about the potential financial reward and instead focus on building a great product, because at the end of the day, that's all that matters.