Tuesday, 31 July 2012

How to start a software company?

I have an idea in my mind, for this idea I want to invest more time and money in making it a fully developed product.
So far, whatever small software products I have created are for a small niche and with only me developing that software. Now I have some software in mind that will be for a larger user base and large enough to include other people, and I will be the first customer of it (manufacturing is my prime business).
How and where should I start? What elements are needed within
  • People
  • Office
  • Location
  • Software Developing
  • Software release and Sales?
Any first hand experience is also welcome.
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I'd recommend you to read Running Lean, IMO much more practical guide that Lean Startup – spc Jul 22 at 4:21
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6 Answers

Build a prototype and demo. Then show it to people.
It'll help you "get it out of your head" and start turning it into something real.
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If it solves your own problem, and it sounds like it does, write it for yourself first and use it. Then show it to others and get their feedback. When you do, realize you're selling it to them, with the customizations they mention. Once you have a contract to build a custom version, hire others or get another entrepreneurial spirit on board to help develop it.
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+1 Start with stuff you know - it's a lot easier than stuff you don't know and the expert is cheaper to hire. – CAD bloke Jan 14 at 10:06
Everyone here gave you good advice, but they missed an important part. To make money selling software you have to:
  1. Write software that someone wants to buy
  2. Build a company to sell the software and service it
  3. Market/sell the software
Many software developers are good at points 1 and 2. Very few can do part 3. Writing the best software in the world isn't going to help you if you can't sell it. If 3) isn't part of your nature, make sure to find someone who can do it for you.
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+1 Marketing is crucial – Susan Jones Jan 4 '11 at 5:14
In my experience Marketing is more important than the product ... – stighy May 6 '11 at 22:06
I used to work for a startup some years ago and here is what I learned :
Never forget you will have to deal with two different things : the software part and the company part. A good developer isn't automatically good at running a company and vice-versa as very different skills are implied.
As a general advice : do something clever and really useful, be user-oriented, tell people (trusty ones at first) what you're doing and show them your work, develop your network, work with trustworthy people, ask for legal advice, speak about money later (but don't forget to) once people are interested in your products or services.
And use your common-sense : do not follow any advice unless you understand how useful it will be for you !
The startup I talked about still don't have offices nor full-time hired people, I do not think this is the most important part.
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+1 for the software part and the business part! – Susan Jones Jan 4 '11 at 5:13
I, like you, had to deal with the same problem when I started few years ago. I made some mistake (and I'm still making new ones, but that's ok).
You asked: " How & where should I start ? "; do this, read this book:
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It
When I finally read this book, I realized that this could have saved me so much trouble and avoid so many mistakes. Read the first 3 chapters - you'll get the idea.
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I would also recommend reading The Lean Startup. It's short, cheap (15 US$ I think), and has changed the way I see things. But I think the most important thing is to build something small get out of the building.
If you have money to start hiring people and office, I would recommend to take a moment and elaborate a good plan. It's pretty easy to throw money away without a plan. And the first part of that plan should be -like they have already told you- to build a small prototype that you can show. Read a few books about the subject too.
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