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July 15, 2005 12:24 PM

Categories: Strategy and Leadership

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Allan Norman

Joined: 07/15/2005

An acquaintance has developed a ¬?middleware¬? program which is used to assist in the development of excel based programs where the logic or calculations are complex. It eliminates the need to write excel macros.

I am a financial planner first and have some ties to some other businesses. Software marketing and development are not in my background, nor do I have the time. Although, if it is a good product I don¬?t want to just sit on it.

My question is what is my next step? Do I do some web sales and see if there is an interest in the product, or approach some resellers and ask for their input? Take it to someone else and have some sort of revenue sharing relationship?

Thank you.

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-25 of 49 | Latest Comment | 1 2 Next »

July 15, 2005 1:13 PM updated: November 8, 2010 2:34 PM


Thanks for posting this. Great questions.

First thing I would do is to make sure I knew the VALUE (via the price)*. You don't want to leave any money on the table... nor do you want to charge too much (such that they won't buy). Using the process listed below, you should be able to quickly determine the value customers perceive.

Of course... you also need to get at (specifically) WHO your customers are. Once you have that information, then you can start tackling how to best reach them (in the most cost-effective way possible).

This would be the first step(s). Hope it helps.


* Go to http://www.synergy-usa.com/3MS-2_HowtoMaximizeRevenue.pdf - or the last post (#10) at this URL: www.softwareceo.com/forums/showthread.php?t=360&highlight=Pricing

July 18, 2005 5:28 PM

Do I do some web sales and see if there is an interest in the product, or approach some resellers and ask for their input? Take it to someone else and have some sort of revenue sharing relationship?
Answer: Yes. :D

There is no one right way to start a software company. There are two general approaches: I would call them "business plan" and "tiptoe." It sounds like you are more inclined toward the tiptoe approach: try to sell some software, and if you do, voila! You're a software company. Learn as you go.

I would NOT recommend approaching resellers. Generally, they are most interested in proven products. "Someone else"? Depends on who that is. Do you have someone in mind? Are they interested?

Do you have sales skills? The key is going to be getting some sales. If only it were as easy as "doing some web sales." Does that product have a potential price point that would remotely justify (on a short-term basis) your doing some phone calls? Who are the potential customers? What is the competition (I know, it's a unique product -- but how about other products similar to it)? How do they sell? What is their price?

July 18, 2005 11:21 PM

1. Market by Example. How are other companies, that sell Excel macros, marketing and promoting themselves? How are they selling the Macros and why in a particular manner? If it is working for them, then in theory, it should work for you. Go from there ...

2. The lack of sales and marketing experience is going to be a handicap. You can learn by trial and error, or hire some help. I vote for the latter if you feel confident in the potential of your product.

3. Resellers? Are Excel Macros being sold effectively via resellers? Or is this a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to a lack of sales experience (passing the buck)?


Robert Dubicki

July 19, 2005 10:10 AM

I appreciate all your comments they are very good. I feel I will be okay on the selling and marketing side. I am life insurance trained and have been selling for 11 years. It may be fun to sell a tangible product. Were I am weak is in the computer technology area. For example, I am told this is a good product and there is nothing else like it but that is what the devolpoer says, I don't know that? So I have been surfing the net looking for similar products.

Maybe the best approach is to give it to a few people who I think would benifit from the program, get their feedback and go from there.

Thanks again for your comments

July 19, 2005 11:06 AM

I am told this is a good product and there is nothing else like it
Those things, sadly, are not the keys to success in the software industry.

  • MS-DOS was by almost any definition a terrible product and it took over the world.
  • There were lots of other products like MS-Excel (mostly better) and IT took over its market.
    [/list]There are two keys to success in software:
  • Does it take away a compelling pain (like Quicken) or address a severe fear (like anti-virus)?
  • Do the prospects have money, and is there a way for you to reach them economically?
    [/list]There are lots of good products out there -- unique or not is pretty much irrelevant -- languishing. Search any of the shareware sites. Really cool stuff, in many cases free. Can you be bothered downloading it? Naah.

    There are exceptions. The number one "software" (loosely speaking) market in the world right now is cellphone ringtones. Obviously they don't take away a compelling pain or address fear. The market is easy to reach, the price is a dollar or so, and they address "originality" or "I am unique." There appears to be a compelling need for people to stand out as unique. Why does Starbucks encourage everyone to come up with their own personal "signature" drink (half decaf soy milk latte with two shots of caramel)? Ringtones are perfect for that market, as was the screensaver fad.
    Who are the people who have a compelling pain that your macros take away? Do they have money? How will you reach them?

  • July 19, 2005 12:10 PM

    Excel add-ins and macros lend themselves well to being sold via the Internet. There appear to be many sites where you can download from.

    This is probably your best starting point in validating the value and need of your product.

    Pehaps also set up a small website which describes the product, with a free-trial, and then a check-out/buying kiosk. Don't forget that you also need to protect your intellectual property somehow.


    Robert Dubicki

    July 19, 2005 12:27 PM

    A company that has done "plug-ins" right is Decisioneering (www.decisioneering.com). Their Crystal Ball software is pretty amazing! You may want to chat with them about how they bring their products to market.


    PS: Check out this link: http://www.crystalball.com/books/books-refs.html#paul .

    January 14, 2009 1:10 PM


    I have gone through your post in this site. I am looking for this kind of solution. I would be happy if you could provide Demo on this product or to share the same with me. Thanks in advance,

    Suresh. J

    January 14, 2009 3:20 PM


    If you're talking about Crystal Ball, they were acquired by Oracle. If you are looking for a product demonstration, I suspect they can help you. Software CEO moderators don't do that - to my knowledge.

    If you are talking about a different product, I apologize: Please clarify.

    Thank you,


    January 15, 2009 4:58 AM updated: November 8, 2010 2:35 PM


    Sorry for incomplete information provided in my earlier mail.
    I am looking for the Excel add-in macro product. I have replied to the following information in this thread.

    An acquaintance has developed a ¬?middleware¬? program which is used to assist in the development of excel based programs where the logic or calculations are complex. It eliminates the need to write excel macros.
    Thanks in advance.

    Thanks & Regards
    Suresh. J

    April 1, 2009 8:36 AM

    Could anybody help me regarding the things requirement apart from finance to open a software company.for eg. infrastructure, kind of staff members required, etc

    April 1, 2009 10:34 AM

    This is a VERY broad question. Besides "infrastructure" and "types of staff members", do you have some specifics? It is difficult to answer such a broad question.

    These two areas - as well as many other areas - are dependent on the type of customers you have and market you're in. Although most companies need the "typical" management team (when it's affordable), your organizational structure depends on who you're selling to (and how they buy). For instance, if you're going to sell a $29.95 product (or web-service, aka SAAS), then you probably don't want to hire a business develop VP who knows how to sell to CEOs. Contrarily, if you're selling $150K solutions to CFOs, a telesales person would likely be the wrong hire. Each of these two sales "types" require different management expertise (type of staff member).

    It would be very helpful if you [1] clearly defined the market, solution, customer-type - that is - more about the business you envision) and [2] asked more specific questions.

    BTW: Googling "How to start a software company" came up with this URL!


    April 1, 2009 5:10 PM

    Bhaskar -

    Take a look at http://www.softwareceo.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1697.

    That's not to lessen the import of what Mark says. I suspect the most common number of staff is one! On the other hand, if you have great ambitions and access to capital, maybe the right starting headcount is twenty. Every other question has at least as wide a variety of possible answers. It depends ...

    November 18, 2010 11:00 AM

    i want to start up a software company to sell database management softwares to schools and SME's and i would like to know the process involved, i am in GHANA by the way

    March 11, 2011 8:49 AM

    i want to start my own software business.but i don't know how can i do.i am in india

    March 15, 2011 1:46 PM updated: March 15, 2011 1:46 PM

    The more you can clarify what you're trying to accomplish (and who you are trying to serve), the more SWCEO moderators can help you.

    In the mean time, these three books can help:

    "The Small Business Bible"
    Covers many topics - from the very beginning, to dealing with the financial aspects, growing, dealing with people, shoestring marketing, success strategies and more. (Steven Strauss)

    "Make the Leap: From Mom & Pop to Good Enough to Sell"
    Addresses business planning and (personal) financial planning, self-employment options, finding success within a diverse society and more. (Genevia Gee Fulbright)

    "The Entrepreneur's Survival Guide: Tips & tricks to help you start and build your company"
    This book guides software entrepreneurs from start to successful exit. It deals with you as the leader (are you ready), how to validate your market (is it real?), how to grow your top line and build your team, plan and gain credibility, how to find funding and operate on 'all eight cylinders'. (Full disclosure: I am the author)

    There are certainly many more, but these three will help you learn what you'll need to know - and where you might fail if you do not address questions raised in the books.

    If you can get clearer, we can help more.



    View unverified member's comment - posted by vkakani

    View unverified member's comment - posted by ajimsha

    September 3, 2011 12:35 PM

    ajimsha said: Hiii, I am planning to start a software company.But i am searching for a way to get the continuous work.if i appoint some employees and i don't get work then the company will got to failure.so can u pls suggest a solution for this

    I t all really depends: do you need a channel (VARs)? Is this something you plan on selling direct? Is it B2B or B2C? Do you ahve experience selling? What type of product are you developing / have developed?

    Without knowing the answers to these questions... Consider learning to sell (revenue) before you hire people (cost). There are loads of books to get you started and working for someone else as a sales person can also be a very quick way to learn. If you do not have that kind of "DNA", then consider partnering with someone who does. Or better, has a proven track record of selling.

    If you're new at starting a buisiness, there are many threads on SoftwareCEO that discuss this.

    September 3, 2011 12:41 PM

    vkakani said: i am programmer, i have money, friends who help to develop project with me. but i want to make my group a company. i want to register it. what will it take to do this?
    The process for registering your company depends on where you are located. Check with your local government to learn more. If there are any business groups or "chambers of commerce" in your area, they can also help guide you.

    September 14, 2011 10:53 AM updated: September 14, 2011 10:54 AM

    Thanks to MarkPaul for providing the book titles as I feel they will come in very handy for me. They look good for a relative beginner like myself looking into the software business.


    Sole e35 Elliptical

    October 4, 2011 6:44 PM

    Hello, this looks like an informative place. I have a question. Once a software company is up and running, licensing their product, and supporting customers, how does the company start/keep a good product development process? What I'm asking is, "What kind of disciplines are required to continue developing, testing, and producing documentation" for the product? Are there any good resources out there that can teach a company how to set up a good development process?
    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    October 4, 2011 7:16 PM

    AngelaGreg said: [1] How does the company start/keep a good product development process? [2]  What kind of disciplines are required to continue developing, testing, and producing documentation for the product? [3] Are there any good resources out there that can teach a company how to set up a good development process?


    Yes, there are lots of great resources out there. Some are books, some are organizations, some are people and some are companies. If you're looking for knowledge (i.e., inexpensive, chock full of great advice, but they're not custom to you), then check out "Developing Products in Half the Time" by Preston Smith and Donald Reinersten. Another is "Agile Project Management" by Gary Chin.

    Something to consider: It seems you are looking for repeatable results. Product development processes and project management (PM) processes are really the way to get there. Well, that, along with the right organization, staffed by the right people.

    I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re looking for transformational leadership in ‘maturing’ your product development process, I would seriously consider hiring a product development specialist – who is a strategic thinker, can customize a solution for you and help you up-level your organization so you can not only reduce your time to market but also deal with product changes in a cost-effective manner. Once you get the high-level view, then you can build your organization to make it work on a recurring basis.

    The thing to understand is – PM (organization and process) ‘costs’ 6% to 18% of your product development costs… but the savings are significantly more. PM reduces time-to-market, feature creep, fewer false-starts, products that are more-focused on customers’ needs (and therefore sell better), etc. The upside really outweigh the downside. If it’s done right!

    The thing to realize is that you will likely need someone who reports to you (the CEO) in order to ensure the “voice of business” is balanced with the “voice of the customer” (typically through sales or marketing) and the “voice of technology” (typically through engineering).

    All the best!



    October 11, 2011 3:44 PM

    The first question I always ask when someone wants to form a software company is, "Does anyone want to buy it." This mainly deals with the product positioning--the apex of all strategy. The positioning of the product helps determine if it will sell. When I work with a product I am trying to find 3-5 reasons why someone would be a fool not to buy it. I start with a competitive matrix so I know what I've got. Then I do a basic venn diagram to see how far my product is different (in ways the prospect values) from the competition. Then I create a "persuasive document" (attention, credibility, problem, solution, best solution, overcome objections, step to actuate). When this is put together you have an argument. If it is just another me too product, you still have to differentiate, but it is more difficult.

    I gave a presentation that is in the SoftwareCEO libraries, "How to position your product, de-position the competition and generate a ton of leads." If you're a member you can download the entire webinar.

    I am also happy to e-mail you the PowerPoint. That's how I start--the other steps would be in a detailed plan of action.


    Ted Finch 512-947-7016 tedfinch att chanimal.com www.chanimal.com (Chanimal - The Ultimate Resource for Software Marketing)

    October 13, 2011 9:36 AM

    ii complete mca course so i want to create software company please suggest to me

    Discussion:    Add a Comment | Back to Top | Comments 1-25 of 49 | Latest Comment | 1 2 Next »

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