So you want to do a Startup – the “D” Projects

“D” is for Developer. This means that the product is for developers! You are a domain expert! Examples of successful firms in this space are Telerik, DevExpress, etc. This is the type of project that you are unlikely to get angel funding for initially but it’s a viable business model with the exit strategy being selling off to one of the above.


The typical development system provides basic Lego blocks only. You provide custom blocks that deal with common specific needs (for example, doors and windows!). Below, I will first talk about Controls, the visual widgets.


Control Projects

The key for success is success is a new or highly popular development system. Today, that would boil down to:

  • Android (Java core)
  • Windows Phone 7 (CLR core)

You can actually jump start your development by looking for Open Source controls and examples of how to modify existing controls. For example, I found a nice color picker example for the Android.

On your first pass, you simply reap prior work and build out a set of controls that leverage this code. On the second pass, you look at existing control sets on related platforms (Telerik, DevExpress) and clone the control in this target development platform.


At this point, you have a viable product offering. You need to make sure you have good documentation (not just adequate) and examples. Make sure that your product is easy to learn because you want to offer 30 day trial versions and want the learning experience to be a success.


You should enlist a few fellow developer types to handle support and review (code, documentation, example) because if you are successful – you won’t have time to sleep! For purchasing developers, you have saved time and debugging. Set a good price point. Consider offering multiple type of licenses initially:

  • Yearly
  • Perpetual Upgrades (3-5x Yearly license)
  • Individual
  • Company

The purpose of these licensing options  is to get a critical mass of users. You withdraw the less profitable options as customer numbers build.


Another hot spot is Controls for SharePoint.


Utility Libraries

The simplest example is a library that has all of the functions available in Excel. There are two obvious targets:

  • Creating SQLCLR function library that you can use in TSQL
  • Creating CLR function library that you can use with LINQ

If you look at departmental computing, you will see a lot of Excel spreadsheets. When those projects are taken over by IT or consultants, you find that the absence of such libraries are a frustration – frustrations are a market opportunity.


There are other sets of utilities that are marketable – consider MS Project features for example.


“D” projects are a good “do it evenings and weekends” that do not require Angel Funding until you need to leave the garage.


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