Bootstrapping an AppExchange ISV

Boots

The AppExchange has revolutionized enterprise computing and is helping fuel entrepreneurship around the world. We are very pleased that Dreamforce has a dedicated track for entrepreneurs with a number of great sessions. I will be participating in one session entitled Practical Tips and Tricks for Bootstrapping Your Business as part of the Partner/Entrepreneur track. Joining me will be speakers from top AppExchange ISVs Bracket Labs, Conga and  S. P. Keasey.

Bootstrapping your business means you are self-funded and  growth will be organic. This approach requires patience and endurance, because the beginning of the growth curve can be slow. However, once momentum picks up, the business becomes profitable and you are enjoying real growth. There is no better feeling than being 100% in charge of your own destiny. All four ISVs on the session panel have bootstrapped their businesses and are enjoying great success on AppExchange. The session conversation will allow each ISV to provide tips and lessons learned and will also allow the audience to ask questions.

In 2010 Arrowpointe made the transition from providing consulting services to being a pure ISV. We were able to “fund” the transition with several months of allowing consulting revenue to “pay the bills” while building our Geopointe app. Along the way, we learned some key lessons that we’ll be discussing in the session.

Don’t Wait Too Long to Release

Determine a minimum viable product (from a feature standpoint) and prepare your app for release once you have that completed. At the same time, define a short -term roadmap (3-6 months) so that you have some runway to release new features on a regular schedule. Once you have that minimum viable product, focus on getting your business operationally prepared to support those first customers.

Don’t Release Too Soon

Don’t rush to release your app if you are not operationally ready. Once released, you will have new responsibilities such as customer support, billing and release management.  If you don’t have systems, processes and documentation in place, you will have a very hard time playing catch up. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and walk through the on-boarding process – better yet, have others walk through and give you feedback.

  • Is it easy to setup your app?
  • Is there documentation available to guide you?
  • Are support resources and communication channels obvious?
  • Is there an easy way for your customers to stay up to date on changes to the app?
  • Is it easy to subscribe? Is it easy to add users?

Aptitude & Motivation Trumps Experience & Know-How

When hiring, don’t just look for people with the experience you think you need. While experience and know-how are obviously important, you will get much more from your hire if you seek out people that have the aptitude to learn what is needed, and the motivation and resourcefulness to figure things out. By hiring people with these traits, you will find yourself with a team of people that can do much more than just what their job description says. Arrowpointe is a small team of people, but each person on the team can be assigned most any task. This significantly removes bottlenecks.

Come join us for the discussion. Register now!

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Image used under Creative Commons attribution license. 90’s French Lumberjack Boots by Jamiecat *, on Flickr