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The last month I have had idea of a very large project to take as a software hobby/potential business project - simply because I saw some "vision" of a great tool if this would be done.

The idea behind the project is really a common idea, and there is this one very big competitor (as the size of a corporation with dozens if not hundreds of programmers working on a product that might contain my "visionary" features in the future) - their product gets polished every year with their new edition. A few days ago I saw their latest edition, and it literally "shut my wind" down : Their latest edition contained about 50% of the features I dreamed about. And they implemented those in a good way.

Also, those "features" that they have implemented, are part of a very large product of theirs, so they benefit from integrating those features to their big product. If I were to code my own product, those "features" will simply be a stand-alone product without any other nice and efficient tools.

So my doubts are these : If I were to begin coding this myself, this would take perhaps a few years. Should I really take this project idea and invest my time in it, while some big corporate company might suddenly have those same features implemented in, let's say, one year from now? Should I really think before entering a whole new project about my chances of success, or, simply, should I dive and kamikaze on it?? What do you think?

P.S. If you can, please recommend me information resources about starting up projects and eventually getting commercial. Thank you very much.

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closed as off topic by Morons, FrustratedWithFormsDesigner, Justin Cave, Mark Trapp Feb 23 '12 at 19:49

Questions on Programmers Stack Exchange are expected to relate to software development within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Probably a better fit for OnStartups SE, though it sounds like you already know the answers to the questions you're asking and just need some support. Eric Sink's old blog about the Biz of Software leaps to mind. –  Dan J Feb 23 '12 at 18:42
Hi Menecu, welcome to Programmers! Unfortunately, we can't tell you what you should do: that's up to you to decide. If there's a specific business concern you have, consider asking about it on OnStartups. If it's something specific about software development, feel free to ask about that instead here. –  user8 Feb 23 '12 at 19:50

3 Answers 3

I developed a very large system by myself a few years back.. it had all the bells and whistles plus more than the large competitor (ServiceMagic). I poured my life into the app, i contracted on the side to pay the bills, and worked every moment to get it complete.. Once it was done it was solid and worked very well, looked well, and was received well be the community.. then came the problem.. I was the support guy, the sales guy, the marketing guy, etc.. at that moment, i realized that the opportunities are not necessarily in building the HUGE project, but more about building the areas where their shortcomings are and integrating those items.

My product was a success in that i was able to get daily sign ups, and my marketing was low ($20 a day on google), but getting to my goal of 100k users was going to cost too much, and once i had that user base, monetizing was going to be a challenge, so i took the site down (that sucked)..

If you do decide to build this behemoth, you may consider outsourcing it if you development costs are high, it might be better for you to work a 40 hour a week at $30 per hour, and then pay $15 an hour at an outsourced shop (hypothetically).. basically, better for you to work 1 hour, and pay someone to work 2 with your earnings for that one.

I personally would recommend against this task. You'll find yourself sacrificing way too much.

now if you can build 15% and get some investors.. you might be on your way.. but doing it alone, even with a buddy, is a long shot, and may end up burning you out. OR, not being as fruitful as you hope...

My last project was developing an In-House CRM for a company from the ground up. Our team recomended using a free solution, but they wanted a multi-tenant application because they were going to sell it (no knowledge of SaaS, Customer Service, etc..). I was lucky they paid me to develop the product, but even this company with deep (fairly) pockets was not able to strategize and take it to the market..

Basically, what you will be undertaking is a daunting task that will take many facets of expertise, and I would recommend laying it out, creating a business plan, and getting some funding, so at least you can get paid for your efforts..

some may say I'm sour, but the lesson I learned led me to develop much smaller "service based" products.. products that dont make much, and dont do much.. but they're staples in the software that utilize them. They do what they're supposed to do, and the maintenance is low, support is low, and updates are easy because the systems are so small..

just my 2 cents.

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Great answer and you are not alone in the way you feel. Building the app is the easy part. Building a product is a hellish ordeal. I am working on a couple small service apps right now that should be very low maintenance to keep up. Maybe they will make money, maybe not, I am still learning a lot from the experience. –  maple_shaft Feb 23 '12 at 19:32

Regardless of what that other company might come up with, your own product may have its own "personality" that appeals to other people. Some may prefer your standalone approach to something integrated/that integrates into something bigger and therefore potentially carries heavy baggage.

If I hadn't stopped every time I had an idea and found "something similar" existed, I would have done a lot of things. You're obviously motivated by what you have in mind, so don't follow me to the couch and work on it instead and have fun. I'll be curious to see if I follow my own advice the next time I have an idea. :)

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There is nothing wrong with being the second person to have a good idea, especially if you feel like you can top what the other guy(s) are doing. This corporation may be on top of their game now, but like any big boat, they are slow to change directions. If you are in a small motor boat you are more versatile and agile and should be able to react to market changes faster, even though you are overpowered and you are undersized in comparison.

Try to think about ways you can make your versatility to your advantage.

Another thought might be to do the project as open source alternative. There might still be business opportunities in open source software where you can sell support or consulting services to enterprise clients. You will naturally be able to attract users even if your product is not up to the level, just because a lot of people will want to use the software for the ease of a GPL license.

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