About a year ago I set up a Ltd company to provide IT/Software consultancy to various firms in and around London, UK. This has been going very well and I just completed my first full years accounts with a nice profit. Recently I have had the desire to build some products and sell these as a side income. I am thinking of targeting small software components (C#, C++) for the scientific, medical and financial industries, as these are my main areas of expertise.
My first product is a high performance WPF/Silverlight chart control, which has a demo on my website. I've got it this far but I am struggling with how to get it over the finish line. After all, I've not done this before.
The product is unique in that it is the only WPF/Silverlight (soon Windows phone 7) chart control that can handle such high volumes of data. The performance demo on that site shows it can render 100,000 points at a high frame rate. Competitors struggle at a few thousand. The intended audience is the niche market of scientific, medical and trading software that requires high performance, low-frills charting.
With regard to sales, I have approached a third party eCommerce site, FastSpring, and set up an account with them to handle transactions. they seem pretty good and provide credit card, paypal, purchase order integration in multiple languages and currencies for an 8% per sale fee (no setup or recurring fees). This seems reasonable to me since I expect low volumes but high 1x sale cost and don't wish to develop my own store.
I have also approached ComponentSource however their fee is astronomical (40% + $500 setup + $100/month) and I am unsure of the value they are going to add, since they want you to pay for advertising and marketing on top.
I have researched the pricing of competitors (these are in the range $399 USD to $3000 USD) and wish to place myself around the 25th percentile at £500GBP or $750 USD.
I intend to have two licenses available for the product. The first will be a Linkware license, allowing it to be used in not-for-profit applications. it will have a small watermark button (visible on the demo) which links back to my site.
The second license will be a commercial re-distributable license where the customer pays per developer using the product but is free to redistribute royalty free without a link / watermark.
The latter I may protect with serial key / unlock on the end-user PC.
With regard to marketing, so far I've done nothing except for to create LinkedIn accounts for the company, for myself and hook up google analytics so I can see the traffic. I've posted on a few forum Q&A about high performance charts. I am getting on average 10 unique visitors per day (don't laugh ;) who tend to look through around 6 pages. I have had a few contacts via email asking about this product but not much.
This area I could really appreciate some advice in. I am not a big budget shop but could allocate a small amount of cash for promoting this product. I would like to grow organically rather than go for the big bazooka so any marketing that keeps costs down is a bonus.
I've never released a piece of my own software and I am an ultra perfectionist. I am aiming to release end Jan or mid Feb and so far on target, but have lots of small tasks to complete such as ecommerce setup and licensing of the product.
What I intend to do is have an MSI downloadable from my site with Trial (linkware) version, commercial version is available after processing an order through fastspring.
So, in conclusion, I would appreciate some advice or encouragement really. Sorry for being a sop ;-)
- How many of you have done this before? How has it worked out?
- Can you see any flaws in my gameplan or is there anything that I've missed?
- How would you approach marketing in order to get traffic up and have a decent ratio of conversions?
- How would you approach tech support and release updates given that this is a small operation?
- Last question is technical - do you know of any licensing packages to assist with licensing a .NET assembly?