A little background first: I just got accepted to a one year master's program in chemical engineering at my school, but I need to find a way to come up with roughly $20,000 - $30,000 over the next year to pay for it. The problem is that I will be doing unpaid research and will not have much time for a job, nor would a part-time job pay at a good enough rate to cover the costs (and honestly... I'm not too thrilled about the concept).
I've had this idea in the back of my mind for a while to turn my personal running/cycling/sports workout log into an online start-up. I am currently running the site on a local server for personal use, but I've added so many features to it over the years that I believe it could possibly compete (in functionality and design) with some of the popular workout loggers on the internet already.
But I'm kind of scared to actually put it online, as I have no clue whether this could really work, and I have NO business experience. I really don't want to put ads on the site because I need as much screen real-estate as I can get, but I'm afraid that if I have a "premium" version of the site and something goes wrong, a lot of users will be angry about paying for a one-man operation that didn't work out (I guess I could get sued for that even?)
So I'm looking for feedback on whether I should pursue this and what kind of challenges I could expect to face. What kind of profit model should I set up? And how could I protect myself in the event that something goes wrong?