- A known customer with a identifiable problem
- Measurable, sustainable, profitable revenue from volume
I never had much trouble with the first directive, after all everyone has a problem that they need fixing, it’s directive number 2 which causes me the most concern. The key word is “sustainable”. Many startups today figure out people’s problems, very few of them figure out how to turn that into sustainable profitable revenue over time.
I’m watching with interest Web 2.0 I think it’s early and there is still much confusion around business models, especially ones that can show sustainable revenue. It’s relatively easy to get a few customers, harder to get a few hundred thousand (unless it’s free) and really, really hard to crack the million user number.
A product that we released some years ago has cracked the million users. It took about 2 years. Although the product was free, it’s still very hard to get someone to use free “crap” and harder still to get them to depend on it.
Mod_gzip achieved the million plus user base by doing one thing really, really well. It saved you time, improved the utilization of your web server and customers (end users) loved it because pages load much faster. The network admin’s love it because they didn’t have to learn anything new, it simply worked the way they like to work.
Some of the largest web sites in the world now use mod_gzip as the defacto standard for accelerating content from an Apache web server.
We solved the first prime directive – I only wish we’d solved the second. A million or so users at $49.95 would be nice. However the good news is that was Act 1 – Act 2 is just around the corner and we are now back hard at work focusing on both prime directives.
Look for something new around the end of February, early March.