A cry from a voice in the wilderness ...

My name is Steve (say "Hi Steve") and I'm a recovering manager. There I said it, and everyone knows the first step to recovery is recognizing you have a problem.

In any case (and for better or worse), I've been invited to post for the next three months, so I'd like to give you a little background. Bob Walsh, in his introduction a few weeks ago, stated that it was odd writing about yourself, but in my case, I'm more concerned that it's the most boring topic I could talk about. Here goes!

I'm an enterprise architect for software that monitors cable TV equipment and pinpoints failures. I work for a medium-sized company (that's still far too large for me) that has acquired 10 other companies in last five years. While much of the technology gained in these purchases is ultimately useful to the company, it's been a real challenge trying to integrate all the pieces ... I feel like we haven't really started but, at least for the company's software groups, the value of the products will increase exponentially as we accomplish this task.

This is my first experience in a large company and I am totally dismayed by both the politics required to keep things moving and the collective lack of "common sense". How can you put together a large group of smart people and end up with a sum that's way less than any of it's parts? I started with my last employer as the seventh employee and over the course of 10 years became the CTO as the business approached 100 employees. This organization, in contrast to my current experience, remained light on its feet. Authority was both well distributed and regimented ... everyone knew who was responsible for what areas of the business and we didn't meddle in each others departments.

Prior to that job, I was the first employee in a new engineering division of another small company. Watching the management of this business taught me everything I needed to know about owning and running a business. I'm firmly convinced that all new small businesses could succeed if they didn't do the things this business did. The worst part was that this business didn't fail ... it just continued to be painful for everyone involved.

Like so many others posting here and on BoS on Jos, I've been infected by the mISV bug. My product falls into the "combining simple parts into a complex whole" category and should be released by the end of the summer. I've been spending about four hours a day on it for the past two years, and am anxiously awaiting the day I can quit my day job to pursue this project full-time. I've considered both VC (with $5M promised) and angel investors, but haven't found the right contractual terms to make the business run. I have another four people lined identified for key positions within the company (including someone else to be the President/CEO) and expect the first sale to be over $500K. We're obviously not targetting the consumer market ... I'll talk more about this in later posts.

I am 41, married and have four great kids, aged 4 to 15 years. I enjoy running and biking and will be competing in my first marathon in September (with a goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon). I also enjoy singing and playing music (though not everyone enjoys my output).

An interesting aside; this article is about 10 days late ... I'm going to set aside the topic I had picked for my first "real post" and describe "My week without Internet access (thanks Verizon)". After that, I'll write about my trip to the dark side.

Great Intro

Welcome to CodeSnipers! It sounds like you bring a great deal of experience, and your new business goals sound exciting.

Welcome

Steve,

It's great to have you aboard. While most of us around here have been Developers, Team Leads, Project Managers, and even a few mISV CEO's, I'm looking forward to hearing a bit about being higher up in a much larger organization.

kc

intriguing

one sale at $500k....hmm...what could it be..

maybe selling the "company" to google or yahoo?

Maybe it's an app that crawls over the great firewall of china...there's a biiig market..

Maybe it takes something ordinary that everyone has, like electrical wiring, and puts it to a different use, like a super network..

i wonder if I could get VC money with great ideas like these? ;)

I'm more intrigued by the challenges ...

of putting the product together. I do however have contacts in industries in which these kind of sales are common and have participated in the technical side of many sales (here's a press release about the latest and let's just say that this contract, for licenses, deployment, maintenance and training, is MANY times bigger than what I'm proposing). More importantly, the person I've asked to be the president (lead salesman in a small venture) has better contacts than I. He will allow my small team of developers to stay focused on product development.

Maybe the problem is that I've described this venture as an mISV (uISV seemed too small) and the organization I've described is just an ISV (or SV or, since I intend to sell services with the licenss, maybe I'm just a V). In my heart, I identify more with you than with my current employer (and hence used the mISV moniker) for the following reasons:

  • I don't like the big corporate environment.
  • I've rejected the whole VC concept (see above).
  • I'm bootstrapping the company while developing the product AND working full-time
  • I have analyzed my customers/markets

Also remember that (at least in the first couple years), I can only expect a few sales a year. I suspect that there are many of you who will earn a better living than I selling products below the "long purchase cycle" threshold.

I also have a couple more ideas for true mISVs, including a business I believe could be completely advertising/donationn supported.

State of mind

I like to think of the whole mISV thing as a state of mind, rather than some kind of limit on staffing, funding or turnover. Even if you are "just a V", you obviously share the mISV community ethos.

Welcome

Welcome aboard Steve, and great start... if that's the most boring post you're going to make, it seems like you'll do just fine :).

It sounds like you have a lot to share, and I'm looking forward to learning from your experience.