A contest for software developers

We recently organized a software development challenge to give newcomers an opportunity to market their application to an enterprise cloud platform. And we did this exactly when the “app” ecosystem buzzed with the fact that enterprise apps offer a greater payback than consumer ones.

Each and every software developer dreams of hitting it big with their great idea. Which is great and perfectly understandable once you get to really know the psychology of us, coding geeks. Instead of dismissing that, let’s harness the energy and help such wannabe entrepreneurs give their idea a shot.

So we did. The idea was simple: you bring the app, we bring the infrastructure and… more importantly… the “go to market”. Sales, channel, marketing, enterprise insight, support… all what a small dev shop does not have.

Oh boy… what a ride! Speaking at dev conferences, powering up the community to talk about it, raid the university campuses around the country, talking one-to-one with potential participants…. And the entries started to come. Some funny. Some serious. Some completely off-course. Some spot-on.

As this is now closed, I have a few suggestions to early software development entrepreneurs:

Do it.
If you have an idea you think it’s worth it. Just do it. There are probably at least other 1000 people like you in the world with the same idea. If you act on it, then you probably already surpassed most of them. That should encourage you enough. On another side… think why there aren’t so many “doing it”: because it’s easier to only think about it than to move a muscle.Don’t “gold polish”! Build an MVP as soon as possible.

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too latesaid Raid Hoffman and it’s close to perfect.

Find the buyer.
SomebIf you build it they will comeody needs to pay for what you do. Why should they pay? Is what you’re doing worth their money? In their opinion, not yours. This is where things go awkward: you love what you do… but can’t honestly find somebody to pay for it. You’re an artist 🙂 ! We’ve seen this in our competition a lot. The perfect example was for an app which aimed to teach you how to survive a disaster and the first thing it said was “Don’t panic”. Really. Hitchhikers aside, if I open an App after a disaster, then for sure I’m not panicking… am I?

The answers to “who can pay for it” questions are actually very hard to write down. But simple mathematics and a bit of honest estimations would be close to enough to justify a first commercial release. Or the project inclusion to “academic experiments” box.

Publish it.
No matter how marvelous the idea is, and how exceptionally beautiful is executed, if you can’t get it in front of the customer in a convincing manner, you would need a miracle to sell it. It might happen, but it’s much safer to actually work on that.

Well now, my fellow software developers, I know this sounds so “high level”, but it won’t hurt to spend some time on these topics, as high level as they are. If I did that many years ago then probably I would have many more successful products now. And if this would be taught in school, then I would have had many more great submissions in my competition.

How is this linked to Enterprise Content Management?

It is. ECM needs innovation and this can come only from new entrepreneurs. It’s one of the emerging technology area (just look at the sprawl of content producing devices, imagine the sheer volume of such “big content”) and it’s old enough to have a massive legacy waiting for disruption. I just don’t want to see many good ideas go nowhere because their owners didn’t seriously consider all the three pillars above.

Recognizing that you don’t master it all and partnering to see it through. Now that’s a good strategy!