I caught two interesting posts about software entrepreneurship.
One blog post reviews the book Purple Cow. The book argues that advertising as a way of growing a business is dead, and that a product has to be able stand out own like a “purple cow” and sell itself through word of mouth.
This has been my philosophy as well in my software development. Products that are remarkable and “pull” in customers are superior to “push” products, that require convincing and advertising to sustain sales. Remarkable products spur people and the press to talk about the products, resulting in free advertising; this creates a positive feedback loop, where greater awareness leads to greater discussion, which, in turn, results in ever more awareness until saturation occurs.
There’s a tendency for companies to build “me too” products, because there is an established market for the product and someone else has already thought about the interface design for that category. There probably is some truth to this as some marketers warn entrepreneurs to beware of markets with no competitors, because there may be no demand; the counterargument is that there is always a first product in any given category. The problem with “me too” products is increased competition. This reminds me of the one key takeaway from my MBA strategy class—AVOID competition. (For example, Walmart, for instance, overtook Target and Kmart to become the world’s largest retailer, because it has a monopolistic presence in rural towns across America that ensures itself a consistent and high level of profitability.) Anyway, a “me too” product can also succeed by differentiating itself significantly into a “purple cow” and redefining a category.
This leads me to the second post from microisv.com about the Delicious Monster in Wired Magazine. A startup of seven people developed a library cataloguing software and made $250,000 of sales in the first month of release, a run-rate of $3 million a year. Now, this software is written for the Mac platform; I suppose a Windows release possibly would have generated ten times the sales, simply based on current market share proportion.
Is Delicious Monster a “purple cow?” It certainly is a unique product. It does appears to have a lot of “pull,” not only because of its uniqueness but also because of its viral quality: The library software allows friends and family to view and check out titles from one’s personal library, which encourages more sales.