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web app idea..I`m stuck as to how to proceed..

    • 13 posts
    June 24, 2008 5:34 AM EDT
    Hi!
    I`ve been refining all my business ideas I keep coming up with and along the way realised a good compliment to establishing blogs(with the long term goal of making money) and offering web design services and other info sites,is the web application.I`ve come up with a totally unique web app idea-2 actually. Although currently i`m more focussed on one.Seems the way to make good money online is through web apps.

    Firstly i plan to raise the capital via establishing blogsites and selling web templates and eventually web design services/logo designs. When my financial situation is stable then i can launch the web app.
    I`ve been doing as much research as possible to determine competition and as far as i can tell nothing comes close to what i`ve got in mind.I`ve already got a notepad file of potential competitors.
    Which means wow i`ve hit a jackpot OR there is a reason why its not been done OR it`s just no one has thought of it yet.There is also the possibility someone is already developing it right now..

    Ok,getting close to asking the questions.
    I know a little html and css but no server side languages. I was thinking of learning either php or ruby on rails. The worse case scenario is the web app fails but i have learnt 1 or 2 server side langages which i can continue to use or use as a fallback job option when i start my 2 offline projects.
    Alternatively, i could outsource the coding to a professional programmer ,which i`m wary of-don`t want a programmer to run off with the idea.[last week on A Current Affair  2 programmers threatened to  hire a hitman to kill the person who hired him so they could run off with the idea!! it was recorded on tape and relayed on tv.The threatened guy contacted police!-scary!!]
    There is only  1 person (offline) who knows this idea,and immediately advised me to keep it to myself!..I wouldn`t imagine she would end up being a end user,purely becuase of the nature of the app..
    anyway..
    here`s a list of questions-

    *Should i build the app myself after learning the language,and hire programmers later for maintenance and maybe fixing bugs?

    *Do i get a "innovation patent" (quicker approval process here in australia for that kind of patent) for the web app? OR is not patenting better at protecting the code? How should i protect this kind of idea,if i do outsource programming?(apart from confidentiality agreements)

    *Is it necessary to start a company in order to launch a web app? or can i just start the web app myself? Whats more successful?

    *Whether i form a company or not,should i outsource as much work as possible?

    *Do i need a physical offline team..or just do what i can and outsource the rest?

    *Are terms of service and disclaimers enough..is insurance a must when starting a web app?(i.e. I`m wanting to minimise legal costs)

    *I don`t have the offline contacts required,outsourcing makes sense but then how do i entrust critical parts of business function externally?

    I believe the web app can be scaleable so startup funding really isn`t all important. I will be doing via bootstrapping but with rapid development and deployment. I have this sense of urgency that if i wait around and not do anything someone else will beat me to it. This perhaps is becuase i`ve read the ebook "Ideavirus". I`m hoping to learn rails within 3months and then spend 3months coding the app,if i take that path.


    one last question,..do you recommend starting a company?


    so far i`ve estimated about AU$5000 in startup costs roughly if i do design and development/marketing/seo/management not counting outsourcing of other stuff.
    Sorry for the poor grammar and if things are a bit jumbled up. The last week is finally catching up with  me.

    If i`m not clear on something just ask. I appreciate any advice and feedback so i can make some concrete decisions and move forward with this.

    Thankyou,
    ark23

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    My Email
    web entrepreneur and web designer

    • 13 posts
    June 24, 2008 8:33 PM EDT
    With all the ideas i`m getting-(I`ve got 4 that i truly believe are profitable and worthwhile)I have to take action because no one else will. I`ve been dreaming along time to run my own business. Strangely what i originally want to do has totally morphed and spawned 4 great ideas 8 years later!
    From my observations online,if i don`t act within a reasonable time frame the web app ideas i have will be worth nothing unless I act.
    I don`t have money or enough skills on myside where i could execute it within the time frame i would like to. Becuase of my lack of resources and yes i would like to execute it properly so it is a success,I need to plan and act in the right /get the steps or stages right.
    As far as i know there are a few applications that come close,but in order to dominate the market integration of some popular web apps (appropriate)will ensure a unique market position. Hopefully if i do this right it will create a vacuum.

    Indeed,i want to turn the brillian idea into a brilliant execution.

    Becuase i`m jumping into an area where i have no contacts offline,trying to find a suitable and trustworthy business partner would be hard.

    Thankyou for the reading resources. I`ll take a look at the first one. I`ve already got the Getting Real online version bookmarked.

    Getting Real focuses on what 37signals started-they started a company and had a team. From what i have observed it seems web apps need teams offline.
    I`m wondering if its possible to do most of it myself and outsource the rest.
    Is a 1 woman tech startup possible?

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    My Email
    web entrepreneur and web designer

    • 13 posts
    July 2, 2008 6:25 AM EDT
    CampSteve,
    thankyou for your reply.It`s given me food for thought.

    getalife,
    thanks.
    It`s kind of surreal to actually have that "idea" for a software application,when years ago i thought how idillic it would be to create and sell software.
    Then the actual thought of learning to code wasn`t appealing. lol.
    While the thought of learning to program gives me the heebie jeebies..i have this sense of fascination around it. Funnily enough,as great ideas happen when
    something is needed and the idea is born,my idea for a web app came forth when a situation occurred and i thought,gee if only "that" service was available.

    At first i dismissed the idea. I don`t know how to code,i don`t have any money etc etc. I dunno it kept circling in my head and i figured it would work. I`ve found a few potential competitors that come close. I`ve spent hours searching the net and reading web app lists finding any relevant ones that might already have done what i have thought of.

    I can see campsteve`s point of sharing ideas..problem is my target market is webmasters. (mainly)if i had to describe it..its a mashup of some popular API`s,plus collaboration and other features.
    If i stripped the bulk of the features away and left the core (which hasn`t been done before)..only having a vague idea about programming,and no idea on programming ecommerce..well it`s an interesting obstactle. who knows it might be simpler than i think.

    As far as i understand the web app,is broken into 3 core areas: client side,engine and database. Now i could design and code the client side. and would try to code most of the engine.
    IS is possible to outsource parts of the engine to be coded?
    I could therefore concentrate on figuring out the core component thats the key to whole app(the Unique selling point)and outsource the majority of the coding?
    --
    well currently i recieve government benefits,as i`m studying retail management. (yea strange to be studying 1 thing..and trying to start a web design biz,and web app). I plan to create a online properties portfolio to earn passive and active income.(such as blogs,selling skills etc) So i would have to bootstrap all online ventures.
    Ideally if i do get this web app idea off the ground,would like to see it earn decent money.At a minimum enough to live on.
    I`ve done up a spreadsheet,with varying levels of customers and a price point of $15pm,and figured 500customers a month would be comfortable. I`m pretty confident that can be achieved.


    [I don`t think it`s completely necessary to have a company to do this.  It may depend somewhat on how you are generating your revenue.  There may be tax and

    liability benefits to having it run under a company.]
    Good point. Here in australia,being a sole trader has huge tax benefits. I hope i understand it correctly. super is tax deductable 100%..so effectively if i am in the 30% or 45% tax bracket..i can reduce it just 16.1% as opposed to company tax at 30% plus personal income tax at whatever rate.
    I probably should look at exit plans..which would indicate when to become a company.
    My goals are to make enough money online..to help start up some offline retail/service business`s..
    lol..I got several online ventures planned,and 3 offline ones! LOL . Perhaps if it survives after 1 year i could form a company then.
    anyway this is something i`ll have to think about.

    without copying your comments regarding outsourcing..
    again,good points for me to think about!
    I am going to have to figure out start up costs,living expenses and potential revenues and tasks related to web apps.

    yikes-insurance.
    Had hoped i wouldnt need it.
    I suppose i would need that if dealing in ecommerce. Although i am thinking in terms of my financial situation now..and not down the track when i would have

    more savings.
    I was thinking of getting certified with BBB(something?) verisign and trust-e.

    I followed an online tutorial on RoR..i sort of understand it. Not quite sure how an entire app can be coded like that..lol.although it was basics!
    I`m thinking i might just learn php,mysql and javascript and then ruby otherwise i won`t get the "appreciation" of RoR(according to comments i`ve seen around the web).
    I`m old enough to remember the days before windows 95..

    thanks for the help.
    I might just end up pm`ing you.

    cheers and thanks everyone.

    I`m still open to more thoughts on this from anyone. The more perspectives into what i`m getting myself in for the better!
     

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    My Email
    web entrepreneur and web designer

    • 5 posts
    June 24, 2008 6:41 PM EDT
    I think this is a really interesting post. I have often pondered these questions, as I am probably at a similar sort of stage (perhaps a bit further down the track) with my entrepreneurial activities. You sound like you are really serious and have done a lot of thinking about your venture.
     
    Have you thought about partnering up with a technical person? As in setting up a company with a percentage share belonging to you and a percentage belonging to your parter? I believe this is how most tech startups have got off the ground.
    Reading Recommendation #1: Founders At Work: Stories of Startups Early Days by Jessica Livingston.
     
    Obviously this requires you to find someone who shares your vision and that you trust. I myself have agonised over the fact that in reality, I will eventually have to team up with somebody for my webapp to get enough momentum to be successful. I haven`t found the right person yet though!
     
    From a more philosophical angle, see below extract from reading recommendation #2: Getting Real: The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application by 37signals:
     
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    Be An Executioner

    It`s so funny when I hear people being so protective of ideas. (People who want me to sign an nda to tell me the simplest idea.)

    To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.

    Explanation:

    • Awful idea = -1
    • Weak idea = 1
    • So-so idea = 5
    • Good idea = 10
    • Great idea = 15
    • Brilliant idea = 20
    • No execution = $1
    • Weak execution = $1000
    • So-so execution = $10,000
    • Good execution = $100,000
    • Great execution = $1,000,000
    • Brilliant execution = $10,000,000

       

    To make a business, you need to multiply the two.

    The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth $20. The most brilliant idea takes great execution to be worth $20,000,000.

    That`s why I don`t want to hear people`s ideas. I`m not interested until I see their execution.

    —Derek Sivers, president and programmer, CD Baby and HostBaby

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    John Grimes
    Dreaming of travelling... www.blavel.com

    • 3 posts
    July 1, 2008 10:26 AM EDT
    ark23,

    I feel your pain.  I spent many hours, days, weeks developing a web application that was and still is novel.  I did this as a side activity to working contracts and full time jobs.  The problem I have is my app is data intensive and requires alliances with other companies and organizations to get access to this data.

    Are you able to cover your life expenses with another job or will this be an all or nothing adventure?


    I`ll throw in my 2 cents:
    *Should i build the app myself after learning the language,and hire programmers later for maintenance and maybe fixing bugs?

    (comments below)

    *Do i get a "innovation patent" (quicker approval process here in australia for that kind of patent) for the web app? OR is not patenting better at protecting the code? How should i protect this kind of idea,if i do outsource programming?(apart from confidentiality agreements)

    I really don`t know how well patents really work on software.  If it`s a web app and the complexity is such that it`s not easily  copied, maybe it`s ok .  It`s not like software that you download onto your PC (that is easily copied/duplicated).  If you can manage to keep the proprietary IP hidden inside your app, you should be able to protect yourself.  I think the most important thing is to get your app going and get a head start on any competition.

     *Is it necessary to start a company in order to launch a web app? or can i just start the web app myself? Whats more successful?
    I don`t think it`s completely necessary to have a company to do this.  It may depend somewhat on how you are generating your revenue.  There may be tax and liability benefits to having it run under a company.

    *Whether i form a company or not,should i outsource as much work as possible?

    Maybe you have to ask yourself how much time you really want to commit to this on a daily basis.  If you feel the revenue stream can more than cover any expenses to outsource updates and maintenance, that would be a good way to go.

    *Do i need a physical offline team..or just do what i can and outsource the rest?

    Do you mean whether you hire employees or contract/outsource?  I would try to make the financials work such that you can contract out the work rather than hire.  Unless your business just explodes and it`s more cost effective to have in-house staff, I would stick with  outsourcing.

    *Are terms of service and disclaimers enough..is insurance a must when starting a web app?(i.e. I`m wanting to minimise legal costs)

    I suppose this depends on what the app involves.  For any type of business I`ve been involved in, I always factored in liability insurance expenses.

    *I don`t have the offline contacts required,outsourcing makes sense but then how do i entrust critical parts of business function externally?

    Perhaps you can keep the core, proprietary ideas to yourself somehow and outsource the mundane parts (GUI, database management, etc.)

    I am an electrical engineer by trade but have done a lot of coding.  I did a number projects based on PHP (some web and others just offline software), RoR (this is the framework of the current web app), python, perl, C, etc.

    I personally like PHP since it`s a lot like C programming and it`s easy to pick up and understand.  RoR took a lot of up front learning to understand the framework but it ties in the database really nicely.  You can also do database apps with PHP but it seems a little less elegant.

    I hope this helps.  If you need any other help or would like to collaborate on anything, let me know.


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    Time to break free, do it the right way, and enjoy life!
    http://getalifenotacareer.blogspot.com

    • 88 posts
    May 19, 2010 6:46 AM EDT

    I think if you don't know what app to create, you are probably slower than the competition by a mile. Try to do something you're comfortable about.

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    Seo Consultant | Cure Autistic Adults | Industrial For Rent | Business Park