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Hi, I am Ger and I like to introduce myself and my mISV


#1

I really don’t know if I still can be called “bootstrapper”, but I like this site and the discussions here, so I hope you will accept me as a bootstrapper. Anyway, as far as I can see there is no expiration date, or is there?

I bootstrapped my mISV already back in 1997, next to my day job as a software developer at a large telecommunications company.

My mISV develops B2B software aimed at a very niche in the shipping industry. The software simulates various marine instruments like GPS, Heading, Radar, AIS etc. The software runs on Windows PC’s and is mainly used in helping companies to develop and test nautical instrumentation systems like Electronic Chart Display Systems (ECDIS).

Although pretty succesful in that particular market with a few thousand licenses sold I will never get rich by my mISV alone and I have always needed a part-time day job and other sources of income.
Yet I am not complaining because I love programming and my mISV gives me a lot of satisfaction, as the very positive feedback of my customers.


#2

Welcome!

Like myself, you seem to have a super-niche product. What’s the URL for your company or product?


#3

I would have thought you could charge a lot for software in a niche like yours. How much is a license?


#4

Steve,I am not allowed to place a link here for some time, therefore it did not mention the website URL. The website can be found here: sailsoft.nl. Pretty boring and old fashioned I say on beforehand, but it seems to work for the target audience.


#5

Currently I offer three products on different level of functionality, licence price varying from about 70 Euro to about 300 Euro including VAT/tax.


#6

.nl is an unusual choice of TLD for a product that is (presumably) not country specific.

A more modern looking website might work even better.

I have recently modernised the http://www.perfecttableplan.com/ website. I was a lot of work. I plan to report back on whether it improved traffic and conversions when I have enough data.

That counts for a lot.


#7

Link is http://sailsoft.nl/

(New users can’t put links in for a while to stop spammers)

Without knowing anything about your app or market my first response is to think about increasing prices. If its B2B they are less price sensitive than customers and generally you can charge a lot in niches.

Think about what costs it saves them? E.g. If it saves a person mucking around for a week on a boat to test changes to their chart plotter UI with real GPS then that would be worth several thousand Euros.


#8

My initial impression is it is far to cheap as it seems really cheap. Do you think you would lose many sales if you added a zero to the price?

What is the potential market size? For a product that sells for $500 you would need a potential market > 100,000.


#9

@ Andy: “.nl is an unusual choice of TLD for a product that is (presumably) not country specific.”

Agree absolutely with you Andy, but the .com extension was already taken when I wanted it back in 1997. So I went for the .nl and never looked back. And Google did not care either. E.g. google “NMEA simulator” and check the ranking. Not so bad I would say.

@ Rhino: “Without knowing anything about your app or market my first response is to think about increasing prices. If its B2B they are less price sensitive than customers and generally you can charge a lot in niches.”

@ craigvn: "My initial impression is it is far to cheap as it seems really cheap. Do you think you would lose many sales if you added a zero to the price? "

I went through all that in the past.
I tried 8000 Euros at some point in the past. I even hired a sales person for cold canvassing relevant companies worldwide. No success, apart from a few demos. This is a very long road before you get any results, let alone revenue. It took us months, did cost a lot of money for travelling and visiting prospects, endless discussions with purchasing departments etc.

Then I realized that my real customers are the technicians at the workbench. Who have managers having the authority to undersign orders say less than 500 Euros without going through company purchasing procedures. So if the technician likes the product and can motivate his manager, the order is placed promptly in most cases.

And last but not least, I really do like to run my small business this way now, having a lot of contact with the tech guys, I learn a lot from them. They share technical know how with me, I receive the latest documentation from them for free so I can keep my software up-to-date, and I have fun. And yeah, I will never get rich this way, you’re right…


#10

Gotcha - and nothing wrong with that at all. Most of us are doing the Lifestyle thing to one degree or another - e.g. @Andy doesn’t seem to ever want the hassle of employees.

I guess we all saw the “never get rich” and that need to keep day job as something you wanted to ‘fix’.

Just to bang that drum one more time though - wouldn’t you get more satisfaction if it brought in enough to dump the job and concentrate on it full time?


#11

I can understand that you don’t want to change if it ranks well.


#12

Welcome, and congrats, Ger! It’s not often you find someone who has successfully done what you’ve done without struggling a ton. It appears you don’t need much advice, but are just looking to say hi. Well Hi back, and thanks for sharing your story :slight_smile:


#13

Hi Ger!

I absolutely love that you have such niche, technical products.

I’d say they are the users. The real economic buyer is the manager. I know nothing about your market or products but given what you wrote here I have a few ideas:

  • Split the payment into 12 payments of 500 EURs (just like SaaSes do)
  • Find where the managers are (conferences, newsletters, groups, magazines, etc.) and try selling there
  • Sell at even higher level - CxOs, VPs, etc.

patio11 wrote an article about selling to large organisations. You may find it useful.