I know I said the next project was supposed to happen in the summer, but unfortunately I’ve drunken deeply from the Rails koolaid and am now afflicted with an acute condition known as programming fever. The plan remains to actually launch in the summer, but I want to see if Rails lives up the the (substantial) boasts of its evangelists, and frankly I really want to get my hands dirty with something because after doing several months of crunch going coding cold-turkey makes me feel bored. (We’ll see if the resurgence of carpal tunnel syndrome I’m feeling doesn’t cool my desire.)
So here is the plan. I want the application to be ready, in the full functional sense of the word, by April 1st. I plan to devote no more than 20 hours per week on it, and to be reasonably diligent about tracking time that I spend. This will include any time spent in design, learning Rails, and actual IDE time. On April 1st, I will evaluate where I am (which should be done), and bring in the outside experts (principally a web designer — I’m going back and forth on whether I need to bring in the lawyer or not) to take the first few steps to make the application into a business. That will also give me a month and a half or so to save my pocket change to pay for their fees. (Memo to self: carry really big coin purse.)
I’m decided on developing this semi-publicly — I’ll be publishing the market, the spec, the thinking behind it, pretty much everything but the source code. This will include sales figures for at least as long as I have a day job. However, I’m not totally naive in the ways of the world and in particular I don’t want someone domain-name camping me for the project code name or obvious misspellings of the actual name (which I already picked out and registered), so I’ll be keeping those under my hat for a while. I like the project code name so much I think I’m going to use it as the name for my LLC. I suppose I should get that filed soon too. The little bureaucratic hoops you have to jump through to make money are so annoying.
Anyhow, the plan:
Two weeks from now or so: Announce project codename and add category to this blog so people can track the development. Ideally, establish US-side LLC and transfer Bingo Card Creator to it, which will give me instant business history as a software developer with that name, which will be useful for a trademark application.
Some time after that: After I’ve got enough of the application done to be reasonably sure that I will indeed launch it, post the problem domain, the spec, and the reason why I chose this market to enter.
April 1st: Alpha showing of website (won’t be feature complete or pretty, but should give rough idea of scope). Bring in web design guy, get the heck out of his way. Begin dedicated blog (I’ll be keeping this one as my main web presence for the time being, naturally) devoted solely to issues facing target market.
Some time before summer: Launch. Suffer through a few weeks of catching corner cases which I hadn’t anticipated before.
Summer and beyond: Grow business. This is the most important part and so naturally I have given it the smallest section of this post and have not done much writing in my design notebook about it. D’oh.
Hosting: $125 for the first year.
Domains: $20 for initial two domains (product and LLC name), possibly $30 for additional ones. First $20 is spent already.
Ruby Books: $90. Got them today, they are fascinating.
Logo/Business Identity: Heck if I know. I have a pretty good idea who I’m going to use for it. Probably in the $250 range I’m guessing.
Web Design: Heck if I know. I may do something outside the usual for getting this, we’ll see. Currently I’m figuring that I’ll need a skin for the application, a simple template for the website outside the application (on the order of complexity of Bingo Card Creator’s, but prettier and thematically coherent with the application skin), and a blog template. I’ll be blogging on a hosted WordPress blog.
Icons: Not sure if I’ll need them (I already own two sets which may be adequate, but this will largely be up to the web designer). $100 budgeted.
Legal: If I hire a lawyer, he is going to be put on a strict $500 leash. I may not hire a lawyer.
LLC Filing Costs: Owwwwch. Figuring on $500 for my American LLC and I just weep at the anticipation of having to apply for a Japanese one (suffice it to say that I had to count the number of zeroes in the filing fee a few times to make sure it was correct). I will file for the Japanese registration after I have achieved significant profitability.
Total Initial Costs: $1,500 to $2,000, probably.
On the plus side, monthly costs (absent advertising: not budgeting for it yet) are going to be pretty low, so I should be cash flow positive almost instantly again and, I’m hoping, profitable fairly quickly. I expect revenue growth to be a significant multiple of Bingo Card Creator’s. More on that at a later date.