Friday, November 18, 2011

I want to build software for you for free

If you need someone to build a web or mobile software project to solve a business, institutional, or personal problem, today I'm volunteering to build it for you for free.

Update #1: here's the response to this offer.
Update #2: here's what I ended up building

Why am I doing this? 

I'm looking for awesome ideas for my next startup. I'm hoping that by solving your problem I'll learn enough about your industry/your life that I'll stumble onto something that a lot of other people also need, something I could build a business around. You can only get good ideas by working on real problems.

I also just really enjoying making things that people will use, and I'd really like to spend time delighting people with code. I was really inspired by Derek Siver's co-op business model post.

  1. This will be a win-win transaction. You'll get your problem solved (or you'll find out how hard it is to solve if I fail) and I will learn about a potential software niche in your world.
  2. I will build a prototype-quality application that solves your fundamental problem without a lot of bells and whistles. I'll probably use an HTML template to make things look OK, but it won't have the same polish as a full-blown application that had a designer working on it from the start.
  3. I will own the source code but will grant you an unrestricted license to use it or modify it as you wish as long as you don't resell it to others. If you want me to build a prototype for a product you can sell on your own then you would need to hire me as a contractor. Or you could hire Chris Granger to build it, who also inspired me. I'm looking for people who don't want to start a software company, who just want their problem solved so they can get on with life.
  4. You will always have free use of the prototype. If it becomes a business and I spend a lot of time improving the prototype I may need to charge you to use the new awesome version (much like what Derek Sivers described).
  5. I will be documenting the whole process on this blog and on GitHub so if your idea is a big secret then this is not for you - but I can keep any details of your involvement confidential.
  6. My primary tools are Ruby and JavaScript. If there's a mobile component I'll probably build an HTML5 app which could later be wrapped with Phonegap to make a native app for Android, iOS, etc. I will likely host the app on Heroku but I can host it on any *nix-based system you have.
  7. I'd really like to hear from people who currently have to struggle with crappy, expensive software that I can disrupt.
  8. Nonprofits and government entities also encouraged to apply: I could see making something free for a smaller entity and later commercializing it for larger institutions.
How to Get In Touch

If this sounds cool just email me!

1 comment:

Bill Horsman said...

Fantastic idea, Mike. I look forward to following your progress :)