In February 2005, after releasing my first commercial application, I went looking for all sorts of
information that would help me market, support, and improve my product. I wasn’t especially
happy with what I found.
There were books aplenty on starting retail businesses, restaurants, inns—you name it—
except a self-funded software company. There were a few pre-Internet books, now mostly out
of print, about how to start a shareware company, and there were a few books out about how to
write the killer business plan that would woo venture capitalists to fund your start-up but nothing
about how to define a product, develop it, support it, market it, and do all this 100 percent on
I did find one really good Web site, the Business of Software forum at Joel on Software
(http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/?biz), where a whole bunch of developers starting or
running companies would offer suggestions and advice to anyone politely asking.
As plentiful as the advice was at Joel on Software, it tended to be uneven and fragmentary.
I decided that if there wasn’t a single good book on how to start an Internet-based software
company, then I should go out there and research and write one. This is that book.
A very long time ago, before becoming a programmer, then a developer, I was a reporter.
I figured that if I dusted off my old journalism habits and went looking for the information I and
lots of other developers needed, I could find people out there with the answers.
What I did not figure on when I started this book was that there is real news going on here:
from Boise to Bulgaria, developers are starting their own companies to bring to market their
own solutions in record numbers.
For every Internet software vendor you read about who just got funded by one or another
venture capital funds, there are hundreds of micro–Internet software vendors successfully
building desktop applications and Web-based products, distributing their software exclusively
on the Net, and building companies that start with one person and often scale up to 20, 50, and
100 employees in a few short years.