This is the first of a short series of posts where I try to reflect on the reasons that forced me to stop trying to make money out of the (now free of use) online code-generation services . I hope you find my experience useful! (and even more that you leave your thoughts as comments). Of course, I can myself point you to companies that have been successful at where I failed but I still think they are more the exception than the rule. So, here we go.
My first advice when selling a software tool/service is to target a “cool” technology. You want to focus on selling your tool not on convincing people that the technology your tool promotes is great for them, otherwise you are fighting the wrong battle. I’m the perfect example. I was trying to sell a model-driven approach for software development where the code is generated automatically from design models. Well, many developers are completely against this idea. They will not be interested in your service no matter how good it is. Even worse, almost no developer will be immediately in favor, which means that you´ll need to work hard to convince developers that the model-driven approach is good for them even before trying to sell them your tool. This feeling is shared by other vendors (e.g. see these lessons learnt in building a mobile development platform).
Instead, imagine that you´re trying to sell some kind of agile tool. (Almost) Everybody will agree that agile is good. For whatever reason (not necessarily a scientific one) agile is “cool” and “fashionable” so agile tool vendors don´t need to waste their time convincing people that buying an agile development tool is a good idea, they can focus their energy in convincing people that their tool is better than the competitors.