Custom software development
– An Entrepreneur’s Guide

We live in a golden age of software development, where Open Source Software (OSS) makes it practical to bring ideas to market faster and more cost-effectively.


What is Open Source Software?

The simplest explanation of Open Source Software is; computer software with source code that has been made available with a license that allows copyright holders the rights to study, change and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.

How does OSS benefit Custom Software Development?

From an Entrepreneur’s perspective, this reduces the cost, while increasing the flexibility, freedom, security, and accountability of software development.

Open Source Software has been responsible for the ‘democratisation’ of software development, removing it from the hands of traditional software companies and making it practical for start-ups such as Atlassian to become overnight powerhouses.

The pros of OSS Custom Software Development

An OSS Custom Software Development project gives you admission to the ubiquitous school of innovation. It’s a fast-moving environment driven by the philosophy of ‘shared good’, where everyone is working to change society for the better.

This philosophy makes it relatively easy to hand a project over to a new development team, as everyone is talking a similar language and much of the source code and modules is in common use.

With OSS Custom Software Development, there is often no need to pay licence fees for the source code you used. If there are licence fees, they are much less than the traditional software model.

The cons of OSS Custom Software Development

OSS Custom Software Development benefits the Entrepreneurial community; however, there are some downsides.

To start with, key changes to source code created by the development community may have an impact on your existing software, forcing you to make wholesale changes to your now redundant software.

Another potential issue is that because the community works independently, they may abandon a set of source code, leaving you without support or an upgrade path.

From an IP perspective, it is difficult to value or protect the source code of custom software developed in the Open Source Software environment, simply because it’s in common use and you don’t own it. This also means that it is not providing you with any competitive advantage. In fact, anyone can copy and improve anything you have created in this environment.

How can Entrepreneurs maximise the value of OSS Custom Software Development?

In the SAAS and Cloud-based era, Software presents opportunities that simply are not available to other businesses. For a start, you can build a worldwide business from day 1, accessing potential tens of millions of customers and clients worldwide. Software in this era presents the opportunity for an infinitely scalable business model, without the time and resource limitations of other business models. It’s why software company valuations work on multiples unseen in traditional business models. OSS Custom Software Development makes it practical to build such business models, from modest investments.

How does OSS Custom Software Development save time and money?

Non-critical code provides functionality and connectivity that is commonly in use and does not provide a competitive advantage. This is where OSS development comes in. It’s a way of connecting ‘Non-critical’ dots between commonly used features (where there is no competitive advantage), with the source code that creates your point of difference and competitive advantage.

In short, OSS development reduces your overall project costs and timelines, while ensuring that you only invest where you can build a competitive advantage.

How can Entrepreneurs use Custom Software Development to drive fundraising?

If you are looking for help to fund your new software business, you need to have a clear and realistic understanding of the resource and timeline requirements to build and commercialise your software. You can then design a fund-raising model, with achievable milestones.

Entrepreneurs also need the ability to outline a ‘minimum commercialisation’ version of their software, with a clear ongoing development path (with costings). This minimum commercialisation’ version of your software will allow you to invest less up front and start to build an income stream faster. This will help you gain investor credibility and confidence, which will have a direct impact on fundraising. The right Software Development team can provide such predictability.

What do ‘the right’ Custom Software developers look like?

The right kind of Custom Software development team will bring your software to market faster, and provide a clear ongoing development path.

Their experience will help you identify exactly how your ‘minimum commercialisation’ model should look. They will have a history of managing both new and legacy software projects.

They will help you focus resources where they deliver results. They will provide access to their own libraries of source code and modules, saving you time and money.

They will help you understand the opportunities and challenges of pricing and selling your software.

They will help you define opportunities to attract investors (e.g. proof of concept, 1st sale). They will help you understand where the IP is in your software, as well as insight on valuing and protecting your IP.

They will exploit development protocols and business processes that provide transparency and ensure you maintain control over your Custom Software Development project.

Most importantly, they will know how to listen and provide insights that enhance your software in ways you may have never imagined.