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Liam McLennan hackingon.net

The traditional, Paul Graham style of technology start-up is:

  1. Someone has an idea
  2. They try to validate their idea
  3. The idea is implemented
  4. The idea is communicated to the market

While the importance of step 2 has always been emphasized the weakness of the above remains that the product may not gain significant visibility to the market. The products never reach critical mass and so they fade gradually into obscurity.

Recently I have noticed a new model emerging that promises far less risk at the tail end of the product cycle:

  1. Build a personal brand. This is usually done by making open-source contributions.
  2. Develop a product that is related to your brand.
  3. Use your brand to reach a market

The advantage here is that the market is ready and waiting and has a degree of trust in the entrepreneur. Here are some examples of development tool isvs that are using this strategy:

  Brand building activities Related commercial activities
Ayende Open source contributions to Rhino Mocks and NHibernate. NHProf (NHibernate Profiler)
Rob Conery Subsonic and MVC Storefront Tekpub (Screencast subscriptions)
Jeff Atwood Coding Horror blog stackoverflow Q & A site
Nate Kohari Ninject IoC Container Zen Kanban application
Kent Beck TDD, XP and lots of other things JUnit Max

I am sure there are others but that is all I can think of right now. Personally, I think it is great that these people are able to leverage their excellent contributions to produce a viable business.

Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 11:03 PM | Back to top

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