Bootstrapping the Initial Software Development: Our Resources

With this blog entry, I’ll start passing you some project status “We are Here” summaries, letting you know what has transpired to date, so that you will not be too puzzled when I start blogging about the present and future. 

This project is not funded with (m)any dollars. There are no paid employees nor contractors. Everyone working on this project is an “angel developer” with a percentage ownership of the company. Company? Yes, there is a new company, Snupnow LLC, that owns this project. “Snupnow” without the capital “n” refers to the company, not the project.

For those interested in organizational structure, Tincat Group, Inc. is an S-corporation that owns a majority percentage of Snupnow. I am the President and owner of Tincat Group. I am not presently contracting with anyone else, so right now this “group” is just me and all of my personalities.

Tincat Group is a consulting company that previously has consulted with multiple clients, several of whom have been software companies. Tincat Group now works exclusively on the SnupNow project for the Snupnow LLC. Simply put, I was an independent consultant with my own company, and I am now starting a software company. Previously clients were paying me to do consulting while now there are no invoices going out and no one is paying me. Yes, this is cause for concern.

There are currently almost 20 owners of Snupnow LLC. Of these, many are my relatives. I know I will ask relatives to give the software a spin or ask for a favor here or there, so I wanted relatives to be able to benefit from any success and keep current on progress, thinking they might also be a good group of cheerleaders. Everyone needs someone rooting for them, don’t you think? I have let them know that I do not plan to request funding from them.

The other owners are angel “investors” with the investment being in current or future sweat equity. Of these angels, most are software developers by profession. IT professionals who are owners of Snupnow are referred to as “partners,” while other owners are called “members.” Of all of the founding partners, only Tincat Group (me, by extension) is a Managing Partner.

The members of the LLC do not vote. I have set it up so that I have enough rope to… Well, yeah, but I certainly do not plan to hang myself or anyone else in this process. I set up the company with this legal “dictator” structure based on my research into what was most likely to succeed in going the distance. On the one hand, the success of any new company is a long shot. On the other hand, if I am persistent in this endeavour (and live long enough), I have some confidence that it will succeed.

To date, three software developers have done more than 100 hours each of hands-on work on the project. One of those is me. I will refer to the other two without their last names as Ken and Tom. Two others have been following the project closely, have attended meetings and spent some time training themselves. We anticipate they will be jumping in and doing more hands-on work in the coming months. These two are John and Bob. One other, Bonnie, has just joined the project team and will start to learn the development platform this month. These developers each plan to put in an average of 8 or more hours per week on the project this coming year. We do have a couple of other developers as partners, Jon and Jeff, who might jump in later, if the planets are aligned to accommodate their efforts. 

I am the only person working full-time on this project, spending a portion of that time on actual coding.  If it pans out, then from an hours standpoint, we could have up to 2 “full-time equivalent” developers on the project this year, including me. I know that is not a lot, but we are in this for the long haul, and I am hopeful that this starting roster will be a productive team. 

Getting people on board and trained in skills they need so they can jump into this project has been a significant part of the project to date. Getting us all to the point where we are feeling successful in our development efforts has been difficult. We are not there yet.  The development team is distributed across the U.S. with people in three timezones and with different times each person can work. No two developers are within a day’s drive of each other. We have a weekly meeting on Saturdays, otherwise communicate when we see each other available by instant messaging.

We are also working with two other companies. One of these is a partner who is hosting the server with our development platform, while also doing database updates and various system administration functions for us. I will refer to them as SB for now. They have been great! The other is our database provider. We are investing heavily in their development tools. I will write more about that soon. We very much appreciate that they are also investing a lot in our project. 

Others are or will be participating in black box and user experience testing of the software. Still others will pitch in with marketing and other efforts in the future.

Now that you have some basic information about our resources, with insight into the company’s finances, plus names of some of the angel developers, the stage is set for you to understand more of the story as it unfolds over the coming months. Sure this is a story about software, and we will get to more of the technical side of the project soon, but ultimately this will be a story about people, the people who are bootstrapping a new software company and the people who will use our software. By reading this blog, you are also now part of this story.

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3 responses to “Bootstrapping the Initial Software Development: Our Resources

  1. Good luck with the project Dawn. If your previous, lucid writings are anything to go by then this will be one of the few blogs ‘out there’ worth following,

  2. Thanks so much, RichardS. I will be making more posts, but taking altogether less time to blog, so individual posts might not be fantastic, but in aggregate it should be a worthwhile story about software development. I’ll try not to let you down.

  3. Pingback: I hate hardware: For want of a nail… « SnupNow: Persistence Matters

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