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ATX Entrepreneurs by The Tech^map Message Board › Internet Application Browser

Internet Application Browser

This message board is read-only.

Chris N.
chrisnystrom
Austin, TX
Post #: 28
Chris, it would be nice if we could have a discussion with likeminded people who have entrepreneurial interests similar to yours. Even if an idea does not work, it might prompt tangent schemes that will fly. A discussion of this nature would exercise the entrepreneurial spirit in those interested in venturing out on a limb in the pursuit of an independent group endeavor.

Sounds good.


I assume we are at this entrepreneurial meeting because we don’t have the money to buy the people we need to make our ideas happen. Therefore, we should put together a list of relevant questions to discuss.

Agreed.


Some questions might be:

Can we describe the scope of the project in detail?

The goal of the project is to build and sell (or not sell, but rather use as a competitive advantage with related projects. See more below) an application browser. An application browser is simiilar to a web browser, except that it is designed to run applications, not display documents. It communicates between the server and the client via RPC not HTML. It consists of a general purpose client, a server, and an application library that programmers link into thier programs that generate the RPC calls.


What might be some related ventures this project would generate?

This is a good question. I was just thinking of this the other day. Before I was thinking that I had to get others to use it, to set a new standard, and this still might be the best path. but another way it could be used is as a competitive advantage in other projects.

For example, iTunes from Apple is neat, but you have to download and install it, then you have to rip all of your CDs, and/or you have to buy a bunch of songs from Apple.

If the system that I am proposing was complete I could use it to create an iTunes like application but you would not have to install it. Just type in a URL. When it comes up it has a backend of a server with a large hard disk that has a collection of all of the free music available on the net (there is alot, but it is scattered everywhere, and alot of it is very good). You would not have to obtain music. It would all be there for you to listen to. If you wanted to, you could click and download the song for your iPod, but you would not have to. All free to users. Paid for my advertising (Google just topped a billion in profit with advertising I believe).

And since your client is a general purpose client, it would be easy to get users to try other applications that you might create, if they were already going to one of your applications.


What resources do we have?

We have one mediocre programmer, and a nice collection of computers. I have a Mac, 3 PCs (one a laptop) all duel boot with Linux, and Windows XP, and a Sun Solaris workstation. I have some time, and a little cash. We have some preliminary experimental code.

I also own the URL: http://www.newio.org...­ that I have expected to use for this.

Nothing really posted to it, yet.


What resources do we need?

We need more and better programmers. (Sad Story: my best friend was a genius programmer. He could code anything. Alas, he had diabetes and rotted away, and died a few years back. If he were still alive this would be done before now. I would have been the Jobs to his Wozniak). I am a good programmer, but there are much better ones than me out there that could quickly make this happen. My strategy has been to make enough of the system to prove the concept and get them interested in working on it. They will work for free if they think it worthy. Of course they will work right now, if they get paid.

We need people who know the VC scene. Lets call them fundraisers.

We need sales people. We can be talking to prospective customers. I understand customers really impress the VC people, but on the other hand, if you have customers do you really need the VC people?

We need people to build the web site. We need people who are technical that can write documentation, etc. People with software testing, and source code maintenance would be good.

As you can see, I can think of all kinds of things that we would need, but mostly people at this point. I think if someone is donating a skill, I can put them to work.


How many people will it take?

With no solid prospects for assistance, I have been mostly trying to make it happen with one person. I know this is not reasonable, so I am certainly looking for more who want to sign on. However, I am not sure at this point how many we need to be successful.
I suppose it would depend on the skill levels of the people who sign on.


What are the qualifications of each person?

My own qualifications are tech visionary, system administrator, computer prgrammer. I also have some management expereince as an officer in the Navy, and also was in the MBA program at St. Edwards. I think I am a capable communicator and writer.


How much versatility do we need as a group and as individuals in the group?

I am sure the more versatility, the better.


Where do we work at?

At home for now. We can meet as often as needed, at Starbucks or wherever.


How will the project generate money?

We can try to sell licenses for the use by customers and support to customers, or we can create applications ourselves and sell access to customers, or sell advertising.


What expenses will exist before profits are made?

None for now, as we have no money to pay them. Although money would be nice, so far I have been working on the premise of not having any, and I believe we can get quite far without it if we need to.


Who will pay for resources needed prior to the generation of a profit?

We will have to try to obtain resources at no cost, until there is some expectations of an income.


Who takes their profits from the success of the business and who gets paid in advance?

I believe pretty much everyone will have to take profits form the success, as there is no money to pay in advance. Having no money makes alot of these questions mute. :)

Really the only currency we have is equity, I think.

So a better question is how to divide up the ownership? It may seem silly to discuss this since at this point there is no business, but it is probably wise to discuss it as early as possible so that there is no mis-understanding.

Since it is my idea and I have been working on it for quite some time I obviously (and I think understandably) consider it my baby. My biggest concern, is that I do not want to lose control of it. I do not want to be kicked out of my own company like Steve Jobs was kicked out of Apple. So I am thinking I need to retain at least 51%.

The other consideration is if we divided up the pie right off the bat, what if say one person got a chunk, but then did nothing to advance the cause? That would not be fair to the other people who made it happen. So how do we implement a merit system to distribute equity? Perhaps everyone can vote on contributions of the other members of the team? I am not sure., though. Still thinking about it.


Can each individual support themselves until the business generates income?

Another one that circumstances make the answer easy: have to.


How
Chris N.
chrisnystrom
Austin, TX
Post #: 29

Regarding discussions at the meeting. Each entrepreneur needs to consider these questions and more in light of their own projects. My suggestion would be to make a list of questions and propose to the group that we discuss or consider one per meeting. This would give some purpose and flow to the meetings. And we need to limit discussion time both for individuals and topics. Then maybe at the end of the meeting we can decide on the question for the next meeting.

Would that work for you?

Sure. Sounds good to me. I am open to whatever everyone else wants to do.

Chris
A former member
Post #: 7
Russell,

I like your idea of balance.

Jerry
A former member
Post #: 8
Chris we missed you at the last meeting. After the big preliminary discussion on this message board I looked forward to taking it to the next level. I was hoping that my questions would eventually have significant substance. I have also noticed that throughout this discussion you have not had many questions. Too often we have the right answer to the wrong question.

Jerry
Chris N.
chrisnystrom
Austin, TX
Post #: 32
Chris we missed you at the last meeting.

I apologize for missing the meeting. I RSVPed Maybe, and it turned out a family committment did prevent me from attending.

After the big preliminary discussion on this message board I looked forward to taking it to the next level. I was hoping that my questions would eventually have significant substance.

I am open to meeting at any time. I work night weekends, so I am free most any time during the week.


I have also noticed that throughout this discussion you have not had many questions. Too often we have the right answer to the wrong question.

Well one question I had was it the Meetup location had wireless access? If it does, I can demo my very preliminary code. A picture is worth a thousand words as they say.

Are you just an interested observer, or are you wanting to join the team?

If you are wanting to join the team what contribution to the project do you see yourself making?

For that contribution what to you expect to receive in return?

The current status of the project is that I have a very preliminary, but working system. Speed is going to be a critical factor to success. There is no way (by definition) a network application is going to be as fast as a local application, but it has to be fast enough to be useful. I took my laptop down to Schlotskys, and I have determined that performance is acceptable, which was a major hurdle. So now basically I just have to improve on what I already have.

I do not think I will be persuing an SBIR grant. I think I can get by without money for now, and I do not want to get sidetracked.

I have applied to be a presenter at the 6th Annual Free Software Forum (http://fisl.softwarel...­) in Porte Alegra, Brazil and I have been informed that, though not selected yet, I am still in the running. I am working on a nice web site, to hopefully help convince them to put NewIO on the program.

The business strategy is to build an open source platform, to attract good developers and applications, and to try to set an internet standard. From there a business of providing commercial solutions and support can be built, much in the same way Netscape capitalized on the World Wide Web, and RedHat has capitalized on Linux.

Thank you for your interest,
Chris
A former member
Post #: 9
Chris,

This is the sort of application platform, web-based, that Microsoft will have trouble competing against, and not only because of the business model reasons you have outlined.

A couple of friends, who are "Microsoft Millionaires" but who are retired now, and I have been talking off and on for the last year about a problem Microsoft seems to have with shipping code, never mind web-based apps, in a timely manner. This started with Apple's outmaneuvering of Microsoft with its release of a Windows version of iTunes almost half-a-year before Microsoft came out with its own version. When a competitor can release an app on your platform 6 months before you can, and a year after they announced they would release such an app in a rising and important market, which digital entertainment is, then you have problems. This really got their attention and mine.

Then we came up on Mark Lucovsky's blog, "Markl's Thoughts", which, in a February posting, he raises the same basic issue. Mark is a Microsoft fellow and knows the Microsoft way of shipping code. Check it out at http://mark-lucovsky....­ . Mark's point is that Microsoft takes 2 years typically to get code created, tested, verified, and shipped. Compare that to a day for Google and weeks/months for Apple, and you see why Microsoft is having some troubles responding to deft competitors. I think a good analogy is the Spanish Armada.

Does this mean that Microsoft can't compete if it really wants to? Depends. Longhorn indicates that they are having production issues. But that doesn't mean that the fire-breathing dragon can't hurt you. I do think their ability to compete on a web-based platform is poor. Other than revamping their production model to make it more responsive, Microsoft could make updates to IE that break the web-based software, which there are ways to do that. But the problem with that is that it would very well push people towards other browsers even more quickly than they are migrating towards them now.

By being more responsive, you can compete with Microsoft by out-maneuvering it. By being smaller, you will go unnoticed for awhile. Those combined could give you the edge you need.

Jim Hillhouse
Chris N.
chrisnystrom
Austin, TX
Post #: 34

By being more responsive, you can compete with Microsoft by out-maneuvering it. By being smaller, you will go unnoticed for awhile. Those combined could give you the edge you need.

Thank you for the information and encouragement Jim. I agree 100% with your analysis. I think there is a certain amount of room to "fly under the radar", and hopefully get a firm foothold before they or any other competitor becomes interested, and even when they do become interested it will take some time for them to mobilize.

Chris
A former member
Post #: 1
Chris-

I've been reading with interest the powerpoint and resulting discussion. I missed the last meeting, but it sounds like you did too. I think you have a good idea, but I'm not sure of your strategy of getting this to "the market."

Your idea of making the protocol and app open source is probably a good move, since who wants to buy another closed and proprietary one. However getting this adopted will be tricky, and most likely more time consuming than what you are thinking.

As you probably know, companies are usually hesitant to write apps using code or systems that do not have support resources, widely available tools, training, and knowledgeable and experienced developers. And many times also partners that have apps that will integrate with them (ie. supply chain system integration). This is not always the case, especially where a company might see a competitive advantage in "going it alone" but there is an inherent risk that the company must accept. That is why standards are so powerful.

I can see several routes off the top of my head that you might take to get it "adopted." All of these depend on getting the idea accepted by a large community as a standard:

-- get it accepted through the standards body, most likely internationally based, or maybe IEEE or an RFC document. Note that this requires much communication, coordination, negotiation, and compromise. And in the end you'd be left with only the advantage of leading other competing companies by your advanced understanding and working with the new proposed standard. On the flip side, this pretty well locks the idea into the largest audience and gives you the best chance to succeed.

-- get it accepted into a large OS distribution, like Linux. You might be able to convince several leading developers (if not Linus himself) of the advantage of building the protocol directly into the OS. Or you can volunteer to write the code yourself and donate it to the OS trunk code.

-- try to go it alone, like you seem to be doing. Linux started this way by developing a ground swell of acceptance, but many others have found it a dead end path. I think the Free Software presentation would generate some interest, but again, why would developers want to be the first to adopt your idea? What's in it for them?

Something else to think about: how are you protecting the idea, and is it even yours to protect? What I mean by this is that applying for a patent is one avenue, although you probably are aware of the resistance of standards bodies to adopt a patented idea. And secondly, many companies have you sign agreements that anything that you develop while under their employment is theirs. You may want to check your sign-on documents.

Mike
Chris N.
chrisnystrom
Austin, TX
Post #: 37
I've been reading with interest the powerpoint and resulting discussion. I missed the last meeting, but it sounds like you did too. I think you have a good idea, but I'm not sure of your strategy of getting this to "the market."

I realize that getting it to the market is pretty much the whole of the problem, or at least problem #1.


Your idea of making the protocol and app open source is probably a good move, since who wants to buy another closed and proprietary one. However getting this adopted will be tricky, and most likely more time consuming than what you are thinking.

I have been thinking of this for a number of years, and would not be surprised if it took a few more. However I think the trends in technology are in my favor. For example, I think the future will bring higher bandwidth not lower, etc. I do agree that it will be tricky. Further, even when the technology is adopted there will still be much to do to actually earn money.


As you probably know, companies are usually hesitant to write apps using code or systems that do not have support resources, widely available tools, training, and knowledgeable and experienced developers. And many times also partners that have apps that will integrate with them (ie. supply chain system integration). This is not always the case, especially where a company might see a competitive advantage in "going it alone" but there is an inherent risk that the company must accept. That is why standards are so powerful.

Agreed, and I see this as my opportunity.

I do not believe that I will be able to attract companies initially. My strategy is to attract individuals, especially coders, much like Linus did with linux. With a number of people working on the code, it can advance quite rapidly. When it becomes a useful tool, then at the point the opportunity exists to sell support resources to the companies as you mentioned above.

So it is a two phased strategy:

Phase 1: Open Source Project (Attract developers, build it for free, or with very little money)

At this point we have something that is neat, works well, has a base of applications for it, etc, but we still have no business. However, I believe, that once it is created and is somewaht mature, businesses will begin to have an interest in it, but they will have the problems you mention above. That is our opportunity. We solve those problems.

Phase 2: Sell support, tools, training.

This is basically the same business plan as Netscape and Redhat. I know one could say that Microsoft beat Netscape, and Netscape is no longer a seperate company, but how much money did AOL pay to buy Netscape? A lot!


I can see several routes off the top of my head that you might take to get it "adopted." All of these depend on getting the idea accepted by a large community as a standard:

-- get it accepted through the standards body, most likely internationally based, or maybe IEEE or an RFC document. Note that this requires much communication, coordination, negotiation, and compromise. And in the end you'd be left with only the advantage of leading other competing companies by your advanced understanding and working with the new proposed standard. On the flip side, this pretty well locks the idea into the largest audience and gives you the best chance to succeed.

-- get it accepted into a large OS distribution, like Linux. You might be able to convince several leading developers (if not Linus himself) of the advantage of building the protocol directly into the OS. Or you can volunteer to write the code yourself and donate it to the OS trunk code.

These are both good, although I am not sure how I would go about it. I am not very familiar with trying to get an international standard passed, and I presume that Linus gets numerous proposals. I think these would both be accomplished easier if there was an existing code base.


-- try to go it alone, like you seem to be doing. Linux started this way by developing a ground swell of acceptance, but many others have found it a dead end path. I think the Free Software presentation would generate some interest, but again, why would developers want to be the first to adopt your idea? What's in it for them?

First of all the International Free Software forum turned down my presentation submission. See the NewI\O blog for the latest information:

http://newio.blogspot...­

So at this point I have returned to the original plan to announce on a few key developer mailing lists..

For now my target market is developers, people who code for fun. I myself am one of these developers so I feel I am familiar with the market. They will want to develope for my system, for the following reasons: because it is fun, because it is tehnologically interesting, and because it can do things that no other system can do.

Lastly, it is not my goal to go it alone. Even Bill Gates had partners. I am sure I will need partners. A major reason for participation in this group is to network, and find people who have the interest and ability to contribute to the project, and also to sharpen my message and presentation.


Something else to think about: how are you protecting the idea, and is it even yours to protect? What I mean by this is that applying for a patent is one avenue, although you probably are aware of the resistance of standards bodies to adopt a patented idea.

Also, open source developers tend to really hate patents, which are like land mines. You never know if you have stepped on one until it is too late.

My custom RPC protocol is original and possibly patentable, but I do not really see the application browser idea itself as patentable. The idea is more about proper use of existing tehnology, rather than any new technology.

So basically I want to compete on expertise and service, rather than with a legal position, much like other companies such as Netscape did, and Redhat does.


And secondly, many companies have you sign agreements that anything that you develop while under their employment is theirs. You may want to check your sign-on documents.

That would be amusing if my employer, Oracle, tried to claim it was theirs. If you notice that original PowerPoint presentation was using an Oracle template. I tried very hard to give it to Oracle for free, and almost got fired for my efforts. I have saved copies of the letter of reprimand I got, and the e-mail that I got from my manager stating the Oracle was not interested. Hopefully that will be enough. I am sure this will have to be further investigated when any kind of significant money becomes involved.

Thank you for comments,
Chris
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