a glob of nerdishness

July 9, 2007

Skim “Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality”

written by natevw @ 5:23 pm

I just finished skimming Micro-ISV by Bob Walsh. I wish it had merited a closer reading.

I’m hoping to bootstrap an indie software company, and Walsh has some great advice in that vein. Unfortunately, the good parts are surrounded by fluff: screenshots of ugly webpages in every other spread, glowing reviews of the author’s favorite Windows applications sprinkled liberally throughout, and wandering interview transcripts atrociously typeset(1). Perhaps a co-author would help a second edition. In the author’s own voice, “My editor, Jonathan Hassell, rightfully pointed out the first time I submitted this chapter that I had neglected to come to a conclusion in this book.”

Those warnings aside, I found Walsh’s market segmenting questions in Chapter Five most useful, with practical questions like “How do people in this market segment define success?”. Chapter Four’s comparison of company types from sole proprietorships to C corporations was also helpful, as it contained commentary specific to independent developers. The same chapter provides a section on Getting Things Done, which he backs with a crash course on the strategy. Several of the interviews contained worthwhile nuggets, like Google’s Emily White on AdWords and Joel on Software’s Joel on…software. Most everything else seemed to be either a) irrelevant or b) only relevant to Windows developers, circa 2005.

I would love to see the best fraction of this book extracted and rewritten, providing room for advice less bound by time and platform. As it is, it reads like a first draft, leaving the reader to cull the worthwhile paragraphs from raw material. Micro-ISV is a book I’m thankful I borrowed, but can willingly return.

  1. I understand the ink is calling the press black when it comes to typography. I’d love to dump this template, but whim and window have not yet had their rendezvous.


  1. Nate,

    Well, I’m glad you found at least some value in my book :). Rather than get into your criticisms, let me ask you a quick question – what subjects didn’t I cover you’d like to see more on? I’m starting a series of ebooks for microISVs on topics lightly or not at all covered in my first two books, and I’d like your feedback.

    Comment by Bob Walsh — July 10, 2007 @ 7:09 am

  2. Hello Bob, thanks for dropping by! Indeed, I did find plenty of value within your book and I’m glad I had a chance to go through it. I should note that I come from “the other side of the fence”, so some of the MS-centric material didn’t apply.

    I think I was hoping for more general advice about the challenges, pitfalls and strategies for small startup companies. Maybe even some categories of helpful resources, but specific websites, tools, operating systems and graphic designers might not be the best solutions next year, or next door.

    Here’s some topics I’d love to hear more from you about:

    • Interstate and international issues with selling software online
    • What to do when something like X goes wrong/right, for common values of X
    • Pricing, and upgrade vs. first time revenue
    • Even more about seeing a product from the customers’ perspective (can you tell I liked chapters 4&5 best?)
    • Is online collaboration feasible for a startup?
    • More advice from Micro-ISV founders, but just the meaty parts
    • Even tips for balancing work and family life

    Some of these might still be somewhat time/platform/market bound, but hopefully a little more stable. It seems like the human sides (vision, prototypes, customers, business intelligence) in the book might transcend current trends, just like Mythical Man Month still has many relevant parts after 30 years.

    Comment by natevw — July 10, 2007 @ 8:59 am

  3. Thanks for the ideas Nate – Please drop me an email when you have the chance and let me know how your microISV is doing.

    Comment by Bob Walsh — July 25, 2007 @ 10:24 am

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