Open Source as a business side effect

In a few days, I hope to launch a little project that I’ve been working on, that was inspired by some concrete needs at work. That’s nothing new, as I’ve often undertaken new projects after seeing needs out there in the ‘real world’. What’s going to be different this time, though, is that I’m not going to release it as open source software. Instead, I’m going to make the basic version available for free on the web, and charge money for more advanced versions, in various ways.

That’s a pretty big change for me, as I’m very dedicated to the idea of open source software. It’s simply more fun than the proprietary sort, and I love cooperating with other people on things, and all in all, it’s just easier to release stuff that way.

However, I want to try something new… I want to see if I can make some money on a few ideas and projects that I have in mind. I’ve thought about it a lot, and the shortest, most direct feedback loop in the types of end-user applications I have in mind is going the ‘commercial’ route. If I can make a bit of money on the applications, I can spend a bit more time either improving them or developing new ones. If they were open source, the most I would get is other people contributing a little bit back, but that doesn’t matter much, as none of these ideas are all that complex.

I’m not giving up on free software… I couldn’t. My hope is that by providing myself some extra income, that I will be able to produce some free software as a ‘side effect’, ala 37 signals or google, or any number of other groups that contribute a lot of ‘side dishes’ to open source, while saving the main course to make their money with.

Hopefully you will see more in this space in the next few days.

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