Today I advised a new client via email on IT commercialisation for a software program. The client is an individual and his core business is not software development. His program is useful for management of technology used in the live events sector, eg theatre and concerts.
Here's my email reply to him focusing on practical considerations for making money from software or IT commercialisation. I've extracted confidential information and added a bit more information to clarify the circumstances.
Importantly, the new client's email request was for a mix of both business know-how and legal assistance.
Dear [Name Deleted]
You've given me quite a bit of information already and I'll take it that all of it is "stable state", ie cast in concrete and not likely to change. If and when it does change then what is said below will need adaptation.
I'll focus on issues. There are already some obvious strengths in the situation, eg your experience and career in the live events sector and the apparent fact that the program saves time (hence money).
The world is awash with software, so you have to be good to get noticed, let alone make any money from it.
As your hope is to sell out to others fairly early, the first thing to do is to get clarity as to such things as:
- who are the prospective trade sale buyers of your computer program?
- What might they want to buy - software, support materials, website, something else also?
- what do the buyers have that our software can integrate with?
- what might our software go on to become for them (eg part of a suite of programs or added functionality for an existing program they have)?
- what alternative programs are there to yours, identify their strengths and weaknesses?
- what is the direction of the relevant software technology field? Here it is useful to think ahead about what the functionality to build into versions 2.0 and 3.0 of your program.
Getting early customer adopters is often critical, especially for a micro business or start-up like yours. So where is the software already being used. How can we get other users, even if it be on a concessional financial basis?
Following on from that last question, there is a practical issue of how people might buy, ie queries about their buying pattern:
- who will buy (a contractor, a live events equipment supplies company, an events venue, someone else)?
- what level of expertise is needed to "bolt" your software onto whatever that buyer needs to go with to work and achieve a beneficial and practical result?
- is there a blog, wiki, software manual or support material, testimonials, success stories, forum or other mechanism in place to help end users and convince buyers that "it's all real, go ahead buy now!"?
- how and where would people come across the software (affiliate marketing, advertising, word of mouth, riding off the back of another program)?
As regards intellectual property, contracts and business structuring:
- you need an available software name, maybe it should be a registered trade mark; I note you are using [name deleted]. I'd have to do a proper trade mark and general name availability search and do not know if that has been done by you professionally as yet;
- I see you have [domain name deleted] as a domain name; perhaps you should lock in other domain spaces;
- for marketing, it would be good to have the website professionally designed; it's currently very geeky;
- you need appropriate business structuring - I note from your website that "[name deleted"] is set out as the copyright holder; and
- as to whether a patent is available, or useful, or even financially feasible at this stage, I don't know unless we obtain search results and conduct more analysis.
For my attached lengthy invention commercialisation questionnaire, you can fill it in and email it back to me for further feedback. There are many further questions and a process of due diligence to go through, but we can leave both till later.
You suggested a face to face chat. That would be fine. However in these situations I always prefer to read text first. Give me good text! If you do that then in response, depending on what is indicated in the details, I might efficiently make a costed proposal for the way forward. I look forward to your response.
Notes on photos
The above photos are personal illustrations of non-IT commercialisation projects. They illustrate successful entertainment or leisure sector commercialisation.
- The first photo is of Bob Dylan's Freewheelin' (1964) album. I discovered it when I was 15 years of age. Kudos to Dylan and his manager, Albert Grossman, for commercialisation of it. From this album Dylan never looked back.
- Bernardo Bertolucci's film, The Conformist (1970), for me is a model film. I've watched it about 10 times, even on a TV which had no vision. The soundtrack is voluptuous. Kudos to Bertolucci and his cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. They found an audio-visual style to realise Alberto Moravia novel of the same name. Going off memory, to quote film critic, David Stratton, the film's style "... launched a thousand vodka advertisements." Hence - novel inspires film, and film inspires advertising.
- Then finally there is Finger Wharf (1915) or Woolloomooloo Wharf at Woolloomooloo Bay in Sydney. It's a marvellous place. Kudos to the union movement for the Green Ban it placed on it to preserve it, and kudos to the re-developer who re-invented the wharf as an attractive mixed residential, hotel and restaurant hot spot.
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