Break out: Incubation & Venturing - Bruno lowagie


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Break out: Incubation & Venturing - Bruno lowagie

  1. 1. WeBBT 2011 iText®, an open source PDF library1T3XT BVBA, the iText Company
  2. 2. What is iText®?iText is a PDF engine for web and other apps• Enhance web apps with PDF functionality Google – Real-time reporting, database publishing,…• Automated creation of PDF documents Belgacom – Invoices, bank statements, personalized letters… Ghent• Benefit from document interactivity University – Filling out forms, adding digital signatures,… Manning• Split, concatenate, manipulate PDF pages• PDF for Android, for the Cloud,… HP• …1T3XT BVBA, the iText Company
  4. 4. 9-point check list• Article by Charles Babcock “How To Tell The Open Source Winners From The Losers”1. A thriving community2. Disruptive goals3. A benevolent dictator4. Transparency5. Civility6. Documentation7. Employed developers8. A clear license9. Commercial support BVBA, the iText Company
  5. 5. The practiceTHIS WORKED FOR ME,IT MAY NOT WORK FOR YOU 1T3XT BVBA, the iText Company
  6. 6. No money? No worries!If you choose to release your product as F/OSS• Don’t expect to make money rightaway• You can protect your copyright: Disruptive – Other companies can’t patent something that is public – Nobody can deny your ownership Transparency• You can build an online reputation: – Your work is distributed all over the whole world Community – People will mail source code patches – People will ask questions Documentation – You may get the chance to write a book – You’ll be noticed and invited at events Be a guru• Your work can be fun: Enjoy yourself – Having to worry about money often spoils the fun (make sure you have a day job) – “Pressure to succeed” is counter-productive (play “improve your ranking” as a game)All of this was true for iText between 2000 and 20061T3XT BVBA, the iText Company
  7. 7. No money! No worries?What spoiled the fun in 2007-2008? Bad luck and... success!• Who owns the code? IP Review – I was employed by Ghent University – iText has many contributors: what are the legal consequences? – There’s no such thing as “the best F/OSS license” License / CLA• Is working for free allowed? – You’re trying to escape taxes, aren’t you? Employ yourself• The danger of “the author = the product” – Personal tragedies (e.g. Cancer) – Dear Lowagie. I have problem. IS URGENT! – Am I responsible when something goes wrong? No, but...• It’s no longer fun – Negative publicity: “Bruno has lost his marbles” Civility? – Everybody wants a piece of you – Too much contradictory advice (e.g. about innovation). How to filter?iText was at a turning point. How did we solve these problems?1T3XT BVBA, the iText Company
  8. 8. No money? No business!2009-2010, the years of professionalization!• Learn more about entrepreneurship – Seminars and events – iText iBoot team (alternatives: iStep, iVenture,...)• Put the IP in a company Ownership – We moved from to – Delegate responsibilities. E.g. I’m not the CEO! Leadership• Start selling on commission Make money – Licenses = recurring revenue – Support = useful feedback (can be labor-intensive) Offer support• Spend money to earn money – Hire the right people Pay developers – Pay for specific advice: legal, fiscal, technical,...• Expand! E.g. start selling consultancy (but don’t lose focus)Are we there yet? No, but the fun is back in 2011!1T3XT BVBA, the iText Company
  9. 9. My personal advice• Take care of your own babies (plural) – Don’t worry too much, but be a good parent – Don’t pay for advice, you know what’s best for your babies! – Give your babies sufficient time to grow, give yourself time to gain experience – Spend your energy on documentation, not on justification• Survive the puberty of a baby (singular) – Don’t indulge yourself! Do your homework! (IP, license, CLA,...) – Make mistakes and learn from them – Spend money, but try not to spend more than you earn – Don’t try to please everyone, make choices and get your story straight!• Treat your baby as an adult – Stay true to your goal, and find people who share your dream – Make yourself replaceable, not by another person but by a team; be the glue of that team – Spend the money you make, and you’ll make more money – Emotionally, the product remains your baby, but prepare to say goodbye1T3XT BVBA, the iText Company
  10. 10. My inspirationAt the age of 18, I copied this quote from a book: If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.Walden or, Life in the Woods, Henry David Thoreau1T3XT BVBA, the iText Company