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Building a software business — lessons learned

Building a software business — lessons learned by Sigasi's founder and CEO, Philippe Faes.
This was presented at the KU Leuven, Oostende to engineering students.

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Building a software business — lessons learned

  1. 1. How I built a software business (and had some fun along the way) Philippe Faes, entrepreneur geek and lava lamp owner @faes 1
  2. 2. My company 2
  3. 3. Success pitch • I am 25% shareholder • 4 ½ employees • profitable • 95% export • customers all over the world siemens, philips, ESA, bosch, and many more 3
  4. 4. But... success 4
  5. 5. success 5
  6. 6. success 6
  7. 7. we make and sell an IDE for the VHDL language IDE: integrated development environment, based on Eclipse VHDL: programming language to create digital circuits (based on ADA) What we do 7
  8. 8. extra slide: how to “program” hardware • all life (DNA) consists of A, T, G, C • all software consists of 1 and 0 • all hardware can be made with NAND a software tool called “synthesis tool” translates a VHDL file to a net of NANDs note to self: tell bad joke about Cincinatti 8
  9. 9. how we got there phd students bored with programming VHDL waiting for big companies to build a good IDE figured we’d finish the phd and start a company ( january 2008 ) 9
  10. 10. “very experienced” is just another way of saying “made all the mistakes there are to make” so, here are some matras: 10
  11. 11. 1. sales fixes everything (and lack of sales breaks everything) 11
  12. 12. 2. release early, release often if you are not a tiny bit ashamed of what you are releasing,... you are releasing it TOO LATE! 13
  13. 13. 3. features are not an asset they are a liability put differently: every feature that you build will incur a cost in training, support, maintenance and bug fixes every year for as long as you both shall live ( amen ) 14
  14. 14. 4. fake it until you make it and I mean: “until you build it” a.k.a. the mechanical turk 15
  15. 15. 5. don’t do everything yourself OK, we’re only just learning this now... • sales • marketing • website • ... 16
  16. 16. 6. if you’re going through hell, keep going • two years before we sold our first license • four years before cash flow neutral • several years with low or no paycheck • probably 10 years before investment is returned • competitors have come and gone! be prepared for a long ride. 17
  17. 17. mantras: 1. sales fixes everything 2. release early, release often 3. features are not an asset ... 4. fake it until you make it 5. don’t do everything yourself 6. if you’re going through hell ... build 18
  18. 18. but it’s fun • be my own boss * • travel the world • meet interesting people • send invoices from the provence, in shorts • inspire, convince and lead people (customers, employees, partners, investors) * put differently: I have several hundred bosses 19
  19. 19. in short... I wouldn’t miss it for the world 20