Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Money: The Current Situation

For now, FromThePage has followed the classic funding model of the basement inventor: The lone developer — me — holds a day job and works on the project in his spare time. This presents some challenges:
  1. At times my job occupies all my spare time and energy, so I accomplish nothing whatsoever on the project for months on end. This is no tragedy, as the job is really very rewarding. However, it certainly doesn't get FromThePage out the door.
  2. At other times, commitments to family and other projects occupy my spare time and energy, to the same effect.
  3. In the best of cases, development is throttled by my spare time. For a father working full-time, this means I can devote a sustainable maximum of 10 hours per week to my project. A spike in development to meet a deadline might raise that to two months' worth of 30 hours-a-week, which would exhaust the resources of my wife, daughter, in-laws, and myself. For developers not blessed with a spouse who is as capable and willing to develop web-apps as mine, this number would be lower. The recent, blazing rate of progress has been due largely to a configuration of family and work commitments optimal to project development — attending a couple of out-of-town weddings in a row would kill it.
  4. This limitation may not only slow the pace of development, it may prevent some necessary tasks. If I do a launch with a large number of active users, I'll probably need to take a week or two off work to deal with the demands that presents. Avoiding an abrupt vacation request will force me into a more gradual launch schedule.
All these constraints present some real opportunities as well. I've found myself quite a bit more effective per hour of coding time than I would be if this were a full time job. I suppose that's attributable to my awareness that each hour of FromThePage development is precious and shouldn't be wasted, combined with the ability to spend hours planning my work while I'm driving, cooking, or riding the elevator. The slow release schedule may force me to do effective usability studies, slowing down the cycle between user feedback and its implementation.

Next: The Alternatives

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