Thursday, September 20, 2007

Money: Projected Costs

What are the costs involved making FromThePage a going concern? I see these five classes of costs:
  • DNS
  • Initial hosting bills
  • Marginal hosting fees associated with disk usage, cpu usage, or bandwidth served
  • Labor by people with skills neither Sara nor I possess
  • Labor by people with skills that Sara or I do possess, but do not have time or energy to spend
I can predict the first two with some degree of accuracy. I've already paid for a domain name, and the hosting provider I'm inclined towards costs around $20/month. When it comes to the cost of hosting other people's works for transcription, however, I have no idea at all what to expect.

I have started reading about start-up costs, and this week I listened to the SXSW panel "Barenaked App: The Figures Behind the Top Web Apps" (podcast, slides). What I find distressing about this panel is that the figures involved are so large: $20,000-$200,000 to build an application that costs $2000-$8000 per month for hardware and hosting! It's hard to figure out how comparable my own situation is to these companies, since I don't even have a paid host yet.

This big unknown is yet another argument for a slow rollout — not only will alpha testers supply feedback about bugs and usability, the usage patterns for their collections will give me data to figure out how much an n-page collection with m volunteers is likely to increase my costs. That should provide about half of the data I need to decide on a non-commercial open-source model versus a purely-hosted model.

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