Skip to main content
  1. Projects/
  2. Starting Up/
  3. Notes on "Start Small, Stay-Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup"/

Walling on Your Product

·3 mins

How much energy should you pour into it?

  • A brilliant product with no market or execution is dead
  • A mediocre product with brilliant marketing and execution will make you money
  • Once you know you have a market and can execute, then you can improve your product
  • Hiring out construction of your product is a viable option
  • Your path to version 1.0 should fall between 200 and 400 hours
  • If you’re over 400 hours, take a serious look at eliminating functionality to shorten your time to launch
  • Sales website, documentation, marketing, and everything else will be 100-200 hours
  • Ask yourself if you have confidence in your product idea and in your ability to market it

Consider Outsourcing Construction

  • If you’re coding in your spare time, it will be a stretch to get 15 hours of productive work in per week
  • At 15 hours per week, 300 hours means 20 weeks of your free time, or 4.5 months
    • At 550 hours you’re looking at 8.5 months
  • Building your own application is more likely to lead to burnout and an early decision to quit
    • If you have a few thousand dollars set aside, you should consider hiring out development
  • Stepping away from the code will increase your chance of launching
  • The advantage of hiring out is it gives you time to:
    • Write copy, write documentation, focus on SEO
    • Set up PPC advertising, hook up payment processing, etc.
  • If you have some basic project management skills and can scrape $7k together, you can:
    • save yourself a few hundred hours of coding,
    • get to market faster, and…
    • focus more time on marketing


(Please remember that Walling’s book was released in 2010)

  • For products that aren’t going to make or save someone money,
    • You’re going to have a tough time charging more than $29 once
    • …or $14/month
  • For consumer products that will make or save someone money,
    • You’re going to top out around $49 flat, or $19/month
  • For small businesses, you’re going to top out around $400 or $99/month
    • …unless you solve a serious pain
  • Get a sense of your market and of the price it will bear
  • Find out how software is typically purchased by your buyers,
    • …how they will pay for it, and
    • …how much they can purchase without approval
  • Compare to similar markets
  • Lean towards higher pricing. Developers tend to undervalue their software
  • Use three tiers
    • Multiply by 2 for your middle tier
    • Multiply your middle tier by 2 for the top tier
    • Make each of your three prices (the dollar column) end in a 7, 8 or 9 and be sure they all end with the same number
    • Ensure that as your price doubles from tier to tier,
      • …you provide more than double the benefit
  • Don’t be confident in your numbers until you’ve tested them
  • You should test your pricing to determine how far you can push it
  • If your sales cycle is less than 1 week, change your pricing without notifying anyone
    • Leave it running for 1-2 weeks, and compare your results


  • Advantage of marketplaces:
    • High likelihood that users will accidentally discover your application
  • There is still a thriving need for desktop applications in several areas
  • Plugging functionality holes in the application of a major vendor will eventually backfire should the vendor incorporate your functionality into the main application