The Drupal community needs more end product builders

At Drupal Dev Days Brussel Robert Douglass talked about a DroopyAppStore. The presentation was meant to stir some discussions in the Drupal world. I'm not really a developer anymore but very interested in the business side. I have been a partner in a ISV which I have sold successfully. So I have some experience in developing an end product that enterprise customers want to buy.

Let me start with telling that making money is not a dirty deed. It's what makes the world go round. You can use it for good or for bad. This said and done lets look how we can develop a business model where we can make some money.

This piece is not about whether it is good to have a Drupal store or not, but rather how can we develop an end-product and make money from it.

The reason I haven't done any business ventures in the Drupal world except guiding a Drupal team developing is that I don't want to make money selling professional services. Hourly billing of experienced people are in a limited supply. Growth is only possible by finding more people and more consultancy work. The people for whom I do consultancy work are a great place for Drupal developers so on our market it is impossible to compete.

My goal is to build a product. Once it is finished in a 1.0 state I can sell it as many times as I can find customers for it. I have a unlimited stock!

Robert is right we have a lot of developers but the business of selling services does not scale well and only a few can grow really big. So diversification of the Drupal landscape would benefit Drupal.

One of the often mentioned obstacles is the GPL. It's not that the GPL is a bad thing but you have to get the business model right. Redhat is doing fine selling support licenses. For that money they keep the product updated, you can contact their support when you have issues and you have access to a vast source of documentation, errata, source code, forums.

Even with Redhat you can just rip it and use it. In the enterprise world this will never happen. A business critical application will never be some shady software product or even an illegal one. So if you are building an enterprise products don't be scared that others will "steal" your product and try to sell it or give it away on the black market (which, under the GPL is completely within their rights).

Now how do you want to do this without being a big corp such as Redhat? This is where Acquia has to step to the plate. What can they do?

  1. Acquia's brand can help your small ISV gain some recognition in the enterprise world.
  2. They have an existing marketing & sales network which you can leverage.
  3. They can help with your first line of support questions.
  4. But what gains my trust is the "right of first refusal" which means when a customer asks for a customization you as ISV always have first choice.