Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Hot Dog Stand of Software

Air to Aft Torpedo RoomI ran into my old friend Jim yesterday. We talked a bit about starting a software business. What, he wondered, was the software equivalent of a hot dog stand?

Jim believes that a good business should be scalable. In the hot dog business, you might start with one stand. Some hot dogs get sold at the park or downtown, so you save money, get another cart, and hire a second employee. Now you have twice the revenue.

Eventually, you might open a hot dog restaurant somewhere. Then you might open a second one in Round Rock. Maybe one in Houston. Then one in Seattle, one in Tampa, and one for the rich pirates in Haradheere. Next thing you know, you own a hot dog empire!

I suggested, without thinking much, that developing an iPhone app is the software equivalent of a hot dog stand. You make one app, then two apps, then you hire someone, create a third app. Then maybe you make an internet application or a desktop app.

I don't know for sure though. Becoming an iPhone developer only costs $99, so it might be even better than a hot dog stand in terms of initial capital. Starting an internet application probably costs only tens of dollars a month, so I think that's a good hot dog stand too.

Are there any good stories out there about scaling a one to two man iPhone app business up to a larger company? I know there are one or two good stories out there on taking an internet application business to a pretty big scale. Maybe you've heard of Google?