The biggest opportunities for micro ISV’s today exist in finding a niche that isn’t being filled by one of the big software companies. The best part is that many of these companies are betting that you’ll do exactly that.
Several companies such as eBay, PayPal, Salesforce.com and Amazon are now offering API’s and web services access to developers for the specific purpose of creating add-on solutions. The benefits for both sides can be immense in that a small company can leverage the bigger company’s infrastructure and marketing machine to create a viable business in a very short time. The bigger company gets increased functionality that can be marketed to new and existing customers and also gets a network of developers evangelizing their platform.
Because most big software companies design applications to appeal to as many people as possible, many small software companies and micro ISV’s are able to find a niche by adding features that don’t currently exist or by developing a complementary product. A recent Business 2.o article highlights several companies that were purchased because of the success they had in filling such a niche. According to the article, Symantec employs a group whose job is to find companies to acquire. In the past year, they have “been making an acquisition every two months, usually of startups barely out of the garage stage.” By acquiring a small software company, startup costs and risk can be decreased significantly. Especially if the product already has a small but established user base.
As technology grows and matures, niche opportunities are going to become more and more prevalent. Those who recognize these opportunities will be able to become the next success stories in the software industry. The key is simply to get started. Look at what you do on a day to day basis that causes you to say “I wish this software could…”. Those are the magic words that should get the ball rolling.