I’ve written several posts recently about creating sustainable open source projects by treating them like proper businesses - my journey for the past 5-6 years since founding Petabridge has been a quest to find a way to create sustainable, profitable business models built on top of the open source software I’ve spent the last 6-7 years developing.
The greatest obstacle to building sustainable open source businesses today is creating the infrastructure required to sell products + services; fulfill those orders; handle billing; and hardest of all - get discovered by customers. Each of these areas requires building repeatable systems in areas that are mostly unfamiliar to software developers.
The hard part of building an open source business should be creating a product users want to buy - not building the mechanisms for selling it.
And so today it’s with great pleasure that I’m announcing a first look at Sdkbin - the marketplace for software developers.
Sdkbin is meant to be a marketplace for selling NuGet packages, support plans, and in the future other types of software packages (i.e. NPM, Maven, etc):
- Independent software publishers can create storefronts for multiple products and services, with support for different licensing models;
- Sdkbin automatically handles all purchases using credit cards primarily - all metering / recurring billing is handled directly through the platform;
- When a customer makes a purchase on Sdkbin, a brand new NuGet feed specific to that customer will be provisioned on the fly with access to packages that they’ve purchased - if the customer fails to renew their subscription or pay for upgrades (depends on the licensing model chosen by the publisher,) they will lose access to their feed or they’ll lose access to future releases of the software;
- Customers will be provided with detailed invoices and spend management tools for all of the different vendors they purchase from on the Sdkbin marketplace - this is designed to make it easier for corporate procurement departments to buy products from third party vendors;
- Publishers will be provided with detailed metrics on how their products are being consumed and which ones drive revenue; and
- Most importantly - customers will be able to discover vendors in the marketplace and, eventually, see trust + service ratings on vendors.
Our target date for shipping the platform and selling our own products on Sdkbin first is July 31st 2020. We will begin the process of onboarding and adding support for third-party publishers shortly after that.
Why bother building an entire platform to sell NuGet feeds, support services, and so on? Because this has been a historically expensive problem for us at Petabridge - sales costs, i.e. the amount of labor it takes to complete and close a sale, is very high even for small purchases when BigCorp has to talk to live humans at Small Software Startup X to place the order.
When you streamline that entire process to merely entering a credit card number into a form and instantly receiving your product 24/7/365, the likelihood of closing a sale improves and the level of effort required to close it drops by multiple orders of magnitude.
The dream of Sdkbin is twofold:
- Make it possible for customers to get anything they need, any time they want and
- Make it possible for open source software developers to make money while they sleep.
We believe that by creating a platform that makes fulfillment + sales + operations fully automated, using widely-adopted standards like NuGet to deliver the product, we can achieve both of these. In the grand scheme of things, we’re making it easier to build a world powered by software and solving the open source sustainability problem in the process.
There’s a second benefit to doing this - as Sdkbin gets adopted and used more frequently by customers, the more it becomes a trusted partner to facilitate a marketplace between buyers and customers. This can ultimately help a longer tail of smaller software vendors overcome the notorious “corporate procurement department” problem - because in this case, the party sitting in the middle of the transaction is highly trustworthy and can resolve disputes on the behalf of the customer or the publisher.
How can I get started?
The first step, is to sign up for the Sdkbin mailing list and to fill out our Sdkbin Publisher Survey - the latter will help direct the Sdkbin product roadmap, and the former will allow you to receive updates to it.