A introduction made recently via email asks me 3 questions about ArcShell. My answers below. You can follow or connect with me on LinkedIn. That is also a good way to contact me. I reply to quickly.
“Is this something that would function as part of a greater solution aka AWS?”
Shell scripts and command line tooling are prevalent aspects of any technology associated with Linux/Unix. Although products like Kubernetes, Ansible, Docker, and various cloud platforms have done a lot to eliminate the complexities of provisioning via scripts, scripts are still required. ArcShell makes scripting feel much more like it is part of the greater whole. So instead of deploying X, Y, and Z using a bunch of loosely coupled hard to maintain scripts we (and our customers) build solutions that are re-usable, documented, and easily distributed. Beyond provisioning (the emphasis with many popular products) ArcShell also takes application management into consideration (monitoring, alerting, command line interfaces for products lacking decent command line interfaces).
“Are you generating revenue?”
Although I have a few attempts at launching in 2018 I would only count my last attempt (November 2018) as an actual launch. My emphasis for the next 4–8 weeks is working towards a clearer picture of product market fit. To do that I am on-boarding “ArcShell Insiders” who obtain a free license in return for feedback. I am seeking information to better understand where my product’s strengths are from the market’s perspective.
The product (as you state) is highly technical and as such is not easy to market. Enterprise customers expect training, massive amounts of documentation, a large existing user base, and 24 by 7 support. Enterprise sales cycles are long and expensive. See the book the Innovators Dilemma for more here. Our Insider program is far more likely to identify the 2% of companies that are actually innovators or slightly larger % who are early buyers of innovation. Using the feedback from our insiders we should be able to better target the niches we identify here.
In my current state (single founder) I am leaning towards a self-service model. Pricing will be less but it enables me to spend more resources on product and less on a lengthy sales engagements. If a partner comes a long and is well suited for an enterprise approach, I am open to it, I just don’t want to do it personally, at least not often.
In the meantime I am available for consulting that aligns well with the product (even using the product if the client so desires). I have one immediate opportunity currently on the table. For me it is a win-win. Needed income and a chance to build libraries for products like GitLab, Kubernetes, and Docker using ArcShell. These modules will be available for future customers. There are many market opportunities solving problems using ArcShell in these areas.
Do you have plans/ideas/visions for the future of the business, strategically speaking?
Survival. Development of the “whole product”. Building out a user/customer base.
I have self-funded for 2 years. I have at least another year of life in Arclogic Software at my current spend and with a few customers or modest consulting income can easily secure another year or two.
I plan to continue promoting the product and building out features. I will be working to on-board customers and find a product market fit as early as possible. I have many leads to work here. My time is often the primary constraint in everything.
Finally I will work on a possible 2019 exit/partnership strategy although I am quite happy to remain in full control of the product.
Without getting into too much detail here, there are a couple immediate buyer profiles of ArcShell intellectual property that I see as having the greatest possibilities.
One would be a company seeking to use an “open-source” promotion model to sell it’s other services/products. Software companies giving away “free” products often have access to markets otherwise not immediately accessible. Companies like RedHat and HashiCorp have access to user groups, conference venues and more because they offer “free” software and can then also talk about their other paid offerings. To be clear, ArcShell is not open-source, but I believe it would make a great candidate for an open-source business model given resources to capitalize upon it.
Another profile I have in mind is mid-size consulting services companies who wants to do either the above, or keep the product in house and build/distribute unique capabilities that distinguish their brand in a rather bland/crowded marketplace. I have 20+ years of experience in this market and understand the complexities particular to large multi-customer consulting companies. ArcShell is well suited to rapidly build and deploy solutions in these environments and to capitalize on those solutions in a number of ways.