How to start a software company?


I have an idea in my mind, for this idea I want to invest more time and money in making it a fully developed product.

So far, whatever small software products I have created are for a small niche and with only me developing that software. Now I have some software in mind that will be for a larger user base and large enough to include other people, and I will be the first customer of it (manufacturing is my prime business).

How and where should I start? What elements are needed within

  • People
  • Office

  • Location
  • Software Developing
  • Software release and Sales?

Any first hand experience is also welcome.


asked Jan 4 '11 at 00:18
221 points
  • I'd recommend you to read Running Lean, IMO much more practical guide that Lean Startup – Spc 11 years ago

8 Answers


Build a prototype and demo. Then show it to people.

It'll help you "get it out of your head" and start turning it into something real.

answered Jan 4 '11 at 01:24
Ben Edwards
601 points


Everyone here gave you good advice, but they missed an important part. To make money selling software you have to:

  1. Write software that someone wants to buy
  2. Build a company to sell the software and service it
  3. Market/sell the software
Many software developers are good at points 1 and 2. Very few can do part 3. Writing the best software in the world isn't going to help you if you can't sell it. If 3) isn't part of your nature, make sure to find someone who can do it for you.
answered Jan 4 '11 at 14:44
Gary E
12,510 points
  • +1 Marketing is crucial – Susan Jones 13 years ago
  • In my experience Marketing is more important than the product ... – Stighy 13 years ago
  • +1 Marketing is in fact crucial. – Bhargav Patel 11 years ago


If it solves your own problem, and it sounds like it does, write it for yourself first and use it. Then show it to others and get their feedback. When you do, realize you're selling it to them, with the customizations they mention. Once you have a contract to build a custom version, hire others or get another entrepreneurial spirit on board to help develop it.

answered Jan 4 '11 at 02:59
John Franklin
261 points
  • +1 Start with stuff you know - it's a lot easier than stuff you don't know and the expert is cheaper to hire. – Cad Bloke 12 years ago


I used to work for a startup some years ago and here is what I learned :

Never forget you will have to deal with two different things : the software part and the company part. A good developer isn't automatically good at running a company and vice-versa as very different skills are implied.

As a general advice : do something clever and really useful, be user-oriented, tell people (trusty ones at first) what you're doing and show them your work, develop your network, work with trustworthy people, ask for legal advice, speak about money later (but don't forget to) once people are interested in your products or services.

And use your common-sense : do not follow any advice unless you understand how useful it will be for you !

The startup I talked about still don't have offices nor full-time hired people, I do not think this is the most important part.

answered Jan 4 '11 at 04:08
Maxime R.
181 points
  • +1 for the software part and the business part! – Susan Jones 13 years ago
  • Trustly ones? Everything except that part, I agree with. Reason: No one will steal your idea, no one cares. – Bhargav Patel 11 years ago
  • Well, at that time I wasn't building webapps for everyone where you want to tell the world about it. When working in finance or for governments, you may want to be careful in your communication. But as I said, don't take my word for it ! – Maxime R. 11 years ago


No one here is going to give you a magic formula. Learn from your mistakes, pivot. Your hypothesis will be wrong many times, but how you "pivot" will make or break you.

Here is what I would do

  1. Make a list of stuff that bothers me and something that can be simplified by making an application/software
  2. Eliminate by asking people or by thinking how many people would PAY FOR/BUY each of those solutions you provide. Pick one.
  3. Make a MINIMAL demo of what you can do.
  4. Start selling it, start marketing, SEO all that jazz, get feedback.
  5. Learn from feedback and then PIVOT.
  6. Grow

Here is what I would NOT do Worry about..

  • People
  • Office
  • Location
  • Software release and Sales

This is because none of that is NEEDED for you to get started. Always start lean, do as much as you can. When you cannot work on your own, hire people. Get freelancers, not permanent people. You can do 90% of your own work at least due to the size of your company (ONE person).

answered Aug 2 '12 at 07:11
Bhargav Patel
784 points


I started a software company - currently it's just me with a computer and an internet connection in my spare bedroom and for years I only worked on my products at nights and weekends.

My software company is making money - and making more money every month - but still not as much as I can get working full time in a larger company.

So, from my experience, all you need to start a software company is:

  1. A computer, an internet connection and the ability to develop software
  2. To complete whatever paperwork is required in your country to start a company

Now, to make a profitable software company you also need:

  1. To build software people want
  2. To find a way to let those people know you are selling the software they want (and to convince them to buy it from you)
  3. A way to continue getting money from your customers long after the initial sale is over (alternatively, you can find a way to get an endless supply of new customers - but this is extremely difficult and costly)

And you need to be able to do those 3 things for less money than you charge your customers

answered Aug 2 '12 at 06:34
1,569 points


I, like you, had to deal with the same problem when I started few years ago. I made some mistake (and I'm still making new ones, but that's ok).

You asked: " How & where should I start ? "; do this, read this book:

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It links: first paragraph from publisher site & authorized book summary (pdf format) When I finally read this book, I realized that this could have saved me so much trouble and avoid so many mistakes. Read the first 3 chapters - you'll get the idea.

answered Jan 29 '12 at 03:52
250 points


I would also recommend reading The Lean Startup. It's short, cheap (15 US$ I think), and has changed the way I see things. But I think the most important thing is to build something small get out of the building.

If you have money to start hiring people and office, I would recommend to take a moment and elaborate a good plan. It's pretty easy to throw money away without a plan. And the first part of that plan should be -like they have already told you- to build a small prototype that you can show. Read a few books about the subject too.

answered Jan 29 '12 at 06:04
117 points

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