During my parents' last visit to Framingham, they asked how things were going with CoreBlox and I mentioned that we were excited to be releasing a free version of our channel services management solution in August. Their reaction was similar to other non-industry people I've mentioned this to:
You can't blame a parent for worrying about these things. Your kid leaves the perceived comfort and safety of the conventional workforce to start a new venture, he invests his own $ in getting it started, and now he's giving things away for nothing? How can this be good news??
Parental fears aside, the truth is this is good news. In fact it's great news. There were a number of reasons why releasing a free solution made sense for CoreBlox:
- Awareness. Plain and simple- the more companies that are using our solution, the better chance of advancing in the marketplace.
- Increased User Feedback. The more CoreBlox users we have out there, the better chance we have of understanding what they need to be successful. Whether it's reporting issues or requesting enhancements, we know there is no such thing as too much feedback.
- Advancing the Concept We Believe In. When we developed the Channel Services Management concept, we quickly understood the uphill battle we were facing. Having an original idea can be both a blessing and a curse... in our case the curse was that very few people could appreciate the power of the solution and what it could mean for their business. We're confident that the sacrifices we're making to give the solution away will be rewarded once companies realize what they've been missing.
There is another motive behind the CoreBlox Free Edition. Granted we cannot claim it is the sole reason for the solution, otherwise we'd have formed a non-profit. But the truth is we do feel an obligation to give something back to the Open Source community that has supported us so well these past 2+ years. When we founded the company in the spring of 2005, our options were very simple --> build our solution on a proprietary platform and potentially spend most (if not all!) of our seed money on licensing, or go the Open Source route and reap the benefits of a platform we could use for free. Choosing to work with the Open Source community has allowed us to form relationships with a number of passionate individuals who have welcomed us in like family and want nothing but to see us succeed. We hope our solution will continue to serve as an example of what can be accomplished with Open Source, particularly Plone & Zope. Furthermore, we're anticipating that the free release might allow other startups to get a head start on providing excellent customer support.
On the eve of our launch, I'm as excited as I've ever been about where we're headed. Mom & Dad- I hope this gives you a sense that in my line of work, the word free can be a good thing... :-)