While many developers are used to consuming open-source projects, or even contributing to them, few of them know the amount of work it takes to manage a community.
It’s a huge energy to deploy: writing documentation and examples, answering issues and reviewing pull requests… To Execute an open-source project in a way that satisfies the community, you need full time collaborators on it, without generating any revenue from the product directly.
We thought about it and resigned: we are too small to carry the weight of a project like this. We would never have been able to finance it from our other activities. And besides, we would like to offer our integrator partners most of our project’s benefits and not keep them for us to finance the project.
When heavy structures struggle to provide satisfying community management, and we all have some examples in mind, do you really think a company with less than 10 people could do better?
On January the 1st of 2018, we totalled more than 4000 hours of work on Front-Commerce. In invoicing terms, it’s more than our sales revenue in 2015, the year we started the project.
If our product answers a business need, why shouldn’t it become a profitable investment, while providing a quality service to our clients? For well targeted e-shops, the price of the licence should pay for itself very quickly as Front-Commerce drastically reduces development time and improves conversion rates.
Selling our product means mostly providing quality support and assuring the continuity of the solution.
Two full time developers give Front-Commerce support, answering tickets and evolving the product with new features. We aim for medium to large scale projects, and our human support method is a pretty comforting leverage for potential clients.
There is room in the market for multiple solutions, open source or not, bringing the “PWA” label and a stack of tools and libraries to build great e-stores. Anyone can choose to use a proven solution with reliable support, or to dig into an emergent open-source one.
It’s easy to launch an open-source project at first and then…tadaaaa… offer an more qualitative enterprise version later on.
As we explained, maintaining a software solution takes a lot of time, and so costs a lot. Our reasons for sticking with a commercial licence is honest and transparent. Sooner or later, our competitors may also need to find ways to finance their efforts.