If you wanted to build a mobile app based business in 2005 you faced a near-impossible challenge. My father, a doctor, used Epocrates, a very expensive app which could deliver medication dosage information to his Treo. Meanwhile I was playing Space Trader which I had downloaded for free. That was the extent of the mobile app marketplace before Apple made app installation easy.
“A marketplace that would make it possible for a developer to build something amazing one day, and have it on millions of paying sites the next”
That is the phase we are currently in when we look at SaaS businesses which are looking to get something installed onto a website. Companies like Disqus, GoSquared, or Appcues. They can give their tools away for free and use advertising or data sales to make money. Or they can leave small businesses behind by targeting the enterprises who can pay enough to make their high-touch sales process worthwhile. One thing they can’t do is sell their tool to the millions of small businesses who have websites.
“Small business don’t pay” is the common refrain we hear. Of course, no one paid for mobile apps before the iPhone, and no one paid for digital music before the iPod. What we need is a usable marketplace, a way that small businesses can find, purchase, and install, these tools without being technical. If we had that it would be possible for a developer to build something amazing one day, and have it on millions of paying sites the next on the strength of its reviews and reception, not its sales team and marketing budget. There would be a real way of making money writing code which makes websites better. This is what we’re trying to do at Eager.