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Future of Collabtive

General Discussion around Collabtive

Future of Collabtive

Postby Philipp » 06.05.2009, 06:30

Today i would like to discuss the future of Collabtive with you.

Since the project began, it has grown enormously in capability, size and popularity.
It has now been downloaded more than 50000 times.

The core development team has devoted very substantial amounts of time, effort and other resources.
Obviously we need to make a living, too.
As a result some ideas and discussions have popped up about how to earn some money, to support development (= support the developers ;) )

Let me very clear about one thing:
This is not about "closing off" or "completely commerzializing" Collabtive. More on this later.

I would like to discuss with you what the best road for Collabtive should be going forward.
So let me introduce the ideas discussed internally so far.

  • Raise more donations
  • Improve and extend services
  • Find a sponsor
  • Provide Collabtive as a service / Hosted Collabtive
  • Build and release a paid version of Collabtive

Raise more donations
The donations button has been on the Collabtive website pretty much since the beginning.
However, not much has ever been donated.
Maybe it would help to increase awareness of the donations option, by hinting at it more.
Maybe even integrate it into Collabtive :?:
However, i don't think donations will ever be a reliable source of income.

Improve and extend services
For some time now, we have been offering paid services around Collabtive.
The idea is to additional services, and improve the services section of the webpage.

Have a look here: http://collabtive.o-dyn.de/service.php
Which services do you think would be useful ? For which ones would you possibly pay ?
Also - What can be improved on the services page(s) itself ?

Find a sponsor
This would be another good option to generate some income:
Find a sponsor who is willing to pay some amount on a regular basis.

However, i have no idea how to go about this.
Suggestions ?

Provide Collabtive as a service / Hosted Collabtive
Idea is to have
a) a hosting plan for Collabtive
b) a completely self-served Software as a Service offering with Collabtive.

Feedback appreciated.

Build and release a paid version of Collabtive
This is maybe the most critical idea.
Idea is to build and release a paid version of Collabtive, that can be downloaded for a charge.
This version would include some additional functionality to the "free" version, to make it worthwhile.
It could also be bundled with services like installation and support.

This doesn't mean Collabtive will die as an Open Source project !
Let me be crystal clear about this:
Everything that is Open Source / Free now, will be Open Source / Free forever.
There will also always be continuous development of the Open Source / Free version, as well as regular releases.

Those releases will contain bug fixes as well as new functionality. This is our pledge to you.

Any other idea on "making money" is also highly appreciated.
Join the discussion and tell me what you think about this. :)
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Re: Future of Collabtive

Postby Jerry82 » 06.05.2009, 09:14

You'll need to offer something better than Basecamp and Activecollab. This could mean combining their strong points and eliminating their weaknesses. It could also allow for some market-breaking model introducation. As recommended by me, I strongly suggest looking at a 'zero-date' way of working. Yes, that takes a lot of planning and consideration to do right. If you feel up to it, *do* it right. Clear the floor with it, and receive the attention and payment you deserve for it.
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Re: Future of Collabtive

Postby calil » 06.05.2009, 11:24

hey Philipp, thanks for inviting the community to this topic.

Let's work in the ideas you gave:
1. Donations: forget about it. Even if you bundle a "donate now" link in Collabtive, anyone could just find it and remove. Also, it WON'T be regular.
2. Services: you could mix this idea with the paid version. It would be something like "personalize Collabtive to me". One thing you should care is: once you've published one customized Collabtive to a client, how to be sure that he won't spread that version on the internet? Maybe you should "sell" customized (that is, PAID) versions of Collabtive as a hosted version.
3. Sponsor: good, even the hosting company where you would sell hosted versions. Or a designing company, don't know. I just think that this is a good idea.

Although, I think you should plan better WHAT makes Collabtive a commercial product. As Jerry said, you have strong rivals.
All of these project management solutions are most focused on the tasks and date of the project itself. Maybe, you should ask what people need in this kind of solution that hasn't been made yet.
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Re: Future of Collabtive

Postby spiral » 06.05.2009, 11:47

I have another suggestion, related to a paid version of collabtive, but not quite:

Paid addons to collabtive.

Keep the core free, but offer enhancements (modules, plugins, addons, whatever they can be called) at a price.
This will have 3 key advantages: keep the core collabtive lean, offer people the chance to enhance their collabtive on a function-by function basis, and generate some revenue that can support the continued development of collabtive.

I, for one, am more likely to pay for a "enhanced image gallery" module (to use just any example), and a "post links to a project" module, than I'd be to pay for a version that includes that along with gannt charts, and ticket submission, which i will never use.

And all the other options (hosted collabtive, donations, services) can co-exist parallel to this.
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Re: Future of Collabtive

Postby calil » 06.05.2009, 13:12

spiral, that's a good idea. But, once again, how can Collabtive team be sure that the once sold adds won't be given in the internet?
I mean, there are lots of validation methods, but they all have weak points. And, if these adds are developed in PHP, well, they will be open source too, so any validation will die with a simple //.

Again, I think that any paid Collabtive version should be hosted.

A second thought about this add idea... well, we could evolve the customized-collabtive. Instead of customizing collabtive, you could offer two options: people could buy add-ons or they could ask for a customized add-on development.

This way, you could keep the Collabtive core and just work on add-ons. Also, you could have an add-on directory, pretty much like Wordpress plugins(http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/), jQuery plugins (http://plugins.jquery.com/) and so on.
This way, you would involve the community in your business plan.
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Re: Future of Collabtive

Postby Philipp » 06.05.2009, 15:18

calil wrote:spiral, that's a good idea. But, once again, how can Collabtive team be sure that the once sold adds won't be given in the internet?
I mean, there are lots of validation methods, but they all have weak points. And, if these adds are developed in PHP, well, they will be open source too, so any validation will die with a simple //.


This is actually two-fold.
First - > 90% of the Collabtive Sourcecode is (c) me , some other stuff is (c) eva.
All of the external stuff is "commercial friendly" licensed, e.h. BSD, LGPL, etc
In short: we own copyright to most of Collabtive.
So it wouldn't , legally, be a problem for us to release closed source addons to Collabtive.
These may then only be used legally, when you have a proper license. Of course there could be some problems with "piracy".
But you know... my intention is not to make millions out of it. ;)

So they won't be legally allowed to pass them on.
Some sort of validation system would be in place, too.

Although, I think you should plan better WHAT makes Collabtive a commercial product. As Jerry said, you have strong rivals.


I think this is one of the most interesting points, so far: What to do, to best the competition ?
Is Collabtive even "good enough" at this point to rake in some revenue, against competing products on the marketplace ?
I think being Open Source, with a low barrier to entry, is an valuable asset and we should capitalize on it.
However i guess there needs to be something "more", especially functionality wise to outdo the closed source competition.
Again, I think that any paid Collabtive version should be hosted.


Well. I guess this is a good idea.
But actually i always thought one of the strong points of Collabtive was that it was self-hosted.

So i definately want to offer a hosted version, for customers who don't want to worry to set it up themselves.
And who have enough "trust" in us with their valuable data.
To be honest, i have even started setting up a webpage for this at http://www.collabtive.de/


However, i do not want to completely "give up" on the self-hosted aspect.
So maybe offering both would be best.

This way, you would involve the community in your business plan.

This is a prime objective for me. I don't want to alienate anyone from the Community.
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Re: Future of Collabtive

Postby calil » 06.05.2009, 15:45

Phil,

About hosted x self host, I believe you should NEVER give up on the self hosted Collabtive. It's really good and "involving", let's say. If you give the users a chance to deploy a system themselves, you're saying "do it, it's harmless and easy".

I thought that the self-hosted plan was a MUST HAVE because of the piracy terms. Well, if you have the copyright and so on, you may be legally safe against people distributing paid versions, but don't forget that we are on the internet.
It may be expensive to sue everyone, and the income may not be enough.
And, if validation is hard in other languages (I develop mostly in C#), think about it in a non-compiled one.

So, what about the add-ons (plugins) idea? I really think it's interesting.
You would publish a free core (like today) and sell custom adds, as well as giving the choice to self-developed adds, inviting other developers to your system.
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Re: Future of Collabtive

Postby Gingah » 06.05.2009, 18:47

Donations won't ever pay massively enough, unless you have a well-established, massive following. People in general just like to get stuff free, and donations are only likely to come from people who recived extra help with Collabtive. As many of you suggested, a hosted version of Collabtive should exist, mainly because it would allow businesses of all sizes to use Collabtive just by paying a montly bill, rather than have a IT-guy set it up.

A sponsor really isn't a bad idea either, as many big companies actually do sponsor open source projects, and it could generate the revenue you are pursuing without having to compromise the open source principle or additions to Collabtive over time. A paid version of Collabtive however, will work against its purpose, as it will raise the question of "Is it really worth it to get the paid version rather than the free one?".

Really, I think you should immediately offer Collabtive as it is currently, and as a hosted service to companies. Also, to market yourself more directly as Collabtive rather than a subdivision of O-dyn.de, get proper domain for Collabtive and make a site where you list information about Collabtive in a more standarized way, such as pitching a overview of what it is, listing features, give a tour, provide a link to a live demonstration, tell companies how it can help them improve their work efficiency (directly targeted at what makes Collabtive better than the thousands of similiar project management systems), etc.
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Re: Future of Collabtive

Postby mloeffen » 07.05.2009, 00:37

Gingah wrote:Donations won't ever pay massively enough, unless you have a well-established, massive following. People in general just like to get stuff free, and donations are only likely to come from people who recived extra help with Collabtive. As many of you suggested, a hosted version of Collabtive should exist, mainly because it would allow businesses of all sizes to use Collabtive just by paying a montly bill, rather than have a IT-guy set it up.

A sponsor really isn't a bad idea either, as many big companies actually do sponsor open source projects, and it could generate the revenue you are pursuing without having to compromise the open source principle or additions to Collabtive over time. A paid version of Collabtive however, will work against its purpose, as it will raise the question of "Is it really worth it to get the paid version rather than the free one?".

Really, I think you should immediately offer Collabtive as it is currently, and as a hosted service to companies. Also, to market yourself more directly as Collabtive rather than a subdivision of O-dyn.de, get proper domain for Collabtive and make a site where you list information about Collabtive in a more standarized way, such as pitching a overview of what it is, listing features, give a tour, provide a link to a live demonstration, tell companies how it can help them improve their work efficiency (directly targeted at what makes Collabtive better than the thousands of similiar project management systems), etc.

Yep
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Re: Future of Collabtive

Postby Philipp » 07.05.2009, 01:36

About hosting...

As a first step:
http://collabtive.o-dyn.de/service.php :D
We'll see how it goes
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