The 1st stage of our journey - Inspiration and the first steps.
While working on a project related to the e-commerce space, we came across an open-sourced product on Github - Chatwoot.
Like many other users, we had our concerns about opting for an open-source solution. But we decided to try it out. During that phase, we found another chat-based open-source product - Papercups.
Both the products turned out extremely useful for our use cases. We started looking for more open source products across different industries and use cases.
“We realised that the open-source market has pretty good products - we just don't hear about them enough.”
This is especially true for people coming from a non-tech background.
Using the first-principles theory, we decided to dive deeper into the open-source space.
“We started exploring more products in the market, reaching out to relevant people, researching and learning more, every single day.”
The 2nd stage - Market research and starting conversations.
To better understand the space and the challenges faced by OSS companies, their potential customers and the developer community - we used primary and secondary research methods.
We connected with founders and maintainers of OSS companies, OS enthusiasts, developers, contributors, and even some businesses who have adopted or consider adopting open source solutions.
“Our first interaction was with the co-founders of Papercups - Kam Leung and Alex Reichurt. It was the perfect start as the idea originated through their product.”
A series of conversations and interviews started as we kept getting in touch with more people such as Junaid Kabani, founder of Open Source Builders, Jeffrey Luszcz (ex-NASA), Jason Bosco and Kishore Nallan, co-founders of Typesense, Nicklas Gellner, founder of Medusa (Shopify alternative), Toby Corey (ex-President at Tesla), Sumanth Puram, VP of engineering at Rudderstack, Andrew Bastin, co-founder at HoppScotch, Shebuel Inyang, community onboarding at Aviyel, Pedro Sanders, founder of Fonoster (Twilio alternative), Georg Link, co-founder of CHAOSS, Navaneeth, founder at ToolJet, Joshua Poddoku, Developer relations at Aviyel, Ruth Ikegah (GitHub star and Contributor at CHAOSS and Layer5), Chandrika Srinivasan, Sr. Product Manager at RASA, Paridhi Dixit, Sr. Product Manager at Strapi and many others.
“We got the opportunity to learn the challenges and problems faced by these products, and receive first-hand feedback on our ideas and plan of action.”
We intend to continue to keep having more conversations and shape our product roadmap based on what challenges the market is facing and what it needs.
Deductions - Challenges and Needs
The 3rd stage - Deriving actionable insights from some of the industry experts.
- The developer communicating with the merchant is the way to get in.
- No tools, resources or time to focus on outbound.
- Need to find the gatekeepers talking to the businesses.
- Streamlined distribution efforts.
“The biggest problem that I would have, and you could solve for me, is outreach. As an Open Source company, the one thing I’m not doing is reaching out directly to anyone.”
- Maintaining a healthy relationship between all the different stakeholders.
- Figuring out what to do once you join a community.
- Onboarding and guidance, as a contributor.
- Complex documentation and roadmaps.
- Recognizing, rewarding, and compensating contributors.
- Filtering tasks based on skills, experience level, and priority.
- Providing walkthroughs and simplifying the documentation.
- Access to necessary resources and an active feedback system.
“It’s not easy to navigate all the parts when you’re new to a community. It’s very important for contributors to get a tour guide.”
- Becoming known and finding customers.
- Cutting through the noise.
- Impatient contributors creating pressure on maintainers.
- Identifying security concerns.
- Vetted and verified solutions and trusted recommendations.
- Catering to reasonable user requests.
- Custom onboarding for non-tech people.
- Tracking the credibility of a contributor.
“Customers need luck and trust to find and choose COSS over proprietary. A platform that vets and endorses COSS solutions could solve that discovery problem.”
- Unstructured and scattered GitHub data.
- Communication across multiple platforms.
- Identifying the sources of the inbound traffic.
- Knowing the type of customers engaging with the content.
- Awareness of the size of the companies adopting the software.
- A centralized system for contributors, maintainers, founders, and customers.
- An easy way to test or deploy a solution.
- A dashboard to track contributions and related metrics.
- The ability to track user interactions on the READMEs.
“I feel like having a centralized place to find alternatives can be beneficial.”
- Disorganization, lack of context, minimal assistance.
- Poor user experience.
- Knowing whether there are good enough issues.
- Active and reliable mentorship.
- Engagement within the repository and project.
- Help to get diverse contributions.
- A social profile to build a presence.
- A guide to help navigate the OSS project.
“If your projects are not out there, there’s no way people will find you.”
- Better discoverability of (just) developer tools.
- Maintaining a communication channel.
- General resistance towards opting for open source.
- Assistance to solve problems at scale.
- Building familiarity through network effects.
- A system to help with the increasing workload
“It’s not enough to just have a good product; the network effect plays a huge role.”
“As software has eaten the world, open-source is eating software.”
- Peter Levine, General Partner, a16z
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