BUSINESS

In Which I Spend Money

I just bought the server for the Web Thing. It was $650 after shipping, $600 for the parts. I think I did a good job of picking semi-inexpensive parts without going cheap and sacrificing performance. I got Fedora Linux installed over the weekend and initial unscientific testing (using Folding@Home) shows that I got a very nice machine for the money. Parts list after the post. So my real-money expenses for the project so far is $600. If I decide to do a real LLC (I still need to talk to some people about that option versus just doing a sole-proprietor business) that'll be another $200 or so through Quicken's MyCorporation.com. So under $1000 in real "just get going" costs. I've got a hookup for some temporary bandwidth for beta testing purposes and I found what looks like a good place to host the server for cheap ($60 a month). I'm sure I'm missing things that a bigger company would do with more money but I'm going super cheap and I'll learn as I go. One of my favorite phrases is from the director Robert Rodriguez. He says that having a lot of money means you can point the "Money Hose" at problems to wash them away. With no Money Hose, you have to be creative and learn as you go.

This post on the 37Signals weblog is a breakdown of costs that a company called Carson Systems incurred launching their web product, DropSend. It's cool to see somebody break this stuff down like this but it's also a bit discouraging. He spent $45K on his stuff. There are differences though. He paid other people to do all the development and I'm doing mine myself. He also pays $900 a month for a company to host the server and build the infrastructure which I don't need right now (if I have to build a big infrastructure at some point that'll be a good problem). His product is way different than my site will be so I can take comfort in the fact that I don't need $45K to get my stuff launched.

If I get this thing launched I'd like to be in the position to encourage other programmers to develop their own products. We always hear how you need $50,000 to get anything going and that's just not feasible for a lot of people. It just isn't. If I have 1/10th of that in the bank I think "I'm rich!" I think it keeps a lot of people from doing something they want, and that's not right. I can get a ton of advice from the net and from people I know. I can register a company, shop for hosting, do all the stuff I think you need to do to get started, all for very little money. The resources are out there. Of course I'm just learning all this stuff right now myself so I don't know what I don't know but if it works it'll be great. In six months or a year I'd love to be able to give a talk about what I learned and how I made this work for no money. I'd love to encourage more programmers to strike out on their own and make their own products happen for themselves.

Server parts list (everything bought from Newegg.com except the case):
Motherboard: ASUS A8N-VM CSM - $79
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Venice
RAM: CORSAIR ValueSelect 2GB
Hard drives: Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 SATA2 160GB
Case: 2U rackmount with 400w power supply