Most entrepreneurs dream of creating a product that changes the world. The killer app that knocks out Microsoft. The gadget that revolutionizes the PC market. The design that reinvents ergonomics.
But these sorts of quantum leaps are pretty rare. The iPod might have changed the way people buy and listen to music but it wasn’t the first MP3 player or the first device to use a clickwheel. It wasn’t even the first tool to use a touchscreen interface.
It simply took what was already out there and made it better.
That’s an approach that Jumsoft is using, with its range of applications for Apple users. The company was founded in Lithuania in 2002 by a couple of brothers and their friends with goal of creating applications for the Mac OS X.
“By analyzing the Apple market we noticed that there were no simple to use and user-friendly, but still powerful, applications in some areas and we realized that we could create them by ourselves,” Algirdas Unguvaitis, the company’s General Manager told us by email.
The company’s product line now includes applications for accounting, CRM, project management and business instruments, as well as themes, templates and add-ons for Keynote, Apple’s presentation program, and Pages, its word processor. In fact, according to Jumsoft’s website, the company has positioned itself as the key provider of Keynote themes and objects, and certainly its largest product line is made up of items that do little more than make Keynote look better.
Selling to the Same Buyers
Interestingly though, while those might be the products that bring buyers in and which have made the company’s name, they aren’t the ones that sell the most. According to Algirdas, Jumsoft’s best-selling products are its Money program and its add-ons to iWork. That might suggest that once you’ve become known for one specialty, it’s not impossible to promote a different line of items to the same buyers as long as there’s a clear thread connecting them. (Apple’s line of music players might appear to have little in common with its computers, but both products are stylish and appeal to creative types; Jumsoft’s applications may pack in more functionality than its add-ons but both help Mac users get more out of Mac OS X. They’re both aimed at exactly the same market.)
Focusing the products on a small user base in this way brings another benefit. It also creates a close relationship with customers. Being early in the market meant that Jumsoft was quick to make an impression on potential buyers who welcomed its range of goods. And like many small software businesses, the company encourages reports from its buyers and acts on their comments.
“User feedback is always welcomed. They are considered and have quite a big influence in our product development,” conceded Algirdas.
Keeping it Simple
Jumsoft’s approach of creating simple products that make existing, popular items better, and keeping in close contact with its user base isn’t unique of course. iJoomla, which creates extensions for the Joomla content development system, does much the same thing. Its top-selling iJoomla Magazine, which counts the United Nations among its buyers, does little more than give Joomla users a more flexible home page and a more professional look. Its Sidebars extension, which sells for $59.95, just lets publishers add a separate space to a Web page. With perhaps the exception of Ad Agency, which lets publishers manage advertising programs on their sites, none of iJoomla’s products are particularly revolutionary.
But they all just allow Joomla’s users to get more out of the program in the same way that Jumsoft lets Apple fans get more out of Mac OS X — and most importantly, they sell.
The bottom line is that to build a small but successful software company you don’t need to come up with a program idea that’s going to change the way people work, organize their files or do anything else. The first thing you have to do is look for a way to help make it easier for people to do what they were doing anyway or let them do it better.
And the second thing you have to do is create and market the product, even when you’ve never done it before.
Algirdas pointed out that the biggest challenge in creating Jumsoft wasn’t coming up with ideas, it was that none of the team had ever started a company or had created products like these. The only way to know if the plan was going to work, he said, was to try it and see.
“[W]e had to learn many things and we overcame [the challenge] by trying and getting experience.”
[tags] mac os x [/tags]