Last week we organized the first Open Source and DevTools Founders Meetup. We carefully selected the place that provided privacy and a distraction-free environment. We spend a lot of time together, doing workshops, and enjoying lunch and dinner. It was an amazing opportunity to share knowledge about building open source products.

Summary of the first Open Source and DevTolls Founders Meetup

We collected some notes from the first meeting, which we would like to share with you:

  1. In some corporations, there is a ban for every open-source license other than MIT. It’s just too complicated for the legal dep to figure out the terms of every single license.
  2. A CLA (Contributor License Agreement) is crucial if you sell to large companies. There are situations when a large company will audit your code. We hear case studies of problematic situations arising from code copied from StackOverflow or from a contributor not responding to email when we don’t have formal agreement to use his or her code.
  3. For CLA there are some good benchmarks that you can follow.
  4. Large clients understand the need to pay for certain things: security features, features that will help with scaling
  5. GPL license helps you sell commercial licenses. Companies aren’t happy with GPL rules and are open to buying a commercial license. This is easier with GPL than with MIT.
  6. AGPL is called an anti-saas anti-cloud license and it is stopping cloud companies from competing with OS creators. 
  7. Some OS companies needed to close their OS projects to help grow business.
  8. It’s probably easier (at least at the beginning) to monetize on business open-source projects than for-developers libraries.
  9. Companies from the US are more careful about licenses than companies from Europe.
  10. A source-available license is an interesting concept. In this case, you can use code to check it but you can’t use it on the production.
  11. The Sitecore model of selling is interesting.  It shares small events for agencies and clients. 
  12. Marketing as you develop ideas can be extremely effective. If you act fast, you can produce content that will attract a lot of traffic around topics you touch, then you can re-direct this traffic to your product. We heard about some examples of single blog posts generating 200+ product accounts.
  13. Try to test your idea at an early stage. Seeing the community reaction – even when the project is just at the beginning – is priceless later.
  14. Only subscription-based licenses make sense in the long term. Selling a perpetual license will always come back to bite you. 
  15. In a perpetual license, selling updates is a nightmare. It’s not only the cost of the license, but it’s actually the cost of work needed to update the software that holds companies back.
  16. Another marketing idea that works is thinking you can super-charge the career path of your clients and offer them help. Can you help put them in the light and drive promotion by providing a blog post or case study, or even ghost-writing something for them? 
  17. And lastly, a nice internationalization tip, think about the Chinese and Russian language versions of your documentation/product page. 

Projects that were represented during the first meetup:

Sylius – Open Source eCommerce Platform on Symfony.

MDBootstrapthe most popular UI KIT for building responsive, mobile-first websites and apps – free for personal & commercial use. – library for building forms from any schema.

CKEditor – innovative rich text editing solution.

Handsontable – minimalistic, Excel-like grid component for web apps.

GraphQL Editor – a supportive tool for GraphQL users.

React Native – mobile application framework. 

Membrane Framework –  Reliable & scalable multimedia streaming.

Vue Storefrontultrafast, offline-ready and platform-agnostic Progressive Web App. Always free and open source under the MIT license.

Open Source and DevTools Founders Meetup vol. 2 – join us!

We now plan to organize something like this on a European level. The idea is to spend a day somewhere close to Berlin. 

Selection criteria (select just one):

  • The project is fast-growing – 3K GitHub stars or more
  • The revenue from the product is 1 M euro or more

If you are an open-source founder, feel free to reach out to me via Linkedin!

Tomasz Karwatka

Supervisory Board Member at Divante. Leading industry voice who believes eCommerce can improve our world. Co-founder of Vue Storefront and Open Loyalty, angel investor, and founder of Tech To The Rescue. CEO at Divante eCommerce Technology Company | LinkedIn | Twitter

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