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Open source has its origins in a uniquely american solution to a uniquely american problem with strong ideological moorings in free knowledge and the access to it. A movement which began in the halls of a few american universities has since gone on to become wildly popular and has taken the world by storm. It has greatly reduced the barrier to entry for anyone trying to build software. All the unicorns we know of today have built their systems on top of open source software. Some of the best and the most widely used pieces of software are all open source.
It guarantees free access to the knowledge without taking away any of the inherent commercial value of the product. “Free” as in “free speech” not as in "Free Beer" goes the thinking. It has had great success with the first part but the second part has been a constant struggle. Over the last four decades people have experimented with different models with varying degrees of success, and as anyone in open source can attest to it even after all these years making money off open source has been a constant struggle.
We at Aviyel have been studying this very same problem for quite some time now. We’ve talked to more than 150 consumers and creators of OSS. We have spoken to Key contributors, Dev Advocates, OSS Consultants, and CTO/VP of tech startups to understand how to support and monetise the ecosystem better.
The main findings from our conversations have been summarised below, some are obvious and others not so.
A lot of contributors want to work full time on their projects, but sad to say, even if the project becomes widely popular they are unable to hit critical mass in terms of revenues. These contributors have to experiment with multiple models, and therein lies the second challenge. Choosing the right pricing and the right mix of revenue models takes a lot of time, expertise and iteration to get it right. Every project has to sort of reinvent the wheel every time. Being SaaS entrepreneurs ourselves we’ve learnt this the hard way. We’d love to talk to you and be glad help out on these aspects.
Discovery is a universal problem for any business. A lot of projects might find their initial set of users from Github, but to find your next set of paying enterprise customers is still a challenge. Understanding discovery needs a deep understanding of content distribution. Hence, most project owner’s first hire is a content/growth person because they don't have the time and the energy to master these skills.
How to effectively engage with your contributors, content creators and users, both paid and free?
How do you grow an active and vibrant community?
Two critical aspects of Community engagement is whom to engage with and how to engage.
Another issue we’ve come across is the multiplicity of the communication channels around a project. Projects have channels like Stack Overflow, jitter/slack/discord server, discourse, and Github issues. Having multiple communities at different platforms is still a challenge especially when the key contributors have limited time. Using off the shelf business tooling for community engagement has also been a challenge.
Our vision at Aviyel is to create an all-inclusive platform focused on monetising the various aspects of Open Source Softwares including but not restricted content, professional support, consulting, and licensing.
If you guys have ideas you want to discuss with us or have faced the problems we have mentioned above please reach out to us.
Please Sign up here and help us build a platform for Open Source Projects to scale, monetise, and create better communities.
We just released our Manifesto - Check it out here