Journey from hobby website to microbusiness

Growing further

Previous: First Cheque!


After learning things the hard way over the first few years and starting to generate enough revenue to cover the site costs, I eventually grew more confident with the site work. Still, I found that there was always something new to learn and some of them in unexpected ways.

The apps I had were mostly targeted towards engineering students. One day, after seeing the movie "The Matrix", I was wondering if the digital rain sequence can be created in Excel. I managed to do that and uploaded Digital Rain. I didn't expect much out of it, but it turned out to be very popular. The video I made showing how the digital rain effect gathered close to 7,000 views on Metacafe in a less than a week. It was a positive experience but all the same it showed how little I knew of what users want. I subsequently added more animation tools and they attracted lots of visits too. The digital Rain tool was also used by Microsoft in one of their Office shows.

 I then started of thinking of apps for engineering professionals in the industry. It is harder than creating academic apps because the academic problems are were clearly defined while industrial problems have lots of variations.

The best I could do was in the area that I was working in myself, which was process control. I built the PID Loop Simulator, which was based on some work I had done in my job a few years back. That was something I found useful for myself and I figured others would like it too. I turned to be right and this app became very popular. I recieved good feedback, some corrections and suggestions from users around the world. It is very satisfying to recieve feedback from a visitor saying that they found the content useful.

I expanded my apps to build a portfolio of tools in the instrumentation and control engineering fields, all of them well received by the site's users. The ideas mostly came from challeges I faced at my workplace. The difficult part with apps to sell is that they have to be well tested to ensure that there are no bugs. It can be hard because different users would have different machines, different Excel versions or different kinds of inputs. A thorough check is critical before putting up any software for sale.

Next: Experience with Social Media