New software developers often choose to earn their chops coding for large companies and learning the ins and outs of being a professional developer. Some developers will choose to go out on their own as an independent software vendor (ISV), an entrepreneur, or to create a startup company. While there is a great deal of overlap between these three paths, some difference in perception remains. If you’re considering your next steps in software development, explore the three groups most commonly associated with independent software developers.
Independent Software Vendors (ISV)
A focus on a business vertical is the hallmark of many ISVs. These developers and their companies often find success building software that is highly specialized. These specialized types of software are often more valuable than general software. ISVs often come to this line of work through experience in the vertical and recognize a problem that could be solved by the software they begin creating. Many large corporations have partnership programs with ISVs that will help the developers build software that solves an industry-wide problem. Intel supports ISVs and software partners in the Intel® Developer Zone, where ISVs have access to news, tips, and Intel experts who assist with development and help ISVs stay ahead of new technology.
These are the guys with the vision, and the ones who often take the greatest risk when pursuing a new business idea. Entrepreneurs are often creating a product that no one has ever created before and the risks are certainly in relation to the rewards. Many entrepreneurs begin by coding, learn from their experiences at other corporations, and then pursue that idea that’s been gnawing at them for years. The entrepreneur must be comfortable performing all of the tasks of running a business, including the strategic thinking, marketing, and the nuts and bolts of building and getting a product to market. Have a look at Entrepreneur magazine’s “25 Essential Entrepreneur Resources.”
An entrepreneur might create a startup. And a startup might also be an ISV, but a startup could also create something besides software. Startups might be creating a new product, but their ultimate goal is to create a scalable business, and then, of course, grow the business. Like entrepreneurs, the risk is relational to the reward. Startups are often initially funded by the founder (or entrepreneur) and then begin seeking investment. The Intel® Capital group explores investment opportunities with ISVs and startups. In most major cities, startups have their own communities where members can seek support from each other. If you’re considering going down this path, attend a startup networking group to learn about their challenges and successes firsthand. For more advice on creating a startup, visit SCORE, a nonprofit association that helps small business grow.
Regardless of the path a developer chooses, having a great product helps the odds of success. Does the software you want to build solve a problem in your life? Can you create a functional version of the software you’re daydreaming about? Will creating this software truly help others? Take time to explore the answers, and then determine which path suits your personality, experience, and product.