Thats funny you mention WebAssembly. Someone from our team just mentioned that coming out today or something. We are pursuing its functionalities as we speak. I understand you are playing devil’s advocate, but I have a lot of hope and time as I am only taking 9 hours to finish my uni degree in finance. I think my pitch is good enough to get one or two more experienced devs that can be sold strictly on ownership stakes. What is your knowledge on patents?
Software patents are still basically the wild west — if anything about the process you’re making is unique you’ll probably be able to get a patent for it. Talk with a lawyer, you can usually find out if an idea is worth patenting without paying a huge amount (even better if you have a lawyer in the family).
You want your patent to be as general as possible while still addressing the specifics — a sweet spot that can be difficult to hit. Having a lawyer that is experienced in the specific details is huge with this (aka a lawyer that is also an engineer, etc). They often charge more, but it is almost always worth it. A patent written by someone who doesn’t understand anything about audio or software could be less than ideal.
Whatever you do, make sure your devs are accountable and document everything they do thoroughly in a repo you own. You want your Bus Factor to be as large as possible. I’ve seen startups die because senior engineers decided they wanted to actually be paid well and left, with no clear idea how to pick up where they left off. Months of development time can be lost when the team is small if you don’t manage it properly.
Did you see this post a couple months ago?
My 2 pennies about patents: like guns they are useless, unless you load them with money for lawyers.
A patent is never granted for perpetuity, it can be revoked:
a) if the other party can produce evidence that the covered subject was used in public or published in any kind of media, before the claim was registered (prior art)
b) if the patent was in fact a combination of two or more other patents, it can be called a natural development
c) even if your patent is defended each time, you only get compensation for your legal cost. It still dries out your manpower and keeps you from achieving, what you wanted to do.
A bit OT, but you asked
Go for it, definitely. But given that you have no experience or track-record in delivering real products or running a company, and since the idea itself doesn’t sound particularly original or amazing, you’re going to have a hard time convincing any investors or experienced devs to take you seriously.
My advice would be to not waste time worrying about investors or looking for other people to do the job for you, and just dive head-first into building it yourself. A convincing proof-of-concept prototype is the one thing that might demonstrate to others that you’re not just yet-another-kid-with-a-startup-idea. And even if it doesn’t make it to market, the experience gained from trying to build something and learning from your mistakes along the way is invaluable.
That makes sense. I am learning this primarily by watching the devs that I have now and picking their brain. This seems much more feasible than diving head on into some book. I agree though that it is important that I understand what is going on behind the scenes. I think this idea has a lot of potential. My main reason for moving somewhat quick is I am scared that someone will try and steal it. The idea is small right now, but if progress continues to happen in a positive direction, then I will need to start locking the hatch down. Being secretive and swift will be the name of the game. I appreciate your advice and if you want to come on as a consultant or developer we would love to have you part time. I appreciate your advice either way. I make up for my lack of experience in running a business/programming DAWs with hard work and stubbornness.
People already have this idea on the market now. Don’t worry about people stealing it, just try to make something that is better than everything else out there.
That’s a narrow view of the role of patents. Patents can be very useful in other ways. For one thing, investors like knowing that there at least the option to defend yourself in court, even if you might never use it. For example, imagine that you invent and patent something new and then Apple copies your idea. You can’t afford to sue Apple, but you can sell your patent to Google, who would probably love to have the rights to sue Apple. I believe that something like this scenario has actually happened in the recent patent wars.
In my experience, the thing that made it possible for me to have patentable ideas (of which I have about 5 split between 3 provisional patent applications) was that I was patenting the how not the what. Right now, you’re talking about what you’re going to do, but you can’t patent it because you didn’t invent the how. But if the project leads to new ideas regarding how to get things done in a way that makes them more efficient or effective or something, then it might be patentable.
Jules do you have any blogs, videos or articles about your backstory in building Tracktion? I think it would be an interesting story.
No… don’t think I have anything I could point you at. I’ve mentioned it in passing in various talks but not sure it’s such an interesting story that it’d deserve a whole article
I disagree. If I could take a guess, I would say a very significant proportion of the people on this forum are trying to emulate at least some aspects of your success and/or journey. And so, I would encourage you to consider letting us know a little bit more about it. This thread right here is evidence enough of an interest that people have in knowing what it takes to make it in this difficult sector of the tech industry
That’s absolutely true. I was speaking only from the perspective of a individual who wants to bring his/her idea to life.
In the scenario you describe, it probably made the one who filed it a little money, but didn’t help to defend their idea. So in my opinion I still wouldn’t worry too much about getting a patent other than to convince investors.
It is much more important to be quick and occupy the market in public perception with that idea. History has shown, that not the better solution wins, but the one that gets the attention (like e.g. VHS vs. Video2000).
Well, to be fair, you’re kinda looking at a subset of cases that don’t show the full picture. VHS and DVD etc were proprietary standards that were essentially created by one company who set a standard for the industry. Those examples are more similar to efforts by Steinberg to set the VST standard or to Sony and Nintendo wanting their respective consoles to be the standard for gaming. The challenge is to get both sides of the market, producers and consumers to jump on board. Therefore, speed to market and brand awareness are the most important things.
But if a company (or individual) is trying to create a consumer product, that is a different beast entirely. And there are millions of examples of people entering into a market without any patent, making a lot of cash, and then two years later the market is saturated with copycats. The original company sees their profits contract then disappear while others rake it all in.
Yes, I agree 100%. Like I said, I was focussed on the case described in the question, but I think your additions are spot on.
Well the future is looking bright for all of us
Thanks for this link. I’ll show this to my investors
I would challenge the numbers in this report to be 10x lower. Public companies like Avid publish their revenue numbers, and if that’s any indication, Pro Tools made around $40m in revenue in 2017. That would give Pro Tools currently a roughly 0.5% marketshare, assuming from the report that the 2017 DAW market is around $8bn.
I haven’t read the report so there’s something I could be missing, but the headline does not feel right.
Agreed. These numbers don’t make sense.
I’ve made a small research couple of times now. Both times I came at the conclusion that the whole Audio Software Industry (specifically for applications in Music) comes down to anywhere between $0.5b - $1b first-line yearly revenue.
The majority in that would be sales of the top DAW’s and then the plugin industry specifically is likely between $50m - $100m.
@codyrutscher Good luck with the project. I will be happy to take a look at your business plan.
I decided to get in touch with the company that created the report, and something feels off about them. I assumed it was a European or American company, but a guy calls me from India and before I even say anything he’s telling me that they’re willing to charge me the price that I have in mind. Sounded really desperate, so I tried lowballing him. I said I was expecting to pay $100. He was unhappy with the amount, so perhaps not as desperate as I thought. But was still a really unprofessional approach that made me question if they are actually a real research company or just a scam.