How to build a successful and virtuous business giving away your high quality product for free. No ads, no data collection, no bait included.
Stunned, yes I was stunned right after meeting Laurent Charles and reading two short sentences he wrote on the wall, BIM! I went silent!
Could Laurent Charles CEO and co-founder of enalean really have found the solution, the holy grail of free?
No one does anything for free! No-one right? There is always a catch, as the saying goes “if it’s free you are the product” or “if it’s free you are paying with your data”, or again “it’s free but you get advertising”. Free is just a bait to lure you into an often hidden exchange where you trade in something of value to obtain your “so called free” product.
Well not so, enalean made it possible to have an healthy and virtuous business model based on free quality products and Tuleap is the best implementation I have seen. The beauty is that the model is also repeatable in different contexts.
A free virtuous cycle
Laurent and his team managed to find a unique, successful and exemplary way to deliver a high quality product in a virtuous circle where every one is a winner.
Probably you are wondering what those two sentences were… Well here they are.
If the customer does not pay, I earn money.
If the customer pays, he earns money.
Before reading on, take some time and try to imagine how this can be done…
Laurent’s company, produces a wonderful piece of software called Tuleap, arguably the best application software development suite, and it distributes the whole high quality full fledged suite for not a dime. Yes, no premium version, no advertising embedded, and no crappy quality, but a customer driven, top-level Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) software with a longterm vision.
Here is why if the customer does not pay, enalean earns money:
Tuleap being freely available, the full product with no limitations, yes yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true!, potential customers can simply download it and start testing and using it at will. Since the product is good, they will start adopting it and naturally recommending others to use it, this organically increases it’s visibility and reach. Did you notice? even though the market share is increasing, nowhere in this model I mentioned a salesman! In fact Tuleap does not employ a single salesperson, their customers are the best salesmen ever.
The more a customer uses Tuleap, the more they reduce costs, augment speed and quality of development, therefore companies have a concrete business economic value using Tuleap. It is in their interest to ensure it’s streamlined functioning and naturally come to enalean asking for support. To answer this need, Laurent started selling support following an insurance model. The beauty is that the more the customer earns money thanks to Tuleap, the more he is willing to pay to be reassured of the seamless functioning of the ALM. Hence if the customer pays, he earns money!
The insurance model
enalean invented this insurance subscription model for their business, providing peace of mind for their customers. The virtuous effect of this model is that enalean’s interest is to reduce incidents as much as possible, hence the quality of the system they develop has to be as high and reliable as possible. Customers are very happy because their production is assured and they have a quality product, but the customers who experience a problem will be even happier thanks to the top-notch support provided by enalean.
This is good, and it gets better!
How do you finance Tuleap improvements and ensure it’s evolution responding to market needs and customer satisfaction? Here comes into play enalean’s Open Roadmap™ and the mutualisation model.
A carefully studied lifecycle based on Scrum, short iterations, collective feedback and relative comparison that allows to define quite precisely the development needs (resources and time) for every new task, translating the effort and therefore the cost of development in story points.
I love it, “hello sir, how many points would you like to buy today?”
Customers who want new features to be developed subscribe to the desired number of monthly points, and can actually join forces with other customers with the same vision in order to push forward a commonly needed feature. They have total flexibility on how their points are used.
How is the roadmap established?
On a regular and frequent basis, the development team will make presentations or even prototypes of ideas submitted by the community and based on the reaction each new feature receives the feature will go in the catalog of new possible developments. Customers who are members of the mutualisation model, can drive the development by choosing what features they want to see developed via a system of “agile story points”. This is a very flexible and powerful system that allows the community to benefit of all the development while allowing paying customers to drive the features in accordance with the planned roadmap of Tuleap. This is just brilliant! I really love this model because it is a win win virtuous system very flexible and powerful.
If you are developing apps, do take a look at Tuleap and the business model that enalean has developed, which is unique, but surely not for long!
There are many ways to implement this business model on a variety of products and I would love to get your feedback if you have already implemented similar models.
Also do not miss the RMLL (Rencontres Mondiales du Logiciel Libre) Libre software meeting in Beauvais from the 4th to the 10th July, where you will find Richard Stallman, but also Gwenn Seemel and enalean with Laurent Charles and his team😉
Here a summary of the links
- Open Roadmap™
- RMLL the 16th Libre software meeting in Beauvais July 4-10th
- enalean conference at RMLL
- Richard Stallman
- Gwenn Seemel
Thanks for reading. 🙂