What happens when you quit your day job to work on OSS

Presented by Andrew Cooks
Wednesday 2:35 p.m.–3:20 p.m. in Collaborative Lecture Theatre CB11.00.405
Target audience: Business

Abstract

Who doesn't dream of being a hero who makes a real difference and puts a ding in the world with an free/open source project? Few people get the opportunity to try that and even fewer are mad enough to tell the world about how they took the leap and failed. This talk is about my year of pursuing a business that not only relies on free/open source software, but one that creates free, open software in a transparent and collaborative way. My presentation is aimed at technical people who are curious about, or considering starting a business. It covers some of the lessons learned from bootstrapping a new self-sufficient free/open source project. In this talk I'll cover: * What compelled me to do this and what was 'the problem to solve'? * How did I expect to earn income? * When and why did I quit my day job? (how to distinguish between a hobby project and a business) * Is there a conflict between community-building and profit-seeking? * How can we mitigate the risk and burden of IP, copyright and all that jazz and get back to solving technical problems? * How do you know who your customers are? (Your itch is not everyone else's itch.) * What kind of financial planning and support made this possible and could I try again? * Where did I find help? * What did a typical day look like? * What were some of the main challenges and obstacles I faced? * Who do I look to for inspiration and examples of success? * Is going solo complete madness? Did I have to wear my underpants on the outside? * When/why did I stop and go back to a day job? * How did this project make me a more attractive employee? * What is it like to be an employee again? * Would I do it again or would I recommend it to anyone else? The aim of this presentation is to offer encouragement and to point out potential pitfalls of starting an open source software business. However, this talk should not be taken as business advice.

Presented by

Andrew Cooks

Andy is an embedded systems developer, with full-stack experience ranging from bare metal embedded systems to JavaScript front-end code. His career started with Linux system administration and took a detour to web application development, before arriving at kernel and embedded development as a defence contractor. Moving to Australia in 2011, Andy's career hit a roadblock which simultaneously provided the opportunity and motivation to 'have a go'. As a result, he founded a start-up to solve buffering and stuttering problems in connected applications. Today he is an employee again - that is really what the presentation is about. Born in South Africa, Andy co-founded a Linux user group at the University of Pretoria in 2001. Ten years later he became an active PLUG member, but Brisbane is where he became Australian and is currently building a home. When he is not doing computer things, he enjoys wildlife photography, rock climbing and mountain biking.