I launched Bingo Card Creator exactly a year ago today. It has been a great year, and I succeeded wildly beyond my expectations.
Bingo Card Creator is currently being used by over a hundred paying customers (an extrapolation from how many paid versions are pinging me for updates every fortnight). Over 270 folks purchased from me. The overwhelming majority of them are happy with their purchase, and every last person who wasn’t got a refund delivered with a smile on the same day.
Bingo Card Creator has been used to teach a six year old to read, run nutritional lessons for old folks’ homes, do icebreakers at retreats for a half dozen Fortune 500 companies, teach English to adult learners in China, put a little more colour and a few more u’s in the writing of Aussie schoolkids, and been put to the paces by many, many educators. My best estimate is that somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people played a game of bingo this year using a card printed on Bingo Card Creator. (And I saved American educators upwards of $20,000 relative to buying bingo cards by the set.)
Sales for the first year were a hair under $6,500. That wildly exceeds my original expectation/goal, which was about 10 sales a month (~$250). Costs are somewhere in the $2,500 region — you can take a look at this post for a month by month breakdown. My costs relative to sales have plunged over the last few months, largely a result of only having to pay startup costs once and the fact that I’ve finally gotten over the AdWords learning curve(s). Without giving away my day job salary, suffice it to say that while my standard of living is identical my monthly retirement contribution is hundreds of dollars over what it used to be. But the money was never my big reason for doing this.
In opening a company (OK: still haven’t filed that paperwork) I joined the quirky worldwide community of uISVs, centered around the Business of Software forums and elsewhere. I got a lot of good advice and, hopefully, managed to give a bit of it too. The folks who I owe thank-yous to are too numerous to list here, but suffice it to say that drinks are on me should you ever find yourself blundering around central Japan. Folks demonstrably appreciate real live sales numbers, small though they might be, and I’ve been contacted by three folks who said I inspired them to take the plunge. What can I say: its a bit of work, a lot of fun, and beats spending your time on World of Warcraft.
As for this year, plans are to finish up finding a job/moving/etc, which is consuming most of my time at the moment, launch Kalzumeus eventually, and continue constant tweaks and improvements on Bingo Card Creator. (I was tantalizing close to my $1,000 sales goal in June, which is almost disturbing since school is out for summer and my core market shouldn’t be buying now. This makes me cautiously optimistic for sales in August, when the new term starts.)