Heartfelt Story Of A Software Startup

I operate mainly on the Mac platform these days, having made the transition from Windows about 6 years ago. I was attracted partly by the elegance of the operating system (Windows was so damn clunky) as well as the wealth of innovative, unusual and often free applications.

In particular, applications for note taking. This may seem quite an esoteric niche but in all my consultancy and research work I found that taking ‘smart’ notes was something that easily repaid itself.

When I first joined the Mac community there weren’t too many note-taking programmes, now there’s a veritable flood.

In no particular order I’ve bought: Circus Ponies Notebook, MacJournal, Curio, Tinderbox, DEVONthink, Evernote (free version available), Omnioutliner as well as a few others. They all do very good note-taking.

In this category there is also Journler which was originally quite a rising star although sadly it has recently (formally) expired. So what went wrong, especially as Journler still does a really good job if you fire it up now?

journlerScreenshot Of Journler

There’s a heartfelt explanation here – this is an extract:

I attribute the downfall of Journler to its success. As the number of users grew so too did the problems. In response to feature requests the program’s code became exceedingly complex. Bloat crept in. The volume of emails increased to a level I was not able to manage. The forum exploded with activity and I was no longer able to read let alone address every post. The support requirements were becoming too much. I would spend hours helping a user with damaged data. It would take me days to track down an esoteric bug a single user was experiencing which I could not reproduce. I could easily spend all my time on support alone. I needed to hire extra help but was in something of a bind. I was still not charging for the application. I had in fact promised that I would never charge for Journler. But as my job ended I broke that promise and began explicitly to request that users purchase the program.

It’s illuminating to read the whole article, especially in conjunction with a previous post on this blog. A new business is a scary and frustrating place to be, expecially the financial and management aspects!


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