I was speaking to Michael Fountain on a 30 minute coaching call, which he qualified for as a bonus because he purchased a product via my affiliate link recently, and he happened to mention his previous life as a software developer.
It turns out Michael was one of the co-founders of ModernBill, a billing platform primarily used by hosting companies. This was very interesting to me because I knew ModernBill from my previous business back in the early 2000s as a web host reseller.
I never made huge money with web-hosting, but for a while, I hosted a handful of sites and did some very basic website design work while I was at university. During that time I spent a lot of hours inside the WebHostingTalk Forums, where I learned a ton about hosting. ModernBill was always the top recommendation when it came to billing customers and in fact, many of the hosting fees I paid back then went through this software.
I asked Michael what happened to ModernBill and he explained that he sold it off to a company called Parallels a few years ago, which was the company behind the PLESK server control panel, which I also used on all my reselling accounts back then.
How To Start A Software Company
This interview is all about how to start a software company while working a full-time job, grow it to over 20 employees, then sell it off with a nice exit paycheck.
Here’s what I found really interesting about Michael’s story:
- This is yet another start-up success story that began simply because a person had experienced a need, built a solution, then thought other people might need the solution as well, so started selling it
- Michael was part of a partnership, where two people with very different skills were able to come together and compliment each other and build a solid company
- ModernBill grew very quickly because it was first to offer a product in the web host billing market and Michael was very diligent, quickly adding new features requested by his customers
- Michael and his partner hired new staff as needs grew, filling roles as they became apparent, making for a very organic growth process
- Being passionate about what you do, and experiencing the same thing your customer experiences is a great combination because you know the problem intimately and have the skills to build the solution yourself
- Finding the right strategic partners was critical for creating new sources of revenue as the company expanded beyond just the software
- When it came time to sell the buyer surfaced from within the existing community Michael was a part of, so maintaining a connection to the industry you work in is very important