Extend and expand

What the early adopter is buying, is some kind of change agent. By being the first to implement this change in their industry, the early adopters expect to get a jump on the competition, whether from lower product costs, faster time to market, more complete customer service, or some other comparable business advantage. They expect a radical discontinuity between the old ways and the new, and they are prepared to champion this cause against entrenched resistance. Being the first, they also are prepared to bear with the inevitable bugs and glitches that accompany any innovation just coming to market.
By contrast, the early majority want to buy a productivity improvement for existing operations. They are looking to minimize the discontinuity with the old ways. They want evolution, not revolution
Geoffrey A. Moore
, in his book, “Crossing the Chasm.”

If you’re creating an OSS product and wish to turn it into a viable business, where do you start? My guess is that you’ve started because you see a problem that you feel “needs” to be solved.

But it only becomes a viable business if you can identify other organisations that:

  1. Have the problem (market research),
  2. Acknowledge that it’s a problem (market testing)
  3. Agree that your solution can solve their problem (pre-sales) and
  4. Are willing to pay you more to solve their problems than it costs for you to solve them (sales)

That’s pretty obvious right?

So let’s say that you’ve done that and you’ve already built a demonstrable product and have even made a few sales. You’re now tasked with taking the next step. What’s the first item on your to-do list?

If you have access to multiple key stakeholders at the existing customers, I’d like to ask them a few questions that give a better understanding of the psychology of why they bought (what problems is your OSS really solving, not just your perception of problems) and what do they need to add / improve in the future (what additional problems can your OSS solve for them). The aim would be to expand (existing customers) and extend (find new customers with similar psychology/problems), enhancing the product-set as you go with customer funded R&D wherever possible.

In a future blog, we’ll take a closer look into Geoffrey A Moore’s perspectives on taking any high-tech product across “the chasm” from this small initial group of customers (early adopters) to a larger customer base (the early majority), as depicted in this diagram from Ivan Kreimer’s book review.

Crossing the Chasm

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One Response

  1. Hi Ryan,
    I’ve been reading Crossing The Chasm and getting a lot from it, it’s a fantastic book.
    The book review you’ve referenced is quite good – will save me taking notes 😉
    – Evan

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