Christian Haidar is talking about how his company uses Smalltalk to build products - including development, marketing, and pricing. He started with a contract to build a simple chart program He built a system he called smallCharts in 3 man months over the course of a year. That went well, and the system went into production. As a result, he trademarked the term smallCharts. He then got a contract to build something similar for the parent company - so he founded a company and got the job done in a few months. He's now gotten a second contract for his new company. What did Smalltalk have to do with any of this?
- He did the project only because he could use Smalltalk
- Change requests that came from clients were quickly addressable
- The ability to explore external data sources (stock market feeds) dynamically (see this post from Bruce Badger - it's the same idea).
What's different about running a small company? Worrying about profits, dealing with people (negotiations), Organization, partners, bureaucracy (of prospects, and of your own). Small stuff - company logo, website. It has to get done :) Other things that come up - professional delivery, testing, bug tracking and support - it stops being a pet project on sourceforge and starts being a product. What about marketing?
It was easy when he had one customer. After that, it took legwork. He had to get his message out to decision makers and use word of mouth - get both himself and his product known. All the things that engineers in a large company rarely think about :) Then there's the whole problem of pricing - rental, license, what? Figuring out who the competition is isn't always as easy as you might think.
So what were his early mistakes? Lack of marketing, and an under-estimation of how long it would take to build things. Even more critical, he underestimated how long a prospect would take to make a decision.