Our Drupal Product Manifesto
Recently, Karen of Phase2, eloquently wrote up, what her vision of the future of Drupal products is. It is a marketplace that is community-owned, behaviour is ethical and does not subvert the open source ethos, and community contributions (as in contributions to the Drupal project and its modules) are highly valued and measured.
I am not going to go into the merits of this approach. I do have concerns that stem from the amount of social engineering required to set up such an appstore but I am happy to discuss and educate myself on how it might work.
However, I would like to highlight that there is a different approach that has nothing to do about engineering appstores but everything to do with building products. So without further adiue - here goes. This is how we are doing it:
1. It is not about Drupal - it is about solving a problem.
If you are building a Drupal product because Drupal is really cool, it is probably the wrong way to go about it. You should be building a product because there is a problem you believe you can solve in a manner that is attractive to others. Drupal happens to be the best technology (as far as you are concerned) to solve the problem.
We think all hotel websites should be built using Drupal. There are clear benefits to hotels owners in doing so. It empowers them to manage their own website, gives them access to the latest and greatest in terms of SEO technology and social web integration, gives them space to grow and the chance to take control of their online presence and frees them from relying on third-parties that cut into their profits.
2. Don't skim the surface - solve tough problems.
The monetization of DrupalRooms is based around offering services on top of an open-source distribution and booking management module. Hotels needs to plug in to a host of online services in order to get and manage clients. They need to worry about bookings, credit cards, channel management, yield, and run a hotel as well. We are building tools to help hotel owners solve these hard problems. As Paul Graham of YCombinator fame suggests - solve tough problems. The ones other people don't want to approach because they are nasty (not just from an engineering standpoint).
3. Open all the way - there is true power in being open.
You either believe that being open is more powerful than being closed or not. We happen to believe that open is best. Our product is developing in ways that I would have never envisioned. It is all down to all the people who are using it and suggesting features. I love it. It means I have to work less.
As I mentioned we will be selling services on top of the distribution and module. Even those services should be open, data should be free to take and the code or at least the processes should be available. No lock in. Omega8.cc in the Drupal world do this really well. They offer a hosting service but also expose all the tools that would allow you to recreate it - the problem, however, is hard. So you might as well let them worry about it.
Drupal, by being open, allows us to plug in to a huge community. We want to copy Drupal and build a community around Drupal Rooms and also pay back to Drupal by growing Drupal adoption in the travel space.
4. Big Vision Vs Passive Income
We could simply sell the Rooms module for €20 - €30 a pop. I am sure many people would just pick it up. It would still be GPL, etc - we would just be charging to download the code and offer some basic support. We are increasingly being emailed (and people even call the office!) for Rooms-related support and we are not even out of alpha yet. It means there is a market. But do we want to simply make a few hundred euros a month or actually build something interesting.
We may not suceed but we are going for the latter.
And there you have it. Really looking forward to meeting and talking with others about all of this.
By the way, there are some exciting news around the corner for DrupalRooms - sign-up if you want to be updated.