After a conversation with Rob Mumford, I thought I’d post a kind of action plan of how our company will grow. This is just a rough plan of attack at the different areas of the church world we’ll go for. I’ll organise this into Phases and see if my words stick! In an interview with the creator of Drupal, Dries at Drupal Radar talked about the purpose of Content Management Systems like Drupal is to eradicate the need for web developers. There used to be a time when a web developer needed to hand-code everything in HTML, Drupal means for many websites you don’t need a developer. With Drupal Gardens they aim to remove the need of a designer! We’re following in this theme and so this is our plan to eradicate the need for church website developers! (sort of!)
- Phase 1 – Aim for individual churches – In order to end them we have to join them. We’ll spend some time acting like a normal (ish) church website developer. In this phase, we will target a few individual churches and build a website for them in a much more intimate manner. We’re looking for churches who want a website that is either free or low cost but where they will spend quite a bit of time working with us. During this phase we will work with experimental ideas to solve problems and test it with members of that church and we’ll build case studies and train them in using the website. Finally we’ll build the website using the software that we will eventually release and support. By the end we’ll have a Drupal distribution for Churches, with documentation of how to use the website technically and practically (church models) and the tools for others to help.
- Phase 2- Aim for Church Website Developers – To eradicate the need for church website developers we will need church website developers to help us! Once we have a basic Church install profile to work on and release we’ll try and advertise to others to get people using and maybe even developing for it. We’ll try and attract the more geeky members of the Church community to help us. This phase will mainly take place on Drupal.org. Dropcrm.org is an example of how we’d do this. We’ll have a website with a small forum and some pages detailing our aims but actually all of this will point to a project page and group on drupal.org. We’ll work with all of Drupal’s issues queues, File repositories and discussion tools. At this stage there will hopefully be no difference between the tribes online people and just random developers.
- Phase 3- Aim for the Church Innovators – On our website we’ll build a wiki as I’ve said before. The hope is to build a website to bring innovators from the church to us. These innovators just need to have ideas, they won’t need technical skills but will just have things about the church they want changed and the ideas of how to change it. This phase can only happen when the wiki is built and there are a pool of developers to implement their ideas. One big thing we’ll need from these people is a set of case studies of problems in communication in their church. Eventually this work will be used to collaboratively produce books and resources.
- Phase 4 – The masses – This is the phase that brings in money! Once we have software that churches are actually using, once problems are actually being solved and once we have the software to host hundreds if not thousands of websites similarly to http://www.drupalgardens.com, we’ll release the company side of things. We’ll start advertising at places such as the Christian Resource Exhibition and attract loads of churches to host on our servers. Here, the aim is to make it so a church can sign up on our site, and be up and running with almost no involvement with us (The church website developers will be ending here) so that each extra church doesn’t cost much extra to host. The aim is to cover our huge fixed costs. We’ll probably need about 300 churches before we can even begin to be sustainable.
- Phase 5- We aim for rival church hosting companies and the world! – At this stage our tasks can be complete. Our software will be so open anyone could steal it. If our main company makes enough money to fund at least 4 full-time developers, it will be successful. Our hope is the invisible hand of the market will not let us continue making money for long, eventually others will want some! So if we get good enough, if our software is as awesome as it needs to be. We’ll attract rival church website hosting companies to download and use all our software totally for free! However, it will be in their best interest to keep the software alive if we’re around or maybe keep us (the individual people) alive if they use our talent! So although we’ll compete in the market of church website hosting, we’ll collaborate on the software as we’ll all benefit from making the software great. At this point we can take over the world! (At least the church website world). The church will have a piece of software that allows them to make website whilst giving them the extra dynamic features for free and a huge number of people to support them.
I’ve written stuff like this before and probably I’ll continue. My hope is to build a company structure that people other then myself can understand. (Work away from me rob and andrew phoning each other all the time… even if its fun to hear about Andrew’s olive woes)