Making Open Work
May 8–9, 2017: Training & Tutorials
May 10–11, 2017: Conference
Austin, TX

It's all business: How contributing to OSS prepares you for entrepreneurship

Safia Abdalla (nteract)
4:15pm4:55pm Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Level: Non-technical
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 3 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Maintainers of mid- to large-sized OS projects and OS contributors with an interest in OS

What you'll learn

  • Understand the non-code contributions that keep open source moving, how these contributions are excellent prep for a career in entrepreneurship, and how the perception of open source as a form of entrepreneurship can increase how its value is perceived in society


A successful open source project is about more than just code. It requires marketing, funding, community management, technical writing. . .wait, at this point, it’s starting to sound like an all-out business. That’s because open source is a lot like a business. In fact, open source is the best playground for people looking to pursue a career as entrepreneurs.

How? In addition to engaging with contributors, a successful open source project needs to manage its brand and community (much like a company). This involves everything from managing an engaging Twitter account to having speakers at technical conferences to providing online trainings and resources around the open source project.

Safia Abdalla covers the non-code-related issues that open source projects should manage in order to successfully engage with their users and contributors and explains how managing these different issues can prepare open source maintainers for a career in entrepreneurship.

Why is this important? When we start to perceive open source as more than “just a couple of nerds hacking in their free time,” we can increase the investment that we make in open source as a society—whether increased financial sponsorship from companies or foundations, increased support of open source as part of the curriculum by universities, or simply an increased regard for open source software throughout all avenues of society.

Photo of Safia Abdalla

Safia Abdalla


Safia Abdalla is one of the maintainers of nteract, a desktop-based interactive computing experience. A data scientist and software engineer with an interest in open source software and data science for social good, Safia is the organizer of PyData Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys running, working out, and drinking tea.