Shoestring Startup: Tips for Custom Software Providers

Business Leadership Day
Location: F 151 Level: Novice
Average rating: **...
(2.17, 6 ratings)

The presenters of this session are in the process of developing a custom software package to manage event scheduling for a small gaming convention. The parent organization is non-profit, and the work is being done primarily as a donation. However, since money will change hands, we found ourselves delving into issues of intellectual property, liability and licensing. We will share with you what we learned along the way, including:

  • Why you probably want to create an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation)
  • How to put together a draft contract that a lawyer will hopefully be able to review in an hour or two, saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars over having him do it from scratch
  • What to look for in licenses on Open Source packages you’ll be using for your software
  • How to protect your intellectual property rights, especially if you plan to build on a smaller project to develop a product with a wider market

Rachael Madsen

Optimal Design Software LLC

Rachael has been using her mathematics degree in software development for more than 35 years. Her experience ranges from compiler design to terminal and computer emulation software, from database design and administration to medical diagnostic software, from nationwide order management and inventory control to workflow management for a web-based business. In the process, Rachael has helped many people understand the advantages of using mathematics in their software designs.

Beverly Block

Optimal Design Software LLC

Beverly has a degree in Applied Mathematics with option in Software Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University, which didn’t offer an undergraduate degree in Computer Science at the time. She has 15 years of programming experience, including application development in Macro on RSX-11, which was more fun than anything she’s done since. Given the shortage of opportunities to work in Macro-11, she’s happy to have Python as an alternative.

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Picture of Alex Martelli
Alex Martelli
07/19/2012 2:13am PDT

Good materials, but too much stuff crammed into too short a time—ruthless pruning of the subjects to fit comfortably into the available time (ideally leaving 2 minutes for questions) would enhance the presentation.


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