$50k out of nowhere

So I've been working on my project Vendure for about 3 years now. It's an open-source e-commerce framework. I give it away for free but have plans to release paid plugins later this year.

Anyway, last week on Monday I got a cold email from the CEO of a well-known internet company, along the lines of "How about <company> financially backs Vendure?"

We arranged a Zoom call and 2 days later we're discussing the fact that the company is a big supporter of open-source, and also support the idea of improving tools for small businesses to prosper. Long story short, they have funds for supporting projects they like, and they want to back what I am doing. They also have an engineering team working on a similar tech stack and want to consult with me.

I was like, "sure! I am definitely open to some kind of sponsorship!". He said "I'll talk with my team and come back with a figure". I was thinking "cool!, maybe they will do like $1000 to my GitHub Sponsors account!".

One hour later I get an email:

Here's our proposal:
$50,000 sponsorship of the Vendure project.
You bill us your standard consulting rate for any time spent working with us.

Holy shit.


That was 7 days ago. This morning the payment hit my account. It's real!

First thing I did after that was contact a lawyer to help me with trademark and contracts for future clients - stuff I've been thinking about doing for a while but never had enough funds to do. After that I'll be drafting some help to speed up the project road map.

There's no moral or point to this story other than sharing a win with you all.

  1. 12

    Congrats man! That is seriously awesome. Must've been so exciting to get that email in your inbox :)

    1. 5

      Totally! I told my wife and we just looked at each other and burst out laughing 😂. I was still hesitant to believe it until I saw the numbers in my account this morning.

      1. 5

        Yeah, I would definitely think that I'm about to get scammed or something 🤣

        1. 2

          Hi, I'm a Prince of Nigeria and I want to gift you a large sum of money.

  2. 7

    That's amazing. Congratulations!!!

    Did the $50k have any terms that came along with it? (i.e. giving up a certain percentage of future sales)

    1. 4

      Thanks! The only terms are that I will be adding their company logo prominently on my "sponsors" page, and probably will be doing a blog post about it. So they get some PR value out of it.

      1. 3

        This is amazing. What an awesome thing that just happened to you (seriously hah). Thanks for sharing!!

      2. 1

        Basically they bought lifetime marketing for $50K. Or is there a time limit?

        1. 2

          I put 1 year on the invoice.

  3. 5

    Very well done! This is why we do it :)

    I remember about 8 months into my app (few months back) an investor approached me and pretty much gave me $20k without mention of a thing in return. It brought me to tears at the time, it was unthinkable.

    Moral of the story? Gotta build something to get attention! Ship!

    I'm thrilled you've had such a motivating success. Onwards!

    Funnily enough I was just reading about making money with OSS (might give you a few more ideas): https://entreprenerd.lowagie.com/ossurvival/

    1. 2

      Thanks and congrats to you too! Yes it's important to just build and ship consistently and if the product is good, people start to notice. I read some of that guy's writing on the topic, it's good stuff 👍

  4. 5

    That is awesome!! 😀 congratulations 🥳 well deserved

  5. 3

    Things like this are a prime example of how even open source projects can make you a great income. Thank you for sharing your story & congratulations!

    1. 3

      Thank you! A lot of ink has been dedicated to the topic of open source monetization. It can be tricky, especially if you don't have anything compelling to sell. Subsisting from donations alone seems like a hard grind for most that try.

      But yes, what I've come to appreciate is that there are a lot of companies out there with lots of money to spend. For a Big Co or well-funded startup, you can double or even triple your hourly rates and nobody will notice. They key is providing value. And that takes consistent and dedicated work.

  6. 3

    Well done! When opportunity meets preparation :)

  7. 2

    The moral of the story is: the more work you put into something, the more "luck" you will have down the way.

  8. 2

    Now this is an inspiring story!! Congrats! 👏

  9. 2

    That's wonderful! Congrats on the win!

  10. 2

    Congrats! That's a huge number to suddenly pop into your account! Well done!

  11. 2

    Wow! That's so amazing. I can only imagine what a pinch-yourself-this-can't-be-real moment it was . Congrats, man.
    I'm sure it is well deserved. May more good come your way.

  12. 2

    congrats! you deserve it, stick for years on open source project is really amazing

  13. 2

    This is awesome dude! Feels so good to read this :)

  14. 2

    Congratz! Awesome to see the hard work you had for 3y being rewarded!

  15. 2

    Wow! So unexpected. It must have been a great feeling!

  16. 2

    Congrats! That is great news. It's great to see companies supporting open source.

  17. 2

    Hey man, great hearing about this. Keep us posted on your journey!!

  18. 2

    Good for you my man. Good for you!

  19. 2

    Congrats man. That is the power of Open Source!
    You never know who is watching.

  20. 2

    Good for you!! ;-) That's really amazing!

  21. 1

    Wow, what a story. Congratulations, Michael! Really happy to see more open-source devs getting rewarded handsomely for their works. GitHub Sponsor was a huge step in this direction, but having big companies reaching out is a great sign. Congrats again!

    1. 1

      Thanks! Yeah GH Sponsors currently brings in $150/month. I appreciate it but it is not feeding my family 😂

      Donation-only OSS is not a generally workable strategy apart from a few outliers (Babel, Vue). But it is still encouraging that a few regular devs care enough to open their wallet every month.

  22. 1

    Congrats, it's nice when your work is appreciated.

  23. 1

    Just make sure the fine print doesn't take away the hard work that you've put into building your company. Last thing we need is some sort of a hostile takeover because of a clause in the agreement.

    1. 1

      Yes, always good to be diligent! In this case there is no fine print, just a series of emails. No formalities.

  24. 1

    Be careful about managing IP rights. That is more important than a trademark. You don't need a lawyer to file a trademark you can do it on your own at USPTO.gov. Since this company is paying you as a consultant make sure they don't ask you for the source code or any limitations to it.

    1. 2

      How much does it cost to trademark?

      1. 1

        Local lawyer here is Austria quoted me EUR 700 for domestic word mark registration, which he says will be sufficient to prevent legal challenge which would force me to change the name of the project.

        1. 1

          Would that cover you from US based litigation as well?

          1. 1

            In US lawyers will cost lot of money almost $5000 to $100000 for a trademark. But the DIY can be much cheaper. I have done it before myself.

            1. 2

              It costs $900 to get a trademark application prepared and filed on behalf of a non-US citizen in USA. That includes lawyer fee, service charge, govt fees all.

              The service is legalzoom. I have recently used their packages and it's as easy as described in their website.

              1. 1

                DIY can be done for $250-$500 depending on how many claims do you want to make for the trademark and the size of your business. The biggest gotcha with a trademark is two years down the road. You get hit with a $10K USD trademark maintenance fee + lawyer fees if you hire one. IMHO trademarks are overrated just like patents unless you have money to defend them. Lawyers get pricey as it may cost $50,000-$500,000 to defend/sue.

            2. 1

              How much did it cost you to do it yourself? Is there a guide we can follow?

              I am looking to trademark in the US and EU

    2. 1

      Thanks for the advice.

      In my case I believe I would need a lawyer if I wanted to file a trademark in the US (I'm based in Austria). But can you elaborate on the IP rights aspect?

      1. 1

        IP rights is that no one client can have a claim on your platform. It all depends on what papers do you sign with them. I have sent you a message on Twitter.

  25. 1

    What an awesome win!

    As someone who hasn't built an e-commerce site since 2000 (when a credit card representative had to physically come and observe the "place of business"/one-room studio full of programmers), what would Vendure allow me to do that I couldn't with, say, Stripe?

    I often check out SaaS products and come away impressed, but with zero idea what the product actually does and what specific needs it fills.

    1. 1

      Thank you! My first "ecommerce" site was a brochure website with an order form where the credit card details got emailed to the merchant! Haha. That was a long time ago, the wild west days.

      So Vendure is a framework aimed a developers who need to build custom ecommerce apps. Whereas Stripe does just payments, Vendure deals with inventory, customers, orders, product images, product search, and a whole host of other details. Stripe can be integrated with it to handle the payments still. Vendure users tend to be mid-market merchants who have outgrown Shopify or have very custom requirements.

      1. 2

        What a great project

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