jOOQ exists for 10 years now, originally as a side project, and has been a commercial product for 5 years with steady revenue.
I've finally decided to be more open about the business side of jOOQ, which is why I've picked up non-technical blogging. Here's my first post.
At this point, it is hard to imagine to go back to any day time job. jOOQ produces USD 180,000 in license revenue. Growth has decreased in pace (my little boy was born this summer, another break from work for me), but jOOQ is still growing steadily.
At the same time, I could again increase my training revenue as well. I'm mentioning this here, because I'm still thinking of making another product from the training - an online training. Many people I've met have done that very successfully. Why miss out on the opportunity? Perhaps in late 2018 - 2019
At the beginning of this year, my daughter was born (first child). I had spent quite a bit of time with my new family and stopped working as hard as before. This means, much less conferences, travelling, and some other activities that weren't essential to the business.
Certainly, this reduction in workload contributed to a slightly decreased growth. This year made me around USD 150,000 in license revenue (plus a heavy increase in training revenue, though).
Licensing is now picking up momentum. This year made me about USD 110,000 in license revenue (plus the consultancy, training revenue). This is about an average salary in the IT industry in Switzerland, so I was breaking even with my previous day job in between 1 and 2 years.
jOOQ was picking up a lot of momentum as a product, especially thanks to the Open Source edition. The business model proved viable. People get to use jOOQ for free using MySQL or PostgreSQL (and other OSS databases), and will eventually encounter a situation where they still want to use jOOQ, but with Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, etc.
In the first full year of Data Geekery, revenue from licensing was not impressive yet. I earned roughly USD 27,000 during this year. As I mentioned earlier, few customers had a reason to upgrade so soon, so I spent most of this time innovating, adding new features, fixing tons of bugs, to help potential customers see the added value of the commercial license.
Note, I won't list all the specific revenue from other sources, such as consultancy, trainings, etc. which were quite decent already in the first year. I was never worried about the company succeeding as a whole.
Luckily, I landed a well paid consultancy gig already early on while trying to monetise on jOOQ. One of the largest Swiss banks hired me to do SQL and PL/SQL consultancy at a 20% (i.e. 1 day per week) workload, which was totally manageable. This helped me and my business keep afloat in the first year, before jOOQ licensing started to gain momentum.
The problem with licensing is that in the beginning, no one had any reason to upgrade from the previously free jOOQ 3.1 to the now commercially licensed jOOQ 3.2. There were a few new features, sure, but they weren't enough to warrant a business case on the customer side.
So, I had to be patient. When you're self funded, doing consultancy is definitely a nice option to pull off your business, without spending too much time on the non-related work. And in this case, it was even related. My work at this bank was a great source of inspiration for the jOOQ blog, which contains tons of deep SQL knowledge: https://blog.jooq.org
Of course, I have validated the market already before going live with the commercial licenses. A lot of key people from the jOOQ community have told me that they would purchase licenses right away once I would dual license jOOQ.
Others were taken by surprise, and some of them didn't receive it very well that they would now have to pay for jOOQ, which they have used for free for many years.
Here are the reactions on the user group https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/jooq-user/-RqBEr8JHv0
After 5 years of doing jOOQ as a side business, I've re-launched jOOQ as dual licensed open source software.
This happened a few months after creating the product. It took around 2 months to set up all the license texts with a legal counsel, the accounting, the website, the new build and distribution channels, the new brand, etc.
Here's my motivation about all of this and the specific choices I made in a blog post. https://blog.jooq.org/2013/10/09/jooq-3-2-offering-commercial-licensing-and-support/
Registering the company at the trade register of Zurich was a big step. After 5 years of doing jOOQ as a side project for free, I was finally ready to step up the game, quit my day time job, and do jOOQ 100%. There was absolutely no revenue yet, but the product was already quite popular.
Little did I know how long it would take for jOOQ's commercial licensing to pick up momentum
I love working with SQL and the industry needs type safe, embedded SQL in Java