If you weren't at Startup School this weekend or haven't watched DHH's speech yet, you should go check it out. It was entertaining and a good counter-point to much of the ridiculous talk that you hear out here in the Valley.
As I was watching it though, I had the same thought that I always seem to have when I hear someone from 37 Signals talk, and it came to me right when I saw the slide that said:
- Great Application
If only it were that easy. The thing that these guys always leave out seems to be step 1.5:
Market the hell out of your product, and get a bunch of people to use it.
That step is really, really hard.
I bet that if you asked DHH if he thought that 37 Signals would be just as successful if he hadn't invented Rails, and without the flood of free publicity that that got them, and he answered truthfully, the answer would be "no".
There are probably all sorts of great applications out there that would help me out on a daily basis, but I have little to no time to try out most of them. I've tried out Basecamp though, simply because while learning Rails you hear again and again about how Rails was extracted from it.
Would I (or you) know anything about 37 Signals if it wasn't for Rails? Probably not.
Those guys do a great job of marketing themselves and getting things out in front of people, but just because you're having fun marketing your stuff, doesn't mean that marketing isn't work that you have to do.
If you think that you don't have to market your app, no matter how great it is, you're living in a world similar to the one that DHH had on one his final slides where he said:
500 * $40 = $125,000
That's right, an imaginary world.