[Case Study] Becoming a One Person Software Business

Pavel ChuchuvaPavel Chuchuva is one of those people that you can't help but root for. He's a software developer with dreams of running his own software company one day and using it to help others. Our founder, Peldi, has mentored Pavel periodically on his journey. So far he's doing everything the right way. We're proud to have him as a customer.

He also writes about software on his blog. He spoke to us about his progress and his inspiration.

Q&A with Pavel Chuchuva

What industry do you work in, and what is your title or job description?

I work as a software developer for a large software corporation. I also build my own mobile apps on nights and weekends.

What excites you about software development?

The most exciting part of software development for me is building something that many people use and appreciate. I get to create something that make someone’s life better. Also, I can conceive an idea for how something should work and then implement it in a matter of days. It's amazing; what was once only in my mind now exists in reality and functions the way I designed it.

It's amazing; what was once only in my mind now exists in reality and functions the way I designed it.

What suggestions do you have for someone looking to succeed as a developer or entrepreneur?

Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you are stuck. Google is your friend, but many times the best way to solve the problem is to ask for advice.

You seem to be very interested in making tools that help people. Where does that come from?

I think it comes from my desire to help others. I want to build something that people use and get value from. The thought that the result of my efforts is being used by others is incredibly rewarding to me. I remember being impressed by the story of Alexey Pajitnov and his Tetris game. It became immensely popular in a short period of time.

One person can run a successful software business.

I was also influenced by an article by Eric Sink in MSDN Magazine where he said that one person can run a successful software business. He wrote many articles on the business of software.

Why and how do you use Balsamiq Mockups?

Balsamiq Mockups is very easy to use. I use it to create clickable prototypes before building software. Not long ago I decided to build a parental app for YouTube. In order to validate my idea I created a clickable prototype of the app. It took me about 5 hours total to do it. From there I showed it to potential customers and asked for pre-orders before I build it. I got 18 pre-orders – this gave me confirmation that there is a need for this kind of app and I should move forward with my idea.

A click-through prototype for Pavel's "Safe Vision" app.

What has been your experience showing your mockups to other people, for instance team members or clients?

Balsamiq is much more powerful than trying to describe the solution in words.

People were very positive. It is much more powerful than trying to describe the solution in words. I was showing a clickable prototype to potential customers where I could interact with the mockup by clicking on various controls. This helped them to understand how the app would work. Some people even thought that I was showing them the finished product.

Some wireframes for Pavel's YouTube parental controls app.

Do you have any Balsamiq tips or tricks that you'd like to share?

You can quickly add a new control by pressing '/' and typing few letters from the name of the control, for example 'label'. It is worthwhile to learn Balsamiq keyboard shortcuts to be more productive.

You can create an interactive prototype by adding multiple screens to the mockup and linking them together. You can then show it to people by entering full screen mode or exporting to PDF.

Do you have any feature ideas or suggestions for how we can improve our product(s)?

It would be great to make testing prototype on mobile device more seamless. The PDF works but many times the PDF viewer toolbar appears. Also people accidentally swipe the screen jumping to the next page. As a workaround I exported the prototype to InVision but I had to re-create all links.

What other tools do you use that you really like? Why do you like them?

I use Far Manager for file and folder operations. I really like it because it is fast. I think it's fast because it relies heavily on using keyboard.

I also use Beyond Compare. I like it because its user interface is very thought through. I can perform every operation that I need quickly and effortlessly.

I also use Launchy as a program launcher. Again, I like it because it is fast and convenient. I can start a program in one or two seconds.

Another tool that I really like is ConEmu. It adds Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V keyboard shortcuts to the command prompt on Windows 7.

So all in all I like those tools because they make me more productive.

What mistakes or missteps have you made in your journey and what did you learn?

I was trying to solve someone else's problems before. I learned that it so much better to solve my own frustration or problem - it brings passion to what I do. With my current project - Safe Vision - I'm building an app for my own kids.

Another mistake was focusing on building the product, but ignoring marketing and sales. I learned that software development is only small part of activities that I should be doing.

What attracts you to the idea of starting your own software company?

I want to create something that is bigger than me.

I believe it is the most effective way for me to make an impact and make the world a better place. I also want more control and freedom in my life. I want to create something that is bigger than me, that would have a life of its own and possibly even create a legacy.


Best of luck to you, Pavel!

Do you have a story to share about the awesome things you do with Balsamiq? Send an email to champions@balsamiq.com with your stories or blog posts!


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