d4bdc870-d119-47b8-853f-d0fb617b8184Bob Swift of Bob Swift Software is a long-established presence in the Atlassian developer ecosystem. His add-ons for Confluence and JIRA – including the Table Plugin, SQL Plugin, and Excel Plugin – collectively have hundreds of thousands of downloads, and tons of Atlassian customers. Bob has built an extraordinarily successful business on top of the Atlassian Marketplace. In this post, he shares some not-so-secret tips for building a successful business on top of Atlassian. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in building add-ons for Atlassian products.

The Atlassian ecosystem is a great opportunity for small entrepreneurs to build a business. The Atlassian Marketplace enables startups to focus on product development, freeing them from many of the burdens of sales, licensing, and back-end systems. Here are 15 attributes I believe are needed for success once you have that awesome product idea.

  1. Be in it for the long haul. Expect and plan for the long term (months/years) to build up a customer base, reputation, and revenue. Selling to businesses is different than consumer app stores – and you have to adjust your expectations accordingly.
  2. Set reasonable prices based on the value customers will derive from the product.
  3. Change your prices rarely.
  4. Consider providing free software to early your adopters.
  5. Partners are your friends! Opting into the Marketplace partner discount program is a critical signal to the Atlassian Experts that you are willing to work with them to build both of your businesses.
  6. Provide excellent support. Be responsive and helpful, even if it goes beyond the scope of your product. Word-of-mouth marketing is important in the Atlassian ecosystem. Every support case is an opportunity to wow your customers.
  7. Participate in the community. Build a reputation on answers.atlassian.com to establish yourself as a resource.
  8. Attend SummitRoadTripAtlassian User Groups, and more. Never miss an opportunity to connect with customers.
  9. Relish customers that provide feedback, bug reports, improvement requests, and criticism. Provide a public issue tracker to make it easy for customers to submit feedback. Atlassian provides every Marketplace developer with a free JIRA OnDemand instance.
  10. Provide easily accessible documentation and how-to documents to help your customers serve themselves. Write clear, simple articles for the most important topics with an eye towards SEO. Google is your friend!
  11. Follow software development best practices. Track work in an issue tracker, document on a wiki, constantly test using a continuous integration server like Bamboo, and host your code remotely using a service like Bitbucket.
  12. Plan to support and test against at least three major Atlassian product releases. Be ready to test against the most recent released Atlassian product or EAP. Your Marketplace add-on should have coverage of the latest Atlassian product release as soon as possible – every day you delay could prevent one of your customers from upgrading.
  13. Quality is paramount. Have a repeatable, automated build and test environment. Automate – as much as possible – all aspects of developing and delivering your software. This will enable you to be responsive to customer requests, support new Atlassian releases, and maintain quality. I recommend GINT – Groovy Integration Test Framework.
  14. Come to AtlasCamp. It’s the best opportunity all year to learn from Atlassian developers and others in the ecosystem.
  15. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy what you do.

Bob Swift Software has over 250,000 downloads of products that extend the entire Atlassian suite. Check out their products, learn more about Bob Swift Software, or follow Bob Swift on Twitter at @bobswiftmn.