“Open source can propagate to fill all the nooks and crannies that people want it to fill.” — Mitch Kapor, entrepreneur and veteran application developer
India has been brought up on the principles of sharing and caring. This reflects in its propensity to adopt the open source concept in the software industry as well.
The on-ground definition of open source says: “The open-source model is a decentralised software development model that encourages open collaboration. The main principle of open-source software development is peer production, with products such as source code, blueprints and documentation freely available to the public.”
Basically, open source encourages pooling of minds and resources to make a better product and address the bugs or issues in the present product.
However, we, as a country, are still far behind the world in open sourcing. To address any queries an entrepreneur may have while toying with open source, we speak to Prasanna Krishnamoorthy, founder of Upekkha Accelerator, in this week’s Startup 101. Krishnamoorthy, who runs an accelerator that helps B2B SaaS startups reach product-market fit, tells us how to make the right decision in open sourcing.
He says he wouldn’t recommend getting into open sourcing until you know why you are open sourcing your product.
Krishnamoorthy explains that open sourcing of product works well either when you are selling to enterprises or when it is an infrastructure product.
He says, “In an infrastructure product, they become dependent on the product. So, their real worry, as buyers, is what happens when a startup dies and they are still dependent on it.”
“Another scenario is you are trying to be a developer plugin in the developer ecosystem, developer community, where they are very much used to of open source ecosystem. There, you have to ensure that even though you are open sourcing part of your product, you are able to upsell, where a corporate or enterprise will buy something from you,” he adds.
Krishnamoorthy emphasises that whether it’s a service agreement or a license or a testing package or some package on the top of the base open source system, the startup should ensure that it has a revenue model as well.
“There are lots of startups that have open sourced part of their products or tools thinking that it will become a revenue stream automatically, that does not happen. You have to make sure that open sourcing something is part of your marketing campaign, rather than being everything that will get your customers,” he added.
In India, Google-backed Fynd introduced its open-source platform, GoFynd.io. The startup has deployed open-source technologies to power its mobile apps and artificial intelligence bot. Also, Paytm, under its Build for India initiative, introduced an open-source incubator to “promote open source projects within the country.”
Prior to this, online deal-making platform LetsVenture decided to open-source all legal documents necessary for incorporation and fundraising for startups and investors.
As the Indian startup ecosystem grows to a mature phase, it now recognises the potential and scalability of open-source developments.