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General Chat Thread, Advice on selling my software. in General; Hi, A few years ago I developed an application to manage the writing of student reports for the school in ...
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    MrLudwig's Avatar
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    Advice on selling my software.

    Hi,

    A few years ago I developed an application to manage the writing of student reports for the school in which I work. It's used each year by all the teaching staff and it does a pretty good job. It won't generate the comments for the teachers, instead forcing them to actually write the comments/targets themselves (specifically requested by SLT), but does nearly everything else.

    I've recently been contacted by a neighbouring school that have shown an interest in the software and have asked for a demo and how much a license would cost. This is great for me, but as I didn't develop it with commercial intentions I've never given it any serious thought.

    I'm after any advice on how I should license it (one-off/annual/per teacher etc) how much would seem reasonable and anything else that might be relevant.

    I realise I would have to be self-employed and talk to HMRC, but from what I understand it isn't too much hassle being employed and self-employed at the same time. Not so sure about being VAT registered though, would that be necessary to deal with purchase orders from a school?

    Oh and the rights to the software are all mine rather than my employers. I was advised when I first started to write it to be careful not to do any work on it in school or while on paid time so that's not an issue.

    For info (and definitely not as a sales pitch ) here's some of the highlights of the application.

    • Central SQL database along with local data caching for offline use.
    • Automatic synchronising of data between database server and cache.
    • Central archive of all previous years reports in PDF format.
    • Reports generated in Word document format.
    • Centrally managed report generation and printing.
    • Peer review and sign-off of reports.
    • Permissions system so only allowed users can sign-off/generate/print reports.
    • Spell checking as you type and correct spelling suggestions (Word style).
    • Student photos.
    • Template based report design allowing easy modification of the basic look of the finished reports (School badge/title/fonts etc).
    • Automatic self-update feature.
    • Import data from SIMS.net reports exports (can be scripted and set up as a scheduled task).

    Sorry for being a bit long winded and thanks for any help and advice.

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    nephilim's Avatar
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    if you wrote it for the school, on school time, it belongs to your school, not you...sorry to be blunt, had a few to drink.

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    Oh and the rights to the software are all mine rather than my employers. I was advised when I first started to write it to be careful not to do any work on it in school or while on paid time so that's not an issue.
    Exactly how many drinks nephilim?

    MrLudwig. We might be interested if the price is right.

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    MrLudwig (10th March 2011)

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    MK-2's Avatar
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    If it's not actively maintained then perhaps a one-off fee would be better. How would you deal with support? If the customer has a problem are they happy not being able to call or email you during work hours to resolve it?
    If you are actively maintaining and updating it then some sort of renewal/yearly fee might be better, to entice them to pay for the bigger and better features you may introduce.
    Also think about licencing : will they pay x and that allows them to use the software on 6000 computers in and out of school, or will they pay y per machine for the ones they use it on? Obviously if it's per machine/user then you'd need to have something built in to register how many users are there.

    Just my thoughts

  6. Thanks to MK-2 from:

    MrLudwig (10th March 2011)

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    limbo's Avatar
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    The self-employed / employed thing is easy, you just need to let your local tax office know that you are going to be earning additonal money beyond PAYE (pay as you earn) - they will send you a tax return to fill in where you just need to include all the money you earnt, including your salary, and the total tax you have paid so far (which you can get from your P60).

    You need to budget for paying back about 40% of your additional income back to the tax man in a one of annual lump sum for income tax and national insurance (so put 50% of everything you bring in into a separate bank account and leave it be until you have your final tax bill).

    It is possible you can save a bit on your tax bill by setting up as a limited company, but this becomes a whole heap more complicated, so not really worth it until you start earning some serious money from it.

    If you have any expenses you can include those on your tax return and they are deducted from the total amount of money that will be taxed i.e. if you put in 100 expenses for stationary and you earnt 1000 then they will tax you at around 40% of 900 (1000-100). So worth doing, just keep the reciept (does not need to be a VAT reciept - just a normal one will do) or car park ticket, or train ticket or whatever. You can also claim mileage at 40p per mile, so keep a record of any business mileage you do (not include travelling to your normal place of work or personal mileage) - has to be in relation to the additional earning, not your normal salary.

    VAT is not a problem unless you start earning some bringing in some serious money from sales (here it is the sales figure that is important, not salary and from memory it needs to be something like 40k per year).

    In terms of the cost, I would go with the easiest solution for you to work out - number of teachers is difficult to find out, so if you want it to be cheaper for smaller schools and more expensive for larger ones then charge based on the number of pupils on roll. Then maybe divide it into brackets of 0 - 500 pupils at one cost, 500 - 1000 another etc.

    Hope that is of some help - going through a similar thing myself, but I have a retired accountant for a Dad!

  8. 2 Thanks to limbo:

    AMA (16th March 2011), MrLudwig (10th March 2011)

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    MrLudwig's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info and your thoughts, given me a lot to think about.

    @laserblazer

    Thanks for the vote of confidence . As for the price, that's sort of what I'm asking, how much would be reasonable for something like this? I spent yesterday evening looking around Edugeek to see what other schools were using and around the web to see what was available. Was somewhat surprised, thought there would be loads to choose from. Did find one company who were asking nearly 5K for a site license for a package that doesn't seem to do much more than mine (probably more polished though). Don't imagine they sell many licenses for that!

    @MK-2

    It is still actively maintained, I find the odd bug from time to time but these are few and far between now. I also add new features occasionally; had a discussion today in fact with a member of the admin team about the ability to email reports to parents who would prefer a paperless option.

    How I provide support is a very good point, and one I hadn't yet considered. The school that has shown an interest is just down the road in the next town, so a limited form of on-site support might even be possible, outside my normal working hours that is. But I don't imagine that would be a frequent occurrence, email support would have to be the primary method.

    I like the idea of a yearly renew option rather than a one-off payment, and I'd prefer to keep things simple so want to avoid lots of licensing options.

    @limbo

    Thanks for all the details, much appreciated.

    I really don't imagine earning any serious money from this so the ltd company route is probably overkill and the added complexity is something I'd rather avoid. The employed/self-employed route sounds the best option.


    Thanks again for all the info.

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    Unfortunately, I didn't keep any of the flyers that were sent out this year but from memory a school with 17+ classes worked out arounf 350 for the year. I suspect that you would need to provide a good level of support. A lot of school will rely on a teacher to set this up and they will want someone on the end of a phone.

  11. Thanks to laserblazer from:

    MrLudwig (14th March 2011)

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