Many business leaders in the Drupal community see products as a means to diversify away from a pure service business. Most of us however don’t have prior experience with product business models and definitely not with models that are GPL compatible. Given that Drupal products by definition are built with open source software, we believed there is a real need for an exchange of best practices and ideas.
We organized the Drupal products meetup in the Microsoft HQ of Rome, on 24-26 February, 2012 (see: event photos). The meetup aimed to facilitate peer-to-peer learning about product strategies and business models between product managers and the leadership of Drupal shops in general. The Drupal products meetup was organized as an Open Space Technology meetup: no slideshow presentations, no monologues, only collaboratively defined sessions that all attendees contribute to.
Difficulties with the format at this event
While the Open Space Technology event style worked very well at other CXO meetups (Brussels 2010, Amsterdam 2012) the difficulties seen at the opening of the event and scheduling session demonstrated that, as one of the participants put it, “sharing the lack of knowledge is not easy”.
The topics discussed
There were mostly smaller Drupal shops, under 10-20 people, exchanging ideas about business models and trying to figure out whether they could build a mutually beneficial Drupal marketplace. It was especially educative to hear the opinions of attendees from the larger companies, such as Acquia and Phase2 and what they think about the topic. The topics that generated a lot of debate included the definition of a Drupal product and the necessity of an app store. Almost all companies present were working on some sort of product e.g. Drupal-specific hosting, a service for hospitality websites with monthly subscription packages and we had a pitch session on Sunday in which we gave each other feedback on product development, sales & marketing strategies.
If you are interested in detailed event summaries written by other participants check out:
Some of the most interesting tweets were: (#drupalproducts):
Even though most attendees thought that the format of the event didn't work for the topic and the group, most people interestingly said that they learned a lot and that the event was well worth their time: getting to know how far other shops are on the learning curve and the networking provided for a very valuable experience.