#94/111: Don’t Just Roll the Dice

What is it about?

Pricing is highly critical and an in-depth topic. Can such a short book fulfill your needs? We will see. Neil Davidson is also famous for hosting Business of Software.

What can I learn?

Know your market segment: People work with relatives. If your competitor’s products cost between $10 and $20, you have a hard time sell yours for $2000. The first thing is to learn about your market segment. How high are competitor’s prices and why are they what they are. Learn about your customers. For example, software that cost less than $10 will be easily bought  by nearly anybody. If your software costs more than $50 some personal customers may get nervous. If you product costs more than $1000 your customer probably needs to talk to his superior. Even $1, $999 vs. $1000 can make a huge difference! Ideally, you should know about this by customer development.

Think about presentation:  Pricing is not just about setting a price. It’s also about product presentation, e.g. bundling. Do you sell other software? Which alternatives are there? Maybe you could sell with an complementary product? There are lots of different possibilities. Generally, selling just one product will produce a higher price.

Test, Test, Test: The most important thing, like expected, is testing your pricing. The best way to do so is by features. Take a look at software from 37signals or Microsoft. They got different product packages. For small and large businesses or personal users. You should avoid to charge different prices for the same product. This can really annoy users. One idea is that you sell your product for $x but display $x resp. $(x+y) as price. If enough users were willing to buy for $(x+y) you can increase your price and use this event as a nice marketing tool.


Firstly, you can read Don’t Just Roll the Dice for free! I liked the book, however it is just 80 pages or so. I think it got some nice ideas and is more to get a overview over the topic than really learning about it. You will find lots of articles on pricing on sites like Hacker News. In conclusion, great book for learning the basics but later you should look for other resources.

#54/111: Getting Real

What is it about?

How do you build a simple and easy product? The people at 37signals tell you how. They show you how 37signals work and how you can apply the same principles on your company and product.

What can I learn?

Half a product instead of an half-assed product: Build simple and easy products but make them great. One example is the iPod. At the beginning it lacked most functionality but it was extremely easy to use, simple and looks great.

Epicenter Design: You should start with the most important thing and then build the rest. For example, if you design a blog interface/design you should start with the headlines. Afterwards go to the actual content and at last do things like navigation, tags, etc. This approach forces you to think about the purpose of your product.

Design Blank Pages: Blank Pages are the first thing a new customer will see. They haven’t yet added content. Most designers neglect these first-time-pages. Don’t do that. Create a great welcome page for new customer with screenshots, how-to boxes and a let’s start guide.


Getting Real covers most of the topics of Rework. It is a bit more development focused and there are quotes from other authors. However, if you read Rework first, you don’t really need to read this book. If you read none yet  and you are a developer, read this one. Otherwise, Rework is the more appropriate choice.

#44/111: Rework

What is it about?

Jason Fried and David Heinermeier Hansson wrote about their recipe of running 37signals. They explain what differentiates them from a lot of other software companies and why only profit matters.

Key points?

Stay simple: Not just their product is affected by this paradigm, they try to keep their organization simple and even their books. A major problem of later-stage products, like Excel, is that they are so big and bloated.

Be real: You probably know these our values pages of corporate websites. Often, they are utterly long and sadly only a few read them and even less people work by these standards. The simple solution is don’t talk. Act! 

Hire for real work: So you need a PhD in Physics from the best three universities who works 18h a day? Really? At 37signals they don’t care about your educational background. Can you do the job? Yes? Shows us. If you will succeed, you will be hired. Stay simple, don’t hire somebody just because she is too good not to be hired.


I loved this book because I’m not a big friend of high critical mass startups, i.e. “we just need 500mio users to get profitable!”. This book is down to earth, upright and refreshing. As hard as it be, we probably don’t get one million customers, we probably won’t get $250m in founding and there will be no exit with $10bn. Rework is for people who realize this but aren’t discouraged. Recommendation.