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The $99, 4 hour search engine – or why zero barriers to entry mean your web app will probably fail faster than you can blink


Groupzz. The meta music search engine.

OK, so here’s the thing. There’s too much stuff out there, and it’s getting worse. More web apps, social networking, community drivel, tagging, blah… So it gets me thinking. How hard is it to make a simple web application today? Really?

  • Step 1 – Spend half an hour searching, locate a $99.00 script on Sitepoint (there’s probably free around, but I’m in a hurry see?)
  • Step 2 –  Spend a couple of hours creating and tweaking a simple logo and page (yeah, so I’m not the world’s best designer, OK?)
  • Step 3 – Locate a free hosting supplier at
  • Step 4 – Upload the whole shooting match via FTP and test
  • Step 5 – Point an unused $9.95 a year domain of mine at the server 
  • Step 6 – Sign up for Shopping Ads, and embed the advert codes
  • Step 7 – Promote on the Red Ferret Journal…and profit!! Or not!!

Total cost – $99.00 via Paypal plus $9.95 a year domain fee. Time – around 4 hours, 5 tops.

As a supremely ironic twist to this tale, as I’m finishing off the final touches to the whole project – waiting for the domain forwarding to take hold properly etc – along comes someone in our comments section to shill the very same script and the very same business model via their very own version of the search engine. Awesome!

So there you have it peeps, How to become a web mogul in 7 easy steps, impress your friends and family and earn absolutely no money in the process. There are, of course, variations on the theme, and they revolve around begging for start-up money from your friends, spending useless dollars in Google Adwords arbitrage advertising to try and build traffic (hint – it won’t work!) and going for broke with a huge game-plan, proper seed capital backing and a real live business plan and profit and loss. Hint – it won’t work!

The moral of this tale is – unless your idea is unbelievably different, and more importantly, useful or hugely entertaining to a major section of a target population, you probably won’t gain traffic fast enough to make it work before someone else comes along and does it cheaper, faster, easier, or just plain better. There are no barriers to entry in the Web world any more – just time, creativity, perseverance and a great idea.

My advice, for what it’s worth, is please stop trying to create yet another MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Google or whatever, and spend more time thinking about real problems that people face and how you can use the web to solve them. Or better yet, scratch your own itch. What would you like to improve in your life or work? How would you want it to work? Then build it or get someone from rentacoder to push it out for you. Just my 2c worth. In the meantime enjoy my cool, groovy, interesting new app for as long as it stays up and live.


  • The best MP3 search engine is, it’s rocks, i love it. :)

    you can search any mp3 from our site and download it for free! It’s fast,easy!

  • Actually, i think Groupzz rocks ;) but i totally agree with your post. keep on the *GREAT* job. cheers; Ed from france

  • Thanks very much Ed. :-)

  • Oh, and funnily enough, I like Groupzz too. :-)

    I’m going to keep it running as my personal search engine even if no-one else bothers with it. :-)

  • i did myself listened to a couple of good old fashion led zep while working ;)

  • Heh, oh yeah a nice bit of Kashmir in the morning. :-)

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