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Building a Multi-Million-Dollar Business with Open Source Software

About the Book

After a quarter of a century in IT, Bruno Lowagie (°1970) decided to share his experience in a book.

Entreprenerd is the chronicle of his personal story as a software developer and entrepreneur against the backdrop of a fast-paced technological evolution. From overcoming his fear of going into business to bootstrapping a multi-million-dollar company, this compelling memoir is perfect for anyone who is invested in building a business with innovative technology.

“Bruno wrote an incredible book on his COSS journey. Mandatory reading for technical founders!”—Joseph “JJ” Jacks, Founder at OSS Capital and Open Core Summit

“This untold-saga about a developer and his project is a significant contribution to the open-source ecosystem.”—Amelia Eiras, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Tomitribe

“Entreprenerd is a great case study on how to develop an innovative business with cutting-edge technology.”—Leonard Rosenthol, Senior Principal Scientist and PDF Architect at Adobe Systems

“Bruno shares his profound experiences as a technical founder ... you will discover the life stages of an entrepreneur and his business.”—Dilip Thomas, Founder at Wurreka and Developer Summit
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About the Author

Bruno Lowagie
Bruno Lowagie

I'm the original developer of iText, an open source PDF library, and the original founder of the iText Group companies. I grew the business from startup to exit. After leaving the company, I wrote a book sharing my experience as a developer, technical founder, and entrepreneur.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    • Foreword
    • Milestones
      •    Creating iText
      •    Creating a Business Model for iText
      •    Growing the Business for iText
      •    Selling the iText Business
      •    Leaving the iText Business
      •    About This Book
      •    Personal Testimonial
  • Part I: Failing Forward

    • Chapter 1: High School
      •    Brief History of My Hometown
      •    My First Computer: the TI-99/4A
      •    My Second Computer: the TRS-80 Model 4P
      •    Writing Computer Games
      •    Writing Business Applications
      •    My First Business
    • Chapter 2: College
      •    Art or Engineering?
      •    A Movie Romance
      •    Failing My Third Year
      •    Ingeborg to the Rescue
      •    Rediscovering a Hobby
      •    Postponed Graduation
    • Chapter 3: Internship
      •    Jack of All Trades, Master of None
      •    “Only Losers Don’t Find a Job”
      •    Geographic Information Systems
      •    From Trainee to Trainer
      •    Leading the CyberCity Project
      •    My First Contract with TRASYS
    • Chapter 4: Early Career
      •    Working for TRASYS (Part 1)
      •    Failure #2: the Belgium Applet
      •    Working for The Reference
      •    Working for TRASYS (Part 2)
      •    Failure #3: Perl Server Pages
      •    Working for Ghent University
      •    Failure #4: cat@loogje.com
      •    Finding My Purpose
    • Chapter 5: My First PDF Library
      •    The Camelot Paper
      •    Adobe Acrobat
      •    The Portable Document Format
      •    In Search of a PDF Library
      •    The Problem with rugPdf
    • Chapter 6: The Birth of iText
      •    Basic Building Blocks
      •    Different Writer Objects
      •    Creating PDF, HTML, RTF in Five Steps
      •    The Difference with Apache FOP
      •    Choosing a Name
      •    My Thirtieth Birthday
    • Chapter 7: Frustrations
      •    No Promotion (Part 1)
      •    Civil Disobedience
      •    No Promotion (Part 2)
      •    Working for JCS
      •    A Future for iText
  • Part II: Building Free and Open Source Software

    • Chapter 8: Free Software
      •    Homebrew Computers
      •    An Open Letter to Hobbyists
      •    Copyright and Software Licenses
      •    The GNU Manifesto
      •    The GNU General Public License
      •    The GNU Operating System with a Linux Kernel
      •    Linux and the Internet
    • Chapter 9: Open Source Software
      •    The Cathedral and the Bazaar
      •    “Let’s Call It Open Source”
      •    The Open Source Initiative
      •    Open Source versus Free Software
      •    iText, Free and Open Source PDF Software
      •    Promotion and Propagation of iText
      •    Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt
      •    Three Missions for iText
    • Chapter 10: iText in Action
      •    Documentation Needed!
      •    A Tutorial Funded by Competitors
      •    Book Contract Offers
      •    Signing a Book Contract
      •    The Development Phase
      •    The Review Process
      •    Go or No Go?
      •    The Production Phase
      •    From Idea to Book
      •    Book Sales
      •    Intangible Rewards
      •    Mission 1: Accomplished
    • Chapter 11: Intellectual Property
      •    Eclipse Simultaneous Release
      •    Research Project
      •    Green Code
      •    Yellow Code
        •       Code from Third-Party Developers
        •       Code from Third-Party Projects
      •    Red Code
        •       Example 1: JavaWorld’s Java Tips
        •       Example 2: Java Advanced Imaging
        •       Example 3: Encapsulated PostScript
        •       Example 4: IntHashtable
        •       Example 5: RC4
      •    Mission 2: Accomplished
    • Chapter 12: 1T3XT BVBA
      •    First M&A Opportunity
      •    Social Security Contributions
      •    The First iText Company
      •    Near Failure
      •    Mission 3: Failed
    • Chapter 13: iText Software Corporation
      •    Our First Customers
      •    Our First Product
      •    Our First Salespeople
      •    The Problem with the (L)GPL
      •    The Affero General Public License
      •    Dual Licensing
      •    From Version 2 to Version 5
      •    iText in Action (Second Edition)
      •    Need for Dedicated Developers
    • Chapter 14: Bootstrapping
      •    Bootstrapping or Venture Capital?
      •    iBoot by IBBT
      •    First Trip to the US
      •    A Failed Merger Attempt
      •    Wil-Low BVBA (Version 1)
      •    Second M&A Opportunity
      •    First Valuation
    • Chapter 15: iText Software BVBA
      •    The Limitations of Salespeople on Commission
      •    Our First Employees on Payroll
      •    My First Visit to Adobe
      •    Reading the Meeting
      •    International Standards for PDF
      •    Mission 3: Accomplished
    • Chapter 16: Monetizing Open Source
      •    Four Generations of FOSS
      •    Making Money with FOSS
        •       Donations
        •       Using Ads
        •       Selling Documentation
        •       Selling Support and Maintenance
        •       Offering Professional Services
        •       Selling Licenses
        •       Using the Open Core Model
        •       Offering a Service Built on Top of FOSS
      •    What Is Success?
      •    Thinking of Selling the Business
    • Chapter 17: Lessons Learned
      •    Lesson #1: “There are as many diagnoses as there are specialists”
      •    Lesson #2: “Everybody lies”
      •    Lesson #3: “Tests take time; treatment is quicker”
      •    A New Challenge
  • Part III: From Start-up to Exit

    • Chapter 18: Dilemmas
      •    Project IQ
      •    A Clear Deadline
      •    Meeting with Venture Capitalists
      •    Establishing a Relationship with a VC
      •    The Founder’s Dilemmas
      •    Comparing 1T3XT with Acquia
        •       Founders
        •       Hires
        •       Investors
        •       Successors
      •    Switching from Control Decisions to Wealth Decisions
    • Chapter 19: A Strategy for iText
      •    Our Options (Part 1)
        •       Option 0: “We Want Out!”
        •       Option 1: “Milk It!”
        •       Option 2: “Pedal to the Metal!”
        •       Option 3: “Drive It!”
      •    Our Goals
      •    Patents
      •    A Sales Office in Boston
      •    Reorganization of Companies
      •    Board of Directors
      •    New Accountant and a Commissioner
      •    New Law Firm
      •    New Office and More Human Resources
      •    New Salespeople
      •    Financial Results
    • Chapter 20: Winning
      •    Bad Loser
      •    Winning Awards
      •    Winning in Court
        •       Step 1: Visit a Bailiff
        •       Step 2: Send a Cease and Desist
        •       Step 3: Go to Court
        •       Step 4: Execution of the Judgment
        •       Aftermath of the Lawsuit
      •    Winning an Audience
        •       Use of iText
        •       Free versus Paid Use
        •       The Competition
        •       Scores for iText
      •    Winning Territory
        •       Global Distribution of Sales
        •       Choosing a Location for iText Software Asia
        •       Incorporating in Singapore
        •       Success in the APAC Region
        •       Growth in the Rest of the World
      •    Winning Time
    • Chapter 21: A Roadmap for iText
      •    Project Arya
        •       Non-Western Writing Systems
        •       Ambiguities and Inconsistencies
        •       HTML to PDF
        •       Structured PDF
        •       PDF 2.0
        •       Realization of Project Arya
      •    Project Tyrion
        •       Reporting Tools
        •       DITO: Designing Interactive Templates Online
      •    Other Projects
      •    Our Options (Part 2)
        •       Option 0: “Business as Usual”
        •       Option 1: “Make!”
        •       Option 2: “Buy!”
        •       Option 3: “We Want In!”
      •    Working on Different Levels
    • Chapter 22: Partial Exit
      •    Valuation
      •    Project Wall Street
      •    Two Candidates
        •       Candidate 1: A Self-Proclaimed Adobe Killer
        •       Candidate 2: Hancom
      •    The M&A Process
      •    Wil-Low BVBA (Part 2)
      •    Mission Accomplished
    • Chapter 23: Year 1—A Search for Synergies
      •    Hancom’s Products
        •       Web Office
        •       Hancom Document Converter Service
      •    Project Tyrion (DITO)
      •    iText Sales in Asia
      •    Board Meetings
      •    A Clash of Cultures
      •    A Side Project
      •    Mixed Feelings
    • Chapter 24: Year 2—A Change of Strategy
      •    Back to the Roots
      •    iText as a Platform
      •    A Breach of Trust
      •    Our Options (Part 3)
        •       Task 0: “Business as Usual”
        •       Task 1: “Expanding Our Product Portfolio”
        •       Task 2: “Further Development of External Channels”
        •       Task 3: “Further Development of the Organization”
      •    An Adventurous Life
      •    Gearing up for Growth
      •    A Promising Escape Route
    • Chapter 25: Year 3—A Change in Management
      •    Dark Clouds and Politics
      •    The Budget for 2018
      •    Losing the COO and CEO
      •    The New CEO and COO
      •    A New Shareholder
      •    A #MeToo Case
      •    My Future Role
      •    Last Honorable Escape Route
    • Chapter 26: Exit Through the Courtroom
      •    Preparing the Fight
      •    First Round: the Commercial Court
        •       Wisdom of the Court
        •       Revelation by The Bell
        •       Safeguarding Interests
        •       Valuation Reports
      •    Second Round: the Court of Appeal
        •       The First AGM Attempt
        •       The Court of Appeal—Forced Withdrawal
        •       The Court of Appeal—Provisional Administrator
        •       The Second AGM Attempt
        •       Penalties are Coming
      •    Final Round: a Settlement Agreement
  • Epilogue

    • New Challenges
      •    Writing as a Remedy
      •    Getting Feedback from Readers
      •    After iText
      •    Make Me Proud!
    • Acknowledgments
      •    Personal Thanks
      •    For those who aren’t mentioned here
    • Chronological Overview
    • Index

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