Hi Siddiq…sorry for the delay…
1) How did you come up with the idea for Writely?
It started as an experiment we shared with some users, and we just listened to what they told us.
a) How long did it take you to go from idea to beta product?
Not very long – a month or so, if you don't count the 16 years Steve Newman and I have worked together! We've been working on this kind of thing for a long time.
2) What was your approach to consumer research (focus groups, surveys etc…)?
a) Had you use them in the past and if so to what effect?
We didn't use formal user research, we just talked to the users we had, listened to their concerns, and sifted through all our feedback. I think it's more important to have lots of little interactions constantly, than to have formal events like a focus group. The data is better.
3) Did you do a formal business plan with financial projects? If so…
a) How did you forecast demand?
b) How did you model market size?
c) How closely does your current product match with the plan?
No, we never did a formal business plan. We started as an experiment, it was popular, and we just kept working on it and iterating it. I'm always confidant that you can make money if you give people something of real value.
4) What resources did you have (financial and otherwise) to implement the idea?
We funded the idea ourselves. The rest is just our experience.
5) Who was the first person you called to move the idea forward and
what was that conversation like?
I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine who happens to be a venture investor. I think I pitched the idea to him as "something like Flickr, but for documents instead of images". He thought it was a great idea, so we tried it out.