found the traditional path to success blocked by sales and marketing costs.
"I thought open-source was a model where I can make money and not have salespeople," he says. "My customers do presales and demos on their own by
simply downloading the software and trying it."
Janke says he has no idea how many companies are using the software, called Compiere. But for the part of his business that keeps him afloat -- paid
support contracts -- the response rate so far has been worse than that for spam. Of more than 600,000 downloads of Compiere, 50 customers have signed
support contracts. And those contracts start at $1,500 for 10 people per year -- a pittance compared with the license fees charged by commercial ERP
vendors, which charge anywhere from 10% to 25% of those fees per year for maintenance and support. Compiere works with Linux, Unix, Solaris and
Windows 2000 server operating systems, and with Linux and Windows desktop systems as well.