Monday, February 5, 2007

Micro Business #1 - Website Thumbnail Generator Service

If you'd like to read a very brief summary of this micro business idea, click here

Total Time Spent: 15 hours
Total Cost: $0.00

The Business Concept

If you've ever needed to get a screenshot of a web page you generally have 3 options:

  1. Navigate to a web page, take a screen print, paste the screen print into an image program, crop it and save it to disk.
  2. Use a service such as or to do it for you.
  3. Download a screen cap program like SnagIt!

I built a service which essentially does the same thing as and Since my plan does not involve spending lots of time and money on marketing my service, I expect to receive a comparatively smaller amount of hits. This means I don't have to sink in as much time building a more robust architecture for my service.

So, why would someone choose to use my web page thumbnail service over snap or webshotspro? One reason, is that it's way simpler! When I orginally tried to generate a web page thumbnail of I got a message saying that they would index the site and generate an image thumbnail within 24 hours. It also did not give me any way to be automatically notified when the image was generated. was better in that I did get the thumbnail more or less immediately, but I still had to wait in a "queue" for the image to be taken.

My service renders your image immediately. You simply get it without having to wait in a queue or having to check back.

Now, because I don't have the amount of time and money that these guys do, I can't guarantee that my service will work 100% of the time or that it will be blazingly fast, especially under heavy loads. I see that as being the price I pay for not sinking in additional time. However, I will say that, so far, the service works very well on 99% of the sites I've tried.

I also added a small feature which really does differentiate my service from snapand webshotspro (a feature I think is unique and kind of cool): along with the thumbnail image, I also give you a list of the colors that the web page uses. This is useful if you're a web developer and are looking for good color palettes or just need to know what hex codes a particular page employs. I'm colorblind and tend to use color palettes from other sites that I like (is that so wrong?).


Micro Business #1 was designed to compete with the likes of and Instead of trying to best them, I went for the path of least resistance and designed a service that simply takes an image of a web page without making you wait in line or at worst, up to 24 hours to get the image.

Because I don't have the money to market this service, I'm hoping that I can generate a small traffic stream which consists of people who are simply looking to get a web page screen shot and/or looking to get a list of hex codes that a web page uses.
Because I'm hoping for a small stream of traffic, I did not spend the time I normally would have building a robust, scalable architecture for the service. I'm sure that if the traffic was heavy, I would be forced to rethink the process. In my mind however, that would be a good problem to have.

The big question remains, of course. How long will it take before my investment of 15 hours becomes worth it? 1 month? 6 months?

And the other big question remains: what's going to be Micro Business #2?!

Thanks for reading! Your comments about the experiment or this micro business are very welcome!

1 comment:

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