In 1999, I co-founded an online retailer called Gracious Style. With no budget for expensive software, I went with open source. I downloaded and customized a CGI shopping cart. We hosted our website on Linux and used open source databases like MySQL and PostgreSQL. Eventually, we built a complete open source ERP solution to manage our back office.
Why We Love Open Source
With open source software, we have been able to deliver advanced solutions for a fraction of the cost of commercial alternatives.
More important than the cost, though, has been the flexibility of open source. We found that once we had access to the source code, anything was possible. There was no limit to how we can adapt it fit our needs.
Finally, we never had to worry about our vendors going away or changing their plans on us. With the source code, we could control our own destiny.
What We’ve Learned
We’ve also learned some valuable lessons along the way. We saw that there were sometimes significant gaps in feature sets and available support between commercial and open source products. We also realized that open source communities, which are often developer-oriented, do not always meet all the needs of non-technical business users.
Finally, we learned this most important lesson: If open source gives you the freedom to do anything, you’d better know how to do it right. Like the old saying, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Our (new) Mission
Twenty years later, we’re still running our business on open source. We’ve also created open source software for many other companies, big and small, around the world.
But we want to do much more.
We live in a truly historic time, where the pace of technological innovation is only matched by the magnitude of our challenges. Climate change threatens to undo all the brilliant achievements of our civilization.
The good news, though? We have all the tools to stop climate change. We already know how to be more efficient and power ourselves with clean renewable energy. We just need to make those tools available.
This is where open source could play a key role: By making those vital tools available to everyone in our world, so that together we could cross the bridge to a truly sustainable economy.
We want to help build that bridge with open source software and guide others through it as well.
I hope you’ll be a part of our journey.
Open Source Strategies