Yet another post of a future guy living of his product-building! Yay!
So yeah, I'm about to pursue the objective of building products and live of them. I'm pretty sure you have already heard about similar missions from others. Some which had success: Pieter Levels, Patrick Walls, Andrey Azimov or this guy: Hamish Johnson (who you don't yet know, but should totally follow.)
So here Im leaving the very start of my journey written, for future rejoice or shame!
My goal is pretty straight forward, I have in advance of myself about 12 months where I can ration my money and live with 1000€/month. When this time is out, If I haven't made a dime I will have to find a job, end of story.
So the goal is to get 1000€ MRR at the end of 2019. My constrains set up my own goal, that was easy!
When I was a little guy without a prodigious moustache my dream was:
To work anywhere in the world and travel around living adventures
This means I just had to work as a Freelancer right?.... I discovered it is easier said than done. Freelancing wasn't as beautiful as I imagined. I learnt pretty soon about the relationship between time/money. Soon realized I was just selling my time (and not at a great price) .
Next, by pure chance, the opportunity to build a startup crossed my path, and I jumped into it. This clearly broke the direct relationship time/money. But with great power, comes great responsability...things get big, more structured, less flexible etc... although it was a great experience/adventure, it was pretty clear I was not going to start living adventures all around the world any time soon. Maybe IF I got a good exit. So I decided I rather try a different thing than wait and hope for the best.
Along that time I saw NomadList being born. Got interested in the digital nomadism community (It fit pretty good with what I wanted at the time). And the winds of the Internet took me to this post by it's creator Pieter Levels: 12 startups in 12 months. It sounded like a damn cool idea. That planted the seed 🌱.
Then discovered indiehackers and a damn big community of people trying to earn their "freedom" by building stuff (a pretty friendly one too). Eventually the puzzle clicked together and I decided to give it a chance.
So this is basically my third attempt at owning a lifestyle that fullfills my childhood dream. Hopefully the last one 🙏🏻.
Some of you might be thinking 1000€ is a low amount for that dream. But, since I'm travelling somewhere else to work on this project. If I manage to score it, technically I would have been living an adventure while traveling. So goal accomplished!. With this set, I will have plenty of time in the future to make that sum grow if I want to.
Although the idea of 12 startups in 12 months sounds very interesting to me. I'm not going to be as strict. My main focus is validating as soon as possible ideas and discard them in favour of new ones if they don't work.
If product-building get traction and I see potential I will work on them as long as necessary. I see 1 month as a good deadline to validate ideas but I will go with the flow.
I will be mainly working in small SASS products, nothing that might get out of hand, both B2C and B2B. And atleast initially not hiring any talent.
My initial plan is to follow a semi strict schedule/roadmap for each project to maximize the use of my time. Schedule that I will figure out on the following weeks. A draft might include:
- Stablish a "fast" branding template (user personas, product nature, branding...).
- Identify where possible user base lives in the internet.
- Set up a validating prototype (landing, google apps prototype, super light MVP...) and get it around to see how it goes.
- Meanwhile work on the "final" MVP.
- Reflect each week on metrics and progress (maybe a weekly post?).
- Iterate and progress (both marketing and development wise).
I assume each product will have to follow this steps in a relatively orderly manner, so a template to follow could deload a lot of mental energy off this.
- No financing
- No hiring (at least initially)
- Must remain happy/have fun
- Document each product/major event/lesson
- Contribute to Open Source when possible
- No more than 1 month validating time per product
- Only Web based products (not proficient enough in other tech areas)
I often feel in some of this posts there is a lack of background so I will try to put mine as detailed as possible. I'm not starting from scratch at all. Actually it kinda feels like the past ~10 years I have been training for this:
- I worked as a freelance web developer/designer on pretty simple product-building (Wordpress stuff, simple HTML + CSS etc..) from 16 to 21 in various degrees of intensity. During this time I learnt the basics of programming and design.
- On the side I usually did graphic design stuff and got to learn a good bunch about branding, color, composition etc... (also how shitty freelance can be)
- Studied Industrial Design Engineering at uni (not very useful, but 🤷🏻♂️)
- Co-founded a marketing startup where I got a ton of experience on UI, UX, Branding, Business stuff, some Marketing stuff etc... (also how shitty the startup world can be) and made it grow with my team (~15 people) to a good position until I decided to leave.
- Eventually in the middle of the startup's life, I went from Designer to Front-end Developer and Product Owner. To which I dedicated around 2,5 years.
- I have been studying the past 3-4 months with an amazing development community to hone my skills and fill in my gaps specially on the Backend side.
So, as you can see I have pretty much played with everything related to product development, management and profitability... and still I'm scared shitless!
The thing is, when you have an amazing team like I had ❤️, things can feel smooth like butter. Things are hard but you know you can trust on the expertise and work of the others. And at the end of the day, everything seems to just work.
But I'm aware of the harsh reality I'm facing. Everything depends solely on me and I already know how hard it is to build something from scratch and make it grow, and even more for people to pay for it. I'm specially worried with the launch/marketing, since I know its my weakest spot BY FAR and probably the most critical.
To be fully transparent, I'm in no way in a precarious position. I live in a relatively well doing country (Spain), I have a family that could support me in the event of a total failure and I'm at a pretty good professional position to find a good job if life required it. So I'm not going to sell you this is a life/death situation for me.
Worst case scenario: I fail miserably, find a job and we all learn a bit from it 🤘🏻.
I will be starting on March, so meanwhile I have some time to prepare for the voyage. There are some things I have to figure out during this month. Each will probably be followed by an article.
- Generating/investigating/triming ideas
- Deciding a Tech Stack
- Practising/Learning some useful tech concepts/tools
- Deciding a Work/Life schedule
- Deciding a basic Marketing Plan
- Write some articles (to set the basics on my mind and to hopefully generate some traction in the process)
- Build a project scaffolding?
- Start the first project (yet to be decided)
- Start with regular update cycles
If you have anything to add, questions, ideas for future articles etc... don't hesitate to share!