Ideas and Validation December 5, 2019

Better to ditch my idea and work on a product where I know the industry very well?


Basically, I have a dilemma. I'm creating a text editor with several potential features like permanent edits stored on the cloud, and background imagery for inspiration for writers as they write. I'm trying to get feedback from various groups, but nothing really stands out. I'm going to try a few features and if they don't show promise, I'm planning on writing for a different industry.

Prior to software development, I was a stock trader for several years. There's a TON of BS in that industry, especially for retail traders. As a result, I pulled my hair out for several years before realizing what really works (and this by nature is not known to people). I'm thinking of creating a statistical tool that I made for myself during my time as a trader since it doesn't exist. At the same time, I know enough about the industry and have former colleagues I can relay more info to.

From a business standpoint, this makes more sense to me, but I don't want to be an early quitter. Thoughts?

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    Hey @sterling729 👋

    I've just been through the same line of thoughts myself for a couple of weeks, and it's been destroying me. I'd like to respond to your question with my story, because I feel like I've managed to get on the other side and is now feeling optimistic again.


    Work on something you love, anything else will fail in one way or another. Keep at it, pick some future dates in your calendar to reflect on your doubt and success then and not now. Show it to people when possible, the feedback will make you sad and happy, but also increase your spirit going forwards.

    Until then, enjoy the ride, otherwise you'll never see opportunities that lies ahead of you.

    The long story.

    Maybe this is jibberish, but anyway, here's my story that led to some advice I carry with me that enables me to continue the work on my "so far no income" product, that I truly love.

    Around 6 years ago i made my first indie product called "epocu", at the time I was working in a company that relied heavily on SEO, and a friend was into computer games. So I boiled down some principles from the SEO industry and made a platform similar to something called thunderclap. The idea was to help indie game developers who were low on cash and marketing experience, to expose their game to the masses through social media.

    It worked very well, and within 2 months we've had 40.000 visitors. Some games where shared organically to 72.000 people on twitter and facebook.

    Users wrote emails all hours of the day with requests for new features and reported bugs, people discussed it on reddit and blogs would write "How to: add your game on epocu" tutorials. Even blogs authors would call me at night for interviews. It seemed like success, but I just, didn't feel it.

    I'm not really that interested in games, so all these "opportunities" instead became workload, and I quickly felt like I had planted myself in a never ending wheel of work, and on a product I wasn't personally that interested in.

    I closed down epocu after 4 months, despite the success. Some developers reached out and told us their appreciations for what it had meant to their success, but I just couldn't work on it anymore.

    Fast forward to today, after spending the last 6 years working for software companies, I again quit my job to do something on my own, but this time I promised myself to avoid the mistake of building a product i wasn't personally interested in. And like you, I went with a subject I love. My love is skateboarding.

    I've always wanted to work with skateboarding in some way. I even finished an education in clothing design and production when i was 17 so I could potentially make my own skate brand someday.

    I'm now 30, and I launched a couple of months back, I love working on it, I'm building the streaming platform of my dreams for skateboarding! A few people have reached out telling me that they love the website, but I'm having such a hard time getting any traction at all. It's very niche, and it's a totally new industry and community for me.

    So the last couple of weeks has been very difficult. I've had no income for 8 months, I have no to little experience in marketing. I have no pre-existing online audience who skates. My closest has began asking what my plans are. My head has been filled with questions like; am I wasting my time and money? Would I have more success building a SaaS for an industry I already know? Heck, how does marketing on instagram even work?

    I've kept working on it every day despite my doubts, and meanwhile I've been listening to podcasts like indieHackers, but I would constantly have a tiny voice in the back of my mind, telling me that I need to find a way to make some kind of income.

    But suddenly it hit me, that in order to find new content for Ripn, I had built quite a few tools that automates the process of finding new skate videos released on Youtube on a weekly basis.

    By automating content search, I made sure there was no way that I'd ever miss a video, and as I'm improving my tools for automating content search for other things like articles and posts from brands and skaters, I began wondering if other people who are curating and creating content has the same challenges with keeping constantly up-to-date.

    I'm now making a product/market fit analysis and interviewing people to learn if the content search tools has value enough to become a standalone SaaS product so it can help others while improving Ripn as well, in parallel.

    Then just an hour ago, I called an old friend who started a small successful indie SaaS product to brainstorm on the content search idea. He told me out of the blue, that his daughter loves Ripn, the skate videos site, and that she had shown it to people at a well known indoor skatepark, and that they now use Ripn to show skate videos on a tv in the skatepark instead of swapping old VCR cassettes they have watched to death. That's a major success for me, and it has increased my spirit tremendously.


    I really hope you'll overcome these doubts and in time, will see the opportunities only you can see. You are passionate and obviously have knowledge of pain points, existing text editors don't address today.

    I've myself have been working on a markdown based text-editor using Monaco, running in electron when i was an employee to help people write more consistent, precise and gender-neutral, and creating a text editor isn't trivial at all. It's takes a lot of clever engineering and creative solution, which I'm sure you will get through given the time and focus needed.

    I wish you all the best, and don't hesitate to get in contact if you'd like :)

    You can find me on twitter as: "@emilrmoeller"

    1. 1

      Your site is sick!! I am going to be releasing a similar website for surfing this month with a few friends. was the place before but they disappeared, so we're making our own.

      Really love the UI you have, did you make it from scratch? Do you have an email I could reach you at?

      1. 1

        Hi @jawmes!

        Thank you so much! Your appreciation is much appreciated!!
        Yup, It's all my own work. Everything from database, graphql-apis, design and implementation :)

        You are totally welcome to send a mail my way on [email protected] :)

    2. 1

      Thanks Emil, that's all very helpful. Yes, I'm starting to see the merits of finding a project that you love. But at the same time, I want to keep in mind that finding a market and being flexible are important. I guess for the time being I'll stick to my product and rather than pivot, sorta evolve it to see what features to adust the platform to.

      One subject that I absolutely love and is at the top of my list since I was a kid is travel. So, maybe I'll keep that in mind and either evolve or pivot a product that caters to that.

      P.S. Looks like you're from Denmark, that's pretty cool

      1. 1

        It sounds really good! I'm glad to hear your reflection. I mean, it's so damn hard to go indie, but also great :) Don't hesitate to write me if you have meet any technical difficulties as I've been through plenty in creating writing software (is also a thing i love).

        I have actually been living the digital nomad life for 3 years, and on the travels I met so many great people living by writing travel bloggers, photographers and indie web developers. It was a great time, and the people i met where very inspiring.

        P.S Hehe thats funny, let me know if you ever come by Copenhagen

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    Hey 👋

    Obviously guessing here, but I suspect you’ll have more success with the trading tool. Having previous and ongoing contact/inroads with the customer segment and insightful prior knowledge of the topic sounds like a great start.
    Perhaps whack together a decent mvp and try to measure the response?

    1. 1

      Thanks for the input. That's my first instinct. Funnily enough, I found a feature that writers seem to want, so I'll try that out first. Might try an mvp if my word processor doesn't work out...

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    Would it be possible to explore both simultaneously? I know that focus is crucial for building early products, but maybe you could devote a weekend or week to working on this statistical tool. Could even just be meeting up with those former colleagues and see what they think. If it seems like you're on to something and it's exciting for you, then you can explore it more. If not, you can cut it all there.

    I don't think switching to another idea makes you a quitter. It's just about what has the most potential and what is the most motivating for you.

    1. 1

      ya it's possible, and might be a good idea to explore if it's more promising. Might try it out and see.

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    A word processor is a colossal amount of dev work, and as a category of tool, everyone has their favourite custom set up. From a cost/benefit point of view I would do anything else!

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      Yeah, making a MS Word clone would definitely be huge. For now, it's more or less a notepad aimed for writers who said a looping video background, maybe with some sounds based on the typed words that come out would be dope. That's very doable.

      If that doesn't work out, will have to try out my other idea...