Product Development February 21, 2020

How did you start?

Team Indie Hackers @TeamIH

We've all started from somewhere. What you do at the start doesn't mean that's what you do once you've achieved some growth.

What things did you do to hustle your product from nothing into something?

PS. Nathan Barry's story is very relevant here especially seeing where his business is now.

  1. 6

    Indie Hackers got started as a blog. Specifically, it was a collection of 10 or 11 interviews that I'd done with founders. I tried to make the interviews as useful to readers as possible, for example, by requiring the guests to share their revenue numbers. This helped the site do well on Hacker News and Twitter, which helped me gather lots of mailing list subscribers, which was a crucial channel for advertising the forum in the early days.

  2. 2

    Scratching my own itch

    At a previous job, we were building an API-first Saas. We had a lot of trouble demonstrating the functionality of our API to non-technical users e.g. product managers, executives, prospective clients, etc. We eventually hired a front end developer to build a simple demo UI for this purpose. I was struck by how wasteful it was to pay a full time employee to build what was essentially a mechanical translation of our API resources into web pages - especially since we already had an OpenAPI (swagger) spec for our API. So I built a web app that can do that mechanical translation. Now I'm trying to figure out how to find other companies with the same problem.

  3. 2

    I started Ministry of Testing as an online forum. Before I created it I had been hanging out with testers online. This was back in 2007 so options were limited and mostly via blog, email, chat (Skype/messenger).

    In hindsight, spending the time with these people in the early days was pretty crucial in getting the first forum members and discussions off the ground.

    These days people refer to this kind of stuff as 'build your audience first'.

  4. 2

    I build lots of different products (web components) and finally found a niche (image editor) that scratched my itch and had a good amount of potential customers.

  5. 1

    We're building an mvp for BrokenToken 🧨.
    Enabling people to mint personal tokens on the ethereum blockchain so they can tokenize their time. We are still doing lots of manual work. Who know what could happen in the future, it's more a side project atm.

  6. 1

    I started out basically doing some freelance work for a homeschool conference I regularly attended (and had connections to the leaders). I built a basic event app for them at an hourly rate but I also maintained rights to the code.

    For awhile, I was doing various freelance jobs like that and sold the same app (with manual modifications) to a couple more conferences.

    Late 2018, I decided to go all in on building the event platform and I rebuilt the app in a scalable way. By mid-2019, I had built a fairly feature full event platform including an app and registration. I started to sell that and I now have 5 customers. All of them, so far, have been referrals from my first customer.

    Now I'm trying to push out of my super-niche market and into other conferences/events. In some ways, my company is about 5 years old. In others, it's just over a year old.

  7. 1

    Most people here are probably going to list a cool growth strategy that put their product on the stars. For me, the most effective way I grew my company was simple: I moved in with my parents.

    To hustle my product from nothing into something, I lived with my parents while starting I worked out of their basement... Yes, I was that guy.

    But then, in July, I moved out of my parents' basement and into my own place. In August I hired my first employee. He's from Chicago and we work remotely.

    Starting a business is hard. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices if you want to get there. I'm not saying that everyone should move back in with their parents. To be honest, I was fortunate to even have that option. I'm just saying that sometimes in order to grow your business, you just gotta put in more time. And that comes with sacrifices. At the time, I did what I needed to do in order to get things off the ground quickly...I lived with my parents.

    The latest slick growth trick won't always get you there, and there are no shortcuts. Do what you need to do to get the business/product off the ground.

    1. 1

      Honestly that’s the way to do it if you can!

  8. 1

    Happyfeed started as a way for me to learn to develop iPhone apps. I was taking the Stanford University course online for free (you still can through iTunes and it's updated yearly) and wanted a project to apply the lessons to.

    I'd finish 2 lessons per week, do the homework, and develop parts of the app that corresponded with what I'd learned. On the side, I was looking for a full-time job in design and working through rough mockups of the app I was building.

  9. 1

    I don't currently have anything I'm working on. Actively looking for a project!