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11 Comments

I built something and use it everyday. Should I spend time making it a product?

Hey everyone,

This is my first IH post. Inspired by all the great posts I have read over the years and excited to contribute.

Background

A couple of weekends ago I made a news aggregator with a focus on audio articles.

It's currently very simple. Grabs latest news, uses a realistic text to speech conversion on the article content and presents result in a nicely optimised web interface.

From a UI perspective, think Apple News meets Spotify.

Heres what the basic UI currently looks like on a mobile (Click the image for best view).

screenshot

I am really loving using the tool. I can take in the daily news without spending a large amount of time scrolling through loads of news articles. I can listen to my news on the go (exercising, cooking etc) and I have reduced daily screen time by almost an hour.

Big publishers are investing heavily in audio articles so I feel like an aggregator of that content would be a useful addition. https://www.wsj.com/articles/publishers-are-investing-in-a-second-generation-of-audio-articles-11597226400

There are also some amazing developments in text to speech coming down the line. Viable voice cloning is on the horizon. Imagine having any news article read to you by your favourite new broadcaster on demand.

I imagine this is not going to compete with voice assistants but be more like Feedly with a USP that audio content is the primary content type.

Questions

  1. Would you personally use something like this?

  2. Does this sound like a sensible thing to turn into a real product. I am looking for an interesting side project that I can grow and maybe monetise in a few months/years time.

  3. If you think I should build it, what would be your advice on next steps. My short term goal would be to get a handful on active users so I can iterative and improve.

Really looking forward to the communities feedback.

James

  1. 3

    Sounds similar to Articulu except web interface instead of mobile.
    https://articulu.com/
    https://www.indiehackers.com/product/articulu

    I think this product is abandoned because it's no longer available in the app store/play store and the founder @Tony is working on another project. Maybe you can reach out to him to learn from his experience.

    I'm skeptical that there's a large enough paying market for this, but you never know. Since you already have a product, I think it's worth the effort of building a landing page and try to get users. You can talk to customers and figure out if you can get them to pay, or whether you need to go a freemium or free+advertising business model.

    I personally prefer reading articles, mostly skim until I find something good then I focus and read. Audio really doesn't work for skimming.

    When I'm driving, exercising, etc. I listen to podcasts to help pass the time and learn something at the same time.

    1. 2

      Yep can confirm this is extremely hard to pull off. There's Noa (news over audio) and Audm which both use human voices not AI.

      Using AI is a deal breaker for many people.

      Another problem is building a B2C (consumer) app, you need hundreds of thousands of users before you can think about making money.

      What we saw was a lot of people liked the idea and product but they all leave because the AI voice is not human.

      1. 2

        Thanks for the insight here guys. I hadn't actually stumbled across Articulu in my research so great to see that.

        https://www.resemble.ai/ has AI voices that are starting to sound really good. The Stephen Fry example is incredible. Not sure the cost of using a service like that could be easily made back with product though.

        Quick thought based on your Articulu experience, would you recommend any existing channels or techniques to find early adopters who enjoy listening to audio articles?

        1. 1

          Yes lots of people in the sub reddit /r/productivity will enjoy it.

          Here's a post that got us a good amount of free sign-ups: https://www.reddit.com/r/productivity/comments/adaf0f/too_busy_and_dont_have_enough_time_to_read_my_new/

  2. 3

    Congrats on the first post 🎉

    I love that you're solving your own problem.

    Curious to know how it aggregates articles? Are you able to input them yourself, then have them generated into audio?

    Your short-term goal is on the right track. In my personal opinion, the next best step would be to identify who else experiences this problem.

    I also think it'd be essential to charge for the product from day one.

    Looking forward to following the project!

    1. 2

      Hey thanks for your feedback.

      With regards to how it work, It uses an existing news aggregating API to get the latest headlines, grabs the first 10 or so paragraphs from the articles website and then uses AWS polly to do the text to speech.

  3. 2

    Love your approach, this is how it should be done.

    I am not aware of other services like this.
    I am a heavy Pocket user and this could be very interesting. Perhaps through a browser extension I can achieve something similar.

    But I think your idea could be worth a shot!

  4. 2

    Hi James!

    1. I prefer listening to news over reading. Do it to have a rest for my eyes after working on PC, while doing some other things at home. The most simple way I found is to switch from the reading news sites to watching dedicated channels on YouTube.
    2. It's hard to say if I'd pay for it. I think I don't expect someone to select what I'd be listening to. I'd like to point some news sites I'd prefer to listen to, then topics on that site etc. If a tool would do such job well, then - why not?
    3. Share what you've already done and make a community around this. Listen to them, then decide.
  5. 2
    1. Not personally, but I prefer to read news over listen. I use audio for background noise and have very specific things that help me concentrate.

    2. This sounds like a great product. If you're using it every day, then it does something nothing else can. I think you'll find others who think the same way.

    3. Look for some users! You may get lucky on reddit or something. If not, you'll just have to pound the pavement and network, advestise, etc.

    I do think you need to start thinking about if you'd like to eventually sell or continue making this a going concern. This could be something Spotify or Apple would want to go into. If you aren't selling, then you need to think of something that makes the app hard to copy.

  6. 1

    Sounds like you’re in a good direction. No harm to discovery the problem statement a little bit deeper from customer point of view.

  7. 1

    I would find a reddit where this would be relevant and write a humble post asking for feedback. Maybe one of the news or politics of current events sub-reddits.

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