May 17, 2019

"I'm Walking Away From the Product I Spent a Year Building"

Rob Walling @robwalling

This is an excellent, long-form article from @derrickreimer (co-host of Art of Product podcast, co-founder of Drip) about why his latest effort, Level, didn't pan out even after he spent a lot of time validating it:


  1. 15

    Thanks Rob!

    I hope this in-depth retrospective will be helpful to other indie hackers who are working through idea validation, product development, and determining product-founder fit.

    1. 2

      You did your best. I wish I had even half your integrity and grit. Best of luck on all your future endeavors! I will keep following :)

      1. 1

        Also, "still missing trivial things like password reset" really hit close to home.
        Slack has raised the bar quite a bit in terms of workplace comm so customers' expectations are over the moon; I learned the hard way myself. Thanks so much for sharing all of that.

        1. 2

          Thanks :) to be clear though, the trivial things missing were probably not a major problem. The bigger problem was that people didn’t see Slack as a big enough problem / some people really love the unhealthy parts of Slack. So I’m still a proponent of not spending too much time on trivial stuff before shipping 👍

    2. 1

      What were the new technologies you were learning as you built?

        1. 1

          Oh cool! Teaching Elixir is my entire indiehack! Also, kudos for the Techzing reference.

    3. 1

      Thanks for sharing your story so openly. I've been following your progress on Level for a while and was excited to see it come together. Because of that, I was really surprised when I read the title of that post. At first I thought that sounds like a huge mistake but once I finished reading it, I completely understood your reasons. Especially because of your clarity on making that decision based on what you want the company to be. I'm sure it'll help other IHs who might be in a similar spot.

  2. 5

    Lot of actionable takeaways here, but at the very least I felt obligated to buy a copy of The Mom Test:

    1. 4

      Hope it lives up to the hype ;)

    2. 1

      This comment was deleted a year ago.

  3. 3

    2nd The Mom Test book - must read for anyone doing idea validation! I had some interviews lined up and was not confident about the questions I was asking. Grabbed the book, ended up scrapping most of my questions and re-writing them from scratch. This is not a sales pitch for the book.. just to give you an idea of how wrong one can be about the questions they ask - specifically that magical question "what did you do about it?". After the initial batch of interviews I quickly disqualified my idea and was left with a whole new perspective on idea validation.

    Thanks for sharing your story Derrick. It must have been difficult just writing this, seeing how much effort you've put into Level. I very much appreciate your openness and I'm sure this will help a ton of people who read this! Btw, I love your podcast (recently discovered) and everything Honeybadger is putting out on Founder Quest! I plan on including both in my resources list on SaaS Genius.

    Rob, thanks for sharing this, and Derrick, I wish you the best in your future endeavors, and can't wait to see what you work on next!

  4. 1

    He should have used the roaster, things like "I am a mental wreck" on the landing page? Sometimes feedback needs to be rough

  5. 1

    Thanks for sharing Rob.

  6. 1

    Interesting read, and pretty much pinpoints how no amount of customer research, validation etc will help you as much as sheer luck.

    In hindsight it looks like Level could easily be a success, would @derrickreimer have just gone with his gut and instead of putting effort into talking to customers he'd channel it into launching a more polished product. Slack is a major nuisance for many teams, yet it's natural that one wouldn't try to switch it for something that doesn't look finished enough. Maybe a bit of tenacity would've gone a long way there.

  7. 1

    I just came across this on HN and was checking to see if it had been shared here already. It was a very interesting read, related to my own past experience. Will definitely check out the books mentioned by Derrick.

  8. 1

    Thanks for the share Rob!

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