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The saddest "Just Ship It" story ever

I know, I know, by this point you want "Just Ship It" to be an actual person so you could punch it in the face. As an Indie Maker, that sentence can be super frustrating because it's tired, it's cliche, and your response is always "HEY! You don't understand... it's not that easy".

I agree, it's not easy, but it's always the right thing to do.

Here's why.

I started building an app on 01.01.2018. It was New Year's Eve and we just had the crappiest night ever. Yes, imagine a night so bad that at midnight you decide "you know what, fuck it, I'm gonna work on WEB DEVELOPMENT".
That bad.

The MVP was ready in a few days. I'm not that good of a coder, it's just a simple app. The 0.0.1 alpha version was more than ready. I could've released it, share it with a couple of people, and call it a day. I could've done that with every single version that I made, at any point from 2018 until now. I just wanted to add one more thing. One more feature. Just this one more thing and people will like it. One more screen and everything is gonna make sense. I swear, just this one last thing and it's ready.

BAM, last moment decision from the world's biggest dumbass:
"People wouldn't use this if it doesn't have a proper native mobile app for it. Time to learn React Native and spend a few months on that 🤦️"

God, if time machines were real, past-Kitze would be shoved in a toilet so hard right now.

After 2 years of development, juggling between the fucking horror that's the web platform, React Native, Expo, GraphQL, bitching about how there's no ideal tech stack, the good old jQuery and Filezilla days, switching to other projects, releasing other apps, losing passion, finding passion, coming back to the app, etc. etc. etc...

I just dropped it.

I was still using it but I stopped developing it and just dropped the idea of releasing the app, ever.

After a while, I was using it, but I realized that I'm missing a lot of features, so I'd either have to go back to developing it, or I'd have to find an alternative.

And boy did I find one.

I was scrolling their landing page and I was happy and furious at the same time. Someone solved the problem that I was solving. It was like someone literally read my mind and started coding. WHAT.

I have previously sent a video of my app to a couple of people (closest I came to shipping it) so I started getting suspicious if someone actually shared the video of my app with these people because they were solving literally the same problem, and they most of the features that I had.

I started getting this overwhelming happy, sad, and panicky feeling. I literally cannot explain how I felt while scrolling their page.

One moment I am scrolling their list of features giggling like a little kid with a 48$ bill in a candy store (yea I know 48$ bills don't make sense, but JavaScript doesn't make sense and you're still using it), one moment I want to find these people and THROW THEM IN A PIT OF LIONS.

FUCK.

It's not their fault. I was just slow. I didn't ship on time. I'm gonna go ahead and tattoo "JUST SHIP IT" on my forehead. Nah I wouldn't be able to see it there. On my arm maybe. Nvm, let me go back to scrolling their landing page.

Fuck. They have solved everything that I wanted to solve, and WAY more. Hey, maybe I should be happy? I don't have to code anymore. Yay!? No more web platform? BLISS. Oh crap... the world is never gonna see my app though. But at least I don't have to see React Native anymore. NICE! Wait... BUT I WASTED SO MUCH TIME ON IT. FUCK. A bunch of mixed feelings.

Here comes the saddest part, so grab a pack of tissues.

After a little bit of hesitation, I made an account. I watched the videos in their help center. Every time I caught myself smiling about a clever way they implemented something I slapped myself. NO. Bad Kitze. You shouldn't like this. THEY'RE COMPETITORS. sigh Sure buddy, whatever you tell yourself. Competitors to a shitty codebase sitting on your hard drive.

For 2 frickin' years, I thought it's too early to release my app because it's clunky, buggy, it's missing features, blah, blah, blah. No one would ever use it, right? I was so wrong.

I started using their app.

Even though they were working on it for the past few years it's still slow, buggy, and super unpolished, it doesn't matter, because they shipped.

Their mobile app is terrible and it needs 10 seconds to sync. It doesn't matter, they shipped. And I'm looking forward to every single update they release.

Their backlog of things to do is huge, but it doesn't matter, they ship every single week, and the app is growing along with the community.

"But Kitze, even though tHeY sHiPpEd no one would pay for something unpolished and broken, right?"

Oh, Indie Hackers. So clever, yet so naive.

Today my 30-day trial has expired. A tear rolled down my cheek for every single digit of my credit card that I entered in their app. I am officially not only a subscriber, but also a fan. Every time I'll get a payment notification it's gonna feel like stepping on a lego ... glued to a knife. My bank might as well change the notification from "You have paid 5$ to ThatCompany" to "You never shipped, loser".

My app is officially dead.

99% of you are in the same boat right now, but hopefully just a few weeks into your project. Don't be a dumbass like me. Take a breath, roll your eyes at the cliche saying, but please...

Just Ship It.

P.S I would totally release and show you my app but ... it's not ready yet.

  1. 30

    I would pay $5 just to have this article emailed to me every month.

    1. 7

      lmao
      sets up a gumroad page

      1. 2

        @kitze now make money out of it. Reminder emails to "Just ship it", you got more experience than others in this... now make a simple monthly/weekly reminder emails to let people know that its time to release...

        1. 1

          It would be super easy to set up free reminders with Zapier or IFTTT :) Also I think that after a while you'll just start ignoring the emails/notifications/whatever it is and go back to the old mindset.

          1. 1

            Also I think that after a while you'll just start ignoring the emails/notifications/whatever it is and go back to the old mindset.

            If you trained your mind to go back to your old mindset and you strongly believe that nothing can change you... no app or service or action can bring a change.

            It would be super easy to set up free reminders with Zapier or IFTTT :)

            So you think people won't pay for that ?

            I use to run a service www.DearEle.com (which is closed project now because of spammers)... But my competitor is making a ton of money https://www.followupthen.com/ They are also doing a better job. Its a simple email reminder service. Many think there is no money in such simple services... DearEle visitors often email me asking, how to pay for my product. I learned people pay for simplifications.

            1. 1

              I see that the DearEle.com page is still up. Is the paid product still working?

              1. 1

                Not anymore active. Spammers crashed my servers multiple times.. It needs alot of time to fix.. so I suspended the project.

  2. 13

    The first version of https://versoly.com/ was just a one page builder and was 6x the price of https://carrd.co/ and had less features.

    The UX was terrible, but we launched and learnt so much.

    We even got a random customer sign up to our annual plan (we didn't even have monthly at that point)

    That's when I knew we had something.

    1. 1

      I'm seriously rooting for apps like Versoly to win. I'm tired of coding landing pages, but I've never used a landing page builder because I always feel like there's something missing.

      Wanna hop on my Twitch stream soon and build something with Versoly?

      1. 2

        Sounds great, what we can do is have viewers submit their LPs and we can rebuild them in Versoly to convert better :)

        Really need to build out team members into Versoly, would make life easier for that use case.

  3. 12

    @kitze I don't know about your app, but one thing is for sure, you have a knack for writing engaging articles. Loved your way of writing.

  4. 8

    Hey, if they are buggy, slow, clunky and all those other adjectives, and yet you still paid them. And you have a codebase, although a shitty one (your words, not mine), but still a working product (I hope?). Why don't you just... ship it?

    No potential new customer will compare the two products and will say "Oh this one started earlier, and the other published 2 years later. I should buy the older one." No one thinks that way.

    Your shitty codebase still has a chance to set sail. I'd say ship it.

  5. 5

    This is me haha.

    Haha.

    2 years down the drain.

    sobs quietly

    #justshipit

  6. 4

    One thing, competition is good, and there's always room for alternatives if you make something better, better pricing, fixing other painpoints.

    If there is no competition, that means there is probably no market.

  7. 4

    I feel like I'm crying and laughing at the same time... with you 😅😭😂😢
    We are guilty of keeping these projects under the blanket for way too long. Is that what makes us developers?

    1. 2

      I think the underlying reason is that it's very easy to develop something for you, but it's super hard to make it work for other users (reliably) and then start selling it. I wrote another article about this.

      1. 2

        Yeah, there are indeed two different things. I read the article... so true. I'm in a bit different situation because I shipped my product but haven't tell anyone about it (except here, in milestones). It's time to go to people and my mind is like: "you should update these dependencies", "it's not ready", "would you use something like this?" (I am, but still)... etc, etc.

        Good luck with Sizzy. Looks great.

  8. 4

    I almost choked. The number of times I advised people to "ship it" and yet had my own products still sitting in the docks. I've stopped putting too much weight on my idea and product and focused on customer feedback instead, and it's slowly paying off.

    Thanks for putting it all into words. Like a lot of the comments here, I too think you write well. Your story-telling skills is going to do you wonders for your next product's marketing.

    1. 1

      Thank you! I also wrote about my successful shipping story but I still feel bad about the apps that don't make it :)

      1. 1

        Fantastic! I shall be reading that article too. Thanks.

  9. 3

    Man, You story-telling skills are great. Are you into writing already?

    Back to the topic. First, Thank you. This was much needed. I am working on my first Saas and I was overthinking a lot about on when to ship but I did it.

    1. 2

      Thank you. Good luck with your product!

      1. 1

        Hey, I didn't know you were the maker of sizzy! I loved using that when it was in initial phase.

        1. 1

          Nice! What made you stopped using it? In the past year, we have introduced some massive changes, and the DevTools can be (finally) docked 😄

          1. 1

            So, I think it was because it was fully free and ready to use, like you could just jump into it.

            I like how it has grown now although i don't require it any longer.

            1. 2

              Ah, good to know.

              Btw, it's not meant to be a "check your responsive design" tool anymore, it's meant to completely replace your browser for development.

              So if you're doing any webdev, you're gonna be way faster with stuff like Sizzy Projects

              There's a 14-day trial so feel free to check it out 😅

              1. 1

                Yes, that's why I said I liked it how it has grown. I would give it a try :)

  10. 3

    My first website for www.getflookup.com was literally a group of PDF files hosted on Google Drive! I din't wait to learn HTML or web design, I just released Flookup and waited.

    Since then, I have overhauled the back-end code over 10 times with micro adjustments totalling over 100 changes. I have a better website now, but I still plan on changing it in the near future.

    "Just ship it" is the only way... ship it, and then improve it as you go.

  11. 3

    Great story! 😄
    You should write more often on IH!

    PS: I think I am gonna get a tattoo

    1. 2

      Thanks!

      (you'll regret the tattoo tho) 😄

  12. 3

    We all go through this. Some of us even go through it multiple times before it's drilled into our heads. It's hard not to be a perfectionist.

    Look on the bright side though: every time you pay money to that company, it'll be a reminder for you to just ship it.

  13. 2

    Thanks for sharing Kitze.
    Even though I know the "Just Ship It" mantra, I think I've been pushing it to the back of my mind.
    Your story showed me just how important it is to just ship.

  14. 2

    That was a great read, and very relatable 😄

  15. 2

    This is an incredible post. Thank you #IndieHacker for making me read this post since it was on the top of the homepage and thank you @kitze for publishing it here.

    This has already happened at least twice with and still happening to three of my projects which I am not shipping just because I think it's not ready yet. :(

    Let me look myself into the mirror again and do some shit-talks with the self.

    1. 1

      Thanks, glad you liked it!

  16. 2

    Thanks for all the support and encouragement to release the app anyway, but currently I'm juggling between running Sizzy, making YouTube videos, and streaming. I don't want to put one more thing on my plate, but... one day! 😅

    Also, I have a few more similar articles about my journey on Medium (which hopefully I'll move to to my own blog as soon as I'm done with overengineering it)

    1. 0

      Hey @kitze , why does Sizzy looks exactly like this - https://www.producthunt.com/posts/responsively which is completely free and opensource ?

      I think Sizzy was built first. It may mean that they stole your code ( or anything as such )

      I can see that many users have commented and compared it with Sizzy on the PH but no response from your side.

      Just wanted to make sure that you are aware of it.

      Best wishes.

      1. 1

        That is a clone of what Sizzy was 3.5 years ago: a simple tool for quickly checking the responsive design. When I was personally using Sizzy in that state I was so frustrated because it was missing so many things to actually be usable as a development browser, so I formed a team and we started seriously building an actual browser that developers would want to use all the time. It's a very hard task, and we still have a long way to go.

        We have added so many things, and we're still adding new features every week. Just Sizzy Projects alone took more than 2 months to build.

        To say that they are competitors is actually a bit insulting because honestly, nothing comes even close 😄

        1. 2

          Awesome. Glad that you are already aware and there is nothing competitive as such. 🔥 :)

  17. 2

    Wow, what a read. Just wow.

    1. 1

      Glad you liked it!

  18. 2

    Thanks for the reminder 😅

  19. 2

    How about, just ship it as is before deciding to drop it like that?

    That’s more to show than so many of my attempts.

  20. 2

    This was hilarious. Made me laugh out loud in a crying kind of a way :)

    1. 1

      Thanks, I'm glad 😄

  21. 2

    Well said! Show it off early, show it off often, don't stop showing it off. Build what your users are actually asking for and not what you think they'll ask for. Market validation is the name of the game.

  22. 2

    Not gonna lie, your writing is funny and I found it amusing. I do feel your struggle since I had the same mindset. Spend some time building a new app without showing anybody, a few months later figure out that I maaaaybe should Google and check if there are any competitors and finally with dread and a heart-sinking feeling realize that my idea is not unique by scrolling through a competitors website. That would crush me.

    Nowadays, before even writing a single line of code I make sure that there are enough competitors in the market. Not too few, and not too many. If there are competitors then it's a great sign that there is a market for the business I'm trying to get into.

    In my personal opinion, I think that what you witnessed is the biggest reason you should release the first version of your app, or did you expect to have a monopoly?

    1. 1

      Thanks! No, I absolutely didn't expect a monopoly because this market is swamped with these types of apps anyway. Also, competitors and obsessing with the competition is dumb and overrated, because there's enough space for everyone. I'm gonna write an article about this soon :)

      Anyway, there is still an opportunity to release the app one day, but it's just not the time.

  23. 2

    @kitze Great job putting those feelings into words!

    I've gone through similar scenarios quite a few times since ~13 years ago until I quit my job last year. I built web apps and mobile apps during school, holidays, weekends, vacations and even when I was sick.

    Sometimes I launched, but launched mistakenly thinking that was the finish line. I didn't spend nearly enough time on gathering feedback and improving the product so naturally, the products died.

    Looking back at all of those experiences, sometimes I think:

    any of those experiences could have been a home run helping me achieve my career goals years earlier if I had just made fewer mistakes.

    Of course, that sucks. Especially when you see others succeeding with similar products later on.

    But thinking more about it,

    • I learned A TON on the technical side working on those projects. The product I'm launching now is extremely complex despite its minimal user-friendly interface. I wouldn't be able to make or think of anything like it if I didn't have all the experience.
    • Those learnings took me from an under paid web developer after immigrating to Canada to a well paid director of engineering. I saved a lot and now I'm able to fund my own startup for a long time without having to bring investors onboard from early on with minimal leverage.
    • And many other positive outcomes. Like all the friends I made working at those jobs. Or how much I enjoyed most of the work I did during those years. Or how I got to make a lot of mistakes (and learn from them) on client projects instead of my own 😄

    Now I'm all in, trying to do everything right, and I know the launch is just the beginning. I hope all those past mistakes finally pay off. Wish us both good luck!

  24. 1

    You may not be greatest product builder - but you are one hella writter!

  25. 1

    haha omg this article is awesome (sorry and good luck)

  26. 1

    Omg this was beautifully written and inspiring. Good luck in your future ventures, as they say opportunity is like a bus stop - there's more coming every hour.

  27. 1

    Thanks for this article. I've also noticed that this is a battle that most developers have to fight with.

    I also had some Projects, that never come to live because of loosing this battle.

    I do call it "Afraid to go Live" AtgL

    But you give me some motivation to use your story as game changer for me.
    Thanks for sharing your bitter experience.

  28. 1

    What an engaging read! So relatable. Big thanks for sharing and giving a push to my JustShipIt attitude!

  29. 1

    I felt this way for my last two projects on which I spent 3 years in total , they are now somewhere I don’t care to visit in my laptop !

    Your absolutely right, I am getting a tattoo ‘Ship Already!’ on my face so I never forget it!

  30. 1

    I saw your video. Are you talking about that habit tracking?.. It was a great video...

    What competitors app are you talking about though? I'd like to take a look)

  31. 1

    This should be a TED talk.

    At least you got a great story and experience out of it. I'll be following you from now on :)

  32. 1

    I've worked in software development through my entire career, and I can tell you one thing: Nothing gets shipped without a deadline.

  33. 1

    This made me laugh but that awkward, introspective kind of laugh that only happens when someone articulates exactly how you feel. Thanks for this, I think everyone needs to hear it.

  34. 1

    this is a great post Kitze . Thanks for sharing

  35. 1

    Even though there is someone who releases the app doesn't mean that you can't release yours.

    You can continue working on the problem and find your customers. Imagine someone is selling meats in the market, you can join the competition any time you like.

    "Oh, someone is selling pork already, I can't sell mine". Will you say something like this?

    1. 1

      Wrong comparison. I was working on this app mostly because I needed it for myself. With my priorities shifting (mostly to Sizzy I was desperate to use a finished version of my product, but I didn't have time and motivation to work on it.

      Even tho the competitor's product is not 100% what I want it to be, it's way closer than I'll ever be because they're super focused on it.

      I cannot drop everything and be super focused on mine, so I decided to drop it.

  36. 1

    @kitze Well written post! I feel ya! :P

    1. 1

      This comment was deleted a year ago.

  37. 1

    I was just having a conversation a week ago with my friend who is a senior software engineer. He had a look at my codebase and wanted me to essentially redesign the entire architecture of the project before releasing it... I almost did it too but instead, I laid out the things I needed for a 1.0, and yesterday I shipped it. It's up for review now, but if anyone is interested it's a google chrome extension that lets users track streamers on both mixer and twitch in 1 place. Calling it StreamHub.

    I had been so stoked working on the project while a full-time student, and even though it isn't a very large project it's all entirely new tech to me and took longer than it should have. Long story short, I was checking the chrome web store and my competitor, who wasn't there when I first had the idea, has a 104 user head-start and his software looks so much better than mine. But we are gonna fight for that market share damnit.

    Thanks for listening, and what a great day to read this post. Really makes me happy about my decision to just go for it.

    1. 2

      One advice: don't focus too much and don't obsess with the competition. Good luck with your extension.

      1. 1

        Thank You! I was mostly upset that I wasn't the first to release the idea when I could have been :(

        1. 1

          I released an app just 2 weeks after a competitor that existed for a few years made a major announcement and still crushed them in every aspect.

          That’s why I don’t think about “competition” anymore.

  38. 1

    Thanks for this post ! It indeed probably is the way it goes for a lot of us.

    If you had discovered them while you were in the middle of developing your own, do you think you would have stopped ? Just because someone else was doing exactly the same thing ? (Maybe they started after you, but just, what if ?)

    1. 2

      No, I would never stop because of a competitor, there's enough room for everyone.

      Anyone can come up with unique enough ideas to differentiate themselves from any competitor and at the end of the day, it's all about the story and marketing, not individual features.

      I started other things, got burnt out, and lost the will to work on it.

      1. 1

        Although I know that, I still have a fear that since someone did it before me, it is just a waste of time. Did you have those feelings before ?

  39. 1

    Thanks for the great post. #JustShipIt.

    Feel like using that phrase it as a background on my PC, just reminder every day.

    It has happened to me. Look at the bright side you might be able to use the code for another project or why not still Ship.

  40. 1

    Thank you for this kick in the butt.

    1. 1

      No problem. Good luck!

  41. 1

    It’s currently 5pm where I am, I said to myself that I’m done working on my project for the day, that was at 4pm. After reading that, I’m now a back to working on it🥺

    #JustShipIt

    1. 1

      That's the spirit, just don't get burnt out

  42. 1

    But my app is not ready yet...

  43. 1

    Great writing dude! Fun read:)

  44. 1

    Great story! What's the website you subscribed to?

  45. 1

    @kitze don't give yourself such a hard time, here's why.

    In your story your mentioned you're not good a coding? I took that to mean that, in 2018 you probably didn't have that much professional coding experience, as in, maybe you would have been a junior to midtier developer?

    The reason I say this is, coders themselves always think that great developers are super smart and can code super fast etc etc. But that's not it at all.

    The one thing very senior developers have over their less experienced peers is... They know that that thing that seems kinda easy is not kinda easy at all and will spiral out of control as soon as you start. There is no perfect code or feature. It's just an endless set of difficult compromises that take way way longer than they ever should.

    I think if you had been armed with that level of jaded you would have perhaps questioned shipped early.

    Which is to say, in the last to years or so you've learned a lot 🙂

    1. 1

      Thanks, but I was absolutely joking about the coding thing 😅 I never thought of myself as a bad coder and I open every conference talk with a segment about "there is no such thing as a ninja, senior, rockstar developer"

  46. 1

    Ship it anyway. Now you have something to aim at, a bigger goal. I will try it, other IHs probably will too.

    1. 1

      I answered here, but thanks for the encouragement 🙌

  47. 1

    @kitze Do you think you can ship a "lite" version of your product now? Y/N why?

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