How much money do you make?
This month 👾 The Startup Handbook | 1 humanoid to 1 human | bootstrapping to $200m | Failed Products + loads more…
🆕 Personal Updates
Firstly I want to say a huge thanks to everyone who responded back letting me know they received the first issue on Substack. The support was incredible and it’s great to know people are at the other end of this newsletter. It was by far the most opened newsletter I’ve sent in the past year so I can safely say Substack is working.
Last week I finished the write-up for my AI experiment and shared it on Hackernews, or as some folk know it, the land of the trolls. I went to bed with zero views despite checking my GA account multiple times. However, the next morning, I woke up to almost 35k visits to my post, countless emails, hundreds of new subs, and hundreds of pretty negative comments on HackerNews - unsurprisingly.
Right, let’s get to it - time for this month’s roundup 👇
🔥 Top post last month: The Product Managers Prompt Book
More Revenue; Fewer Problems
It doesn’t matter what kind of software you sell. One-time purchases, recurrent payments, or SaaS subscriptions of any kind. FastSpring’s global platform delivers industry-best acceptance rates for purchases from customers around the world.
How to find your niche
I recently had a Zoom call with some admirable newsletter creators. Each of us gave an intro and explained what our newsletter was about. I admittedly struggled with my pitch, mostly due to it being a pretty broad newsletter and not serving a particular niche. I’m fully aware of the wisdom of serving a particular niche and the benefits it can bring, but my counterintuitive approach has served me well so far. As Jay Clouse points out in this post “at some point, the "niches" just get silly. If you're not careful, you end up serving millennial men who collect Hot Wheels cars who also live in Tacoma, Washington and were named prom king in high school.” As Jay points out, the typical advice regarding niches is to make them as narrow as possible to reduce competition. However, this can lead to not enough traction and be short-term thinking. A better approach is to think long-term and use category design or personal monopolies to create a unique solution to a large existing problem.
The Startup Handbook
Firstly, I can’t believe this guide is free. It’s so comprehensive and packed with years of wisdom from Julian Shapiro. This guy knows a thing or two about startups. He’s an investor in seed-stage ventures via Julian.capital and previously, founded Demand Curve, a Y Combinator startup that grows other companies and trains thousands of companies in growth. This handbook provides tech startup founders with tools to improve their products, including in-depth advice on growth, recruiting, and fundraising. It also provides lessons on market pull, finding ideas, acquiring and retaining customers, hiring, and fundraising. And if that isn’t enough it also includes additional resources on landing pages, growth channels, and growth teams.
🎁 Bonus content: Julian is a pretty fascinating guy. He’s building a ranch in the middle of nowhere. Check out this podcast episode (35mins in) which discusses more about the ranch. Just putting two and two together but the ranch might explain his reason for this post on Armageddon.
How much money do you make?
Talking about how much you make is a taboo subject for most people. Discussing pay raises, house prices, savings, and salary scales can be uncomfortable and even offensive for many people. Similar to sex, religion, and politics, financial topics are often considered social taboos that are swept under the rug and hidden behind awkward coughs and smiles. However, money is an important aspect of our lives, and we can learn from others by discussing it. Personally, I enjoy discussing personal finances and could talk about it with friends all day, if they were willing to open up about it. Recently discovered a new blog by Andrew Rea where he interviews real people on real numbers and discusses their relationship with money, their salary, and how they spend and invest. I’m blown away by the transparency and the detail each post goes into. So far it’s pretty tech-bro-heavy but fascinating nonetheless.
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1 general purpose humanoid to 1 human
Just when you are envisaging a world with advanced AI and the implications it will have on society you get thrown another curve ball to digest. How does “The world’s first commercially-viable autonomous humanoid robot” sound to you? well, the first images of this new humanoid have just emerged from stealth and they are as terrifying as they sound. You might think it’s just vaporware, but they are pretty well underway with the prototype. My only question is, why did you have to go with the Darth Vader dark mode? Sure it’s cool as a phone or laptop but as a robot, I’m not so sure. Likely for me, it seems they are built to a height of 5’6” so I think I stand my chances.
However, this isn’t the first time we have heard of such robots, just recently Tesla’s Optimus prototype was unveiled and Boston Dynamics have been creating terrifying military robots for the past decade.
Superhuman's Secret Onboarding Revealed
Ah, the infamous Superhuman. A luxury SAAS product we have been hearing about for years. It’s an invite-only app which is considered one of the most exclusive services in the tech industry. Why is it so exclusive and elusive? because it’s still invite-only, despite it being launched back in 2016. Once you get your golden ticket you need to join a waiting list of 200k. But that’s not the end of it. Once you make it off the waiting list you need to join a concierge onboarding service with one of their team (I actually wrote about Superhuman’s waiting list strategy a while back). This counterintuitive process did work believe it or not, but the question is, can it continue with this strategy almost 6 years later? In this interactive walkthrough the Growth.Design team take you through Superhmuman’s end-to-end onboarding journey and provide their thorough critique.
🎁 Bonus content: While we are on the topic of onboarding, check this comprehensive post on “Onboarding opportunities that most of us will miss”.
10 lessons on bootstrapping a $200m business
While the headline is pretty vanilla I can assure you the content isn’t. This episode is taken from Lenny Rachitsky insanely popular podcast where he typically speaks with world-class product leaders to uncover tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product. However, this in my opinion is his best yet and it’s not some PM regurgitating their “unique” prioritisation process. This time he’s chatting with Patrick Campbell - founder and CEO of ProfitWell, which he bootstrapped and sold for over $200 million. The reason I like Patrick is his somewhat contrarian perspectives and his blunt but sound advice. Don’t believe me? just check out his post on why he sold ProfitWell to Paddle. In this episode, Patrick shares his learnings from building and selling his company, his time working at the NSA and why despite him being bootstrapped, he regretted not seeking outside investment earlier. In Patrick’s own words “1 thing I say will aggravate you (at least) and you'll learn 8 things (at least) that help you”.
🎁 Bonus content: Dan Shipper built a chatbot trained on his entire newsletter archive called Lenny Bot - check out how he created it (no programming experience required).
I was recently researching AI-based video editing tools and stumbled across this video by Premiere Gal. Turns out browser-based video editing tools have come a long way since I last checked. I can’t believe what is possible now. It reminds me of the no-code wave and its democratisation of software development for non-techies. Now it seems the democratisation of video editors is well underway and lowering the barrier for general civilians like me to do some pretty astonishing things that just weren’t possible a few years ago without super expensive software and a lot of practice. Here is just a small snapshot of what is possible with Runway. Firstly, you can say goodbye to the tedious process of rotoscoping footage frame by frame to remove backgrounds - now it’s as simple as selecting the object to keep and the background is removed in seconds. Additionally, they have just announced Gen-1, a text-guided generative diffusion model for video generation. Probably means nothing, so check out this and tell me it’s nothing. With 30+ AI Magic Tools, and real-time video editing it’s a seriously impressive tool.
In my opinion, the power of AI is just beginning to emerge in ways that will reinvent video and make the seemingly impossible possible. Watch this space.
I’m fully onboard the AI hype train and struggling to get off. I can’t seem to escape the barrage of new products being launched. I’m torn between one part of me thinking folk are going to be sick of hearing about them but also thinking why shouldn’t I share if they are impressive and could provide value? So here we go. Typeface just recently came out of stealth just last month with their eye-watering announcement of their $65m in funding. Typeface is a generative AI app looking to supercharge personalized content creation for work. You can enter a simple natural language prompt and build a blog post, job description, email marketing copy, landing page or social post. It learns your tone, personas, and products so you can express your vision uniquely without having to remind it each time. Additionally, it uses generative image models to create unique images for all your content at the same time as generating the copy.
Beta Directory | Discover the freshest beta drops
This month’s latest early access beta products brought to you by Beta Directory are:
Wist: Step Inside Your Memories.
Genius: Powerful, next-gen photo manager.
Galileo: Your Figma AI design companion.
👾 Friends of Creator Club
This month I want to give a shout-out to a long-time reader of the newsletter - Rolf Mistelbacher and his bi-weekly newsletter for content creators & marketing nerds.
It’s packed with useful apps, tools, websites and hand-picked reading tips at the intersection of productivity, tech, startups, content creation, social media and growth. Check it out.
🐽 Other links to consume
🐦 Tweet of the month
This month we are exploring failures. It’s easy to find #successporn, but trickier to find failures to learn from. Last month a bunch of well-known indie creators shared a list of all their product launches with some context as to why they failed. The one thing you will likely notice is the sheer amount of products they have launched (AKA high batting average).
In addition to Pat Walls, Pieter Levels, Josh Pigford and Marc Köhlbrugge also shared their list of product launches and failures over the years. Check the links out and see them for yourself.
This month I’m going back to 2006. The image below is the iPhone software development environment. Just a year later this janky prototype was packed up into the iPhone. If you look closely, you will notice a white iPhone-looking device in the top left-hand corner of the image. This was one of two early prototypes, codenamed the “Wallabies” as Ken Kocienda (software engineer and designer at Apple) shared recently.
If you really want to deep into the rabbit hole of the iPhone origin check out this post.
That’s it for this month!
If you made it this far, hit reply and tell me what you thought of this newsletter. Was this 🔥 or 🗑. I read every response 👀
Until next the next issue,
Sam | @thisdickie 👨💻
Thanks for reading Creator Club! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Great stuff Sam! Thanks for sharing. I couldn't agree more about your view on niche newsletters. Having little competition in a super narrow niche can be great, but having the flexibility to really establish your voice and figure out what readers actually want is way more valuable. It also makes it far easier to stay consistent and write for longterm success. Keep up the great work!