The Hogwarts for the new gen of creators
This month 👾 The perfect homepage quest | A Solopreneur story | Sam Altman on Productivity | AI wearables | Building Meta’s Threads App + loads more…
🆕 Personal Updates
In last month’s issue, I shared a new project I’m working on. Well, it's check-in time. Progress is steady and I should have the landing page ready for the next issue to share while working on the product in parallel. I have some big ideas but I’m fighting the urge to tinker with too many ideas at the same time and remain focused and get something ready to share. It's great to finally kick this off and get creative again.
I’ll be sharing more in the coming newsletters. This is my public accountability so please feel free to nudge me for more details in the coming month.
Right, let’s get to it - time for this month’s roundup 👇
🔥 Top post last month: Sam Altman on Productivity
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The never-ending quest to create the perfect homepage
As I’ve alluded to already I’m in the midst of working on a new project and I’m currently designing the landing page. Seems simple enough right? It’s just one page, how hard can it be? Well, it’s bloody hard ok. It’s a page which represents your brand, it’s most likely the most visited page of your site and it can’t just look pretty, it needs to perform and to craft a page that performs means a lot of refinement and thinking. This comes down to the copy, branding, composition of each section, call to action placement and loads more.
In this post, Matt Hodges, outlines his best practices taken from his extensive experience designing homepages for some big software brands such as Intercom and Loom. He’s now working for Equals and his first order of business is redesigning the homepage. Matt breaks down the entire redesign of the site and shares his secret sauce of success in a fantastic step-by-step process. I’ve taken a bunch of tips, tricks and hacks from this post.
🎁 Bonus content: If you're looking for some landing page-specific advice Matt’s got you covered again with his “12 steps to creating landing pages that convert” post on Intercom.
My solopreneur story: zero to $45K/mo in 2 years
On 20 September 2021, Tony Dinh became unemployed and began the journey of self-employment with two years of savings and $500 MRR from his side projects he set out to be a self-employed maker. However, over the past two years, a lot has changed. So far, he’s:
created four small but successful products two of which have been acquired
built an audience of 97K followers on Twitter
created this newsletter with 6,000+ subscribers
jumped on the AI hype train and successfully created a product with it
and survived a drama that almost killed his business
During his first two years of self-employment, he’s built a portfolio of small businesses and products which bring in a total revenue of about $45K/month with a strong profit margin of ~90%.
In this insightful and candid post, Tony recaps his journey to help and inspire others looking to do the same, sharing all his products, revenue, growth strategies, highs and lows of being an indie hacker, how his life has changed and what’s next.
Building Meta’s Threads App
The hype surrounding Meta’s launch of Threads has perhaps faded in recent weeks, however, regardless of whether you tried their “X killer” it was no doubt an impressive accomplishment for a number of reasons. In this post,(AKA The Perez Hilton of tech) Interviews the Meta engineering team behind Threads for a behind-the-scenes peek at what it was like to build an app in just 3 months and achieve 100M downloads in the first 5 days, kicking Open AI’s ChatGPT off the throne (100M downloads in 2 months).
The team at its peak consisted of 60 engineers, 3 product managers and 3 designers. They were all internally recruited and sworn to secrecy internally until the lead-up to the launch.
Now I’ll admit, I haven’t used Threads and I did feel the hype of 100 million downloads in 5 days wasn’t exactly fair given Meta has the largest distribution network of any product on the planet with 3.5 Billion users (77% of worldwide internet users). However, after reading this post I take that back and tip my digital hat to the team who pulled this off.
If like me you’re part of a software dev team you will find this post fascinating.
Sam’s shameless plugs
Don’t worry this isn’t going to be a regular slot each month. I don’t do this often but when I do they come in two’s (it seems).
Earlier this year I was invited to chat about all things product validation with guys at The Sausage Factory. Don’t let the fun name fool you, they ask some tricky questions. We drilled into topics such as the essential art of product idea validation, how to measure Product Market Fit, why it is crucial to act fast on your concepts and why there has never been a better time than now to create something remarkable. Check it out here.
Katt Risen ofinterviewed me about my journey creating NoCode.tech back in 2016 and eventually selling it in 2018. In this post I share, validating the idea before building, building in public and listening to your users, my revenue model, getting my first users and the acquisition. On a side note, Katt has done an incredible job with her blog and newsletter in such a short period of time, having built her following across social and evolving the mission of No-code exits. Her newsletter alone has made $16K in just one year since starting it. Check the post out here.
Introducing Sillycovalley, a fast-paced startup simulation game where you play the founder of a tech startup. Picture this, you've just secured a $40k seed round and you're 120 days away from pitching your startup at demo day. build a product people love and grow to as many users as possible but beware, if your funds deplete before demo day, it’s game over.
On a side note, this is a great lead-gen tool by FairPixels, a design subscription service targeting startups. Dangling a nerdy game like this in front of tech founders is like fishing with dynamite. P.S. If you are interested in learning more about this new all-you-can-eat design model check out August’s newsletter.
Buildspace | The Hogwarts for the new gen of creators
If there were one business I would jump through a burning hoop to build and operate, it would be Buildspace.
I’ve been watching from the sidelines since Buildspace emerged from YC back in 2020. Farza started Buildspace in December 2019 with $25,000 from Furqan (founder of Founders Inc - a fascinating Startup Studio) however, it wasn’t anything like it is today. Originally, it was called “ZipHomeschool” where he was building software to help parents homeschool their kids. 3-years later and an astonishing 10 pivots, Buildscape was born.
Buildspace is a school for people who want to learn how to start a business doing what they love. Maybe you want to create a new app, record a new type of music, build an indie game you have an idea for, or whatever. It’s a 6-month program in San Francisco where you work full-time on your idea, attend lectures and get advice from those who have done it before, all for free. For folk outside of the US, they also have a 6-week online program called Nights & Weekends open to everyone where they will show you how to get your first users, fans, or revenue.
Hogwarts is where you go to become a great fucking wizard. Buildspace is where you go to be a fantastic builder.
🎁 Bonus content: Check out this YouTube post with Farza discussing the early days as a founder, starting Buildspace + raising $10m from YCombinator and a16z, creating a new life path for builders and creatives, finding mentors, faith, failure, finding meaning & more.
This month’s products are a blend of software and physical goods that have caught my attention.
The macOS App Icon Book
The macOS App Icon Book is the sequel to The iOS App Icon Book by Danish designer Michael Flarup. The purpose of these books is to preserve the history of icon design. This book took him a mere 1.5 years to create compared to his last iOS Icon book which took him over 4 years.
The Mac is a fascinating platform with a much more diverse and experimental history of icon design. It is just as much in need of preservation (if not more) than the icon history on iOS. Even if you're not designing icons for the Mac, a lot of design language starts and ends with the desktop and I think this book will be an excellent source of inspiration for all design.
Trickle | Turn Your Screenshot Chaos into Gold
How many screenshots do you have on your desktop? I just checked and I have 146 mostly unorganised and collecting dust with little value. In comes Trickle. A screen capture organisation solution with GPT-4 baked-in. Transform your disorganised screenshots into useful information. Beyond summarisation, Trickle decodes the essence of your captures providing the ability to search all your screenshots using keyword search.
In the space of just a few days, three alternative approaches to AI wearables have emerged with distinctly different technology, privacy, designs, visions and funding. Since their public launches, they have evoked mixed responses with a lot of concern over privacy similar to what we experienced with the launch of Google Glass in 2013.
The question is are AI wearables really hardware innovations or a new use for existing components?
Rewind Pendant is a wearable that captures everything you’ve seen, said, or heard in the real world and then transcribes, encrypts, and stores it entirely locally on your phone. Currently taking pre-orders.
Lastly, is Humane which recently debuted its much-anticipated wearable called AI Pin. However, instead of a typical keynote launch, they opted for unavailing it on the catwalk. The Humane Ai Pin is a screenless, standalone device and software platform in the form of a wearable which clips onto your clothing and projects a display onto your palm. You can check out an older TED talk which provides a sneak peak of it in action. Given its roster of founders and substantial funding, is this going to be the next Qubi?
P.S. Check out the ‘other links to consume’ below for more on OpenAIs talks to launch a new AI wearable too.
👾 Community Submissions
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Beta Directory | Discover the latest tech products
This month’s latest early access beta products brought to you by Beta Directory are:
Unlost: Everything you've seen or heard from your computer can now be semantically searched and asked.
Dimension: Code, cloud, tasks, and deployments - all on one powerful platform.
Delphi: Clone yourself and interact with your audience 1-1 at scale
🐽 Other links to consume
This month I’ll leave you with this Windows 95 video guide. Turns out in the mid-’90s, Microsoft relied on some friends to help teach people how to use their brand-new operating system by bringing in Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston.
No this isn’t a joke, Microsoft literally filmed an hour instructional video with the actors explaining 25 of the operating system’s hit features. Aniston and Perry arrive at Bill Gates’ office for a casting call for a Microsoft video, and Gates’ personal secretary takes them on a helpful tour of the new operating system. Gotta love the 90’s.
You can check out the entire video guide on YouTube here. And no I didn’t watch the entire guide as I have a life.
That’s it for this month!
If you made it this far, hit reply or jump into the comments and tell me what you thought of this edition. Was this 🔥 or 🗑. I read every response 👀
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Until next the next issue,
Sam | @thisdickie 👨💻
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