No code, no domain: My tell-all of building my first product and making it to #4 on Product Hunt in 12 hours

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The birth of an idea

I conceptualised the idea on the 2nd of February, 2019. I don’t remember how it all began but I know for sure how it all fell in place. I intend to share that with you in this article.

Initially, my idea was to build something called “Hyprtxt”, a Wikipedia for marketers and bootstrappers. I did some groundwork and came up with an introduction to explain what the idea was. Admittedly and obviously, a large portion of it was inspired from Ward Cunningham’s idea of the Wiki. Truly, that was a pillar in the world of the internet.

If you’re interested to read, you can find the description of Hyprtxt here.

I soon realised that building it would require a sophisticated infrastructure of code and platform. I tried finding alternatives to that, which is when I became more frequent to Product Hunt. For those of you living under a rock, this is one place where I see true innovation happening on a daily basis.

LinkedIn used to be my go-to place for that 2 years ago, until it became a cesspool of egoistic corporate cunts that only want a sideshow of themselves, and in no way contribute anything that simulates forward thinking.

Sigh.

Through Product Hunt, I became acquainted with a less advertised part of the entrepreneurial world-the world of bootstrappers and indie makers. Essentially, these are people who are mostly solo, or collaborate with fellow professionals from the internet and build something substantial. What makes them an attractive tribe is that they’re self-funded, and most times symbolise an entire orchestra in one being. It’s truly beautiful, as it reminds me of the renaissance era of free thinkers, and real doers.

Everyday on Product Hunt, I’d find ingenious products (mostly free) to use and experiment with. I then found other communities like Indie Hackers which was again, unquestionably supportive.

A month passed, and all I had done was assimilate a crowded bar of bookmarks I’d probably never visit again.

The problem with a native code platform Hyprtxt would’ve been that I first had to create a good environment in terms of design and content. Post setting up shop, I’d have had to market it all by myself, and get people to use it.

You know what that indicates?

That you’re basically trying to get people to come out of their usual habits, and try and adopt something new. That’s impossible honestly, because humans are arguably the worst at making and accepting change. The age old feud between Democrats and Republicans is an ideal example.

The next issue I faced was primal: I didn’t know how to code! So it took me a week or so to find ideal course material online, understand the sequence of languages to learn and finally collate all the resources I’d need to start off. It was very exciting.

But guess what?

That never happened. 2 videos of HTML5 (aware that it’s not a programming language; it’s still scary for a first-timer) and I could feel myself loosing steam. Not because I was bored of it, but because there was a serious lack of incentive.

That’s something I’ve noticed about being productive or developing a habit.

I wrote this article sometime back on waking up early, and that’s when I did a sort of deep-dive into what prevents us from accepting change in the first place. The answer, as you might have guessed it, is evident: incentive. But the kind of incentive that doesn’t need “pep talk” or some sort of premature boost.

The kind that comes on naturally, poised to mate with the body cycle.

Developing products, either online or offline, follow suit. They must be habit forming products. Easy to remember, easier to use. But on the flip-side, hard to replicate for others or you’ll become extinct in no time!

A looming opportunity

I decided to walk alone. It’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt in the last 3 years of my life serving the society as an entrepreneur. The only way to succeed in the information age is to be host to an ever growing repository of knowledge, thereby honing yourself to function independently.

That’s why at the ripe age of 22, I am contemplating a full-scale expansion of my professional capabilities through coding, marketing, writing and possibly design too.

I took the road less travelled- a road at the peak of creative embodiment, self-learning, discovery and unlimited risks. For every step of the way through 7 hard-core days of developing Aibo, everyday I thought I’d fail. I thought I’d make a fool out of myself, and despite it being a success already, I still live and lie in that same fear.

Being in this solemn state reminds me of a thought: what you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

The pretext of Aibo was to ensure two things:

  1. The practicality of MBA was fully justified in the sense that light would be shed upon only relevant and latest practises.
  2. To extend these touch points interactively, as an exponential level of curiosity is required to gain competitive advantage.

I don’t see the need, but let me remind of how our society’s current education system is only equipped to test our textbook knowledge quotient. But it doesn’t cover other invariants like ability to perform under pressure, aptitude, gaining and applying a diversified knowledge base and ultimately mapping it all together to have an effective impact.

In a word-pragmatism.

The thought with Hyprtxt was simple- I curate and write the best posts on management, and invite other contributors to do the same too. By and by we build a sizeable repository and then add a search functionality, bring in sponsorships and advertisements and make it a modern, slightly modified Wiki. The problem with this idea was that a bloody Medium publication or a tumblr blog would’ve sufficed.

While I can ascertain some degree of originality to Hyprtxt, bottom line: it would inevitably lack structure and hence would make it a packaged nightmare for early adopters. The result? Backlash and rejection from the community it was built for.

1. Chatbots leave us cold. I wonder why.

The bald truth is that most people find chatbots to be soul-sucking and nonsensical. I think they’re just misunderstood, and misused. The worst bit isn’t its non-human nature, but its audacious nature to pretend to have it.

Quizzing students has been around for the longest of time. I don’t get why its always done after a lesson, and not integrated within the lesson itself? As a hardcore entrepreneur, I have a deep-rooted belief and it goes something like this:

“Man goes search for the right questions only when we has run out of right answers.”

This is synonymous to Schrodinger’s cat problem:

Schrodinger’s cat was a thought experiment, and not really a scientific one. With a paradoxical preset, the experiment in a literary sense (as I perceive it) conveys that you cannot know the full outcome of anything unless you satisfy your inherent curiosity. Hence, as the explanation states, you cannot know if the cat lived or died until you open the box and see it yourself, until which it is understood to be both dead and alive at the same time.

Trigonometry, gravity and even your grandmother’s recipes have all been discovered by two things, namely direct observation and questioning, which by extension lead to thought and scientific experiments.

Thus with Aibo, I have made a small attempt to try quizzing and teaching students differently- For Porter’s rule of thumb, I’ve used a more conventional form of QnA quiz, while for everything after that I’ve opted to teach by asking questions, answers to which can be attempted via general knowledge.

End result-tendency to forget is much lesser with a high level of engagement.

2. No code, No domain. Was I insane?

As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t want to waste time learning how to code when by little effort, I could learn an easy skill of building a chatbot from a platform like Chatfuel and build a really good looking website in less than an hour using another free tool like Launchaco, which again I personally use most of the time.

I’ve explored a ton of tools online. I’m virtually glued to the internet 16 hours a day, so I pride myself in head-hunting great tools that not only become my weapons, but my friends too. That’s the good thing about the internet-it’s a virtual democracy where anyone can do anything with nothing but will power, hard work and focus.

I didn’t buy a domain not because I was broke, because I literally didn’t wanna buy one. I wanted to soft-launch it to get initial feedback, but more importantly I wanted to successfully ship my first product no matter the outcome.

Participation was my end goal, and I was lucky enough to live through it with full enjoyment. We should all strive toward that, it feels like a perpetual orgasm.

Adaptability was another concern for me and it was a two way thing. Consumers needed a trustworthy platform like messenger (I know how creepy Facebook is, but messenger is still one of the most used and trusted platforms in the world by the common man).

Hence, it was easier for me to build it, maintain it and potentially scale it too. For end users, it’s literally a click of a button. I thought to myself-worst case, I can use the skill of building chatbots and do it for my clients as an additional service offering to make a quick buck.

As I figure out how to intelligently scale this, I will eventually commercialise certain aspects and build it with code, with a domain too. But bottom line- you don’t need to know everything to make a start!

3. The end result

At the time of publishing this, here are the stats:

Thanks for the great response on Aibo. Check out the website here!