Let's talk about your first product...

Dan Edwards
13 replies
Hey Makers! I was having a nostalgic moment and looking back at past projects I worked on, and it got me thinking, what was the first product you launched? What did you learn? And is it still live? πŸ€” My first was oozled, in 2014. A simple idea: a place for designers to discover must-have tools and resources. The idea came about because of a Medium post that went semi-viral (for the time) https://medium.com/@de/resources... - and of course, I launched on Product Hunt https://www.producthunt.com/post... What did I learn? It was a super quick project that went from blog post > idea > product within a couple of weeks and taught me a lot about speed, iteration and not waiting till an idea was "perfect" before going live, previously I'd designed multiple ideas to the point where I was 5 versions in, 100s of hours spent in design tools, and nothing to show for it other than pixels. Is it still live? Nope. I decided to shut down oozled last year, as although it grew nicely, over the years I was unable to maintain it while also working full time (at the time I was running a design studio with a friend). I don't regret it as my priorities were different at the time, and knowing when to kill an idea is just as important as deciding when to start one. Anyway, that's my story! Looking forward to hearing yours!

Replies

@de Hey! Nice idea discussion. A few years ago I wanted to teach myself some HTML and CSS. Coming from a purely design background I felt like it was time to increase my knowledge of how stuff is actually built. I signed up for Treehouse and devoured a whole load of their courses and soon enough wanted to put what i'd learnt to good use. I'd had this idea for a while about people doing drawings of their favourite album covers and sharing them online, so I set about making it. It was very crude, basically just a huge unordered list, but it was responsive which I was chuffed about. My favourite bit? Learning media queries, and enabling the sketchy little logo i'd done for it change at various different breakpoints. Is it still live? Nah, it seemed a bit frivolous to keep something online that no one looked at and that I didn't keep updated. If you want to see any of the covers though the twitter account is still around - https://twitter.com/HandDrawnLP?... Thanks!
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Designer @ Snyk - Ex Product Hunt
@dnbhm Thanks for sharing, Dan! Great to hear you enjoyed the process, that’s super important when learning anything new. Learning to code can be super rewarding as a designer. Has this changed your perspective or how you approach design projects? And thanks for the Twitter link, some really good albums on there! ✌️
@de Oh yeah, it changed everything. Design, communication, scoping, hand off, project planning. Probably kickstarted a whole revolutionary chapter in my career
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Co-Founder, instadeq.com
@de the ones that I didn't plan where the ones that worked, the ones that I started on purpose didn't work. I started a small instant messenger prototype to learn more about Python and GTK and it took off and was used by hundreds of thousands of users, it grew a big community of collaborators too, until the network (MSN) closed. I started a small calculator to learn more about Erlang and it grew to the efene programming language, it wasn't a huge success but it got the attention from many people and got me into many conferences and allowed me to meet a lot of people. 9 years ago I tried to create a "startup" (
) with some friends, we built it and when we launched nobody came, instead of building an MVP and start looking for users we built it almost complete before launching, then we ran out of energy when the product didn't take off. I learned that you should launch early and iterate based on feedback, don't let the user acquisition for later. also that marketing matters.
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Designer @ Snyk - Ex Product Hunt
@warianoguerra Great story, Mariano! Thank you for sharing. I've done the exact same before with projects, and found that the ones that I work on for fun were the most rewarding for me. Sounds like we've had similar lessons, it doesn't stop you feeling deflated when an MVP doesn't get the traction you wanted/expected, but at least you know you've not spent tons of hours and money into a product that doesn't have the demand. Again, thanks for sharing this. Keep on making!
Working on https://harvy.app
@de Ah my first product, what memories πŸ™ƒ Back in college I had the idea to build a New Tab Chrome Extension that would show a random gif based on keywords to the users. I called it "Aww New Tab" and it is actually still working as of today: https://chrome.google.com/websto... What did I learn? So the fun thing about this project was that I built it _to learn._ My first version used some basic JS and was pretty simple. Then I wanted to learn about Bootstrap and such so I created a new version. Then I learned a little bit about Angular so I built another version. It's always been my "playground" project for learning new languages/technology in the browser for fun. As I said this was also built in college so we had a "demo day" type of activity that I was able to show this off at as well, so overall it hit a bunch of learning points for me that I am grateful for. Is it live? It is still live but I haven't touched it in a couple of years. Based on Google Analytics some people are still using it so it's good to see it isn't crashing 😎 I did launch it on PH a while back as a learning experience in launching and gathering feedback. I love this discussion though! I haven't checked out Aww New Tab in a while now and looking at it again...it's got me thinking what I could do to improve it 🧐
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Designer @ Snyk - Ex Product Hunt
@kevinguebert Nostalgia is fun! Thanks for sharing your first product, Kevin. And what a fun idea it is too. Kittens = instant win. I also love the idea of using a project like yours to learn from, be that a specific tool or technology or just to learn about launching and getting feedback like you mentioned. Really glad this discussion got you looking back at an old product, maybe it'll give you that bit of motivation to do something new, and if you do - let me know! πŸ‘€
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Working on https://harvy.app
@de Using projects to learn definitely helps me out in understanding whatever it is I am trying to learn. I can look at a book or read a tutorial but may not fully grasp it all until I actually sit down and build something with it. More hands-on type of learner instead of just reading about it. It's also better than just building "another to-do app" πŸ˜‰
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Designer @ Snyk - Ex Product Hunt
@kevinguebert Dammit, to-do apps not cool anymore? There goes the idea for our next project at PH πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‚
@de my first solo-product is Clarify, it came from my own personal experience of dealing with my employer and the lack of professional development initiatives or tools offered. I helped myself by logging and tracking my own professional achievements and used them to show my employer the value I had personally created for them in dollars and time, which helped me personally, grow in my career and double my salary. I employed the same tactic with a fellow co-worker, until I decided there had to be a better way execute this at scale. Our goal is to provide professionals with the right tools and data to help them manage their careers, beat their performance reviews, and their resumes. Clarify is actually built using "no-code", and although this is the case, I think my background in business analytics, and experience with VBA and Excel logic, is helping me push "no-code" to the limit. My next step is to learn API implementation so that I can push Clarify even further and expand on the possibilities of Clarify. What did I learn? Launching is easy, anyone can do it. Selling and distribution is difficult, especially if you're going at it solo, and dedication to the grind is key, but in the long run it's what separates the want-epreneurs from the entrepreneurs. I've enjoyed the ride of emotions, it's a great mental exercise is how i see it. Is it still live? Yes, and I've set aside my own fund to run this for the next 2 years at the very least.
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Designer @ Snyk - Ex Product Hunt
@jcalvarezjr wow, this is a super inspiring story! Thank you so much for sharing it. Soliving problems you’ve had yourself is always a great start, and the fact that you’ve got it built using no code and on your own is incredible πŸ‘πŸ‘ For sure empathise with you on distribution and selling, it’s so hard, especially if you’re a maker at heart, and not a business/ sales person. Ever considered a partner / mentor? Good luck with Clarify, excited to follow your journey!
@de Thanks! Yea and even though I have selling experience (B2B consumer goods to retailers) it doesn't necessarily translate 100% to SaaS. It for sure helps me when pitching, emailing, following up, and closing leads, but the SaaS component is a learning curve. I haven't looked into a partner due to the mere nature that I'd have to be able to connect with said person at a significant level (business is like marriage, and I already did one of those incorrectly in my past haha), and have aligned goals and mission. My goal is to continue "no-code" until I can have proper validation and good traction. We've onboarded 274 professionals since mid-February and growing steadily and carefully. A mentor would be a huge help, especially when it comes to SaaS and just overall channel penetration guidance, being in Miami, it is a little difficult to find the right people.
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