Issue 1

Inspiration for Indie Founders

August 28, 2020

Content of the Week:

1) Thinking One Step Ahead to Grow Your Business via PR with Dmitry Dragilev of

by Courtland Allen via the Indie Hackers Podcast - Podcast 🎧 (1 hr 5 min)

Many aspiring founders of small tech businesses usually come from engineering or product backgrounds. Marketing is an entirely different beast from building a great product but can often be a huge driver towards the success of your business. One aspect of marketing that is often overlooked is working with the press. This podcast has tons of insights on how one can work together with journalists to successfully market their business.

2) Product development for indie hackers

by Ivan Homola - Blog Post 📰(5 min)

This post brings together a lot of key advice around strategically building a successful product, I highly recommend this for any reader starting out on their indie hacking journey. I have heard many similar learnings from many other successful indie hackers, and this post does a great job bringing them together in a single concise post.

The thing I like about being an indie hacker is that you can slowly build your project. However, you need to know where to start and define the first useable version of your product.

3) Being OK With Not Being Extraordinary

by Tiffany Matthe - Blog Post 📰(2 min)

A quick read that brings forth the idea that end goals should not be aligned with the “extraordinary”, instead try to avoid disappointment and discouragement that can lead to giving up. Small tech businesses generally thrive on niche markets and ones that will often never reach the size and scale of what most might consider “extraordinary” - and that is totally okay.

Extraordinary should not be the end goal. I like to envision the extraordinary space in society as a small ledge at the top of a cliff. It gives you a beautiful view and a sense of accomplishment, but is also tight and oppressing. The sheer physical constraints means that not everyone will reach it. But that shouldn’t stop you from putting a hand on the cliff and lifting yourself towards that ledge.

In the News: Apple’s App Store vs Developers

“Apple vs Developers” is not a new or newsworthy by any means, but ever since Basecamp butted heads with Apple back in June with its Hey app getting rejected, the struggle between developers and Apple’s strict app store guidelines reached what seemed felt like a peak breaking point at the time.

Then on August 13th, Fortnite was removed from the app store after Epic acted defiantly and activated an in-app store of their own in their iOS version of Fortnite that was in clear violation of Apple’s app store guidelines. Very shortly after this, Wordpress had their widely used app rejected as well, but Apple responded quickly in backtracking and attributing it to a mistake on their part. Ben Thompson’s Stratechery covered the ramifications of these incidents well in his post, Rethinking the App Store.

So how does this tie back to small tech businesses? Apple is forced to publicly address cases when large, influential companies speak out claiming unfair app store treatment. But what has gone mostly unnoticed is all the small business or individual developers getting the blunt end of Apple’s rejections with very little recourse. Imagine having a business built around an iOS app, and having your revenue entirely cut-off due to a violation ruling that you disagree with. At the very least, these events are reminders on the risks of relying heavily on another company’s platform.

Community Spotlight: Indie Hackers

Learn from the founders behind hundreds of profitable online businesses, and connect with others who are starting and growing their own companies.

Indie Hackers was started by Courtland Allen (@csallen) in 2016 and made its mark as a collection of insightful interviews of various successful indie founders. It has since spawned into having a podcast and also a growing community of aspiring and successful founders.

From the Archives: Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company

by Sahil Lavingia - Blog Post 📰 (5 min)

Sahil, founder of Gumroad, reflects on his journey from weekend project —> VC-backed startup —> layoffs and “failure” —> rebirth as a one-person business. Nowadays Gumroad has thrived and become an essential tool for creators trying to make their own living selling digital content. Sahil’s journey perfectly captures the essence of why many of us prefer small tech businesses over larger, more traditional tech companies.

For years, my only metric of success was building a billion-dollar company. Now, I realize that was a terrible goal. It’s completely arbitrary and doesn’t accurately reflect impact.I’m not making an excuse or pretending that I didn’t fail. I’m not pretending that failure feels good. Everyone knows that the failure rate in startups — especially venture-funded ones — is super high, but it still sucks when you don’t reach your goals.

Written by Justin Chu, a software developer based in Seattle, WA. He is currently building his own small tech business, Mobo Games.
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