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Andy Raskin

Andy Raskin

2 months ago

I've Never Seen a Sales Deck This Good

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Benjamin Lin

Benjamin Lin

2 months ago

I sold my side project for $20,000: 6 lessons I learned

How I monetized and sold an abandoned side project for $20,000

Unfortunately, there was no real handshake as the sale was transacted entirely online

The Origin Story

I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur but never succeeded. I often had business ideas, made a landing page, and told my buddies. Never got customers.

In April 2021, I decided to try again with a new strategy. I noticed that I had trouble acquiring an initial set of customers, so I wanted to start by acquiring a product that had a small user base that I could grow.

I found a SaaS marketplace called MicroAcquire.com where you could buy and sell SaaS products. I liked Shareit.video, an online Loom-like screen recorder.

Shareit.video didn't generate revenue, but 50 people visited daily to record screencasts.

Purchasing a Failed Side Project

I eventually bought Shareit.video for $12,000 from its owner.

$12,000 was probably too much for a website without revenue or registered users.

I thought time was most important. I could have recreated the website, but it would take months. $12,000 would give me an organized code base and a working product with a few users to monetize.

You should always ask yourself the build vs buy decision when starting a new project

I considered buying a screen recording website and trying to grow it versus buying a new car or investing in crypto with the $12K.

Buying the website would make me a real entrepreneur, which I wanted more than anything.

Putting down so much money would force me to commit to the project and prevent me from quitting too soon.

A Year of Development

I rebranded the website to be called RecordJoy and worked on it with my cousin for about a year. Within a year, we made $5000 and had 3000 users.

We spent $3500 on ads, hosting, and software to run the business.

AppSumo promoted our $120 Life Time Deal in exchange for 30% of the revenue.

We put RecordJoy on maintenance mode after 6 months because we couldn't find a scalable user acquisition channel.

We improved SEO and redesigned our landing page, but nothing worked.

Growth flatlined, so we put the project on maintenance mode

Despite not being able to grow RecordJoy any further, I had already learned so much from working on the project so I was fine with putting it on maintenance mode. RecordJoy still made $500 a month, which was great lunch money.

Getting Taken Over

One of our customers emailed me asking for some feature requests and I replied that we weren’t going to add any more features in the near future. They asked if we'd sell.

We got on a call with the customer and I asked if he would be interested in buying RecordJoy for 15k. The customer wanted around $8k but would consider it.

Since we were negotiating with one buyer, we put RecordJoy on MicroAcquire to see if there were other offers.

Everything is negotiable, including how long the buyer can remain an exclusive buyer and what the payment schedule should be.

We quickly received 10+ offers. We got 18.5k. There was also about $1000 in AppSumo that we could not withdraw, so we agreed to transfer that over for $600 since about 40% of our sales on AppSumo usually end up being refunded.

Lessons Learned

First, create an acquisition channel

We couldn't discover a scalable acquisition route for RecordJoy. If I had to start another project, I'd develop a robust acquisition channel first. It might be LinkedIn, Medium, or YouTube.

Purchase Power of the Buyer Affects Acquisition Price

Some of the buyers we spoke to were individuals looking to buy side projects, as well as companies looking to launch a new product category. Individual buyers had less budgets than organizations.

Customers of AppSumo vary.

AppSumo customers value lifetime deals and low prices, which may not be a good way to build a business with recurring revenue. Designed for AppSumo users, your product may not connect with other users.

Try to increase acquisition trust

Acquisition often fails. The buyer can go cold feet, cease communicating, or run away with your stuff. Trusting the buyer ensures a smooth asset exchange. First acquisition meeting was unpleasant and price negotiation was tight. In later meetings, we spent the first few minutes trying to get to know the buyer’s motivations and background before jumping into the negotiation, which helped build trust.

Operating expenses can reduce your earnings.

Monitor operating costs. We were really happy when we withdrew the $5000 we made from AppSumo and Stripe until we realized that we had spent $3500 in operating fees. Spend money on software and consultants to help you understand what to build.

Don't overspend on advertising

We invested $1500 on Google Ads but made little money. For a side project, it’s better to focus on organic traffic from SEO rather than paid ads unless you know your ads are going to have a positive ROI.

The woman

The woman

14 days ago

Because he worked on his side projects during working hours, my junior was fired and sued.

Many developers do it, but I don't approve.

Art made by the author

Aren't many programmers part-time? Many work full-time but also freelance. If the job agreement allows it, I see no problem.

Tech businesses' policies vary. I have a friend in Google, Germany. According to his contract, he couldn't do an outside job. Google owns any code he writes while employed.

I was shocked. Later, I found that different Google regions have different policies.

A corporation can normally establish any agreement before hiring you. They're negotiable. When there's no agreement, state law may apply. In court, law isn't so simple.

I won't delve into legal details. Instead, let’s talk about the incident.

How he was discovered

In one month, he missed two deadlines. His boss was frustrated because the assignment wasn't difficult to miss twice. When a team can't finish work on time, they all earn bad grades.

He annoyed the whole team. One team member (anonymous) told the project manager he worked on side projects during office hours. He may have missed deadlines because of this.

The project manager was furious. He needed evidence. The manager caught him within a week. The manager told higher-ups immediately.

The company wanted to set an example

Management could terminate him and settle the problem. But the company wanted to set an example for those developers who breached the regulation.

Because dismissal isn't enough. Every organization invests heavily in developer hiring. If developers depart or are fired after a few months, the company suffers.

The developer spent 10 months there. The employer sacked him and demanded ten months' pay. Or they'd sue him.

It was illegal and unethical. The youngster paid the fine and left the company quietly to protect his career.

Right or wrong?

Is the developer's behavior acceptable? Let's discuss developer malpractice.

During office hours, may developers work on other projects? If they're bored during office hours, they might not. Check the employment contract or state law.

If there's no employment clause, check country/state law. Because you can't justify breaking the law. Always. Most employers own their employees' work hours unless it's a contractual position.

If the company agrees, it's fine.

I also oppose companies that force developers to work overtime without pay.

Most states and countries have laws that help companies and workers. Law supports employers in this case. If any of the following are true, the company/employer owns the IP under California law.

  • using the business's resources

  • any equipment, including a laptop used for business.

  • company's mobile device.

  • offices of the company.

  • business time as well. This is crucial. Because this occurred in the instance of my junior.

Company resources are dangerous. Because your company may own the product's IP.  If you have seen the TV show Silicon Valley, you have seen a similar situation there, right?

Conclusion

Simple rule. I avoid big side projects. I work on my laptop on weekends for side projects. I'm safe. But I also know that my company might not be happy with that.

As an employee, I suppose I can. I can make side money. I won't promote it, but I'll respect their time, resources, and task. I also sometimes work extra time to finish my company’s deadlines.

Emils Uztics

Emils Uztics

1 month ago

This billionaire created a side business that brings around $90,000 per month.

Dharmesh Shah, the co-founder of Hubspot. Photo credit: The Hustle.

Dharmesh Shah co-founded HubSpot. WordPlay reached $90,000 per month in revenue without utilizing any of his wealth.

His method:

Take Advantage Of An Established Trend

Remember Wordle? Dharmesh was instantly hooked. As was the tech world.

Wordle took the world by the storm. Photo credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

HubSpot's co-founder noted inefficiencies in a recent My First Million episode. He wanted to play daily. Dharmesh, a tinkerer and software engineer, decided to design a word game.

He's a billionaire. How could he?

  1. Wordle had limitations in his opinion;

  2. Dharmesh is fundamentally a developer. He desired to start something new and increase his programming knowledge;

  3. This project may serve as an excellent illustration for his son, who had begun learning about software development.

Better It Up

Building a new Wordle wasn't successful.

WordPlay lets you play with friends and family. You could challenge them and compare the results. It is a built-in growth tool.

WordPlay features:

  • the capacity to follow sophisticated statistics after creating an account;

  • continuous feedback on your performance;

  • Outstanding domain name (wordplay.com).

Project Development

WordPlay has 9.5 million visitors and 45 million games played since February.

HubSpot co-founder credits tremendous growth to flywheel marketing, pushing the game through his own following.

With Flywheel marketing, each action provides a steady stream of inertia.

Choosing an exploding specialty and making sharing easy also helped.

Shah enabled Google Ads on the website to test earning potential. Monthly revenue was $90,000.

That's just Google Ads. If monetization was the goal, a specialized ad network like Ezoic could double or triple the amount.

Wordle was a great buy for The New York Times at $1 million.

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Sam Hickmann

Sam Hickmann

5 months ago

Improving collaboration with the Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats was written by Dr. Edward de Bono. "Six Thinking Hats" and parallel thinking allow groups to plan thinking processes in a detailed and cohesive way, improving collaboration.

Fundamental ideas

In order to develop strategies for thinking about specific issues, the method assumes that the human brain thinks in a variety of ways that can be intentionally challenged. De Bono identifies six brain-challenging directions. In each direction, the brain brings certain issues into conscious thought (e.g. gut instinct, pessimistic judgement, neutral facts). Some may find wearing hats unnatural, uncomfortable, or counterproductive.

The example of "mismatch" sensitivity is compelling. In the natural world, something out of the ordinary may be dangerous. This mode causes negative judgment and critical thinking.

Colored hats represent each direction. Putting on a colored hat symbolizes changing direction, either literally or metaphorically. De Bono first used this metaphor in his 1971 book "Lateral Thinking for Management" to describe a brainstorming framework. These metaphors allow more complete and elaborate thought separation. Six thinking hats indicate ideas' problems and solutions.

Similarly, his CoRT Thinking Programme introduced "The Five Stages of Thinking" method in 1973.

HATOVERVIEWTECHNIQUE
BLUE"The Big Picture" & ManagingCAF (Consider All Factors); FIP (First Important Priorities)
WHITE"Facts & Information"Information
RED"Feelings & Emotions"Emotions and Ego
BLACK"Negative"PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting); Evaluation
YELLOW"Positive"PMI
GREEN"New Ideas"Concept Challenge; Yes, No, Po

Strategies and programs

After identifying the six thinking modes, programs can be created. These are groups of hats that encompass and structure the thinking process. Several of these are included in the materials for franchised six hats training, but they must often be adapted. Programs are often "emergent," meaning the group plans the first few hats and the facilitator decides what to do next.

The group agrees on how to think, then thinks, then evaluates the results and decides what to do next. Individuals or groups can use sequences (and indeed hats). Each hat is typically used for 2 minutes at a time, although an extended white hat session is common at the start of a process to get everyone on the same page. The red hat is recommended to be used for a very short period to get a visceral gut reaction – about 30 seconds, and in practice often takes the form of dot-voting.

ACTIVITYHAT SEQUENCE
Initial IdeasBlue, White, Green, Blue
Choosing between alternativesBlue, White, (Green), Yellow, Black, Red, Blue
Identifying SolutionsBlue, White, Black, Green, Blue
Quick FeedbackBlue, Black, Green, Blue
Strategic PlanningBlue, Yellow, Black, White, Blue, Green, Blue
Process ImprovementBlue, White, White (Other People's Views), Yellow, Black, Green, Red, Blue
Solving ProblemsBlue, White, Green, Red, Yellow, Black, Green, Blue
Performance ReviewBlue, Red, White, Yellow, Black, Green, Blue

Use

Speedo's swimsuit designers reportedly used the six thinking hats. "They used the "Six Thinking Hats" method to brainstorm, with a green hat for creative ideas and a black one for feasibility.

Typically, a project begins with extensive white hat research. Each hat is used for a few minutes at a time, except the red hat, which is limited to 30 seconds to ensure an instinctive gut reaction, not judgement. According to Malcolm Gladwell's "blink" theory, this pace improves thinking.

De Bono believed that the key to a successful Six Thinking Hats session was focusing the discussion on a particular approach. A meeting may be called to review and solve a problem. The Six Thinking Hats method can be used in sequence to explore the problem, develop a set of solutions, and choose a solution through critical examination.

Everyone may don the Blue hat to discuss the meeting's goals and objectives. The discussion may then shift to Red hat thinking to gather opinions and reactions. This phase may also be used to determine who will be affected by the problem and/or solutions. The discussion may then shift to the (Yellow then) Green hat to generate solutions and ideas. The discussion may move from White hat thinking to Black hat thinking to develop solution set criticisms.

Because everyone is focused on one approach at a time, the group is more collaborative than if one person is reacting emotionally (Red hat), another is trying to be objective (White hat), and another is critical of the points which emerge from the discussion (Black hat). The hats help people approach problems from different angles and highlight problem-solving flaws.

Victoria Kurichenko

Victoria Kurichenko

1 month ago

What Happened After I Posted an AI-Generated Post on My Website

This could cost you.

Image credit: istockphoto

Content creators may have heard about Google's "Helpful content upgrade."

This change is another Google effort to remove low-quality, repetitive, and AI-generated content.

Why should content creators care?

Because too much content manipulates search results.

My experience includes the following.

Website admins seek high-quality guest posts from me. They send me AI-generated text after I say "yes." My readers are irrelevant. Backlinks are needed.

Companies copy high-ranking content to boost their Google rankings. Unfortunately, it's common.

What does this content offer?

Nothing.

Despite Google's updates and efforts to clean search results, webmasters create manipulative content.

As a marketer, I knew about AI-powered content generation tools. However, I've never tried them.

I use old-fashioned content creation methods to grow my website from 0 to 3,000 monthly views in one year.

Last year, I launched a niche website.

I do keyword research, analyze search intent and competitors' content, write an article, proofread it, and then optimize it.

This strategy is time-consuming.

But it yields results!

Here's proof from Google Analytics:

Traffic report August 2021 — August 2022

Proven strategies yield promising results.

To validate my assumptions and find new strategies, I run many experiments.

I tested an AI-powered content generator.

I used a tool to write this Google-optimized article about SEO for startups.

I wanted to analyze AI-generated content's Google performance.

Here are the outcomes of my test.

First, quality.

I dislike "meh" content. I expect articles to answer my questions. If not, I've wasted my time.

My essays usually include research, personal anecdotes, and what I accomplished and achieved.

AI-generated articles aren't as good because they lack individuality.

Read my AI-generated article about startup SEO to see what I mean.

An excerpt from my AI-generated article.

It's dry and shallow, IMO.

It seems robotic.

I'd use quotes and personal experience to show how SEO for startups is different.

My article paraphrases top-ranked articles on a certain topic.

It's readable but useless. Similar articles abound online. Why read it?

AI-generated content is low-quality.

Let me show you how this content ranks on Google.

The Google Search Console report shows impressions, clicks, and average position.

The AI-generated article performance

Low numbers.

No one opens the 5th Google search result page to read the article. Too far!

You may say the new article will improve.

Marketing-wise, I doubt it.

This article is shorter and less comprehensive than top-ranking pages. It's unlikely to win because of this.

AI-generated content's terrible reality.

I'll compare how this content I wrote for readers and SEO performs.

Both the AI and my article are fresh, but trends are emerging.

Here is how my article written with SEO and users in mind, performs

My article's CTR and average position are higher.

I spent a week researching and producing that piece, unlike AI-generated content. My expert perspective and unique consequences make it interesting to read.

Human-made.

In summary

No content generator can duplicate a human's tone, writing style, or creativity. Artificial content is always inferior.

Not "bad," but inferior.

Demand for content production tools will rise despite Google's efforts to eradicate thin content.

Most won't spend hours producing link-building articles. Costly.

As guest and sponsored posts, artificial content will thrive.

Before accepting a new arrangement, content creators and website owners should consider this.

Isaac Benson

Isaac Benson

4 months ago

What's the difference between Proof-of-Time and Proof-of-History?

Blockchain validates transactions with consensus algorithms. Bitcoin and Ethereum use Proof-of-Work, while Polkadot and Cardano use Proof-of-Stake.

Other consensus protocols are used to verify transactions besides these two. This post focuses on Proof-of-Time (PoT), used by Analog, and Proof-of-History (PoH), used by Solana as a hybrid consensus protocol.

PoT and PoH may seem similar to users, but they are actually very different protocols.

Proof-of-Time (PoT)

Analog developed Proof-of-Time (PoT) based on Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS). Users select "delegates" to validate the next block in DPoS. PoT uses a ranking system, and validators stake an equal amount of tokens. Validators also "self-select" themselves via a verifiable random function."

The ranking system gives network validators a performance score, with trustworthy validators with a long history getting higher scores. System also considers validator's fixed stake. PoT's ledger is called "Timechain."

Voting on delegates borrows from DPoS, but there are changes. PoT's first voting stage has validators (or "time electors" putting forward a block to be included in the ledger).

Validators are chosen randomly based on their ranking score and fixed stake. One validator is chosen at a time using a Verifiable Delay Function (VDF).

Validators use a verifiable delay function to determine if they'll propose a Timechain block. If chosen, they validate the transaction and generate a VDF proof before submitting both to other Timechain nodes.

This leads to the second process, where the transaction is passed through 1,000 validators selected using the same method. Each validator checks the transaction to ensure it's valid.

If the transaction passes, validators accept the block, and if over 2/3 accept it, it's added to the Timechain.

Proof-of-History (PoH)

Proof-of-History is a consensus algorithm that proves when a transaction occurred. PoH uses a VDF to verify transactions, like Proof-of-Time. Similar to Proof-of-Work, VDFs use a lot of computing power to calculate but little to verify transactions, similar to (PoW).

This shows users and validators how long a transaction took to verify.

PoH uses VDFs to verify event intervals. This process uses cryptography to prevent determining output from input.

The outputs of one transaction are used as inputs for the next. Timestamps record the inputs' order. This checks if data was created before an event.

PoT vs. PoH

PoT and PoH differ in that:

  • PoT uses VDFs to select validators (or time electors), while PoH measures time between events.

  • PoH uses a VDF to validate transactions, while PoT uses a ranking system.

  • PoT's VDF-elected validators verify transactions proposed by a previous validator. PoH uses a VDF to validate transactions and data.

Conclusion

Both Proof-of-Time (PoT) and Proof-of-History (PoH) validate blockchain transactions differently. PoT uses a ranking system to randomly select validators to verify transactions.

PoH uses a Verifiable Delay Function to validate transactions, verify how much time has passed between two events, and allow validators to quickly verify a transaction without malicious actors knowing the input.