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Month #5 Recap

Continuing with Panda Snap
September 2020
Antigua, Guatemala


This month I switched things up. Turns out I didn’t start whole a new project but rather continued with last month’s one.

That’s right, that means I’ll be working on Panda Snap going forward (for at least a few months). It’s been my favourite project so far and I want to see where it goes. It also has users!

But how does that fit in with my 12 start-ups thing? And what did I actually do this month? Let find out.

12 start-ups update

So you’re continuing with Panda Snap, cool. But how does that fit in with your 12 start-ups goal bru?

Well I reckon the 12 start-ups concept is really a process, not the goal itself. It’s been great because it forces you to launch and keep doing so each month. I want to maintain that process.

So my plan going forward is to keep launching. Whether it’s a new product or new version of a product it doesn’t matter. I’ll continue to treat each month as a block of time to build, finish, and launch something start-up related.

Interestingly I can’t find anyone who’s completed this 12 start-ups idea either. They always find something they like and end up working on that. That’s the real goal.

So for Panda Snap the first month was all about the MVP, last month was the beta, and this month is about a stable release.

Should I still call it 12 start-ups then? Not sure 🤔 I’ll think about it.

What I worked on

Last month I posted a video of Panda Snap on Reddit and got a great response. I ended up with 350 sign-ups to the waiting list which motivated me to continue with it this month.

So for the rest of the month I worked hard on trying to release this thing publicly. I ended up releasing the Panda Snap beta.

This is what I did:

I tell you what, just launching a working product to live users takes a lot of effort! Reading that back doesn’t sound like a month’s worth of work but I worked hard.

I guess the extension + server combo complicates things. It’s not just one product but really two! Both need onboarding, they have unique authentication problems, and they must be deployed separately.

It’s been tricky. That’s said I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so far.

How I launched the beta

So after all that work I finally launched the beta. The final thing I had to do was build the landing page.

So for 3 days before launch I built it and I’m super happy with it (check it out here). It needs improvements but I dig the concept.

I actually procrastinated for ages because building it didn’t inspire me. My original design was just images + text like every other landing page. Everything changed though when Joseph on twitter suggested I make it mimic Panda Snap itself.

I was so excited that I threw away my old design and started work immediately. It was way more fun to build and I hope it’s more interesting for new visitors.

Once I finished I was keen to show people. So I posted on reddit again and got another 1.3k upvotes and over 2k visitors to my site. I wasn’t planning to ‘launch’ but I guess I did.

Interestingly it didn’t convert that well as I only had another 100 sign-ups. The simple title + video sign-up page I had before got me 350 sign-ups for a similar view count. I’ll have to do some testing.

Anyway I was stoked to go live finally and get users on the site!

Lastly I made exactly $0 in sales. I wasn’t pushing pricing at all but was curious if anyone would actually buy. Given the major flaws in the product it’s understandable no one bought.

I’m trying to improve that.

What I fucked up

In the week after launch I had A LOT of issues to deal with. There were major flaws in my extension which made the onboarding experience really shit. I’ve been working hard to try fix them.

Thankfully I’ve had a ton of feedback and I’m happy people are actually using the service.

I’ve said this a lot but user testing is so important. Little things you don’t think about can make or break your product. Adding feedback to my site has been great and watching people even more so.

I also rushed it out the door. I was excited to be ‘finished’ that I neglected the quality of my product.

Month #6 plan

The main focus this month is quality. Now that I have users I can’t treat this like a dev project anymore. So goal #1 is add tests for EVERYTHING. I’m sick of breaking stuff so I’m modernising my testing suite.

Secondly I’ll be adding more premium features. Things like source code capture, video captures, things like that. We’ll see if I have time but that’s my goal.

Whatever I end up doing I plan to launch the ‘stable’ version of Panda Snap this month. I want it to be usable, polished, and give users a great experience.

Mental health

It’s coming up to 6 months of isolation here and I’m starting to feel less focused/productive. I guess with infinite free time I don’t feel the urgency to work quite like I used to.

Other than that I’m doing pretty well. I’m video chatting often which is helps a lot. Also I quite like the situation in some aspects surprisingly. It’s been nice to properly relax and stay put for a while.

I’ll be sad to leave this place but I’m also keen for a change.

Anyway that’s it for me this month, catch you guys next time!