Before picking up a new project, I'd like to look back on past projects, why I started working on them, how I built them, and what happened to them. This is part one of a two-part series and covers the time before "Maker Twitter."

I'll not cover every single project, though. A game I started back on my Commodore 64 decades ago is of no interest anymore. As are my ventures into a reverse image search tool, the obligatory weather app everyone must code, or any other of the many many dead projects. No, I'll start with something small...

Simply Pace

  • What? A simple pace calculator app for Android.
  • Why? I just needed the tool, so I scratched my own itch. And I could use the Android development practice.

Simply Pace started back in 2014 and is still available in both the Google Play Store and on F-Droid. I have some 150 active users and I somehow feel obliged to them. That's why I just update the app to the latest SDK once a year and that's all work I put into it. From a business point-of-view, I consider Simply Pace a fail due to the lack of any monetization plan.

Agile Supplies & Agile Love

  • What? Planned as two affiliate websites to sell presentation material and training courses.
  • Why? I was interested to learn about affiliate marketing and picked a topic I was familiar with because of my day job.

Apart from affiliate marketing, I wanted to learn something else with this project: how to test my hypothesis. And that's why this project never saw the light of day. After running a Google Trend and keyword analysis in 2018, it simply did not look worth pursuing. Shortest project ever.

Rate My UX

  • What? A web app to rate the UX quality of a product.
  • Why? A colleague of mine co-authored the accompanying paper and had a prototype lying around.

In 2018, we decided that it was sad to have that prototype and not do anything with it. So we teamed up with a third colleague and put out a simple web app (built with Angular) as a teaser. The problem was that this was about all the plan we had 😅 We had no idea how to push this project forward, did not invest anything in marketing, and no one really took ownership. It slowly died a lonely death and we finally buried it in 2020.

Canvassary

  • What? A curated list of canvases for strategic management and execution. (Read: Business Model Canvas, Value Proposition Canvas, and Lean Canvas.)
  • Why? The goal was to create a community to learn about these canvases. Find like-minded people to analyze and discuss business models.

Canvassary is probably the hardest ex-project to write about because I made so many mistakes it hurts.

After coming in touch with the Business Model Canvas, I was totally fascinated by the simplicity and pragmatic beauty of the tool. Some years later in 2018, I started to think about bringing people together to learn as a group. Yes, the best first step would have been to find the target group on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, or even LinkedIn to validate actual demand. Well, no, I did not do that.

At least I built a first simple MVP: just a Google Sheet with a collection of links to canvases I found. Now, the world needed to know about it. My answer? A single tweet. I'm not kidding. A single, shy, f-ing tweet (or maybe two). Hey, but I got one reaction which I accepted as proof. Talk about confirmation bias, right 🤦

So I started looking for solutions to build something like Product Hunt, but for the curation of canvases. I ended up with a WordPress site with all bells and whistles. I put a lot of time into this site. Actually, way too much. Guess what my genius plan was to market the site? If you've read this far, you might guess the answer. I don't know what I was thinking or hoping for. Maybe that I somehow get some late SEO-related love from search engines. Canvassary withered away in 2019 and I pulled the plug s/o 2020.

Trailerland

  • What? A Twitter bot listing new movie and series trailers.
  • Why? I love trailers and all my usual sources started to feel like bloatware.

Trailerland is another "own itch" project. I just needed a clean trailer source and I wanted to learn about automation. Reasons enough to get started. In its current form, it's actually quite simple: a collection of IFTTT applets wait for updates to feed RSS from YouTube. A new trailer is written into a Google Sheet, where some automatic data enrichment happens. A zap on Zapier listens to changes to the Google Sheet and tweets the news. Running smoothly since 2019. Trailerland is still a "fail", though, because I have no monetization in place yet.

What next?

Fast forward to 2020. Around mid that year, I discovered "Maker Twitter". After that, things changed. But more on that in part 2. Stay tuned!

Previous Post Next Post