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 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
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
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 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 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.
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!