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 two of a two-part series and covers the time after "Maker Twitter." Feel free to read part 1 to catch up.

Around mid of 2020, I discovered "Maker Twitter". This "bubble" was and still is a deep rabbit hole for me. What I find so fascinating is that on one side, we have academia and armies of consultants still trying to convince enterprises of experimentation and testing for new product development. On the other side, you have a community of indie hackers who either turn known theory into practice, reinvent or rediscover approaches that fill uncounted numbers of books and papers on innovation and product management. They just do.

Following and engaging this community gave me the confidence to release more and release sooner. So let's talk about the two products I built.

Basic Problem

The funny thing about my newsletter is that it was not planned as a newsletter. Basic Problem started as an MVP. My hypothesis to test: entrepreneurs are more interested in problems to solve instead of spontaneous or ready-made ideas. Problem first, solution second. And the quickest way to test seemed to be a landing page. I've already written about what I've learned from starting this project.

My hypothesis did not hold. Well, truth be told, I never followed through. Over time, I found more and more other (dead) projects trying to tackle the "problem space." Furthermore, there are a gazillion products covering trends, research, analyses, and ideas of all shapes and sizes.

What all of these offers provide is inspiration. And that's what Basic Problem evolved to and what I would like to continue: share what I find interesting as an indie hacker and what I learn along the way while building more products.

Some stats at the time of writing: still only about 190 active subscribers, around 30% open rate, 9 coffees.

Crowdfunded

Crowdfunded was born out of curiosity. I wondered how to quickly build an info product. This was around the time more and more Lagstack products popped up, so the technical foundation was clear. As for the data itself, I settled with a source no one else seemed to tap into: crowdfunding.

Building the product itself took me less than a week of work after my day job. On December 21st, there was another first for me: a Product Hunt launch. You can read about my takeaways from that day. Some weeks later, I also posted Crowdfunded on Hacker News. Read what happened.

My assumption was that this data is a treasure trove to discover successful product categories, see what competitors are launching, and find promising product ideas. Well, I was wrong. At the time of writing, I made exactly four sales of the data set. So why did Crowdfunded fail?

  • Unattractive value proposition. What actually is the value of Crowdfunded? It's just data. Sure, I could frame it as a raw source to build upon. But that's exactly the point: whatever is build upon the data provides real value. Not the dataset itself.
  • Marketing to the wrong customer segment. Most other Lagstack or info products at that time covered areas where most indie hackers "hang out" anyway, like Product Hunt, Indie Hackers, Hacker News, Gumroad, Substack, etc. But people looking for crowdfunding are a different breed. They don't seem to be as coherent a group as most sidepreneurs. This made finding a community to sell to difficult.
  • Wrong pricing model. Initially, I offered a subscription only. Why? Because "MRR" sounds great, right? But who is interested in regular updates to the dataset? Exactly: no one. The typical buyer is interested in a one-shot without any further commitments. All the sales were generated after I changed pricing to a simple one-time purchase.

As written above, Crowdfunded is a fail. I'll keep offering the current dataset. Maybe I'll even add 2021 data someday. But not much more.

What next?

Almost three months now without a new product. Well, actually, three months without a release. But this is a different story. Be curious to see what comes next. Always be learning, always be building.

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