- Alex Styl
This was the first month working as full time maker. It has been about two months since I left my six figure job and after a month spending time with my family and friends back in Greece, I came back to London to start working on my own products.
Having to start from somewhere, I set the goal of shipping a product within a month's time. That way I could get a lot of unknowns and fears out of my system. Otherwise I would self-sabotage myself and risk never ship anything.
The first problem I faced was to come up with an idea of a product to build. Having worked on the ideation and research of new features for existing products, you learn a thing or two about approaching this. There are various user research methods to help you understand the users' needs and pains using your product. What do you do when you don't have a product though? Also how do you validate that a solution is truly needed when you have no or very limited resources?
Everytime I would find a 'problem that needs solving' online, I would also find multiple products that would cover that need. Whenever I found something that had no existing solutions, I felt like the idea was dumb and not worth it. I ended up coming up with the idea to create a tool for new content creators to generate content out of their existing one. The users would be able to select some audio recording and the tool would generate a short visual clip made from that audio. Despite the fact that there are some other solutions out there that do this, I decided to focus on the video generation aspect with as less hassle from the user side as possible.
In order to validate the idea, I created a landing page using Carrd. I then created a sample video that the app would generate using iMovie. I was planning on emailing multiple content creators with examples of their branding on generated videos. I ended up emailing one. I never heard back from them. It seemed like a great idea before sending the email, which quickly seemed silly after I sent the first email. Why would anyone want to use a product they never heard of by someone they don't know? Because of that I ended up building the original idea anyway so that I could share it around and get more feedback.
I made some mocks on Figma in order to get a sense of how the website would look like and have an idea of what I wanted to keep or remove. Web development seemed way more straightforward than I was expecting it to be. I ended up building the layout of the site and some basic functionality in a couple of days. I think that it took me more time to figure out how to configure the server (php + apache) and then finally upload the website to Heroku than the main building itself. In order to manage the amount of work, I created simple user stories on Trello so that I could keep track of the work that was left to complete.
The way the app works is super simple. The users can choose some of their existing audio and video files and choose some of the preselected colors. The server then extracts the audio using AWS Transcribe and then ffmpeg is used to create the final video. There are so many things I could build upon this idea, but given the time I had, this is all I could build for the time being. You can try out the app yourself at audiobites.io. In the following days, I am planning to distribute the app via various websites and take care of any bugs that might arise.
Building a product from start to end without having all the answers helped a lot. It made me understand a bit better what the missing bits were in order to go from ideation to delivery. Plus, it gave me the confidence to build for the web which was a mystery to me a month ago. An other great thing about this approach is that now I have a whole list of potential ideas for products to build. It is the moment right after you start building something that all the new ideas flow in. What is next is to find out how to validate as many of them as I can, ideally to a much shorter period than a month, so that I can spend the time required to build again.
👋 Thank you for reading. Follow me on Twitter to be notified when I release a new product or publish a new article. You can also find more frequent updates between released products there.
Photo credits to Musab Al Rawahi