just saw a frog drinking tea out of a puddle


Last week’s email said I was naming the company “shorthop.so” and a few folks told me it was a shitty name and told me that zipschool.com was available. I liked the domain better than shorthop.so. So, we’re zipschool.com now :).

Note: Website’s main CTA is broken on purpose right now. Why? Well. If a parent lands on it and somehow finds my contact info and cares enough to tell me it’s broken because they wanna use it, then, well that’s a good signal :).

I’m pretty excited. Every week things get clearer and clearer with Zip. I just focus on one or two questions I want answered. Answer them. Find new questions. And keep going that way.

I’m about 6 weeks into doing live sessions. Started not knowing shit about what user’s wanted. At this point, I’ve answered a lot of the obvious questions that would outright kill this idea ex:

  • Will people pay for this?

  • Can you acquire users?

  • Who wants this?

  • Looking toward the future, how does this get massive?

  • Is this a burning problem?

  • Is this a frequent problem?

This week I was able to answer two important questions:

  • What age groups should be focused on?

  • What are the elements that make for a 10/10 live session where kids can only talk via chat and occasionally interact via physical movement (ex. giving teacher a physical thumbs up). Note: This will likely be an ongoing question.

Also, Zip has kinda been all over the place in terms of being a real “product”. I’m trying to be more anti “building”. If I can hack it together via Webflow, Typeform, and Zapier in an hour and get users then I’ll do that. For example, if you wanna pay for Zip Pro right now ($40 a month) you just fill out a Typeform and that’ll redirect you to Stripe Checkout. Took me 20 minutes.

But, can’t avoid building some custom stuff any longer.

  • User’s keep wanting to tell their friends about Zip and don’t have a way right now since I do everything via email and random Typeforms right now. I need one flow that everyone follows and focus on it vs having 20 different flows.

  • User’s keep wanting to sign up for more sessions after they do one and I don’t have an easy way to let them do this right now. I have to literally individually email them, talk to them, send them sign-up form link, etc.

  • User’s want to pay for this. But, they want to see the full schedule and some basic interface to book classes 4-6 days in advance. Can’t blame them there, they wanna see an actual product :).

  • I manually send out all the reminder texts and emails right now and manually set up every Zoom session. This is starting to really take up a lot of time.

Yesterday I started building a basic flow to let users register + book classes. Should be done and have users by end of day.

I think next week I wanna answer:

  • What % of users book a session after attending their first session? Why? Dive deep into #'s + talk to users who do/don’t book a 2nd session.

The answer hopefully helps drive things like: what topics I focus on, what type of teachers I need to look for, how to improve the live experience. I wanna hop off Zoom the moment I have enough clarity around what a custom thing would look like + the features it’d have. Answering this questions hopefully drives an auxiliary answer to that question to.


Been reading a bunch these past few weeks. Perhaps this list will help you find a book you’d want to read! I’ll include the name of the book, a rating, and a good quote if I have one on hand.

Leonardo da Vinchi - 7.5/10 - Super solid, detailed biography of one of the best artists of our time.

“But I did learn from Leonardo how a desire to marvel about the world that we encounter each day can make each moment of our lives richer.”

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets - 9/10 - Randomly started reading the series again for fun!

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Get Together - 7/10 - A really good, short book about to build community. Kinda read like a series of blog posts.

“Stop thinking about your community as just an audience. Instead, treat these people as collaborators. Even with your first activity, carve out ways for others to participate. People are showing up to realize a shared purpose, not to watch you realize it for them.”

The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About The Good Life - 7/10 - A really good introduction to ancient Chinese philosophy :).

“Think of yourself as a farmer, rather than thinking about who you are and arranging your goals around that. Your goal then becomes laying the ground for various interests and sides of yourself to grow organically.”

How Music Got Free - 8/10 - Tells the full story from how the “mp3” was created in a small German lab to how piracy got huge.

The mp3 seemed a marvel beyond technical comprehension. An entire album at only 40 megabytes! Forget planning for the future—you could implement the digital jukebox right now! “Do you realize what you’ve done?” Adar asked Brandenburg after their first meeting. “You’ve killed the music industry!

Out of Mao's Shadow - 10/10 - Details China’s dark past and transition after Mao’s death.

Sometimes Xi brings a video camera to the cemetery and interviews other people visiting the dead, so there will be a record of the place and of those to whom it meant something. As the years have passed, though, fewer people have been coming, and he rarely sees younger visitors in the graveyard, unless they have stumbled upon it by accident. They remind him of ignorant tourists, because they know so little about the Cultural Revolution.

“It’s pathetic,” Xi said. “These people died meaningless deaths, but they are even more meaningless if society never reflects upon it. Many people refuse to think about it, and the party wants to erase people’s memories. But the whole nation should think about what happened. Remembering is painful, but it is also a kind of responsibility. We have to remember, so the next generation doesn’t suffer such pain again.”

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