just bought a balenciaga hat at the chili festival

Welcome to this week’s super-nice-and-cool newsletter. Currently visiting my parents. Here is a 25 megapixel pic w/ me and my Mom.

I was looking at my old Twitch Clips (from back when I used to stream) and found this one of me singing Breaking Free from Highschool Musical. Whenever someone intros me to an investor I’m gonna request they intro me with this clip and nothing else.

They will invest in Zip based on the quality of my vocals alone lmao.

I’m currently 7 weeks into Zip. It’s been pretty dope.

Zip is currently doing $135 MRR/$1620 ARR which is cool. The last time I built something where it generated MRR it took a full year to just get $9 a month from a single customer and we only ever got one customer!

With Zip, the goal is to aggressively figure out my customer and get closer to a product that a lot of people will pay for.

Really, the last 7 weeks has been less about “building a product” and more about answering the question “Who is my customer and why do they even need me to exist?”.

One of the main ways I’ve been doing that is my literally starting + helping run different customer’s homeschools for them. I don’t have my own kids to homeschool, so, this is the closest I can get. I tend to learn a lot by just getting my hands dirty + forcing myself into the shoes of other people. Don’t gotta raise $1 million and hire a team and build a web app and mobile app and Samsung TV app to understand: what’s the problem I’m trying to solve and do people even want a solution?

So, my first customer has a kindergartner and I offered to help her with all aspects of her homeschool: legal registration, personalized curriculum, grading, keeping records, and even arranging local field trips. I’m also doing similar things for a customer with a middle schooler and a customer with a high schooler.

As you force yourself into the shoes of your customer way more problems start coming up that need solving. These problems have patterns. As I recognize these patterns, I start understanding how software could replace me. Because, right now I’m doing it all manually. But, once you do it enough manually it becomes pretty clear how some code can help once “do things that don’t scale” stops working.

For example, for every family I generate legal documents to help them register their homeschool. This takes me like 30 min - 1 hour manually every time. But, I can just use pdfrw (a Python PDF library) and write a simple program to generate the documents in 60 seconds given some basic info.

And, I’m noticing stuff like this a lot where there is a clear problem that can be solved with code.

That’s pretty hype.

I will say one thing. This is stressful. Zip now has 14 families under it. While I’m protected legally, I don’t want to negatively disrupt a kids academic career. If I mess up one letter to the state or assign the incorrect curriculum, it’s no bueno.

It feels like these 14 families decided to pay Zip so that Zip could inherit the stress of starting/running a homeschool. And, since Zip is just me I essentially have inherited all their stress LOL.

But, I’m not worried because pretty soon — software will be inheriting most of that stress.

The last thing I want to mention is that homeschooling in 2020 is extremely difficult.

This was the original assumption I had when I started Zip and after dealing with real customers who are paying me to solve this problem for them — I can confirm it is indeed difficult.

Think about everything a public school provides: registration paperwork for the state (if they mess up here, a child protection officer will literally come to the parents door because not sending their kid to school is a crime), attendance, teachers, curriculum, grading, report cards, transcripts, counselors, homework, a variety of subjects/electives, socialization activities (ex. field trips), and more.

Now, imagine a parent having to figure out how to this all this themselves. That's homeschooling in 2020. Unless the parent is ready to work full-time to figure this out, homeschooling their child is not an option.

Zip is solving a real problem (and probably the most important problem in all of education imo) by building the software to make starting and running your homeschool as simple as possible.

The bookclub I started just finished up its first book, Shoedog :). If you wanna join in for our next book let me know. We meet over Zoom every Sunday at 11:30AM PST. The next book we’re reading will be The Innovators Dilemma.

Currently visiting my parents in South Florida. Went to a Melee tournament yesterday. got 13th/25. Not bad. Went 2-2. I got sent to losers by Gahtzu, the 36th best player in the world, and got eliminated by a random Donkey Kong player 😔.

The tournament was held at a LAN center (with people playing other games) and two people who weren’t part of the tournament asked me how they could start playing Melee without a GameCube. I explained the process to them. How to get Dolphin, an ISO, a GameCube controller, how much it all costs, how to play online, etc.

As I explained, I realized it’s actually kinda difficult! It’s a lot of random info. Right after that encounter I bought the domain playmelee.com ($8) which is just going to be a static website that tells people how to get started playing Melee :).

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