im gonna take this large $11 avocado smoothie and make guacamole

Let’s try and write this email in 20 min. Probably going to be a short one.

Main

Sup homies. It’s been a full year now since I started writing these emails. I mainly started writing them because I wanted to get better at, well, writing. And I gotta say, I am definitely 4-6X better at writing than I was back in January 2019. It feels like words flow effortlessly from my brain to my keyboard now. I struggle less putting together complex ideas. And it feels as if I’ve gotten decent at communicating complex ideas in an easy to digest, humorous way.

How do you get better at writing?

No. Not by reading books about writing and listening to famous writers.

You get better by writing.

I’m a massive believer in “learning by doing”. I think if you spend time on activities to “prepare you” for something you want to learn, you’re being stupid (imo).

If I wanna learn to make chicken pizza I’m going to make chicken pizzas until it doesn’t taste like crap. I’m not gonna start watching YouTube videos for 5 hours about basic cooking tips. That’s dumb.

Chances are, I’m going to start watching those videos and 1 week later I’m not even going to feel like making chicken pizza anymore.

Inspiration to learn is rare in most individuals. If you’re inspired to learn something you need to capture that inspiration and just start working on the thing you want to work on immediately. Otherwise, you probably won’t end up doing anything at all and you’ll only depress yourself.

Whether it’s learning to make chicken pizzas or learning machine learning, capture that precious sliver of inspiration that your mind produced and act upon it.

This has been a hard lesson for me to learn so I hope others understand it.

I won’t be talking about Zip and it’s progress in this email every week anymore. I’ll still be sending out the newsletter once a week, but I’ll only be talking about Zip once a month.

Why?

Simply put - it doesn’t feel helpful for me to write about Zip to my entire email list every week. I think once a month is a better pace. That way I can write more holistically about the month + my learnings and ask for more targetted feedback from the crowd, aka you :).

I’ll only answer one question about Zip every week: Did revenue go up?

✅ This week, yes!

I still write about my weekly struggles + weekly progress but in my own personal journal. I also talk every week with my homies I’m close to about Zips’s progress + problems.

I’m may be a solo-founder but I’m not building Zip in an echo chamber.

I write a lot of “internal essays” to myself. This week I wrote four. These are short essays I write when I really want to write about something or explore an idea/vision.

I think most of my friends are tired of listening to my delusions, so I need some way to vent. Internal essays are how I do it.

One of the essays I wrote this week was titled, “Why Zip can be the most important company in the history of the world”.

And yes. I truly believe that.

You're likely thinking something along the lines of, "Probably a bit early for titles like this, don't yah think Farza? Isn’t Zip only a month old?". Don't be concerned, troubled reader. 99% of my time is still spent on the actual product + talking to customers. Illusions of grandeur and progress are simply how I keep myself fired up.

I keep my “internal essays” closed off, but if you want to read them. Reply to this email with the name of a song you really like :).

Other

The new Eminem album came out and, no cap, this shit is flamez.

I AM GOING TO GENESIS 7 THIS WEEK IN OAKLAND AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I’M SO EXCITED AHHHHH I’M GONNA MEET ALL MY FAV SMASH MELEE PLAYERS OMG OMG OMG.

I’ll also be competing :).

TIME TO SLICE SOME PEOPLE UP WITH MY MARTH IN TOURNAMENT.

Two things hype me up in this world more than anything else: building stuff and Super Smash Bros Melee.

Check out this 3-minute trailer for Genesis 7 if you’re curious.

i got gamecube controllers in the trunk

i love justin bieber

Hey guys whats up. Going full focus mode to write this email. That means double noise-cancelling. AirPods Pro + Bose QC 35 II. Hell yah. Lets do this.

The song of the week is DREAMLAND DESTINY by ITSOKTOCRY. This song is a freaking banger its been on repeat the whole week for me.

Inventing on Principle

There are very few videos and books out there that cause a massive shift in the way I think about life, technology, and business.

I saw one this morning that definitely did that for me.

I’ll just link it. I’m still processing it and will likely watch it a few more times.

Instead of watching Star Wars, Game of Thrones, or whatever else the plebs are watching nowadays, spend 50 minutes watching this.

Zip

Zip had a good week.

  • Brought in new revenue.

  • Talked to nearly 20 customers/potential users. I’ve started getting people phone numbers to call/text them directly. Every morning I usually spend 2-3 hours on the phone now. Talking to users is crazy important as anyone will tell you.

  • Set up a homeschool in Georgia for a Mom and her two kids aged 8 and 10.

  • Wrote curriculum for one of my customers in Texas. Yes, I am writing curriculum. Pre-K curriculum, to be exact. Basically, every week I get on a call with the Mom, talk to her about whats going well and what isn’t, and craft a new curriculum every week custom for her child. Been reading a lot about child psychology to help me with this. Here’s a snippet:

  • Spent a lot more time learning Google Ads (ty David for your help). I still suck and plan on spending 1-2 hours a day next week. I actually accidentally spent $100 this week so that sucks.

  • My Facebook is still banned. If you know anyone on the ads teams at Facebook please help me out here. Basically, I made a bunch of fake accounts and FB isn’t letting me make accounts anymore no matter what I do. And, I need an FB account to use the ads product.

  • Designed/coded/shipped v0.1 of ZipRegister, a product that lets anyone create a homeschool in a few clicks :). Charging $45 per year for it at the moment. I change pricing like every day, though. Sometimes its $9 a month. Sometimes it’s $70 per year. I mess around with pricing nearly everyday to kinda feel it out and see how different potential customers react. I’m liking $45 per year for ZipRegister.

I think a big problem with Zip right now is understanding the type of customer to go after. There are a lot of different segments. Some include:

  • Parents who want to start homeschooling ASAP but have no idea what their doing. These parents aren’t ready to put in the work.

  • Parents who wanna start in Fall 2020.

  • Parents who have a 4 year old who are curious to start because “good” pre-k’s and kindergartens are extremely expensive and aren’t actually that great. These parents are ready to put in the work.

  • Many many more. These are the top three, though.

Generally, you want to follow the money/need. In this case, it’s parents who want to start ASAP and have no idea what their doing. But, they are difficult to close because they want something more than what Zip offers. They want to start their homeschool and put their kid in an online public school which only certain states offer. I also really don’t vibe with the idea of online public school. I think its wack. The magic of homeschooling is the ability to do whatever you want.

In an ideal world, Zip is a full-stack homeschool solution. Registration, grading, curriculum, local events with other Zip homeschoolers, everything. The full package. The worlds first decentralized school that is infinitely scalable.

But…that’s a few years out… what to do right this moment?

I need to think more.

I’m hanging out with my friend Furqan tomorrow to discuss more. I’ve been sorta stuck in my head for the whole day and still don’t have a decent path forward for next week I’m happy with.

Usually what I’ll do is plan my week out on Saturday (today). And I will not start doing work until I have clear goals. If you’re doing work w/o clear goals, you will get rekt.

A short story.

Almost none of you may know this about me, but, I was supposed to be a film maker. Until one day a police officer dragged me out of my first period highschool class because the school’s administration thought I was potential school shooter.

When I was in elementary school, I started vlogging. I vividly remember when I stumbled upon YouTube in 2006. I was 10. I fell in love with the idea that I could make videos and put them up for others to see. I started making vlogs immediately. When I told my Dad I was going to put them up on “the internet”, he didn’t let me because he didn’t feel it was right for a 9 year old to be putting his face out there for the world to see. This was also when pedophiles were running rampant online, so who could blame my Dad for saying no.

And I still remember what happened next. A few weeks later, my uncle (shout out to my boy Asad Chachu) was visiting and I told him all about my videos. I hooked up my camera to the family room TV and showed him my best vlogs and skits I made. He was impressed and he convinced my Dad to let me put them on YouTube.

Fast forward from 9 years old to 16. I had gotten pretty damn good at script writing, directing, and editing everything from skits to short films. The majority of my videos were comedy action videos. The videos had a lot of guns, gore, and violence.

My YouTube channel had around 40,000 subscribers (which in 2012 was insane), 100s of videos, and everyone in school knew me as “farza” as in “farzatv” (the name of my channel). I’d go to my local gym and people would recognize me. It was dope.

Then, in the 10th grade I was in English class. The class I hated most. We were reading Shakespeare or something and I decided to make a drawing of a stick figure shooting up a bunch of other stick figures. It was a bloody scene, with red pen and all. Then, I put the URL to my YouTube channel at the bottom. I left this in class by accident.

My teacher found it and reported me.

The next day a police officer comes to my 1st period class and says “We’re looking for Farzain.” The officer marches me to the main office where the school’s administration was huddled around a screen. What was on the screen? Well, my latest YouTube video, of course, where I repeatedly shot my friend Junaid in the head multiple times. At this point, I was really good at special effects so it looked insanely real. His brains were literally splattering all over the place. The first thing I said was, “Junaid is alive, he’s in 1st period, this is just special effects”. They didn’t listen to a word I said. They basically told me they found the drawing and my YT channel and were extremely concerned and started asking me if I had access to a real gun.

Of course, I didn’t.

Eventually, they realized I was just a kid with a 4.0 GPA w/ an interest in the world of action videos.

I still remember my principal looking me right in the eyes and tell me, “You need to be more careful about what you put out in the world this could really hurt your college applications”.

(yes, ms. principal, a YouTube channel w/ 40K subscribers and millions of views was going to hurt my chances of getting into a top college).

Then, they called my parents and told them everything. They also tell my parents that I should delete my entire channel to be “safe”.

Out of dumb fear, stress, and confusion I went home and immediately deleted every single video. I still remember when I was doing it. Checking the checkbox next to every single video and hitting the big “Delete” button at the top.

10 minutes after I did this, I remembered I had formatted by computer 3 weeks before and was planning to backup my channel, bud hadn’t gotten the chance. Over 100 videos, gone forever.

I remember crying a lot after that.

After all, that was my life’s work which I just deleted.

Anyways, that’s the story.

I had fully planned on going to film school before this. That was the dream. But, after this moment I completely dropped the idea.

By the time I got to college, I had no idea what the fuck I was doing.

2 years into being a computer science major (literally picked it randomly) I had no idea what was going on. I could barely write and compile a Java program on my own. That’s right. 2 years in. It was a mess. How I got out of the mess is a story on its own.

Instead of being the startup techie you know me as today, I would have been working on films in Hollywood. But that one moment messed me a up a lot for many years after.

You can check out some of the videos that made it through the purge on my channel here.

I wanted to tell this story for two reasons:

  1. If I was homeschooled, I could have done whatever I wanted with no authority over my head telling me what to do. I would have had more time to perfect my craft while still learning about other required subjects. Woulda been nice if ZipHomeschool existed, right :)?

  2. In 2020, I’ll be making content again. I have a lot of ideas. One of my 2020 goals is to increase my personal audience. The main way I’ll be doing this is by building Zip and making it huge. The other way is by making content which is something I left behind many years ago and want to return to. Stay tuned :).

See yah.

im gonna use this quesadilla as a boomerang

Here is my desk rn. Been drinking hella oat milk so decided to stop getting cups dirty and drink straight from the carton like a fool.

Zip Zip Zip Zip Zip Zip Zip

Usually, I’m talking directly to parents when it comes to Zip because parents are often the ones setting up the home school for their kids.

But, I actually spoke to three highschoolers this week who signed up for more info on Zip’s website and reached out themselves.

I just got off the phone with one of these students whose name is Lily. She told me that she’s in the 10th grade and wants to start homeschooling because her school is to “slow” and isn’t “challenging” at all and doesn’t let her do more of what she “wants to do”. She told me she Google’d “how to homeschool”, saw Zip, and said she wants to work with us to get her setup for Fall 2020.

Ain’t that wild? Lily sounds exactly like 10th grade me—mentally checked out and tired of school.

10th grade me just accepted that school was reality and I continued trudging through it. There was no escaping. 10th grade me was running a store on eBay doing about $40K in ARR at the time and all I wanted to do was work on that store 24/7. Can you imagine if instead of wasting 8 hours a day preparing for B.S exams I instead spent the that time building my business and expanding it? The amount I learned would have been priceless.

Instead, I was going to school every day to study… geography.

But now? Well. Zip exists.

Lily can reach out, leave her school tomorrow if she wanted, and start studying the things she’s passionate about herself using free content on the internet, books, and self-driven projects.

And my company would help her make it all happen :).

Every single potential customer who calls me, emails me, or messages me on Intercom has such an interesting story. It also makes me feel like I’m building something extremely valuable that must exist. Here are a few convos:

Pretty crazy, huh?

When people think “homeschooler” they think of a more rural family who homeschool for religious reasons and don’t trust schools.

They don’t think about the kid who has anxiety, or the mother from the message above just trying to give her autistic child a decent education without spending 1000s a month on a special school, or Lily.

It almost feels like Zip is the company the young 10th grade me wished existed.

Metrics

Last week was Week 2 for Zip.

Despite nearly 75 new leads and a ton of emails/calls and interest, Zip has no new customers this week. Still at the same # of customers from Week 1.

I have a lot of reasons why I think this is the case but 90% of them are BS excuses that I’m coming up with to make myself feel better tbh.

My goal this week is to gather some hypotheses around why, despite all the interest, no one gave me money to help them start their homeschool, and then just test each one.

For example, one hypothesis I have is that parents suck at email and arranging phone calls. I think if I gave them a more direct way to use Zip without having to email me or talk to me, they would use it and convert to a paying customer faster.

One reason I think this is an odd hypothesis is because if parents truly have this burning problem, they’d at least do the legwork to set up the phone call with me. That’s what I’d think. But, customers are weird and it’s worth figuring out exactly why people aren’t converting through actual proof/data.

As my friend Furqan told me today: “Okay. You have people at the door of your nightclub. What’s it going to take for them to actually go inside and pay for drinks?

”We have to make this otherwise we cant…”

  1. There were these guys I was co-working with the other day at my place. They were building a dating app that used augmented reality. They spent the entire time pretty much arguing over features. They wanted to get the experience “perfect” before giving it to someone.

  2. Me and my friend Connor were talking about an idea he had, “a classier Craigslist for high-end shoes”. He kept talking about the platform and the features he’d need to build out before he could get revenue.

  3. There’s the guy I was co-working with yesterday building “TaskRabbit for Latin America” and all he was talking about was how they needed to raise money and kept showing me designs on Figma of the app they need a tech team to build. He needed to build this app, it was the thing stopping them from getting more revenue according to him.

Yes, these are all real.

Man…

I am not fit to give advice. I haven’t done enough.

But I gave each of these people my thoughts:

  1. Dating App Guys: Stop arguing over random features that don’t matter. Go get two people to go on a date together. Make that happen. Learn from it. Next week, building some tech to improve the flow, get another couple on a date, keep doing this. Keep iterating w/ customers in the flow.

  2. A classier Craigslist for high-end shoes: You don’t need to build an entire platform to test this idea. Go make an Instagram Ad that takes people to your static WebFlow webpage for a shoe. Sell it yourself. Get revenue ASAP. Get your first user. Next week, sell 2 more shoes, improve the page, let people make accounts. Iterate.

  3. TaskRabbit for Latin America: You don’t need to raise big $ right now. Go get 15 people to do tasks in Chile and find 15 people who will pay people to do tasks. Get customers in the flow ASAP. Once you can’t handle it manually, start thinking about a full app.

None of these people could defend their methods when I poked them about stuff like “users” and “revenue” and “hey, does the market even want this?”. They were laser focused on making the thing for an audience they hadn’t even proven out yet.

Of these, only #2 really heard me out. Bless his soul. #1 and #3 kinda just washed over my advice, that’s why #2 will win. Because he heard me out. Hearing people out and getting better is the best skill. Even if my advice is shit, you hear me out, listen to me, and actually proccess what I said. I’ll do the same for you. Improve together.

Coding

I coded on Saturday/Sunday. I did React. Never actually setup a React project from scratch with auth cookies, react-router, redux, Docker, and deployment. It was fun. I took what I learned over the weekend to start coding up Zip’s registration product today. Here’s what it looks like:

Its funny, I showed this to a developer friend and he laughed and said no one would use it and it’s trash. You’re probably thinking that right now.

I showed it to a customer and she had no issues and instead asked real questions like “What info do you require for the child? I don’t want to give out too much”.

:)

Doesn’t matter how stuff looks at this stage.

If you’re solving a real problem, it shouldn’t matter what the border radius of your input boxes are LOL.

Lets not forget that this little company does nearly $750 MILLION in revenue looking like this.

Stop showing your product to your friends. Show it to your potential customers.

Movies

On New Years Eve I watched 1917.

9.5/10

It actually just won the Golden Globe for best drama and best director.

Want to know something crazy about this movie? The whole thing is shot to look like one consecutive take. What. The. FFFFUUUUUU?

I’ll let you watch it and experience the magic for yourself.

I’m so happy I have AMCs movie pass. It costs $20 a month and I watch 5 movies a month in IMAX. In SF, that’s nearly a $120 value.

When is Chipotle going to come out with a subscription service?

Coffee

I quit coffee. Not because I want to quite caffeine. I still drink a lot of green tea. But, because I was spending way to much at cafes. Why the heck was I spending $4 every morning on a latte? Stupid.

Now my schedule is perfect. I wake up at 5:30AM, turn my alarm off, then wake up for real at 6AM, shower, listen to the news, make some tea, read, and get to work by 8AM. No where in that equation do I need to spend $4 a day or $1460 a year on freaking coffee.

Firebase

Firebase is insane in 2019.

Basically, if you use Firebase you don’t need a backend built by you. You just use Firebase’s client-side SDK to do everything. And you might be asking like I did - how is that secure?

Firebase Auth handles the JWT which expires every hour and Firebase Auth also handles refreshing it. Every time you make a request to Firebase DB, it checks if the JWT is legit and that the request is properly authenticated. You can also set pretty detailed and specific rules in Firebase’s DB to really secure everything how you want to.

This is pretty wild to me. You don’t need a backend at all. Firebase has all in-ed on this concept. It is spooky and scary and new, not gonna lie. Feels icky.

But I’ve been messing with it an it feels ezpz.

You still need a backend once your data starts getting more complex and you want to mutate the data how you please before sending it to the client. Because, as you may know, mutating and transforming data on the client isn’t very smart.

But, right now? Who cares if the experience is 0.05s slower because I’m sorting an array on the client?

Firebase has my ✅ in 2019. It already had my ✅ in 2016. But now it has my double ✅✅.

Hinge

I’m back on Hinge lets see how this goes LOL.

Small Crash

I had a tiny crash. Like a mental crash. Nothing crazy. Basically, for nearly 3 days I was aggressively switching between tasks only to make no real progress with any of the tasks. Literally every 5-10 minutes I’d switch tasks. It’s a problem I’ve had for years. YEARS. I struggle with it often.

10-ish days ago it got really bad and I got extremely mad at myself. So mad that I put on my running shoes and sprinted a mile at full speed blasting metal music, and then at the end threw up the sandwich I ate earlier because I didn’t warm-up at all.

I then walked home, sad af, and did nothing for pretty much 2 days (it was New Years Eve) and did like a tiny reflection like - okay, that happened, what can I do to avoid that, how can I get better, etc.

I built up a whole new framework for myself for “getting shit done”. I’ve been using it for about 8 days now and am loving it. I’ll talk about it more in a few months. It’s in the early stages rn. All you need to use it is a .txt or .md file lmao.

People think I have my shit together.

I do for the most part. But, sometimes you mess up. And when you mess up, only you can create solutions to your own problems and frameworks to make you better so you don’t mess up again.

Books

Currently reading Chaos Monkeys (about a guy who sold his company to Twitter) and Teaching Your Own (a parenting book about homeschooling)!

i got pokemon in the tesla

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies.

That JFK quote in the subtitle above is always one I go back to. I like it a lot :).

What’s up everyone!!!!

here is me rn @ a cafe i just payed $5 for a mocha hahaha i hate myself hahaha fml hahaha hahaha hahahahahah

I’m giving myself an hour to write this email. It was a very busy week, so lets move fast.

Incorporation

I had the idea for Zip 2 weeks ago. This week, I incorporated it :).

Zip Education Inc is born.

Excitement doesn’t really begin to describe how hype I am about Zip. When I wake up to pee in the middle of the night I just immediately start thinking about Zip and 1) how big of an impact it can have on the lives of millions of kids and 2) how it can be the next massive company in the world of education.

I’m not going to start talking about my crazy visions for this company and how I think it can be worth a lot. Just going to take it day-by-day. Lets start by being worth a couple $100 :).

Zip Has Revenue

Zip charges $9 a month for ZipPro and $4 a month for ZipEssentials.

As of today, we have revenue and customers. Two weeks into existence :).

This is pretty wild I’m not going to lie. Like, dude. With my augmented reality menu app company, Noni, it took nearly a full year before we had $10 in revenue. Here’s a video demo of the app if you’ve never seen it!

We had to:

1) Build the augmented reality tech.

2) Build the procedures required to create realistic 3D models of food for restaurants.

3) Actually convince restaurants to pay for it.

I remember me + my cofounders (Hammy, Alec, Evan <3) were literally going door-to-door to restaurants trying to convince restaurant owners to pay for our service. It was insane. I’m likely going to write a full blog post just on Noni. Anyways, the point is it took us nearly a year to get $10 in revenue. Zip did it in 2 weeks.

But it makes sense.

Zip solves a major problem (starting a homeschool) in a highly-regulated industry (every state has different laws for homeschooling) that is growing every year (# of homeschooled students in the US is up from 2,000,000 in 2012 to 4,000,000 in 2019).

This upcoming week is going to be the same drill. Get revenue. Build product.

Isn’t it awesome how simple that plan is? All that matters is increasing revenue and “giving your customer a 10/10 experience” as my boi Furqan says. Startups are complicated, but chasing after these two things makes things way clearer.

I think with my other companies I complicated this a lot. For example, Kanga (the previous company I was at) was a consumer gaming startup and the whole plan was to somehow get a lot of users and hopefully figure out how to monetize in the future.

The company I was at before that, Visor, it was the same thing. It’s so weird looking back. Why didn’t we just focus on driving revenue? Why were we so in love with this idea that we were going to have a massive userbase that we could somehow monetize in the future?

I feel so stupid.

I want to go back and slap Farza.

Ads

So, basically, I’ve been driving traffic with ads. I started the ads as an experiment and found that they actually did a really good job at driving traffic + leads for cheap.

Here’s one of my ads that has been performing really well:

I’m pretty good at writing copy that captures people’s curiosity so this has mostly come pretty natural to me. I’m having a bunch of fun w/ it to.

I’m paying around $0.11 per page like right now. This is helping me to cheaply and effectively build a community. I got around 200 likes right now and it only cost me $20.

I can’t understate how insane this is. For $20 I got 200 potential users for me to talk to.

Facebook Ads are magic.

I’ve also been doing Google Ads which are so expensive but they’ve been driving a decent amount of quality leads.

Oh and of course every time a new leads comes in from the landing page I’m notified on Slack so I can reply ASAP.

I reply to every customer in under 60 minutes.

No Code So Far

I’ve written zero code for Zip so far.

The landing page was built with Webflow, payments were built with Stripe Checkout, I setup analytics with Mixpanel + Google, and all the email automation has been done with Zapier + Google Sheets.

Writing code is the most expensive thing you can do.

In fact, today is the first day I’m writing code for Zip. And I told myself I’d only write code after I had revenue because I wanted to validate the idea of Zip itself.

I don’t care if you’re trying to build extremely complex software that can fly jetpacks. You don’t have to actually write any code to validate the idea. Make the landing page. Find people ready to throw money at you. Make sure people actually want the thing you want to make. Otherwise, you’ll have a bunch of code to fly jetpacks that no one wants.

Closing Thoughts For The Week

Zip has been stressing me out lately but 100% of that stress comes from being stressed on behalf of my customers. Zip takes the stress of setting up homeschool away from the parent and plops it on the company (AKA me).

But dude. If I’m stressed about this, imagine how stressed other parents who don’t use Zip must be.

This is how I know that Zip needs to exist.

This is what my screen has been looking like most of the week:

That’s me reading Texas state law, specifically Sec. 25.085 which details some homeschool law. That’s wild dude. Parents literally read the law directly like this to start homeschooling. Wtf.

Also, I saw the movie Uncut Gems this weekend. 9/10 pls watch it. Adam Sandler had an amazing performance. I was literally at the edge of my seat the entire time. It’s a story of greed told in a way that makes you feel disgusted on behalf of the characters. I felt uncomfortable just watching it. That’s how you know it’s a good movie - when the characters + plot immerse you so much that you truly forget that you’re watching a bunch of pixels projected on a screen.

see u next week.

im about to get this metal straw and sip some iced oat milk lattes

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

What’s up my dawgs.

Zip

So, I gave you all a really high-level pitch for my company, Zip, last week. For those who missed it:

Zip makes it easy to legally start a homeschool. Think about it like Stripe Atlas for homeschools.

When I pitched you guys the idea it was only about 3 days old and I was asking for $20K so I wasn’t too hopeful.

But, surprisingly, about 6 of you came out of the blue and wanted to invest between $5K and $25K which was really cool. Kinda crazy to be honest. Thank you to the boyz and girlz that beleive in me.

Happy to say I got the money now from one buddy and he’s working super closely w/ me, so Zip is happening! I just started the incorporation proccess a few days ago.

Research

Well.

Time to start a homeschooling company.

Lets fucking go boyz.

Been a pretty intense week just researching the world of homeschooling. I’ve been reading a lot, talking to potential customers, and talking to experts in the space. The goal this week was to try and understand everything I didn’t understand about homeschooling. I understand the different pieces of homeschooling but I wanted to put it together to understand the full picture.

  • What are the main problems parents experience?

  • What kind of brands succeed in the world of homeschooling?

  • Why do most parents decide to homeschool?

  • How much does homeschooling cost?

  • What does a day in the life look like?

  • What is the psychological state of the parent?3

And a bunch of other random stuff.

Here were some of my strategies:

Facebook Groups

The world of homeschooling lives on Facebook. I joined a ton of groups and have just been sorta polking around, asking questions, posting surveys, etc. For example, in one group I posted this image of an app I designed in Figma:

In the world of homeschooling, you need to keep detailed records of everything your child does in your homeschool. The law demands it. Most use composition books to accomplish this. So, I posted this design in one of the groups of an app to let you keep digital records and asked if anyone wanted the beta and everyone started asking for it.

That’s a good sign 👍.

I’ve just been doing a shit ton of stuff like this the whole week tbh.

A lot of poking.

  • Understand problems.

  • Understanding the demand for new solutions.

  • Understanding what gets homeschoolers hype in a product and brand.

  • Understanding the market.

Surveys have been massively helpful. In 10 min I was able to get 200+ people to tell me the age of their kids their homeschooling. By doing this it helped me instantly understand that the majority of the market is aged 7-12. Now I know that the market for products related to homeschooling high schoolers is way smaller than for kids. Well, based off one survey at least. Take it w/ a grain of salt.

Also, people on these FB Groups are ALWAYS posting about their problems. I’m already seeing patterns. Once I see enough patterns I can likely build a product to fix those patterns.

Experts

I got to talk to a bunch of homeschool experts this week: people who have been homeschooled, people who have homeschooled 6+ kids, and people who create products for homeschoolers.

Talking to experts is dope because they can save you from dumb mistakes you may make or holes in your understanding of the space.

The #1 thing I picked up from one of the experts was that my business may really struggle until August. Basically, homeschooling enrollment happens throughout the year but massively spikes in August (when the public school year starts).

I sorta confirmed this through Google Trends. You can see it spikes every year in August. That being said, there is still a lot of demand for it throughout the year. The lowest point is actually right now, late December.

That’s really good to know and I would have never even known unless I talked to this expert :).

I also got to talk to a lot of “homeschool Moms” who run volunteer associations for their communities. These women really understand how the law in their state works and have gone to a lot of trouble to actually make it easy for other people in their community to start homeschooling. Getting these people in voice chat is kinda hard, but Messenger has been going just fine :).

See what I mean? These people are insanely helpful.

I’m loving the homeschool community so far :).

Private Messages

Been sending the landing page to a bunch of different people via PMs.

Often times this isn’t effective at all. I’m finding it’s really hard to get people to trust me. Feels like people mainly trust Facebook pages w/ a lot of likes.

Books and Podcasts

Been mainly reading Teaching Your Own. This book was constantly being recommended. It’s pretty good too. I’m about halfway done. It’s like half a hype book for homeschoolers and half a parenting + child psychology book. I’m mainly reading it to get in the minds of homeschoolers and really understand how they think. How can I build a product if I don’t have a half-decent understanding of my customer?

Remember how the guy that played Joker in The Dark Knight literally went insane because he got so into the character? I’m trying to sorta do that but w/ the world of homeschooling LOL. Completely immersion is always bad, but 80%-90% is good.

Image result for teaching your own

Also been listening to a lot of homeschool podcasts while eating or walking. Their super insightful because they talk about stuff that’s going wrong, stuff that’s going right, etc.

And once again, they help me put myself in the shoes of my customer. Here’s my favorite one so far hosted by two homeschool Moms.

These podcasts have given me like 25 different ideas for Facebook Ads for my product. I’m getting a really good idea of the kind of stuff that jives with this community.

YouTubers

The most helpful thing so far has been homeschool YouTubers.

Hoooooly shit.

Watching them is like doing a user interview and every single video is packed with SO MUCH knowledge. There are HUNDREDS of homeschool YouTubers all talking about their lives, processes, problems, and learnings. I’ve been obsessed with them. This is what my screen has looked like for days. Notepad to the left (I use RoamResearch) and video to the right.

The graph of my notes from just one day is insane.

The main thing the videos have helped me understand is the day-to-day life of a homeschooler and how they do things like plan, keep records, choose curriculum, budget, etc.

It’s been really fun.

Also, been thinking a lot about the idea of contracting some of these homeschool influencers once I get a product going. I can take a lot of my learnings marketing to gamers and apply similar concepts to homeschoolers.

Fun

I have fun I promise.

For fun this week I saw two movies in IMAX it was lit. I need to use my AMC Membership I pay $23 a month for lmao.

Ford vs Ferrari - 9.5/10 - Holy fuck this movie was amazing I wanna watch it 10 more times I literally left the theatre-making race car and drift noises and this old Asian lady thought I was drunk af.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - 7.5/10 - Just a really really good movie. Idk what else to say. Every time I feel like the special effects can get any crazier, they get crazier.

Also, I read The Catcher in the Rye which most people read in high school in their English class. Hella good book. Would recommend. It’s not like a hype book or anything. It’s more like a tale that you learn a ton about yourself from. The main character is so odd yet so familiar. Would recommend :).

This one page from the book made me laugh for a solid while at the cafe and the cute barista looked at me funny don’t think I have a chance w/ her anymore :(.

Also, I got KBBQ with my homie Max. Here’s a pic where he is giving a creepy smile while cutting his meat. I met him in the SF Hostel and now he’s leaving the US. I’ll see you when I visit Europe, dawg :).

NOW I’M OFF TO GO GO-KARTING W THE HOMIES.

PEACE MY DUDES.

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