sasuke is emo and i hate him and i want naruto to end him

Today I woke up at 10:30AM, watched like 6 episodes of Naruto, ate Oreo’s and haven’t done anything else. Yeah, working from home is grrrreeeeaaaatttt.

vs naruto GIF

I’m doing three things every week:

  1. Talking to users/potential users.

  2. Coming up with new experiments that improve the #’s I care about. The only #’s I currently care about are: the # of subscribers on my email list and MRR. I also do some mini, low-time experiments just to see what happens sometimes.

  3. Iterating on the product.

So lets do a little review :).

What have you learned from users?

Parent’s are obviously worried about their children’s education and are now being forced to become more active in their kid’s education. While school is “online”, all that really means for the majority of America is that the parent gets emailed a fat packet of work every week for their kid and have a phone call with the teacher here and there.

That’s it. This has led parents to really lose faith in schools and wonder, “is this really the best thing to be doing?”. Parent’s are literally telling me things like: “I feel like I can do better myself without the school breathing down my neck, can Zip help?”.

Let me tell you. That’s insane. Like, 3 months ago it was extremely hard for me to find these kind of parents. Now? It’s feels like they’re everywhere I look.

What do they want? Well, it feels like what they want is something that gives them a simple way to give their child interesting activities to do from home and keep track of it all. Almost like a middle ground between full-time homeschooling and not homeschooling. Parent’s don’t want to down their kids in packets and random online assignments.

What experiments did you run this week?

A few! But, I’ll highlight one.

I wanted to see how much it’d cost me to get an email from a parent interested in teaching their child from home on Facebook. On Google Ads, it was costing me around $3-6 for an email. Emails are important. It lets me stay in close contact w/ parents who interested. Not everyone converts immediately. Some take a while (months). So, finding a way to get more emails from parent’s interested in homeschooling cheaper would be good.

I estimated on Facebook it’d be around $2.50 an email.

The experiment was simple: make an FB Ad that takes people to a page where they can sign-up to get free worksheets emailed to them. Parents love free and love worksheets.

First, I made the web page in 5 min on Webflow.

Then, I made a graphic on Figma for my Facebook Ad. I took random worksheets I found online and put them behind a colorful background to make it really pop on the ad.

Last, I made the Facebook Ad. I always keep them under three lines, focus on emojis, and don’t B.S the user. I also made 6 versions of the ad with different emojis, words, and even different background colors on the actual ad image. Facebook picks the one that performs best using their ad magic.

Results a week later?

I’m getting emails for $0.20 each. 1635 clicked on the ad, 756 gave their email. That’s a 46% conversion rate. Pretty good.

Again, this was just a tiny experiment to see if I could get emails for cheap but I can already see a whole campaign I run where I give parent worksheets for free and tell them to subscribe to Zip for more tools to teach their child from home.

Around mid week I hired a teacher for $200 to make me some custom worksheets. They’re looking good and will be 100% owned by Zip :).

What did you you work on related to the product this week?

A new iteration! On Sunday I wrote down a list of features I wanted this new iteration to have and why. I wanted to focus a lot more on “learning from home” vs “legally register a homeschool”.

I handed these features I wrote off to two separate designers on UpWork and paid each $350 to make 4-5 mockups. Here’s the job posting if you’re curious. Sometimes, seeing what someone else comes up with can help you better understand your own thing.

In the meantime, I got to coding the “ugly” version myself where the backend and frontend has all the pieces it needs. You can now register and get lessons emailed you every week for your PK-5 child :). Still need to finish up importing lessons but I should be able to ship this and charge for it by like Sunday/Monday.

Also, I added analytics. Mixpanel started getting way to expensive so I switch it out for Amplitude instead. Don’t use Mixpanel. Ridiculous pricing scheme.

https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/691451908430495925/693580381336895558/unknown.png?width=1834&height=785

Also, never use Firebase for Go. Firebase focused on maps. Go doesn’t let you easily play w/ maps. Firebase for Python or JS is way better.

While I was dealing with Firebase bullshit, the designers started getting back to me:

Looking good! Pretty cool to see the stuff they each come up with. I have like 6 other screens they may to and all the assets they used which will def speed up development for me.

Talking To Users

I wrote a little tip on how I like using FB Ads to talk to customers. Check it out here:

yeah, the bathroom is around the corner to the right.

naruto shippuden GIF

-$$$

Zip is going through a new iteration which I’m pretty excited about.

The week of March 16th I spent a bunch of money on ads. I was testing:

  1. How many email signups can I get? Most customers take 2-3 weeks to convert and email drip campaigns allow me to stay in touch with them.

  2. How many paying conversions can I get? I had just raised my price to $29. Would anyone pay that?

  3. Where do people drop off in my funnel? I had just changed up my funnel to look more like learn more -> start homeschooling -> make an account -> start application -> pay. Before it was just start homeschooling -> start application -> pay. Homeschooling is a big decision and potential customers often asked me to email them “more information”, so, being more “information-heavy” in my new funnel is something I wanted to test.

I got about 600 clicks from Google Ads at about $2 a click.

Before the corona pandemic, I was getting clicks for around $1. The price doubled because the number of competitors buying ads have gone way up.

Also, before the pandemic, if you were looking up “how to homeschool” on Google and clicked on my ad, chances were you were a pretty serious lead. Not a lot of people just randomly looked up things like “how to homeschool in florida”.

After corona? Well, the amount of traffic has gotten way higher (good) but the quality of the leads has gone down (bad). Now you have plenty of people randomly looking up stuff like “how to homeschool ca” and I have to pay top dollar for them!

For $1200, I got 102 email sign-ups and two $29 sign-ups. That’s a $600 CAC w/ a 20 month payback period. Before, my CAC was around $75-$150.

Not a good look.

What’s cool though is I also got way more inquiry calls than usual. I have a “hotline” which anyone can call 24/7. Potential customers all had very similar questions:

  • How does curriculum work? Like, what will my child actually be doing and what’s my role?

  • Can I get a sample of your curriculum?

  • I want to homeschool my kids part-time while schools are closed, can you help?

  • Does your app give me like a schedule of what I need to do?

  • Does Zip have electives? How personalized is the curriculum?

My massive rise in CAC aside, what was more troubling was that what potential customers were asking for felt different from what I was building. My landing page, messaging, ads, etc all had pieces of what potential customer were looking for. But, nothing was really hitting it right on the head.

Even before the corona stuff, I was starting to feel this but now I really feel it because there has been an influx of potential customers whom I’ve been talking to.

Now what?

The usual! Big changes to messaging and product so that I can run new tests.

This next iteration is going to heavily focus on the day-to-day aspect of homeschooling: daily pre-built lesson plans, an easy to follow calendar, and record-keeping. I am not dropping the legal aspect of it, rather, this will be an up-sell rather than the main sell. Customer don’t care about how legal is done as long as it’s done. Their main focus is the day-to-day and how Zip can help with the daily homeschool activities. Shout out to Furqan for helping me see this.

At the beginning of the week, I hired 8 teachers (on UpWork) to help me build curriculum. A massive amount of progress is already being made here. Here’s a sample of kindergarten curriculum Candeece is working on:

I started coding up the UI yesterday. It’s coming along.

Lessons are stored in the DB as markdown and I just used react-markdown to render it. Also, Firebase for Go SUCKS. Like, REALLY bad. But, it still helps me move fast, tbh. If this iteration feels like it does well I’ll likely switch over to PostgresSQL + RDS.

I’m also working on content. So, going to hire some writers on UpWork today to write me some dope blog posts which always helps SEO and drip campaigns. Also, going to hire a product designer on UpWork next week. If you’re interested in this, hmu!

Song

Song of the week is Blueberry Faygo! It’s by Lil Mosey who is just 18. This video came out yesterday and it had 1.5 million hits in 5 hours. That’s pretty crazy even in the world of modern hip-hop.

See yah next week.

i got wifi in the trunk

Hello.

Image result for naruto gif happy

Homeschooling” has been getting a lot of buzz in the media as of recently because millions of kids were sent home when schools closed last week. The schools themselves didn’t really have a plan going forward.

This has led to parents taking it upon themselves to start printing out workbooks and doing educational projects w/ their kids. This seems to be the trend for parents of younger kids K-3.

What about everyone else? Well. These headlines should tell you enough.

The reality of it is that schools are adjusting really fast. Online sessions and online assignments are already coming together. I’ve been speaking to tons of public school teachers across the US who tell me how they’re moving their sessions online (Zoom, Skype, YouTube), chatting with students through existing apps (Discord, WhatsApp, GroupMe), and sending students assignments via email or some classroom software (if the school has a subscription).

So where does all this COVID-19 stuff leave ZipHomeschool? Does anything change?

Well, I put some thought to pivoting into this “after-school” market that’s popping off. Kids are at home. Parents want to do things that keep their children learning + productive while schools figure their stuff out. A product can be built that specifically caters to this need. This would be a complete pivot away from “homeschooling”, which is where parents have full control over their child’s education. Homeschooling != after-school education, but, they are linked.

Below are some companies that are fighting over ad space with me on “curriculum” related keywords right now on Google.

The main winner in the after-school space is Age of Learning, creator of ABCMouse and AdventureAcademy. ABCMouse on its own did $100M in revenue in 2016. They’ve been around for around 13 years. They are a billion dollar company.

I think the after-school space is super interesting + lucrative, but, I don’t want to pivot into it right now. Summer is in 2.5 months. To even get a product into the market at any sort of real scale, it’ll take me 3-4 weeks. Now, perhaps schools are still closed in Fall 2020 (which is something California is hinting at). Well, that’s something I don’t really want to bet on right now. But, I’ll reevaluate at the end of April.

Right now, fully focusing on Zip is going to be way more beneficial. I have customers. I’m learning from them at a good pace. And, I can see the path to scaling this thing to 1000s. To be honest, Zip literally can’t “pop off” right now. If I get 20 new customers today I’m underwater. I can’t run my ad campaigns as wide as I’d like or really focus on “growing” right now. Sucks. I know I can. I have 10 different ideas to acquire customers but none of them matter if I can’t actually handle the growth.

“Doing things that don’t scale” is pretty magical because once you do wanna scale a bit its pretty clear how.

For the next 5 weeks I’ll be:

  1. Building curriculum into the product (for which I’m currently putting together a team of teachers). Curriculum is the #1 bottleneck right now.

  2. Creating content + growing Zip’s online following.

  3. Keeping up the pace when it comes to learning from customers.

pce out gamerz.

me and Kim Tae-hyung r dating now its official

It’s officially been one year since I started writing this thing every single week. It’s been an intense, productive year. Glad you all have been along for the ride 😍.

Over 52 newsletters each with its own wacky title. Super proud :). My favorite title was definitely, “i yearn to have the love that robin and starfire from teen titans had”.

But honestly, I have not been having fun writing this newsletter for the last few months.

It’s just been random garbage about my life or company written in a relatively mediocre manner. Which, honestly, was the plan. That’s why I started this thing. To just get in the habit of writing more and keep whoever wanted to listen updated about my life.

But reading my newsletter back from even last week… it’s like the exact type of content I personally don’t want to read. You know how you feel when your favorite artist start’s making trash music? Yah. That’s me right now. I’m the artist and I’m realizing the music I’m producing is trash.

Now, is it actually trash? Probably not. But, as the bar keeps getting higher and higher you just want to keep going over it.

Perhaps I felt it was good one year ago. But, now…NAHHH.

It’s time to evolve a little and try the next experiment.

These are things I really enjoy from this newsletter and will be attempting to keep in whatever I do next:

  • The interaction w/ the reader base.

  • How its opened up new opportunities for me. Zip literally got a bunch of angel investment offers after I literally just asked on here. That’s wild.

  • I can see my progression (or lack of) and keep track of my commentary around why projects are either going up or down.

  • The ability to share my major learnings with others.

  • Being authentic.

Is the newsletter dead? Hmmmmm. Not sure. Probably not. I just got to figure out how to have fun with it again. Perhaps that means writing it once ever two weeks, or writing a higher quality piece with more interactive elements once per month. Idk. We’ll see, lads.

I’m just going to let it come to me naturally and keep focusing on Zip :).

Anyways, BTS came out with a new album yesterday and I’m a massive fan and this shit is 🔥. Check out their latest music video that got 50M views in a day here.

Kim Taehyung V GIF by BTS 방탄소년단

Farza





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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