i dipped by kindle in a cup of coffee and took a bite mmmmmm

Whats up all. I wrote a little too much by accident. Grab some water and lets jump in.

Melee

YOOOOO. Whats up guys. So my last newsletter kinda blew up in a good way :).

My tweet Got picked up by a bunch of Smash personalities on Twitter and made some rounds.

Then, I posted it on r/SSBM on it made front page there.

Pretty cool!

I feel like I should do more “viral” style writing like this. Technically, I could write something that gets front page of a subreddit every single week. I’m really good at picking topics that X audience cares about, writing good shit about it, and boiling down the thesis down to an extremely interesting/shareable sentence or two. Just like I did with the Smash newsletter. That’s literally all it takes to get people to read what you write + share it.

Perhaps I’ll do more writing of that style and build a legit blog. But for now, I’m happy to just bust out this newsletter once a week and write about whatever I want.

Song of The Week

This week we have two!

Get Your Wish by Porter Robinson - One of the best EDM tracks I’ve heard in years.

Samsara by Relfections - Reflections is one of my favorite metal bands of all time and this new single is literally one of the best metal songs I’ve heard in a looooooooong time.

Zip

Is revenue up from last week?


✅ Damn right it is. You guys know I don’t mess around.

My First Internship

I'm in the mood to tell a story. I was looking through my old Snapchat Stories and found some videos of my first internship. I also found this video of the time I streamed my friend sleeping at a hackathon LMAOO.

My first "tech" internship ever was doing technical customer service (yes, not programming — customer service) for a company named "Sightplan" out of Orlando. The company was about 15 people and it built software for residential property owners to help maintenance workers keep track of tasks and to help residents of those properties actually create maintenance requests.

This was 2016, I was so freaking happy. Why? Well, when I was 20 I knew nothing. Now, at 24, I still know nothing but back then I really did know nothing. I could barely complete the assignments for my computer science class without the help of my friend Damain (god bless him btw). All I knew was some C and Java. From age 18-20, all I was really good for was playing League of Legends and sleeping. Looking back, these were some of the saddest years of my life thus far.

So, you can imagine how hype I was when I get called up for an interview at SIGHTPLAN, one of the “HOTTEST STARTUPS” in all of Orlando. Back then, "startup" was (and still is) a magical word for me. I don't want to sound lame or cringe, but "startup" was synonymous w/ words like "hope" and “victory” for me. I felt that joining one of these magical startup things I kept hearing about on the news would lift me out of the hole I was in. I knew nothing about what a startup actually was.

I still remember the interview. I came in a full suit (Literally, imagine that. Me. IN A SUIT. DRESS SHOES AND ALL. Trying to impress people and "make a good impression". Crazy how much has changed in just 4 years).

I was nervous as hell. Sweating through my the suit my Mom prepared. Sightplan was one of the most successful startups in Orlando. Getting this would be a big deal. I remember every moment. I walk in, with my fucking suit, and the engineers in the office look at me like an alien. There's no reception, I walk up to a bearded engineer (shoutout to Chris) and tell him I'm here for an interview. You can tell he's holding back laughter at this point. He leads me to the CEOs office.

The CEO was a dude named Joseph Westlake (someone I still look up to). He didn't ask me much. In fact, he talked 90% of the time. He only really asked me one question which I still remember — "Sightplan is a startup with very limited funds, why should we spend some of those funds to bring you on board for this internship?". I told him all about the company I ran in highschool and how I could not only do the work Sightplan needed, but also improve their workflow and possibly become an even more valuable asset within 6-12 months. That seemed to be what he wanted to hear. He gets up and says, "Okay, sounds good. I'll email you the offer. And hey by the way, when you come in next time just a wear a t-shirt :)".

A massive smile sprung to my face, I was elated. This was it. This is what was going to pull be from the darkness. I thanked him, drove home, called my Mom, told my friends, probably made some Snapchat stories about it. Probably got dinner w/ the boys.

I was over the moon.

Me. Farzain. Working at a REAL tech startup doing customer service in the middle of downtown Orlando at a super cool office where they did things like write code, do standups, and occasionally have pizza days.

Damn. A lot can change in 4 years, huh? (LMAOOOOOOOO).

This whole backstory I just gave you was not necessary for the main meat of what I want to talk about, LOL. But, hey, it's fun to write about. Plus, a lot of younger people (aged 15-20) read my newsletter and for some reason they look up to me and I just want them to see that their probably 10X smarter right now then I was 4 years ago.

Y'all are going places, seriously. You're massively ahead. It probably doesn't feel like that. But, you are.

How SightPlan Was Ran

I could talk about the year I spent at SightPlan for hours. There was a lot of good. A lot of bad. I want to talk about some of the good, right now.

Reflecting on it 4 years later, SightPlan was a beautifully run company. I joined when Sightplan had already found product-market fit. But back then I had no idea what that even was. I was just a lowly customer service agent. Though, I still sat in every single company meeting and talked a lot with everyone. Remember, it was just 15 people. So getting friendly w/ everyone wasn’t to hard. I understood the company at a pretty deep level from both a technical POV and business POV.

The product was complex. An iOS/Android/Web app for residents to make maintenance requests. An iOS/Android/Web app for maintenance workers to actually see the requests and complete them. A portal for managers of the property to properly handle billing, track metrics (ex. # of requests completed), feedback, etc.

This shit was not easy.

How many engineers do you think Sightplan had at this point?

6.

Yup.

Six engineers.

Holy fuk.

"Oh ezpz they just used React".

Wrong.

This was before React Native was popping. The iOS app was in Objective-C, the Android app was in Java, the web app was in front-end library whose name I'm forgetting (it wasn't React). Over 8 codebases including the backend. 4 languages (Objective-C, Java, Javascript, Ruby)

This was insane looking back.

How did SightPlan keep it together? How was every engineer not getting worked to death?

The leaders, always followed the $. Everything SightPlan ever did from an engineering standpoint was something that would directly lead to REAL dollars and REAL customers. SightPlan did not mess around when it came to features. If something was being built it was because someone somewhere needed it and often already signed a contract (which guaranteed payment) to use it.

This focus mainly stemmed from the fact that product was driven by one person, the CEO. He always made the final call.

The other thing that kept Sightplan insanely focused was that every engineer understood that they were building for the customer. The only arguments I ever heard at Sightplan about tech was when the tech actually affected the customer. The engineers and designers always optimized getting it to customers as fast as possible so the company could get paid + get users. Looking back, this was magical.

All SightPlan cared about was growth and keeping existing users happy so they'd retain. All the “stuff” SightPlan did, like writing code, was just a means to get to high growth + high retention.

From the very beginning, this is how Sightplan was built. Even before PMF.

Get users.

Get paid.

Retain them.

Grow every week.

So...simple...?

Yes, it actually is insanely simple. But we (entrepreneurs) always find ways to fuck it up. I myself messed it up so many times in the past and will probably mess it up to some lesser degree in the future. I’m always improving, after all :).

I was thinking about Sightplan lately because of Zip.

The way I'm building Zip right now feels 10-20 times better than anything I've done in the past. I'm focusing on growing every week, getting paid, and retaining existing customers. Everything else is just a side-show.

Again, SightPlan was already at PMF. But even, before then. This was still their mantra. On a different note, I was listening to a podcast where the Webflow CEO was talking. He had a very similar mentality. Get users. Get paid. Retain them (by actually having a good product). Grow every month. It took Webflow many years, but this is how they did it. Note: from the very beginning of Webflow’s history, they were getting paid.

The pattern is everywhere. And…it works.

But, for some reason everyone thinks their Young Zuckerberg and want to get millions of users super fast and then magically monetize via ads. lmfao.

The heart of this pattern, imo, is getting paid. If your startup isn’t getting paid right now — then you better have millions of users right now, otherwise something is wrong with your company.

imo.