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)!