More is not always better

Image for post
Image for post

Piky launched as an app showing you a map of restaurant recommendations, some given by people from my subreddit and others from popular IG foodies.

You can’t do much on Piky. You can’t make an account. You can’t post. You can’t like restaurants or bookmark them. All it does is show you restaurant recommendations near you. For a lot of those restaurants, you can’t even ask for additional information from the person who originally provided the recommendation.

It was hard to build the first version of Piky.

No, not from a technical standpoint. It was difficult to launch because as a product person, you’re always tempted to add more to your MVP. You want to give as much as possible to your users in hopes of pleasing them. …

Why resourcefulness matters in a technical cofounder and how to look for it.

This article is for non-technical solo founders who want to understand what to look for in a technical cofounder.

A laptop on a desk with code displayed onscreen. There is a lamp next to the laptop.
A laptop on a desk with code displayed onscreen. There is a lamp next to the laptop.
Photo by Oskar Yildiz on Unsplash

I used to value coding ability above all else and made it my aim to find someone who could work countless hours to build my app from scratch.

I now know better.

If you’re a founder who still has a full-time job and are spending nights and weekends working on your startup, you should not be prioritizing coding skills above all else in a potential technical cofounder.

The reason is that you’ll probably attract the same kind of person as a technical cofounder — someone with nights and weekends to spare to work with you but are otherwise preoccupied with their full-time job. Because of the limitations that come with having to work full time, your technical cofounder probably won’t have the bandwidth to build whatever you need built from scratch fast enough. …

Coding skills aren’t as important as you think

Software engineer staring code displayed on a computer screen.
Software engineer staring code displayed on a computer screen.
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

This article is for people who are trying to find a technical founder but aren’t sure about how to find one or how to vet the people they find.

Technical co-founders are hard to find.

Especially when you’re a part-time founder working weekends and bootstrapping your startup. Unless you’ve raised significant funding and can provide a salary, chances are you’ll be limited to the class of technical founders who have full-time jobs and are just looking for something to work on during weekends, and aren’t in need of a salary and are fine with equity.

That pool of people is small. They’re also hard to reach and get pitched often. The better the developer, the more pitches they get for “assistance with a small side project.” These developers know all too well how “small side projects” can become time sinks, and are generally cautious about accepting a position as a “technical cofounder,” which will likely consume most if not all their free time. …

How to build the future

A title with text “Zero to One — Preface,” doodles of a VR headset, a smartphone, and a laptop, and an image of Peter Thiel.
A title with text “Zero to One — Preface,” doodles of a VR headset, a smartphone, and a laptop, and an image of Peter Thiel.

Every moment in business happens only once.

The next Bill Gates won’t build an operating system.

The next Larry Page or Sergei Brin won’t build a search engine.

The next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network.

What does this mean? And why does Thiel start off Zero to One with these statements? Aren’t we supposed to aspire to follow in the footsteps of entrepreneurs like Gates, Page, Brin and Zuckerberg?

What it means to go from 0 to 1

According to Thiel, you’re not. What made these entrepreneurs great was the fact that they did not follow in the footsteps of others but chose to do something entirely new and never seen before — their innovations a huge leap forward from what at the time was accepted as the status quo. …

An unsolved rubiks cube
An unsolved rubiks cube

It’s 10:15 pm. I’m listening to tunes from MusicBed. It’s better than Epidemic Sound, which used to be my old music service for finding background music for my YouTube videos. I’m not really working on Piky at this very minute — I mean, it gets tiring after writing your 7th IG comment about the prettiness of a food picture, ya know?

So what’s so hard about building something?

Don’t you just code it with a few developers and viola, product?

Well, no.

You see, users don’t know what they want. If they did, they’d tell you, you’d build it, and you’d both live happily after.

Don’t trust me? Just listen to what Michael Seibel, current CEO of Y Combinator and cofounder of Twitch, has to say on this topic. …

The short answer is connection and excitement

I’ve been absent from this platform for a while. I wanted to take some time off to think about whether I wanted to continue writing articles of the sort that grew my readership or to change course and write about what I really wanted to write about — the journey of building something of your own.

I’ve made my decision. I’ll still occasionally write about topics related to how to build a startup, but for now I’ll write mostly about my personal experience of building something of my own.

For this article, I don’t have a clear one sentence answer for why I like to build things of my own other than “it excites me.” …

The freedom of it all.

People in a conference room.
People in a conference room.
Photo by Mario Gogh on Unsplash

In this article, I reflect on what it was like to visit an incubator for the first time. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “incubator,” an incubator is a company that assists with the development of new startups by providing advisory services and administrative support. It’s also used as a term to describe the workspace that hosts said new startups.

The incubator turned out narrower than expected. It boasted depth, but not so much width. Unlike the maze-like offices of New York’s large white-shoe law firms, many of which I had visited prior as part of some formal event, the space was open. …

Failure is the tuition you pay for knowledge.

Sun rays inside a cave.
Sun rays inside a cave.
Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

When you venture into the unknown, failure is to be expected.

Failure is the tuition you pay for knowledge.

Sometimes, that price is high. Sometimes, it’s low.

From failure, you can find knowledge.

I would not be describing failure in those words were it not for these three failed projects.

There have been other failures as well that have contributed to my general perception of the phenomenon but in this article, I shall only be covering these three instances of failure.

Here are my learnings.

My first failure showed me that I had no idea what I was doing

The project started off with a classic mistake.

Mistake #1 — starting a business with someone you barely know.

Do you know what MVPs are for?

A woman placing stickies on a wall while in a meeting.
A woman placing stickies on a wall while in a meeting.
Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

After spending around a thousand dollars on outsourced developers and two whole months ironing out every little detail, our MVP was ready.

When we launched, not a single user showed up.

In just two months, I learnt that I had no idea what an MVP was for.

In just two months, I learnt how not to iterate.

How not to build an MVP.

Less is more

MVPs are hard to build. The right approach is simplicity, which is difficult to achieve because it takes focus and relentless culling. Features have to be put on hold. Timelines have to be shortened. Vision clarified.

It’s an exercise in patience. At first, it can be tempting to build everything because the more we offer the more likely people will use our product, right? Benefits, benefits, benefits. Give them benefits, lots of them, and they will come. …


What milkshakes can teach us about product development.

Image of a McDonald’s sign.
Image of a McDonald’s sign.
Photo by Joiarib Morales Uc on Unsplash

What’s the job of a milkshake?

McDonald’s asked their customers at 6:30 am morning.

They had observed that every day, people would show up at a McDonald’s at 6:30 am to get a milkshake before driving off.

They wanted to know why.

Why were people visiting their local McDonald’s at 6:30 am in the morning to get a milkshake?

Investigating this question revealed that the milkshake market was actually 7x what they had thought it was.

Here’s why.

They tried Snickers.

They tried bananas.

They tried donuts.

None of them could get the job done.


Jason Cheung

I write for lonely creators - people like myself who are trying to create something of their own and feel isolated in the process.

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