We live in exciting times my friend. It's never been this easy to build a webapp and make your first $1,000/month.
Back in 2010 I created my first startup. Our goal was to build an AI that helps you make sense of the web. LazySharer to share links with friends, LazyReader to get a curated feed.
Here's me pitching on demo day at a local YCombinator clone 👇
Look how excited they all seem!
Back then an algorithmic feed was a wild and crazy idea. Never done before. Google was rumored to experiment with individualized search results. Facebook still had newest-first, Twitter said they'd never consider using algorithms ever.
Guess what the hardest part of building an AI that can build custom story feeds for every was?
Come on, guess.
Oh ... is that not what you guessed?
You see, back in 2010 The Cloud was in its infancy. AWS was just 4 years old, GoogleAppEngine 2 years.
Debate at our hacker space raged.
Should you use Cloud? Host on bare metal? Poke one of the 10 friends with a hosting company? Use the PC running in your bedroom?
We picked AppEngine. It promised "web scale". Gave us a NoSQL database – a new concept at the time – and everything else we needed to grow super hella fast.
Monetization? Please, PayPal is too hard ... we'll do it later. Once we have millions of users.
After months of building we were ready to launch.
Our credit card melted instantly. 6 months later I was kicked out of the company.
Times are different. I only realized just how much changed during Pat Walis's 24hour startup challenge in late 2018.
Can you build & launch a startup in 24 hours? Do it live on stream!
Pat is crazy. There's no way.
Fuck it let's try.
12 hours later TechLetter.App was born. 😳
Best part? It made $4 in sales and I use it to create these emails and it costs $0/month to run.
The hyper productive modern stack is here, my friend. All the pieces are coming together.
I love inflection points 😍
After a year of research, it's still too early to name winners. What I can tell you is the outline. A sketch of what the future holds.
– serverless backends Serverless is eating the backend. The cloud moved us from physical to logical servers and code stayed the same. That's changing. No more servers, just functions.
– progressive web apps – PWA Webapps are going progressive. An offline-first approach makes webapps work offline and stay fast in areas with spotty internet. Optimistic updates keep your UI fresh, you sync data when possible. Much like a mobile app.
– JAMStack hosting your progressive webapp is a static asset. It don't need no servers. Host it with a JAMStack provider and let them handle advanced caching, CDN config, DNS routing, continuous deployment, and everything else. You just get a blazing fast app.
– GraphQL changes the API layer. Write complex queries on the frontend, expose data on the backend, agree on data types and let GraphQL handle the rest. No more begging backend engineers to add a parameter, no more gigantic payloads with ten times more data than you need.
– design systems take over we're achieving the dream everyone promised: A designer creates your styles and you don't have to fiddle around. Build UI with a suite of components and it always comes out looking perfect.
The rise of indie hackers is my favorite result. YOU can build in a day or two what used to take a team of engineers weeks.
That means more startups, more ideas, more products. Without VCs. The infrastructure is cheap and open source, the time-to-build is short, users are plentiful. It's amazing.
Excited? hit reply
PS: I've been meaning to turn TechLetterApp into a smol business at MarkdownEmail.com – been having too much fun using it. 2020 is the year. Maybe 😛
I believe this is the best and worst time to launch something.
The best because consumers are used to paying and they hate big tech. People want your thing and they want to pay you. Not a faceless behemoth that steals their data and turns users into commodities. Blech
And if you're an engineer or product manager, the swan song of easy money in tech is irresistible.
But you should never stop tinkering on the side. Multiple streams of income are a great way to recession proof your career.
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Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.
Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.
Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.
Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev
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