Makers Weekly

By Dan Parsons

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Description

We showcase recently launched products and creative projects by today's modern makers. We explore the problems they're solving, the tech they're using, and tactics they've deployed to get to market successfully.


Episode Date
Laura Simpson - Side Door
24:19

In this episode, we jam with Laura Simpson to discuss her newly launched product, Side Door. Laura and her co-founder, Dan Mangan (Juno award-winning, world-touring singer-songwriter from Vancouver) launched Side Door to empower and build local communities around live performances.

We cover a medley of topics including:

  • 👯‍♀️ the power of communities and fanatic networks
  • 🤾‍♂️ knowing where to focus your customer acquisition efforts (supply vs. demand) 
  • 🏰 building teams at HQ or remote
  • 💑 the importance to align incentives and values in a marketplace 
  • and much more 🦋

Extra Extra

The global value of music copyright topped $28B in 2017: in this article it's interesting to see how growth has gone since the record business basically "halved" from 2002 to 2014. It's also interesting to see how the cash gets distributed amongst the labels, distribution, and songwriters. 

Here's a crazy story about random teen phenomenoms who are writing songs (pretty good imo) and blowing up on YouTube without any help from labels or professional industry folks. 

Music Industry Dynamics - we all know the music industry has changed with the introduction of streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora. Although these services are excellent for the consumer like you and me, the artists have to completely re-think their business models. Musicians used to be able to monetize the actual work product of their art... the music! These streaming services have lowered the barriers dramatically for artists to distribute their music to an international audience, but now requires them to rely heavily on touring and alternative income sources to make a living. Here's the timeline of how the streaming services have come to be, and how the $9.99/month price leaves even the streaming services with shallow margins sparking a war between Spotify and Apple. This article is obviously biased; however, it does shed some light on how Apple is leveraging its massive foothold in the market.

Notable Mentions

Broken Social Scene (9:40) - a band that through one heck of a show on the Side Door platform, hit the link to see video highlights from the show

Hubspot (16:40) - an end-to-end marketing, sales, and growth platform 

Heap (16:40) - a powerful product analytics tool that helps you understand how users are using your product without writing additional code

Google Analytics (16:40) – analytics platform that gives you visibility into how people find and interact with your website

It’s with terabytes of LOVE that I ask you… if you find this interesting at all and want to support this project, please pass this along to a few friends or text them a link to the podcast. Thank you and enjoy!

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Cody Candee - Bounce
24:29

In this episode, I sat down with Cody Candee at the beautiful HERE Collective (that's us in the pic above with his co-founder). We have a detailed conversation about how he tested and launched Bounce, the next generation of bag and luggage storage. Cody have us the scoop on the following: 

  • rapid prototyping
  • testing demand for your product
  • assumption testing
  • working through operational challenges
  • and much more


Extra Extra

Rapid Prototyping - this is a method of testing interfaces and customer experiences before you invest the time into building them. Click this link to learn the different types of prototyping and other best practices.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) (17:50) & Churn (19:35) - Having a deep understanding of how much it costs to acquire new customers is critical to building your financial model. Another important piece is understanding how you retain users, or lose them (churn). Knowing your retention curves can help you understand the lifetime value of each customer, at which point you'll know exactly how much you can pay to acquire each new customer profitably. Bill Gurley wrote an excellent article that provides the key terms and math behind calculating your customer LTV. 



Notable Mentions

Adwords (4:50) - Cody used Google Adwords to test demand for his product by running ads before the product was live. By running ads he could understand search volumes and click-through-rates.

Google X (6:10) - Google's entity that focuses on "moonshot" ideas. Solving the world's hardest problems.

NYC Citi Bikes (6:50) - NYC's urban bike program.

Facebook Messenger Chat Bot (9:15) - you can build programs to interact with users through FB's messenger app

Stripe (9:35) - credit card processor for internet products

Elixir (10:50) - modern programming language

React (10:55) - modern Javascript framework for developing web interfaces. See ReactNative for mobile

Lean Startup (12:22) - a product development methodology (and book) that focuses on rapid prototyping and constant product iteration to capture learnings cheap, fast, and often.

Google Analytics (13:30) - analytics platform that gives you visibility into how people find and interact with your website

Mixpanel (13:45) - product analytics tool

Segment (13:45) - help you get the most utility out of your customer data

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Philip Thomas - Moonlight
28:01

In this episode we hang with Philip Thomas, he shares an inspiring story about how his first failed startup gave him the learnings needed to launch Moonlight, which is bootstrapped and rapidly growing.


We discuss many interesting topics with Philip including:

  • when to quit working on an idea, and move on
  • the importance of getting to know your early users 
  • how to validate your idea with data before building anything
  • ways to start a software business and get revenue, before writing code
  • the importance of experimenting with different pricing models
  • and much more!


Extra Extra - go deeper on topics from this episode

  • Pricing and rake strategies for marketplaces - Bill Gurley, legendary VC @ Benchmark, published this excellent piece on how to approach pricing as a marketplace. My last startup was a marketplace, I would reference this often when modeling different pricing strategies. It's very tricky to keep your rake low to reduce supply-side friction, while also maintaining favorable unit economics to acquire both the supply and demand sides of your marketplace. Bill knows marketplaces very well given years of experience in the space, he was really early in cos like eBay, Uber, and others. Great book about Bill and the founding of Benchmark, eBoys.
  • Remote work is the new LaCroix in 2019 - let that one sink in... companies are becoming more and more comfortable hiring remote workers. This is what allows for products like Moonlight to thrive. Here's a list of 900+ Startups that are hiring remotely.


Notable Mentions

Stripe (1:40) - credit card processor for internet products

OpenDNS (2:20) - where Philip started engineering, they provide consumers with safer, faster, and more reliable internet in their homes. (acquired by Cisco in 2015)

Y-Combinator (2:50) - the most prestigious startup incubator in the world

Squarespace (7:40) - modern no-code website builder

Typeform (7:45) - the future of web forms and surveys

Zappier (9:25) - allows you to connect and automate work-flows between popular internet apps (awesome tool)

Calendly (10:25) - a tool for scheduling meetings to your G-Cal, I use this regularly to avoid back/forth email scheduling

Paid Labs (11:28) - invoicing tool, acquired by Auction Mobility

Stripe Invoicing (11:30) - Stripe has an awesome suite of tools for end-to-end payment management. For invoicing specifically, hit the link and scroll down to the "Modern invoice made easy" section

Payable.com (11:40) - nifty tool for paying contractors, it manages all of the tax paperwork (W-9's and 1099's)

Dogfooding concept (12:12) - it's a concept that refers to teams that use their own products to do business. There have been multiple references to this concept from major cos like Microsoft and Amazon. Hit the link for more details and references

Stripe Connect(13:00) - this is Stripe's tool for managing the flow of cash for marketplaces. It makes it easy for platforms to take payments and manage pass-through funds to vendors on a marketplace. (think Uber and drivers... you pay Uber, then Uber pays drivers and takes a cut)

Lean Startup (14:08) - a product development methodology (and book) that focuses on rapid prototyping and constant product iteration with the goal to capture learnings cheap, fast, and often

High Growth Handbook (19:35) - a book written by legendary angel investor and executive, Elad Gil about the common challenges the best high-growth companies have encountered and overcame to be successful

Product Hunt (25:40) - a daily list of new products around the web

Show HN (25:42) - a way to share something you've made with the hacker news community

Indie VC & Permissionless Entrepreneurship (27:00) - Indie VC is a venture capital firm that has spearheaded a new type of deal structure for startups. Instead of giving up huge chunks of equity in exchange for an investment, you can pay returns with your companies revenue


It's with tons of love ❤️ that I ask you... if you find this interesting at all and want to support this project, please pass this along to a few friends by forwarding this email or text them a link to the podcast. Thank you and enjoy!

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Owen Williams - Write Together
25:15

In this episode, we kick it with Owen Williams, most recognized for his previous work as an editor at The Next Web and maker of the well-regarded technology newsletter re:Charged. From his broad experience as a journalist and software engineer, we’re going to discuss his latest product launch, Write Together.


We cover a broad range of topics including:

  • the evolution of content creation
  • why it's important to write every day
  • PHP frameworks
  • his super nifty Slack hack
  • and much more


Lean more about Makers Weekly and what we're working on here.


Notable Mentions

Vanmoof (2:45) - awesome futuristic smart bikes

Product Hunt (3:19) - a daily list of new products around the web

Ryan Hoover (11:47) - founder of Product Hunt

Medium (6:25) - a modern, social blogging platform

Github streaks (8:10) - a visual indicator of the frequency a developer commits code to a project

Lean Startup (12:30) - a product development methodology (and book) that focuses on rapid prototyping and constant product iteration with the goal to capture learnings cheap, fast, and often.

React (14:35) - a modern Javascript framework for developing web interfaces. See ReactNative for mobile

Laravel and their billing framework, Cashier (14:50)

Getstream (15:39) - out of the box social networking features, like news feeds and timelines.

Stripe (16:10) - credit card processor for internet products

Segment (16:11) - data analytics platform

Chart Mogul (16:17) - out of the box operations portal for SaaS businesses

Bear Metrics (16:27) - similar to Chart Mogul but a bit more robust and more expensive

Google's Startup Program (16:43) - free cloud hosting!!

Sentry (17:15) - Error tracking, Owen integrates with Slack for alerts

Slack (17:16) - Owen routes all of his alerts into a Slack via their API, check out all slack integrations

MailChimp (23:00) - email distribution and marketing platform

Google Reader (23:16) - RIP


Extra Extra

  • How do you become a better writer? Well, you need to write. This is the premise of the Write Together product. Here's a great article (and interesting story) about how consistent writing can provide meaningful benefits over time; it has over 20k claps on Medium. I specifically enjoyed the sections called "Be Prolific" and "Learn to Recognize Patterns."
  • Network effects (23:16) - in the product development world, this is a term that refers to features that incrementally get better (or provide greater value) the more they're used. If you're working on a product, this is a must-know concept. Here's the perfect resource to learn all about network effects (check out the slide deck at the bottom).



It's with tons of love that I ask you... if you find this interesting at all and want to support this project, please pass this along to a few friends. Thank you and enjoy!

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Maker, What!?
05:03

Dan shares the "why" of Makers Weekly and what to expect in future episodes.


To learn more about what we're about --> https://makersweekly.io/

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